No one can argue the beauty of the great blue heron, the majestic way it takes flight and soars above the water. Local photographer Lou Nicksic is certainly captivated by it. He’s been shooting nature photos since 2010, when he finally bit the bullet and bought professional equipment.
“We are truly blessed to have such a huge variety of wildlife that seasonally migrates through our area, and to be able to photograph the mountains, forests, and islands completes the whole nature-package,” Nicksic says.
One of Nicksic’s favorite subjects, the great blue heron, has been at the center of several land development squabbles in recent years. Their local nesting area, Post Point Lagoon, rests on the border of an undeveloped section of land just south of downtown Fairhaven. It is one of only seven pocket estuaries that remain in Bellingham Bay.
The heron colony arrived at Post Point in 2000, after being displaced from a nesting area along Chuckanut Drive. Since then, their new rookery has been threatened by luxury housing plans. According to the City of Bellingham, the Post Point colony is among the 73% of colonies in the Pacific Northwest that depends on access to plants often killed by development.
Despite threats, the herons have persisted, doubling their nests over the past two decades and raising more than a thousand hatchlings. This is partially thanks to the city, which has committed itself to protecting, restoring, and monitoring the habitat since 2004. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also designated great blue herons as a priority species, which grants them special protections.
For those wanting to experience the birds first-hand, the herons typically arrive at Post Point in February and remain through the summer. A boardwalk with a viewing bench offers a peaceful place to watch the birds as they tend to their nests or set off to forage.
“Photographing the herons as they float in and land in the tide-flats create so many unique still-frame postures,” Nicksic says. Whether capturing photos of the birds building their nests or teaching their hatchlings to fish, Nicksic is just one of many who find inspiration in the life cycles of these resilient birds.
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