Purple Herons are fairly widespread during their breeding season throughout southern Europe as far north as the Netherlands, before wintering in Africa. However like many of their relatives, they too are spreading northwards and the first reported successful breeding attempt by Purple Herons in the UK was at RSPB Dungeness in 2010, exciting times. In flight they can look very similar to Grey Heron, however the Purple Heron's bunched up neck tends to form a more angular shape than the Grey Heron's, and it is more likely to spread its toes out whereas the Grey Heron keeps them folded together. Purple Herons are also slightly smaller, and more slender than Grey Herons. Their preferred habitat is rivers, wet meadows and shallow lakes with reedbeds, trees and vegetation.