Posts Tagged ‘Heronry’


Great Blue Herons are back

March 23, 2012

The largest Great Blue Heronry exists at Holland Ponds park in Shelby Twp., Macomb county. Last years nesting pairs totaled 39 nests. Well….all the nests are already filled and it’s only March 21st. Unheard of in the past.

There are also male Herons, waiting at the edges of the Heronry, for females to arrive. This means there will be new nests being built this year. I have already seen three new attempts going on.

The skies over Holland Ponds are just full of Herons. Some of the nests even have females sitting on the nests. This only means eggs. ALREADY. Once the eggs are there, the female will sit and the male will fetch food for her. When the eggs hatch, the adults will take turns going for food. One leaves and one stays with the youngsters at all times.

Stop out at the Heronry located at 22 mile rd. & Ryan rd. in Shelby Twp. and see all of this for yourself. It IS AMAZING!


HERON Festival details set

March 5, 2012

Come on out and join in on the 1st annual HERON Festival at Holland Ponds park in Shelby Twp.  The Festival is set for May 12th, 2012, 9am-60m. There will be Bus Shuttles running all day between Holland Ponds and the Shadbush Nature Center, for easy parking.

besides the Video close-up viewing of the Heron Nests, there will be Horse draw Wagon tours of the park, Bird banding, and Pond dipping. Access to Bluebird boxes and nests are also on the agenda.

Back at the Nature Center there will be a LIVE Birds of Prey demo with live Eagles and Owls. The days activities will close with free Campfire Vittles around the Campfire pit behind the Nature Center. A whole days activities based around the returning Great Blue Herons at Holland Ponds Park. The largest Heron nesting site in S.E.Michigan. Come on out and join us for a wonderful nature filled day at the Parks and Shadbush Nature Center.


HERON Nests Counting 2011

November 3, 2011

Since the Great Blue Herons have all left the Heronry at Holland Ponds Park, it was safe to enter these two Heronrys and count the nests. The park has two separate Heronrys. The front Heronry is the oldest, dating back about 10 years now. We counted 21 remaining nests there. Two trees where blown down from high winds and storms and this front Heronry lost some 8 nests this season.

The newer rear Heronry, only in existence for the last three years, has grown tremendously. This years count was 18 nest. 7 of those nests where just built this last season. There are plenty of secluded and private trees in this rear Heronry, and we expect this area to become the main Heronry over the next couple of years.

With a total of 39 solid nests waiting for the Herons return in 2012, we expect a banner season for the entire Heronry.

A NOTE:  These heronys are restricted areas. Especially when the Herons are on the nests. They spook very easily and this can destroy an entire heronry. I got permission to count the nests at Holland Ponds, in advance, and only during this period of time when ALL the Herons had left for the season.


2011 Holland Ponds HERONRY Report

September 5, 2011

Well, the last of the chicks have fledged and all the Herons have been gone from the Heronry located at Holland Ponds, Shelby Twp. Park. We followed the Heronry very closely this year, and even filmed one specific nest through the entire season. The video for that will be out shortly. Until then, read about the details of the Heronry for 2011.

Holland Ponds Heronry Report 2011



Young Herons getting BIG

June 22, 2011

This years batch of youngsters are now almost as large as the adults. Each of the 37 active nests at Holland Ponds Park, started out with 3-4 youngsters per nest. They are down to 2-3 youngsters per nest. These should make it to fledging.

The young Herons are practicing their flying and fishing techniques as they wait for Mom or Dad to return about every hour with more muscle building food. This is a great time to watch the Heronry at the Park.

Get a map of the park here:  HOLLAND PONDS 





Dr. BOB Birding notes

May 26, 2011

We never know what we will get at Holland Ponds (Shelby Twp., Macomb County). Today it was the fishing Green Heron (my FOY) that really caught our attention. Lots of pics! (… later …)

I also saw a Chestnut-sided Warbler – my first there and for my Macomb County list, and I think for my Michigan lists. Yes, Allen – I was using binocs; I could never have even seen it – or especially shot it – with my “old way” of “camera first”.  After having great views at Magee Marsh (even a pic or two) this year, I know it well. It is truly a memorable bird! I think it is maybe my favorite warbler!

Whee! FOY Green Heron and fantastic warbler! Great day!

Notes: We met a photographer who kept ducking into the newly cleared “holes” in the Phragmites along the main park road (thanks Dan Farmer and Shadbush for clearing holes???) Now if we could only get rid of the rest of the Phragmites…! After sharing tales and minor bonding, the photographer shared some pics he took two days ago. He had shot a Horned Grebe (crest up and gorgeous!) and 12 little “greblings” – fantastic pics! Neither he nor we relocated them. But the “kids” were obviously young – maybe a first swim? How long does it take for them to fly? I suspect they want to be hidden until they are able to fend for themselves. WOW!

We met another guy – just walking, no optics – who told tales of sighting a Bald Eagle over Pontiac recently. He said he had been told there was a pair nesting on the buildings in downtown Pontiac. He also said that a Bobcat had been sighted at Holland Ponds. (Shush! Do not pass along … believe what you will…) I am not sure what else he might have told us – I went back to shooting the Green Heron.

We also met our friend John who had spent much of the day photographing a Green Frog. He had great pics of all stages of throat-swelling during the process to make the recognizable “boing” sound. So cool – this guy is patient!

The Red – Winged Blackbird nest that Judy so admired (and actually the reason we had to go today to check progress) just off the dock on Waterfowl Pond (I reported this before) had been brought down by the recent storms and lay in the pond below. Now it was just a soggy bunch of tangled weeds. Judy asked if she (the RWBB momma) would be sad.

I offered that birds work more on instincts than feelings. If eggs are there, sit on them. If you have no eggs, make some. Try again. Yes, it was sad. We had been so hopeful to watch the entire nesting, hatching, feeding, etc. so close to view.

The lightly-anchored nest was obviously vulnerable to the recent strong winds and rain. It was lucky for us to observe it then, there. It was the first time we actually saw one – especially with eggs! Normally they are deeper in the Phragmites along the shore and hidden from view. We just hear the sounds.  From my earlier PBase pic y’all could see it was not such a firm foundation. Sad. That’s life- and it goes on…  We had the blessing to see it as potential.

 Anyway, three points:

1)      Warblers are around still – remember that a few days ago I had a Blackpoll at Holland Ponds as well.

2)      If you visit Holland Ponds soon, be especially aware of the small ponds in the Phragmites to the north of the “main road” for the Horned Grebe and “greblings”. Please give me a shout if you see them!

3)      It is probably a good time to get Green Herons there. Look for something that looks like a branch on a log in the water. Unless they move, you might miss them. Some fish do miss heron recognition!

And, sure – for granted – check out the nesting Great Blue Herons! What fun! Where else can you see so many!

“Dr. Bob” Setzer

Streamwood Estates, Rochester Hills (Crooks & Hamlin), Oakland County

“Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.”   Teaching a man to “bird” is much harder!

Stop in at Dr. Bob’s Blog at:  Dr. Bobs Bird Blog


New HERONS Video

May 9, 2011

We have been following one specific nest at the Holland Ponds, Heron Rookery, in Shelby Twp.  Out of the almost 50 pairs of great Blue Herons nesting here for 2011, we have selected one nest to watch and follow through the season.

So far, this nest has produced two healthy youngsters. Most Herons produce two or three youngsters a nesting season. Once hatched, the youngsters grow at an amazing rate. Which means both heron parents spend most of every day, taking turns in going hunting and bring food back to the nest. One adult stays with the chicks, while the other fetches food. And so it goes, all day, every day, until the chicks are fledged from the nest.

We will be watching this here on the HM Blog as well as on the Holland Ponds Park……Facebook page. We will be taking new video about every 4-6 days as the young Herons grow quickly. Stay tuned for the next installment. There are two videos taken before this one, and can be viewed either on the HM YOU-TUBE web site, or on the Holland Ponds facebook page at:   HOLLAND PONDS FRIENDS


HERON Hike Reviewed 3/20/10

March 23, 2010

We had a great time at Holland Ponds this last Saturday. About 50-60 people turned out on a pretty cold afternoon. We had penny and Vicky from the Shadbush Nature Center fielding questions as we made our way through the Park. There was a Coopers Hawk nest, a Great Horned Owls nest and many other critters and plants we stopped to see as we made our way to the Rookery. The herons are still arriving from their Wintering grounds in Florida and some have already layed eggs and are sitting on the nests. After our Hike, a number of Hikers headed down Ryan road to the Shadbush Nature Center where they were treated to a second Nature hike, led by Park naturalist Dan Farmer. Andrew was on that hike and sent in a nice review of what took place below.

Nature Center Walk.

Mr. Farmer led a group of about 12 persons to the log cabin and then along a 30 minute walk down the stairs to the lower trails on a hunt for Skunk Cabbage blooms. Tree identification was the other major focus. Mr Farmer was informative and humorous the entire journey. Upon entering the unlit cabin a cordless screwdriver was used to open one of the windows for light. Mr Farmer remarked that one of the hardest things to overcome during pioneer times was finding the cordless screwdriver to open the window. After just three questions we would move on to the trails. The 60 steps down the wooden staircase were disputed, jokingly, by another hiker as we walked down, -later, on our returning journey, Mr. Farmer counted 61. Or was it 40 or 41? How many steps are there? I guess we will have to visit again to find out. Continuing on, describing the hike, it was mentioned that during a nature walk we would stop often. Not a through hike. Several times did we stop noticing some interesting fact. It was not going to be a ‘Sierra Club’ trek through the forest. Tree ID was a major focus. The dark potato chip like bark tree described was a Black Cherry. At several times during the hike we were quizzed on this particular tree, looking about, where we stood, always observing several. The Beech tree was discussed, that a disease was slowly making its way to Michigan. We were warned that this magnificent tree may by in danger over the next few years, like the others that have succumb to disease in the recent past. Other trees identified were Ironwood -the hardest wood in Michigan, Musclewood, Red Oak by its ‘ironed off ridges’, Maple and White Oak -whose bark was similar. Mr Farmer noted his love for trees and it showed. Meandering our way down the lowlands we entered what seemed to be the lowest point and we were asked to cup our ears in a particular direction and listen. What would we hear but the subtle sound of a creek, the calming gurgling sound of water rushing. “Do we get to hear enough of this sound?” “No”, everyone predictable remarked. We made our way to the Skunk Cabbage blooms. One was identified, then two then twenty, they were all around. Exotic, purplish green, when picked sends out a rather skunky smell to the nose, then, over time, the olfactory sense subsides and the smell becomes that of a pencil eraser. It was presented as great mystery, interesting and entertaining. Did native Americans eat this to subside? It was speculated but not substantiated. Time constraints limited the walk to this point. We headed back sometimes stopping briefly for one of the many quizzes as people asked questions, careful not to walk off the trails, stepping on the wild flowers which were not there yet. Earlier a family was spotted up the hill and redirected to the trail path as it erodes the hill, walking down the side of it. Many other interesting things were mentioned but will have to just be in the collective consciousness of enjoying the wilderness hike. It was an informative and humorous at times hike and I respect the out-of-doors even more than I did before.


Spring Heron Hike 3/20/10

March 12, 2010

Nothing better on the first day of Spring, then to visit a Great Blue Heron Rookery. And that’s what we have in mind for 3/20/10. At 12PM we are meeting at Holland Ponds Park, in Shelby Twp., Macomb county for a hike to the Heron Rookery there. With last years count of almost 35 nesting pairs, the heronry is hopping.

You can download more details and map to the park here:

You can download a nice Map of the actual park here:

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