[Tweeters] Heron Nests - Blk. River, Des Moines

Lynn & Carol Schulz linusq at worldnet.att.net
Sun Mar 15 09:54:29 PDT 2009

Hi Tweeters:
A small group of RAS folks visited the heronry at the Black River Riparian Forest and
other local spots on Sat, Mar 14. The weather was pretty awful with rain, wind, and
temp about 40 degrees. During the week I had scouted Blk. River heronry, and was
surprised to see that all the Great Blue Heron nests were empty. See that msg below.
At that time I panicked, and put out a request to local folks to find out if there
were any
other heron colonies around here. I was told about a small, local colony right here
in the town of Des Moines, so I had a backup for our Saturday trip. The colony was
new to me.
First our group visited Grandview Park on Military Road, just north of Kent-Des
Moines Road at S 228th St. It is a dog park. We got a break in the rain storms when
it became light rain to drizzle, so we walked the entire loop, and visited the
wonderful viewpoint at the lower part of the loop. You walk through a gate to walk a
short distance to the view point on the bluff. From the bluff, you can see a lot of
our favorite birding areas, including 204th St, Kent Ponds, and Riverview Marsh w/
its pond. 204th St fields were mostly dried up. Not a lot of birds were
flying, due to the weather. At the top of the loop we saw our only Red-tailed Hawk
of the trip, huddling low in some woods. It's pretty bad weather when even Redtails
don't perch up in the open.
Our next stop was the Black River Riparian Forest in Renton. We walked in and
immediately had a view of the huge eagle nest that is 400 feet to the EAST (not
south) of the heronry. A male Bald Eagle was perched above the nest, and the female
was down in the nest, with just the top of her head showing. At 10am, we saw some
herons flying above the heronry. Eventually 7 Great Blue Herons came into the tops
of the trees and perched there. They did not interact with each other, and didn't
sit on any of the nests. We continued walking over to the dam to see all the ducks.
We had great views in there of eye-level Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Ruby-crowned
Kinglets which were flashing their ruby crowns, and singing a bit. When we walked
back out the herons and the male Bald Eagle were gone. The female eagle was still
in the nest.
Our RAS group traveled south on I-5, and exited at exit 149 to drive down Kent-Des
Moines Rd into Des Moines. Just one block up from the Taco Time at the bottom, we
turned left onto S 230th St. (The streets are S 230th on the left, and 10th Ave on
the right of K-Des M Rd.) Just after you turn south onto S 230th there is a large
gravel pullout on the right next to a chain-link fence at a storage yard. We looked
across the street just to the left of a house at 845 S 230th. There is a stand of
alders against the hillside, with the tallest tree being about 50 ft tall. In those
trees we saw 2 Great Blue Herons perched. They are only about 150 ft. from our
viewing spot. On Thurs at 5pm, I saw 8 herons there. One pair copulated and the
male of
that pair left, and brought back a stick to a new possible nest. (On Thurs I studied
the difference between male and female as referred to in a previous msg from Kathy
Andrich. I could see that the male was slightly larger. But I had trouble seeing
that the male's bill was larger.) There is one other
older nest in those trees too. Maybe there will soon be at least two nests.
The neighbor there is very nice, and told me the colony has existed for 10-15 years.
He also said the eagles know about this colony.
We then went to the Des Moines Fishing Pier, and viewed for a little while in the
wild wind and rain. We saw Horned Grebes in winter plumage, some Red-necked Grebes
getting red necks, and a few Western Grebes. The Surf Scoters were gone, but there
were still a few Barrow's and Common Goldeneyes. We saw a female Common Merganser,
some Mew Gulls, and lots of Glaucous-winged gulls, and hybrid gulls. There were a
number of Pigeon Guillemots in breeding plumage.
We then walked up the Des Moines Creek Trail a ways, (it starts in the canyon up from
the beach), and an adult Bald Eagle flew
down the creek. We ended the trip a bit early so everyone could go home and dry out.
See my previous msg. below.
Yours, Carol Schulz
Des Moines, WA
linusq at att.net
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lynn & Carol Schulz" <linusq at worldnet.att.net>
To: "Tweeters" <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 8:05 AM
Subject: Heron Nests Empty - Blk. River Forest, Renton

Hello Tweets:
I was surprised to see that all the many nests at the Black River Great Blue Heron
colony in Renton were empty yesterday, Wed, Mar11. Information at the Herons Forever
website http://www.heronsforever.org/ (click on About the Great Blue Heron) says that
the colony which the birds started in 1986 is on an island, built there for
protection from predators such as man. But this does not protect them from eagles.
An absolutely riveting sight yesterday was of a huge Bald Eagle nest, with a female
eagle in it, only about 400 ft north of the colony. The eagle must be on eggs, as I
did not see any activity other that the eagle in the nest. From her vantage point,
it looks like she can look down on the nests.
I did not see any herons, other than a fly-by by one bird. I heard from birders
later, that someone had seen one heron at the pond just below the dam. Yesterday, a
juvenile Bald Eagle, and a Red-tailed Hawk both soared over the nests at times.
The website says that usually the herons have come into the nests in late Feb, and
nesting is usually in full swing by mid-March. Up to two years ago, this was the
largest heron colony in three counties.
A group of us will be visiting the heronry on Saturday. I hope to report then that
the nests are being visited by herons.
Yours, Carol Schulz

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