Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Viera Wetlands

Another in my New Years birding binge series...  After shooting the Orange Bowl game, I left the stadium at 1:00AM and drove north.  The first rest stop on I-95 isn't until after Jupiter and by the time I got there, I felt like I had been driving from Earth to Jupiter!  Finally, I got to stop and sleep!  I only slept a few hours though because I wanted to be at Viera Wetlands in the first hour after sun up.  I made it groggily to Viera.  What a neat place!

The wetlands are a series of man-made impoundments, very much like Wakadohatchee.  However, rather than a boardwalk, you simply drive your car around the tops of the dikes.  Talk about easy bird-watching!  This is an excellent opportunity for handicapped individuals.  In fact, I saw a guy driving around in a van with a homemade camera mount hung on the window like a drive-in eating joint.  Perfect.

On to the pics... there were all manner of birds in the wetlands, but the stars of course, were the nesting pairs of Great Blue Herons.  There were several pairs nesting in the tops of palm trees, just twenty  to thirty yards off the road.  They drew a crowd of folks, some shooting with mongo lenses, some just gawking at the site.


And gawking is appropriate at that!  What a beautiful scene.  I could have sat right there the whole morning and watched the Blues nest.


But, there was other stuff to see, so I drove and walked.  Every time around the dikes, I saw something different and exciting.  This Glossy Ibis was a neat find.  I haven't seen any up in north Florida.  You can definitely see how it got its name.  Just look at the deep hues of green and blue in that glossy black plumage.


Here's a nice Snowy Egret showing off his breeding plumage.  He's dressed formally to attract a pretty girl... can't blame him for that!


It's absolutely astounding how close you can get to the birds in this place.  They're all so acclimated to people and cars, and the dike road is so close to the water on both sides, you just can't miss with pictures.  This is especially true of normally shy birds such as Great Blue Herons.  In my neck of the woods, they take off if you look at them cross-eyed from fifty yards away!  Not here.


Of course, there's the obligatory Anhinga or two hanging out...


And then there was this guy...


An American Bittern in the reeds.  You have to appreciate that this photo is at 330mm... he didn't look this close in real life, and had I not seen him fly into the bull rushes, I'd have never know he was there.  Of course, that's the point... and he's very good at it!

Ducks of all manner call this place home... more in the winter I'm sure.  Here's a group of Ring Necked ladies hanging out, waiting for the guys to come back home.



If you want to see more, Viera Wetlands photos are included in several different galleries here:

Florida Water Birds
Blue Herons
Egrets
Ibis


See much more at wlpearce.com

It's all about the pics!

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