The Blue Heron usually docks at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, Minnesota on Friday and is open to the public. A large crowd is just leaving a presentation as I arrived. Several times this summer it has been joined by other research vessels that happened to be in port. Great opportunity to catch up on Great Lakes research.
With the lousy spring I wasn’t able to get out and visit my favorite Blue Heron rookery. We have been visiting it for a number of years now. Unfortunately it seems to decline a bit every year. This year there were far fewer nests with birds in them and those with birds in them had about half the number of young. Normally we see four young birds in each nest. This year no nest had more than two birds.
Our visit was around noon so there wasn’t a lot of activity. Just as we started to leave an adult Blue Heron came to the nest to feed the young.
We always are on the lookout for Green Herons around the rookery. This year we saw what appeared to be two different pairs. Unfortunately they were a little shy and stayed a considerable distance from our vantage point.
Every year there are a nesting pair of Osprey in the rookery. This year they abandoned their normal nest and moved to a new nest on the other side of the rookery. For some reason abandoning nests seems to be in vogue this year. Three of the eagle nests I watch were abandoned this year.
More photos from the rookery can be found on my website.
The Blue Heron is a research vessel operated by the University of Minnesota – Duluth. It is a former fishing vessel that has been converted for use as a research vessel by the University. I’ve photographed in the Duluth Harbor area for a number of years and had never see this vessel which is docked at the US Army Corps Vessel Yard. This year the Blue Heron will be conducting Science Friday events on the last Friday of each month through October. The ship will be docked at the DECC for the open house events.
The Blue Heron will be open for visitors to stop in and tour the ship and ask questions about the research being done. We stopped in the end of April to walk through the ship and take a few photographs.
Ironically, after having never seen the ship before we encountered it several times over the next several weeks as it entered and exited the harbor for research on lake Superior.