HIS beautiful grey plumage earned him fans and admirers from around the world.

For a decade Grey Heron, as he was known to his hundreds of followers on Facebook, was a much loved fixture in the West End's Victoria Park.

But sadly the beautiful bird was killed last week in a sudden accident - and tributes have poured in from as far away as Australia and Japan.

Susan Harris first met Grey, as she calls him, when he was a young bird and the pair developed an unusual bond.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

She said: "In the winter of 2010/11 there was a very hard frost and the pond had frozen for six weeks between December and January.

"One day I noticed there was a young heron on the ice looking very forlorn.

"Young heron often don't make it through the winter so I started bringing food to this bird, bits of chicken.

"One day I came in and my heart lifted because he recognised me and flew over."

Heron's are migratory birds and Grey flew off for the summer.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

But the next year he returned - and still remembered Susan.

She added: "He disappeared but the next year he returned again and had grown into more adult plumage.

"At first I wasn't completely sure but then he came close, not too close, and looked at me and I knew it was the same bird.

"He had beautiful long breast plumes and a marking on his head that none of the others do.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

"He knew me no matter what I wearing, if I had a hat on or a coat, or if I came from the east of the park or the west.

"Normally herons are so skittish and frightened in the wild, that's what makes it so special, because you don't usually see them close up."

As well as spending time in Victoria Park, Susan knew the bird was nesting elsewhere as he would fly off and return with mud down his front.

But in 2019, for the only time, he built his nest in the park and with his female partner raised three baby herons.

While Susan would visit the park to see all of the herons, she said Grey was the "special one"

Susan, who is originally from Canada, said: "He's the one I bonded with.

"I would sit by the pond and he would come and stand near me and preen.

"He trusted me in the end."

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Last week when Susan and others heard Grey had been injured, they contacted Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre.

A rescue worker waded in to the pond to try to catch Grey but, in the end, he would only trust Susan to come close enough to net him.

Staff at the centre did their best to treat him but the bird could not be saved.

Susan had set up a Grey Heron Facebook page in 2011 where the bird attracted friends and admirers internationally.

She said: "The messages I have been getting, they are all devastated that he's gone.

"I've had more than 200 messages from Victoria Park people."

Susan said the community around the park is devastated but, while she is sad, Grey Heron has left her with a true gift.

Susan points to all the photos of Grey Heron she has to remember him by.

She said: "I don't feel that that bond I had with him is gone. I am so happy I knew him.

"I have had so much joy from bird watching, my life has been so enriched by it."

"He's all around me. "