The 2.5mph pace of a narrowboat on the Shropshire Union canal makes for a blissful trip, with few other humans but wildlife galore
‘Heron ahead!” Up went the cry and we were transfixed as we glided towards this latter-day pterodactyl standing motionless on the canal bank. Then a sudden flurry. In the space of a few seconds it had plunged forward, plucked a fish from the water and swallowed it in a single gulp. Well, that’s to say the flapping fish disappeared after a single gulp. As it was somewhat on the large side, it took several more shakes of the heron’s neck for the unfortunate prey to make its final descent into the dark.
Over five days on the Shropshire Union Canal we had so many close encounters with herons – 30 … 40? – we lost count, and it became evident that they were as integral to the scenery as the fields, woods, hedges, wharfs and canalside pubs our hired narrowboat floated past.