Beyond the BackyardViera Wetlands

Spring Morning at Viera Wetlands

Dyeyo and I couldn’t take it anymore.  People on the Birdbrains mailing list have been going on and on this week about all the birds at Viera Wetlands.  So we drove out there this morning to see all the birds.  It was a beautiful sunny, slightly breezy morning, and it was awesome to be outside with the birds.  Except we didn’t find as many birds as had been reported!  Oh well.  I still got some good pictures. :)

First there was the Green Heron posing on a dead palm tree in the first cell as we entered the wetlands.  I love all the dead trees at Viera – it makes for awesome portraits!

Green Heron

Green Heron

We drove around the outside of the cells first, just to get a feel for what birds were around.  I was hoping to see some Least Bitterns, but we didn’t see much at all as we drove around.  The Common Moorhens are taking over the ponds again.  The American Coots are almost gone, and so are all the other ducks.  So I guess the moorhens figure that it’s time to reclaim their territory and get to laying eggs!

We came across the Viera Sandhill Crane family on the trail.  The colt is a few weeks older than the colt at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  This guy is starting to get his flight feathers.  He’s still happy to accept a handout from his parents!  I was glad that I had brought my 70-200mm lens in addition to The Beast.  Isn’t it great when the birds are just too close? :)

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

There are tons of European Starlings at Viera Wetlands.  They are pretty common birds, considered pests in a lot of places, but I actually haven’t had many opportunities to get good pictures of the starlings.  So when one posed out in the grass in good morning light, I asked Dyeyo to stop the car.  He didn’t object a bit, hehe.

European Starling

European Starling

There’s a little island in the middle of one of the cells that looks like it contains a small rookery. There were Anhinga nests out there, and Cattle Egrets seemed to be nesting there as well.  Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks kept flying in and out too.  Dyeyo and I wished we could hop in a boat and get closer.  I had to settle for using The Beast and a 1.4x teleconverter.  I was pretty happy when I realized that I’d gotten sharp shots of this Cattle Egret in breeding colors as he flew in and out of the Brazilian Pepper.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

A Roseate Spoonbill flew past.  We saw a total of three this morning (or maybe it was the same bird that moved around as much as we did?)

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Then we started crossing the cells diagonally and found a bunch of photographers watching a Great Egret nest.  We also ran into Michael Libbe, who pointed out several more Great Egret nests and a bunch of Anhinga nests.  The light was pretty harsh by this point in the morning, but it was my first opportunity to observe Great Blue Heron chicks.  I took lots of pictures, then picked my favorites to lighten in Photoshop.

Great Blue Heron nest

Great Blue Heron nest

Great Blue Heron nest

Great Blue Heron nest

Anhinga nest

Anhinga nest

These pictures make me want to go back to Viera and head to the nesting zone in the golden morning light!

We finally moved on, then Michael called me to tell us to put the car in reverse.  He’d just found a Least Bittern!  The silly bird didn’t want to come out and pose for us, but I managed to find a decent window in the reeds.  These birds were smaller than the ones I remember seeing at Circle B.  We watched a couple of them fly and boy were they pretty.  Thank you, Michael!

Least Bittern

Least Bittern