Looking for an outdoor adventure that is both cheap and nearby? You might want to take a trip downtown to view the great blue heron rookery in the middle of the James River. Now is the best time to go before the trees leaf out and obscure your view of the herons’ nests.

Parking along Byrd Street, walk to 12th street, turn toward the river and follow the signs to the Pipeline Walk. Climb a short ladder down to the metal walkway. Across the river you can see the island with dozens of nests high in the trees. According to the sign on the trail heron chicks will be hatching during April so you can see the busy parents feeding their young. Also according to the signs the heron rookery has grown tremendously over the past decade—a testament to how much the previously polluted James has cleaned up.

In 2011 Dominion Power and the National Audubon Society teamed up to document the activities of the great blue herons of the James River. For a twelve week period from February 2011 to May 2011 video was shot of the birds beginning with courtship through nest building and chick raising. This video presents the highlights. Amazing how such a skinny neck can swallow such a fat fish!

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