This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Though heronries are few as compared with former times, some still exist here and there throughout the country, and such good fishers are the birds that river conservators have to take repressive measures and offer reward for herons killed, as by the Exe Conservators in the estuary of the Exe, where much damage is done by these birds, and a heron killed in 1907 was found to have forty-two young trout in its crop.
Fig. 118. - Netting Birds at a Bridge.
The heron and other fish-eating birds are taken by the heron trap, Fig. 119, which is set under water, affixed on a stump in the water, and, baited with a fish, - a catch is ensured.
Curlews, both "whaups" and "whimbrels," are usually shot, their flesh being good eating. Only hurtful to fish.
Water-hens exert benign influence on watercourses, by lakes and their environs by consuming numerous pests, but their peregrinations and depredations in watercress beds are intolerable, therefore recourse is had to the gun, trap, and snare. As the birds swim or run through constantly frequented tracks which they use in dense undergrowth or rushes, hair nooses attached to string and stretched across such places are certain to effect captures.
Coots are particularly useful in destroying various pests that prey upon vegetation, especially in breeding time; but their eggs, also those of water-hens, are so much sought after that neither increase to a prejudicial extent; and they are. also so decimated in winter by shooting, when they assemble on the banks of rivers, lakes and in marshes, though they can hardly be considered good eating, that riverside and marshland graziers are deprived of their services.
Fig. 119. - The Heron and Heron Trap.