Great Blue Heron Rookery at the Foss Reservoir!

A few weeks ago I visited the Foss Reservoir (AKA Reservoir #3)for the first time. This is the reservoir right next to route 9 at the Jefferson Apartments on one side, and abutting the Mass Pike on the other. It isn't easy to get to the place, and when I finally found a way in, I almost turned around and left because of all the NO TRESSPASSING signs.

The DCR sign has the phone number of the State Police on it. I don't see why they bother, since anyone reading the sign is trespassing and probably won't call the cops on themselves.

The MWRA sign is short and sweet and difficult to misinterpret.

The MDC sign, on the other hand, prohibits lots of activities but it doesn't prohibit people. I chose to believe that sign instead of the others.

I didn't stay long because I forgot mt inhaler and could barely breathe. But I did notice another Pine Plantation here. Coincidence? I think not!

I returned to this reservoir early this morning. I was determined to see warblers and track down the elusive eagle's nest. I also wanted to try out my new camera with my old telephoto lens (an engineering feat that cost me $50.00 for an adapter!)It was so beautiful and peaceful in the early morning hours! (It wasn't quiet, of course. The reservoir is squeezed between the Pike and route 9, and the rush hour roar was always audible, but not overwhelming.) The surface of the water was as smooth as glass!

The water was so perfectly flat that the whole reservoir acted like a mirror, reflecting an impressionist's view of the traffic and the apartment buildings.

A pair of reservoir geese came to visit,

and a Baltimore Oriole posed very nicely for me. Otherwise I was having no luck finding warblers or anything else. I could hear them all around me, but couldn't see a single one.

I decided to sit quietly at the water's edge for a while, and instantly my luck changed dramatically! This is the first time IN MY LIFE that I have captured a recognizable photo of a bird in flight - and how incredible that it was my very favorite species in the world; a Great Blue Heron!

There were LOTS of herons flying around this Wednesday morning. I could believe how many. I quickly realized that the herons were congregating around the island in the middle of the reservoir. They would fly off and return a while later to disappear into the trees. Others were circling around the island and ducking in and out of the branches.I quickly set up my tripod and attached the telephoto lens, and what I saw through the viewfinder almost made me scream. The island was a rookery! It was a Great Blue Heron rookery that was packed with more Herons than I had ever seen in one place in my whole life! Unfortunately, I was too far away to get any really clear shots, but you can at least get a taste for how amazing it was! They were displaying,

and flying up and down and around,

but mostly they were carefully watching over their very, VERY large nests!

There were a LOT of very large nests, and the parents were VERY attentive. I couldn't tell what was inside those massive nests, but since both parents were mobile and no one seemed to be sitting on eggshells, I suspect baby herons were inside. All the activity was probably required to feed all those hungry chicks!

These last images are of a slow motion heron hunting trip. The competition was too much for one of the herons, and he flew off to find a new spot.

The other heron strolled along the beach just as casually as you could imagine.

He was really quite dignified and composed, like an English landowner surveying his domain.

He strolled right into the bushes and reeds, which camouflaged him quite well. At first glance, he looks like just another branch!

He stood quietly and very still for just a minute or two -

and then he violently attacked the water and grabbed up a fish in his powerful beak! (I actually couldn't tell exactly what he had, but it was moving and it appeared somewhat fishlike!)

I don't know if he ate his catch or not, but seconds later he flew off towards the island.

What an absolutely amazing, awesome, and astounding day! Now do you understand why I love living in this town? Who the hell wouldn't!


  1. Susan,
    Your pictures of the Heron are outstanding representations of the bird in its finest positions... I feel like I am seeing my Heron from behind my house in your pictures ;) I need to "be patient by the waters edge" and catch a shot myself!

    Sorry I have not commented more... I have read, but this particular blog article really moved me to comment, as I think your photography is gorgeous here! Keep it up, MOM!


  2. Thanks, Charles, that's sweet. I've heard a lot about "your heron". Maybe I'll try to photograph him someday!

  3. I was just stopped in traffic there on sunday, reading those same silly signs, wondering what else could possibly be prohibited!
    Great that your trek was so successful!

  4. you see herons (i think they are) quite often at the reservoir gate on winter street. they just stand there right at the bottom of the fall, enjoying life it seems.

  5. Yes, I've seen a heron and a bittern taking showers in the falls there. I always look when I pass that way. Bitterns are awesome and rarely seen, but it is the Great Blue Heron that is my true love. I am still elated to have seen so many of them together, and to see them paired up and nesting was pure magic.


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