By Regan Weeks
In many ways, the Great Blue Heron is the iconic nearshore and tideland species for Skagit County. They are present year-round, often found hunting little fish in the water or frogs and voles in our fields. In part because of our many productive estuarine bays (Padilla, Similk, Fidalgo, Skagit) and our temperate climate, great blue herons seem to be more abundant in our part of the Salish Sea than anywhere else on the West Coast.
Herons are colonial nesters, and the March’s Point heron colony (located near the Whitmarsh Landfill) is thought to be one of the largest colonies on the West Coast, easily containing over 500 nests. An exact count is not easy to get, because while the Skagit Land Trust owns 3.5 acres of the fir forest in which the colony is built, nests are also built on neighboring properties, and the Trust does not have full access. In 2016, T Bailey Inc. worked with Skagit Land Trust to place a conservation easement upon a portion of their property within the current heronry, protecting approximately 5.5 more acres (or a total of 9 contiguous protected acres.