Beyond the BackyardViera Wetlands

Birds Posing on Palms at Viera Wetlands

It’s been a while since I went birding anywhere except the Circle B Bar Reserve, so I decided to head over to Viera Wetlands yesterday morning.  I’ve been following the birding news on Birdbrains and I knew that the wetlands aren’t particularly active at the moment, and that was true.  But I did end up with some nice shots, mostly of birds posing on the dead palm trunks that are scattered throughout the wetlands.  How nice of Nature to cooperate with photographers in providing such nice perches!

I arrived at the wetlands right around sunrise.  The clouds obscured the sun for a good twenty minutes or so after the “sunrise”, so I put my wide-angle lens on and did some bracketed shots for HDR.  I’ve never been to Viera for a good (i.e. non-cloudy) sunrise, and I will certainly try again.  But I kinda liked the moodiness of this HDR image.

The first bird that I saw was an adult Black-Crowned Night Heron.  Then I saw another one.  The light level was low, so I dialed in over a stop of exposure compensation.  The first heron flew away when I picked up The Beast, but the second obligingly posed on a pipe and let me photograph him.  His red eye is so striking.

I made a first pass around the wetlands.  I saw Blue-Winged Teals and American Coots galore, but not so many other ducks.  I was hoping for a Hooded Merganser, but I didn’t find one.  The Blue-Winged Teals put on a “morning bathtime” show for me.  It was such fun to see them splashing around in the water.  I rarely put my 7D on its highest frame rate, but I did to capture the silly ducks.  When I got home, I found that I had a wing-flap shot with a stray feather in front of the bird’s nose.

Here’s a video of the action as well.

The best path for morning light is the path you turn onto as you come into the wetlands, and I was lucky that the sun came out as I circled around to that path.  The golden light was quite pretty for a while.  I parked by a set of palm stumps and watched and waited.  The Double-Crested Cormorants were playing Musical Stumps, so I pre-focused on a stump and waited for one to fly in.  But I guess that put an end to their game, and I never got my fly-in shot.  Silly birds!

I noticed terns flying overhead several times, but I didn’t see them well enough to identify them.  Then I noticed two Caspian Terns preening on palm stumps.  I like the “peek-a-boo” look of this guy…

At one point a Great Blue Heron displaced an indignant cormorant from a stump.  The Great Blue fluffed up his feathers as if to say, “I won!”  I haven’t played around with Fractalius much lately, and I thought it might do interesting things with his feathers.  So I played with Photoshop and came up with the following…

Hopefully the Hoodies will be around when I go back next time!!