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Published: 07/28/2006    print this story   email this story  

Great blue solitude in Danville

By Jim Montalto

Across from the old meeting house just off route 111A sits a commonplace side street known as Tuckertown Road. Although closed to traffic, ambitious hikers can follow a trail leading deep into a wooded area to discover Danville's blue heron rookery. This breeding ground is nestled in the marsh of about 500 acres of land the local forestry committee and conservation commission is trying to preserve for wildlife. Each spring, hundreds of blue herons nest atop the dead trees that soar high above the water.

"Picture a telephone pole standing in all this water, and on top are just a bunch of sticks where these birds sit," explains Sheila Johannesen, the town's animal control officer and member of both the forestry and conservation teams. "The birds usually have two to three babies each year around the beginning of June. Then they leave in the fall, but come back about the end of March, typically to the same nests."

Known for their long wing span and the high volume of noise they make when feeding, Johannesen says these creatures have built more than 100 nests in Danville's wildlife acreage because of the quiet and stillness the woods has to offer. She has recently discovered another smaller rookery that is farther along Tuckertown Road and much deeper into the woods.

Johannessen says it is fine for hikers to observe the birds, but asks that they visit in small groups and remain courteous of the herons' home, since peace and quiet is so crucial during the herons' nesting time.

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