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Pick it apart, little by little

While Holland Ponds is being slowly destroyed, Shelby Parks & Recreation is lining up people and Organizations to tell everyone that “It will all be OK”. Mr. Youngbloods original quote about the harm and Gamble the new BIKE Pathway would do as the final blow of destruction to the heron nesting site at Holland Ponds.

There are people making assumption statements that are to pass as facts about the heronry and the effects of the Bike Pathway on that Heronry. A recent assumption was that Shelby Naturalist Dan Farmer was consulted extensively on just how the new Bike Pathway would effect the Herons and the nesting site at Holland Ponds. Great assumption! But not true. Which now makes the situation disgusting. To have such a quality Naturalist as Mr. Farmer and not use his Nature knowledge is just stupid.

Mr. Youngblood of Parks & Recreation also never conferred with the organization who has studied this specific heronry more then any other over the last 10 years. In fact…..”HOLLAND PONDS” the Group has fed info, nest countings, effects of local wildlife, plants and aquatic life and their effects on the Heronry, directly to Mr. Farmer. It is where he has gotten all of his information on the very fine details taking place at Holland Ponds Heron Colony.

So…..after almost a year now, of very bad maintenance at Holland Ponds. That would be bed maintenance for a Natural area, but good maintenance for a local Ball field, the hired Lawn Cutting service has treated the front Ponds at Holland Ponds, like they where Ball fields. Pond-side grasses and habitats/cover, for the ponds Frogs, Turtles and Aquatic life, has been stripped to bare ground since the middle of this past Winter. Yes…..Parks & Recreation started these Pond strippings in the middle of Winter. Much of the life is gone or has been reduced tremendously in the front are Ponds at the Park.

The herons have now lost almost 12 Nests to rain-felled nesting Trees and other Nature and questionable causes. Little by little…..Pick….Pick…..Pick, at the life, Habitats and environments at Holland Ponds, so that when that last heavy hammer of a Bike Pathway comes this summer, there will be almost nothing left to Kill, as far as Herons.

After 10 years of writing reports for Shelby Twp. Parks & Rec. and the Shadbush Nature, to help keep all these people informed about this wonderful Park in their jurisdiction, I am sooooooo dismayed by how these same people have picked at destroying this once Heron nesting site in Southeastern Michigan. It WAS the largest Great Blue Heron nesting site in Macomb county. Something I would have thought that Macomb county would have been proud of. Who would ever have believed that this Heronry would go the same route, as the Pathway which went alongside the then, largest heronry in West Bloomfield. The EXACT SAME WAY. No one learned anything from that experience. Except how to manipulate the truth and the facts to fit their needs. Destroyed by the ignorance of Parks & Recreation and the insane focus on Bike Pathways being more important then a Natural place. Obviously Shelby Twp. does not want even this very small Natural place in their Township. Just more Amusement rides, Ball Fields and conquering style Sports.

I wonder if that would actually be the Vote from the People of Shelby Twp/ And I do not mean another one of those fixed Surveys, where you call your friends and get their opinion on what YOU want to do about Bike Paths. Or go to a Bike Race and ask the Bikers there if they would like another Bike Pathway. This is a well nurtured trick by the DNR, various city Parks & Recreations. The Greenways Alliance has produced this kind of Surveys and questionnaires to show some sort of backing for their Bike Pathway projects. yet they where just about out of business about 3 years ago, because no one wanted to support them or finance them any longer. Until they joined forces with our State DNR and then local Parks & Recreations. Then the BOG CON began in full. It is running in full, in Shelby Twp. at this moment.

Holland Ponds is no longer the Largest Great Blue Heron nesting site in S.E. Michigan. Shadbush Nature center, Naturalist Dan Farmer, or even the person that Guaranteed absolutely NO PROBLEMS with the Bike Pathway affecting the Nesting site, Joe Youngblood have any idea that this is so. They only know what they are told about the Heron nesting site. Dan Farmer will even be leading a guided Hike at Holland Ponds for the Oakland Audubon Society and their meeting there. Hey Dan…..let Oakland Audubon know they are looking at a quickly dwindling, once the largest, Great Blue Heron nesting site In macomb county. Wonder why Oakland Audubon is at a Macomb county Park to have their meeting and have Dan Farmer lead a Heron Hike. Something he knows very little about. He is a very smart Naturalist, but knows nothing about the specifics of these Herons at Holland Ponds.All the write-ups, Videos, Pictures and studies over the last ten years have ALL been done by us, and not a single report or even a small write-up from Mr. Farmer. That is because he is the low-man on the UNION Parks & Rec. Totem Pole. Do you all get it yet? Pretty sad, HUH? 😦

There is now another Macomb county heronry that is larger and another Oakland county Colony that is larger. We expect the Holland Ponds Colony to fade to just the newer Rear herony by next year, at best, and then go into Oblivion, just like the West Bloomfield heron nesting site.


New MAPS Coming

We have three Maps available for Shelby Twp. Parks. One is our Map of Holland Ponds. This Map is now three years into edits and detailing. Very accurate and GPSed Map of the Park and heronries there.


We also have an adjoining Map that will guide you from Holland Ponds Park, over to Yates Cider Mill. This is a great Hike in Fall to see the Colors along the river Trail, stop in for Cider and then return to Holland Ponds Park. All without fighting the hideous traffic that congests Yates Cider Mill when the apples are flowing there.


We have a Map of River Bends Park, primarily showing the Nature Center side of the river and Park. This again is a detailed Map that has been GPSed over the last couple of years. A great Map to follow the various Hiking Trails that are behind the Shadbush Nature Center and those that follow the river up to the bridge.


We are about to finally release our full Map of River Bends Park, showing the entire Park. Both sides of the river have been GPSed and detailed out. All the various Trails are indicated including much of the unique foliage that still exists there. Also indicated on the new Map are the remnants of the old Clinton/Kalamazoo Canal and the Mule trail that paralleled the Canal.

This late summer we will be releasing a Map we have been working on for more then 2 years now. It is a Map of the Metro Detroit area, that indicates most of the Great Blue Heron nesting sites that still exist, and how many nests are located at each Heronry. This has been a very challenging Map to put together because there are many secretive nesting sites for these beautiful birds. In fact, there is one very large Heronry we will not be indicating on this new Map in order to keep the nesting site a secret and growing in a healthy manner as it has been doing for many years now. We have seen what little respect and care many of the local Parks & Recreation people have for these unique and special places such as a Heronry, and we feel if we reveal all the nesting sites, they will be compromised, sold out for money and eventually we would have NO Great Blue Heron nesting sites in Southeastern Michigan. But what we have indicated on this new upcoming Map is pretty exciting, and we are sure you all will use it to do some excellent heron tours in the future. 🙂

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  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.

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.

1st Annual Great Blue Heron FESTIVAL

Shelby Twp. Parks & Recreation, along with HIKING MICHIGAN will be presenting the very first Great Blue Heron Festival on Saturday, 5/12/12 at Holland Ponds Park and the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center. There will be a Shuttle Bus system set up, so if you wish to park your car at the Nature Center located at River Bends park, and then be bussed back and forth to Holland Ponds park and the Heronry and activities, then this is a choice for you.

There are plenty of activities scheduled for the day, starting at 9am. Naturalist Dan Farmer will be at the heronry as well as doing special Pond Dipping sessions and other activities. HIKING MICHIGAN leaders will be at the Heronry with Video equipment and large monitors for you to see the Herons very up close and personal. Hopefully we will have some hatched youngsters in the nests by Festival time.

After the main activities at Holland Ponds, there will be more taking place back at the Shadbush Nature Center, as well as a nice Campfire in the gathering place behind the Center. Hot tea and chocolate and treats will be on hand. Watch the video below for even more details for the days events.

Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal

Take a look at the Clinton-Kalamazoo page and read about some of the history of the Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal. The largest remaining sections of this historic canal are located at River Bends park, and runs most of the length of Holland Ponds park.

HERON Nests Count 2011

With permission from the Park, we headed out to get a good count of the entire Heronry at Holland Ponds park. Venturing into these areas are prohibited, especially during the Heron nesting season. The birds are very skid-dish and can be scared off their nests. In some cases….permanently.

With 21 nests in the original front Heronry and another 18 nests in the newer rear Heronry, the park is ready to welcome back the Great Blue Herons for nest year, with 39 solid nests. The Heronry is growing quickly!

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