70 Wonderful Great Blue Heron Nests

The man sat cross-legged on the sidewalk that skirted the perimeter along the water’s edge. In his lap, a pen and notebook. Pressed against his glasses, the eyepiece of an antique spyglass. Someone else might have used a modern telescope.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com).

How many playful great blue fledglings will we see in 2014?

Herons are ancient, their ancestors appearing 40 million years ago, and so it seemed fitting for him to have an old spyglass trained on the nesting island, instead of a newfangled telescope.

He was alternately looking through the eyepiece and jotting down notes in his book when I walked around the bend. We were strangers, but curiosity got the better of me and I interrupted his writing to ask what he was looking at.

“Great blue herons. Mothers and chicks, in nests on the island. There are about 60 pairs of herons nesting on the island.”

I shyly asked if I could take a quick peek, and in the instant my own eye peered through the spyglass, an entirely new world opened up. It was stunning. I was left wordless by the first vision of an adult with a chick – the graceful curve of the adult’s neck, their golden eyes, subtly shaded grey-blue feathers, the adorable cap feathers of the fluffy chick, all of it.

And thus it deepened, my love affair with great blue herons.

In a couple of recent posts, I’ve written about that nesting island. If you’ve missed them, click here, and here, and here to catch up.)

For eleven years, I had lived across from the Eastern end of the waters, and from my balcony and on walks along the shoreline, I had watched the comings and goings of a stream of herons at certain times of the day. In the mornings, they headed away from the island as though on their way to work, later to return with fish for their offspring. They flew in wave after wave after wave thoughout the day.

More than 10 years had passed since that accidental sidewalk encounter, and I was curious about the number of herons still nesting on the island. I painstakingly photographed the length of the island from the only accessible vantage point, the South, in May, 2011, and captured 32 nests – remarkable since I had no access to the Northern exposure.

Out of curiosity, today I found a satellite image of the island taken exactly one month before my panorama. The herons and/or their nests stand out starkly in this next image.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Can you count the great blue herons’ nests on the island in this satellite view?

By my informal count, there are at least 70 nests and/or herons visible in that satellite view. My heart leaps with joy at their numbers.


Thanks to Cheri Rowlands Lucas and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginnings. (By my count, there are more than 70 great blue heron nests on the island. That’s a whole lot of new beginnings.)

Thanks to Praire Birder Charlotte for the Feathers on Friday challenge.

Thanks to the kind folks at SkyWatch Friday.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Possibility challenge. (With that many nests, the island reeks with the possibilities fir new life.)

Thanks to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Preoccupied prompt. (Yes, I am definitely preoccupied with this island and her herons.)

Thanks to Sue for her A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Yellow prompt. (Great Blue Herons have such amazing yellow eyes and bills!)

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.


A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

(This photo was taken May 1, 2011.)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron

Posted on January 10, 2014, in A Word A Week Photo Challenge, ardea herodias, Art, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, Feathers on Friday, Great Blue Heron, Nature Photography, Photography, postaday, Skywatch Friday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Weekly Travel Themes, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. I adore your preoccupation!!!! Thanks for playing!

  2. Very cool! I will never be able to look at “another” Great Blue Heron without revisiting fledgling memories of the breadth of your experience.

    • Many thanks for your generous compliment! I’m so glad you like this one. I am smitten with the herons, as anyone can tell.

      • It’s the reward, the joy of taking (and having) the time to observe and pay attention to the exclusion of everything else. I wish I had more time for my crows. But every experience adds to the previous ones and reminds me that it’s all about the journey and not the destination, if I may be so trite!

  3. What a wonderful adventure to have and I can’t think of a more thrilling bird to obsess over! 😀

  4. Excellent story, with a nice sprinkling of science. The biologist in me wants to determine nest tree characteristics, nest spacing, etc. — island populations can be treasure troves of data!!!

    • Thanks for your kind comment, Nick. That’s a great perspective to have, that of a biologist looking at island populations. That island is entirely off-limits to humans, no access, not even by boat because the water surrounding it is part ofthe city water supply, so long lens is about the best bet, but satellite is even better if a person could zoom in sufficiently. The image in my blog has been shrunk to fit, so there is more detail available in the original version. I looked for a more recent satellite image, but there were too many clouds. It’s fun viewing nature from space to get the big picture!

  5. Once again I’m thrilled to see photos and read great info about the always compelling GBH!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Phil. Say, have you ever looked for your marsh in satellite view? If the GBH are large enough to be seen (and they are in some views), I bet Mr. A might be visible, too. Now there’s a scary thought!

  6. Oh wow! A satellite view of Mr. A! I never thought of that! How great would that be?!?

    • It would be a thing of beauty. Frightening beauty. Go for it! I found that the sat views on terraserver.com are wonderful, but not free. The Flash something satellite view from Bing was very good, Mapquest, too. The one from g@@gle had too many deciduous leaves obscuring the nests, though. Good luck!

  7. Beautiful photography!

  8. What a wonderful story! I find it amazing that their nests show up on satellite but, then, I’m very naive about the Herons! Adorable photo of the fledglings! 🙂

    • Many thanks for your kind words, glad you like this one. Yes, it is amazing what some of the satellite views can show, the level of detail is surprising.

  9. by looking through that eyeglass you went through a door which has lead you along a wondrous path of discovery Babsje!

  10. Your photos are amazing! So beautiful……

  1. Pingback: Feathers on Friday | Prairie Birder

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