Discovering the Heron Rookery behind Stall Brook School


Long distance view of the heron rookery, Stall Brook

Four years ago I saw a drone video posted on our local Bellingham, MA Conservation Commisison Facebook page offering a glimpse of a great blue heron rookery near power and gas lines north of Rt. 126, somewhere near Stall Brook elementary school in Bellingham. I have since wondered if it was possible to get a view of the herons without climbing in a plane to do so.


Still smiling after getting wiped down from my up close encounter with a slippery mud puddle

We took several walks in the woods behind Stall Brook School in the last few weeks, explored the unmarked trails of this conservation land. The recent snow storm left some trails muddy and quite slippery. I navigated a particularly tricky puddle fine going one direction, but despite warnings to go around the puddle on our return, I plowed forward, and got up close and personal with this same mud puddle.


The area has several ponds to enjoy

After looking more closely at maps, we got a better idea of where we might look to discover the rookery.


While you will find roots on the unmarked trails, they are mostly wide and pretty easy to manage

This area has vernal pools, relatively wide trails, and swampy areas that drain into the Stall Brook, a feeder stream that flows into the Charles River.


The rookery, from the shoreline

We also found the large flooded area with lots of dead, standing trees, perfect for Great Blue Herons to build their nests in.


One heron on her nest in the rookery

Access required crossing the power lines west of the school, and we followed trails that have been kept open by local ATV riders. While we walked we saw no other visitors, but did spot, from a distance, three poeple on ATVs on the trails.

Enjoy this 4 minute video overview of the rookery, thanks to the folks of the Bellingham, MA Conservation Commission.


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

beech cliffs 2018


Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

2 responses to “Discovering the Heron Rookery behind Stall Brook School

  1. Wow – that is an extensive rookery! Great to see you out there finding a way to get closer! Herons are incredible to watch this time of year. Beautiful plumage!

    • marjorie561

      I was unable to see a lot without our spotting scope, but a friend visited after I wrote this and reported that almost every nest had a bird sitting on it, so yes, a productive rookery indeed

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