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Comparing notes on two other Heronries

We have been studying a brand new, two year old Heron Colony, and another very large and old heron nesting site in Southeastern Michigan. It is allowing us the opportunity to compare notes from the 10 years of study at Holland Ponds, to another older nesting site and a new two year old site.

There are very few studies of any sort on Heron nesting sites. Almost none in Michigan. Just some of the basics, and they are almost 15 years old and actually list No Heron nesting sites in Macomb county. They do not even acknowledge the destroyed Ā Heronry in west Bloomfield which contained over 200 nests. This Colony was destroyed in less then two years after the construction of a Bike Pathway there. Even Audubon has confirmed this fact now, and is working with DTE in constructing nesting Poles to attract the Herons back. They have been unsuccessful at their attempts so far. Most likely, as long as the disruptive Bike Pathway remains, the herons will not return.

We have found some up to date research out of Wisconsin. But we have learned that herons differ from area to area in their behaviour around their Colonies. depending on whether the Herons are ground nesting, nesting on an Island or in Trees. All this will affect their behaviour at the nesting Colony. Even when Herons nest in Tress, it will vary depending on whether those tress are over water, isolated from people directly or exposed to constant movement of any sort. This is the main concern about the fast moving Bikes projected to pass down the new BIKE Pathway to be constructed at Holland Ponds this summer. If there will not be a constant flow of Bikes on this new almost million dollar Pathway, then what is the point of it at all? The facts appear to conflict with each other. Either the Bike Pathway will be a success and draw in all this money as claimed by the proponents of the Pathway, or it will not. Which is it? Depending on what Newspaper article you read, will depend on what various officials have to say about the Pathway, the Heronry, the Money, the reasons why IT MUST HAPPEN. There is no consistent reports on this new Pathway through Holland Ponds. Lots of good wishes, but no real facts.

There is still much to be examined before this Pathway is installed if Parks & Recreation and our own Department of Natural Resources can justify such a Gamble at constructing a new BIKE pathway at Holland Ponds, that is very similar to the one that destroyed 200 nests in West Bloomfield. We have requested the research and data the DNR should have collected before they gave Shelby twp. some $300,000 to construct such a Pathway with our money from our Parks PASSPORT system. Before the protectors of our state’s Natural Resources (the DNR) donates that kind of money and then the local Parks & Recreation in Shelby Twp. matches it, You would believe all these entities would have extensive studies and data to confirm their actions are sound and not Nature destructive. We shall see.

Empty Bike car roof racks, do not add up to a successful mis-named HIKE-BIKE Pathway as recently quoted in in a local Shelby Twp. Newspaper. No research or data from anyone, and just well wishes and the whole project is nothing more then one big Gamble, based on those well wishes, dreams, and absolutely NO sound data, research or determinations made from facts. Not sound judgement what so ever. Just a Do or Die for the Herons.

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Herons still Arriving

This has been a very different year for the Great Blue Heron Colony at Holland Ponds park. herons started arriving there in the 1st week of March, and have been trickling in ever since. Most years, towards the end of March there is a big surge of returning Herons that quickly fill up all the available nests at the heronry. then the stragglers will fill up the remaining nests and build new ones if needed.

The process has been very different this year. No real big surge of returning Herons. A small group real early in March and then little by little the rest of the existing nests have been filled by returning Herons.

The Great Blue Heron spends it’s winter months south of Michigan. Anywhere from the Carolinas to Florida and South America. Like Salmon, many of the returning Herons have either been here before nesting, or are the youngsters from a previous fledged nest.

This is just one reason why it is so important to protect and existing nesting site like this. It is a place the Herons remember and also where the hatched youngsters from a previous nesting season, will come back to each year, looking to nest in the safety of others in an existing Colony like Holland Ponds.

The herons act very different during this mating and nesting times. They are very skiddish and nervous birds during these months of raising their young. herons are always a bit of a nervous Bird. But this is exaggerated tremendously during nesting time.

It is interesting that they will tolerate what they know will not hurt them. In this case…..Ryan road traffic is something they have become accustomed to and ignore. So is the Gun shots heard from the Detroit Gun Range nearby. But bring in something new, or produce alot of movement and noise and they will abandon the nests. Even if there are young in the nests.

I have watched the entire Colony leave the nests because a group of Fisherman walked along the river’s edge behind the heronry, talking loudly. these Fisherman did not know the nests are ever there and could not see them during the summer when the trees in the rear nesting site are covered with leaves. Signage is needed on the south and east sides of the heronry to warn Fisherman of their approach to a delicate area of nesting Herons. We have mentioned this to Parks & Recreation in Shelby Twp. and hope that very soon something will be done to prevent further disturbances of this unique nesting site.

It takes care and nurturing for a place like this to exist and flourish. We would be happy to advice the Parks & recreation people of some of the things they could do to assist the growth of this very special place. Many people love to visit the park and watch the Herons grow and feed their youngsters through out the summer months. It would be a huge shame to have this 10 year growing Heron Colony, fail for simple reasons that could have been easily and inexpensively corrected.

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These are some recent pictures from Linda Urban, local nature photographer.

Delicate Heronry at Holland Ponds

We lost a major nesting tree in the front Heronry, to the high winds this last week of December. The tree had 6 longtime nests in it. šŸ˜¦ It also appears there have been a few nests that individually got blown out of their perches. Just the two biggest trees remain. Some nests on smaller trees around these main trees.

This just shows how delicate the whole situation there, can be. It is great the Herons started the rear nestingĀ area a few years ago. Those nests are in more concealed areas and have more protection from high winds. The main heronry now exists there in the rear nesting sites.

Wonder what the Herons will do in 2013. They will of course continue to build more nests in the many available trees in the rear nesting area. But I wonder if they will also build new nests in the smaller trees in the original front nesting site.

We will be watching closely come March or so, when the Herons return for the 2013 nesting season. Hopefully they will continue with there increased nest building each year prior, and make up for the lost nests. remember that another large tree was lost at the end of last years nesting season, taking 4 nests with it, and the total nesting sites for 2012 had increased from 2011. So these birds have shown that their Colony is here to stay.

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