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The Heronry took a BIG HIT

BHeron-FLY2It seems that over the last week or so, during or right after all the rains, the front heronry at Holland Ponds received some severe damage. Two of the largest nesting trees fell to the ground, as well as a couple of branches from still standing nesting trees, also cracked off and fell. This destroyed at least 8 active nests to our accounting. This is a major catastrophe to the Heronry, especially since all of these lost nests where active ones, with either hatchlings or eggs in each of them. In youngsters alone there is a loss of some 40-50 new young Herons.

Apparently in the cases of the two full Trees that came down, they where undermined by water and the shallow root system gave way, toppling these two nesting trees. There were also some decayed branches that let loose, cracking free from the main nesting tree and bringing additional nests with them, to the ground.

On closer examinations, it appears that a number of other branches and nests are in jeopardy of not withstanding to much more punishment from Mother Nature and any further high winds or pelting rains.

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Just one small section of the front Heronry and what was the nests and Trees there in March

Picture of the same nesting area without a number of nests and supporting branches

Picture of the same nesting area without a number of nests and supporting branches

This is just a small example of the destruction in the front Heronry section of this Heron Colony. It is a perfect example of how delicate the balance between Nature, Weather and outside influences can be on such a unique and special place as a Great Blue Heronery nesting site.

A positive note here, is that a couple of years back, the Herons decided to start to build more nests a little further southwest of what was the original front area nesting sites. These nests are on higher ground with Trees more deeply rooted in the soil and not being undermined by some much standing water as with much of the front nesting sites. But this is not the only answer or fix to this delicate balance here at the Holland Ponds Colony.

Look how quickly some many nests and future Heron youngsters where instantly wiped out. There are even mated herons that appear to be wandering the Colony in disbelief, with no available nests and no where to go at the moment. These are not resilient Birds. They had already bonded with a mate, mated, set up a nest, had eggs, and some some cases those eggs had already started to hatch. Then…..out of no where, they have NOTHING. Like many humans, they are lost, with no place to go, The common sense understanding that these mating pairs of Herons would just re-mate, rebuild a new nest and start all over, is not something we can expect to take place with Great Blue Herons. Through studies, this does not seem to be their way. That is why if chased off of an existing nest or bothered by man enough, these Birds will also just abandon their young and nests and leave.

The pressures being placed on these beautiful creatures by the weather, Mother Nature and Shelby Parks & Recreation is starting to become to much for this well established Colony. Soon…..they will be forced to endour a new Bike Pathway down the center of the Park, with the constant moving Bike traffic, up and down this new Pathway. This is what destroyed the 200 nest Heronry in West Bloomfield, many years ago. Just how much can this unique setting withstand? The massive cuttings around the many ponds at the Park have destroyed or eliminated many of the Turtles and most of the frogs in these ponds. The raw stripping of ground cover close along the banks of these feeding ponds have eliminated major food sources for the nesting Herons as well. Just how much pressure can this Colony withstand?

PondsSIGNwideDoes Shelby Twp. Parks & Recreation even care about this very unique environment they are lucky enough to have for their residents and guests in their own Community? The largest Great Blue Heron nesting site in Southeastern Michigan is not special enough to want to take care of such a place? Instead……they add to the pressure that Nature and the weather already put on these beautiful birds and their 10 year nesting Colony.

I am ashamed that people would knowingly do such things. I am ashamed that after even being told by others who know so much more then they do about these great Birds, they ignore the advice and facts and just continue to do the worst possible things they could do to help in the pre-destruction of this Great Blue Heronry. Their blind focused vision of a silly Bike Pathway to nowhere, except right through a Nature wonder, and considering this Bike Pathway to nowhere, more important then this unique Great Blue Heron nesting site, borders on criminal.

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Ask Shelby Twp. Parks & Recreation why their Bike Pathway plans are more important then these 10 year nesting Herons, producing over 100 youngsters each year to be help maintain the Heron populations in Michigan. They can build as many new Bikes as the factory can pump out. How about new baby herons. What’s the plans there?

There is a scheduled HERON FESTIVAL coming up soon, sponsored by Parks & Recreation. REALLY??????? celebrating what? The death of these magnificent Birds. They are not only fighting the normal battles of weather and what nature throws at them, but here at Holland Ponds these herons have to withstand the destructive and manipulative forces of a Parks & Recreation that refuses to understand, seek knowledge or bother to do anything but move forward on the Bike Pathway to Nowhere, while they blindly destroy the habitat and natural environments around the feeding Ponds at the Heronry.

Oneheron Bikers are Nature lovers too, and I know of no Bike riders who would want this kind of sacrifices of such a unique and special place as these heron nesting sites, for just another Bike Pathway to Nowhere. And what about our own state DNR donating $300,000 of OUR money, to Shelby Twp. to match, to get all of this destruction completed. Can you believe that one? The Department of Natural Resources, spending money to destroy the largest Great Blue heronry in Southeastern Michigan without any research or investigation into the matter what so ever. Just the lone word of a Shelby Twp. Parks official who states……No Problem.

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Heron nest recovery

Our intentions where to recover the fallen Heron’s nest and bring it back to the Shadbush Nature Center and make a learning display from it. It is a rarity to be able to examine, yet alone set up a Heron’s nest for others to see. It would not be so in this case.

A Great Blue Heron’s nest had fallen from about 80′ up in one of the nesting trees at the Heronry at Holland Ponds park. It would have disintegrated upon hitting the ground, except for a small tree which caught the nest about 10′ off the ground. A very unique accurance and an opportunity to study and possibly display this nest for others to learn from.

After we had retrieved the nest from the 10′ tree, we discovered many things that would make displaying this nest at the Nature Center, impossible. First…..the nest was covered in mold and Heron droppings. Not a little bit….but COVERED. In fact, the whiteness of the video below is not incorrect “white-balance” on the camera, but rather just how covered the nest was in white excrement.

Secondly, we discovered that the herons are not the greatest nest builders. Rather then interweaving the branches and twigs that form the nest, the female just kinda laid each twig, on-top one another. Examining the nest on the ground, it disintegrated before our eyes as we just lightly touched areas of the nest.

Even though we where not able to bring the nest back to the Nature Center, we did learn so very much about these birds and nests. Not all pretty stuff, but a very unique information that was not obtainable in to many places.

 

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