Beyond the BackyardViera Wetlands

Cloudy Morning at Viera Wetlands

I debated whether to go out to photograph this morning. The forecast was just plain gross – 70% cloudcover, 50% chance of rain by 11:00, and over 90% humidity. Yep, that’s Florida in the summer! But I woke up early and decided that it’s been weeks since I’ve been able to get out, so I might as well go and enjoy it. I headed to Viera Wetlands, where I could stay in the air-conditioned comfort of my car and maybe see Black-Bellied Whistling Duck chicks.

Well, it was gross out! The light levels were terrible. But the birds were great. The water levels at Viera were really low, which attracted hundreds of wading birds. The rookery island was pretty productive this year, and lots of fledgling Cattle Egrets covered the trail. My favorites were the several Roseate Spoonbills. Who can resist their pink wings?

The wetlands echoed with the happy calls of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks. I drove around hoping to find babies, but I didn’t see any. I’m pretty sure I found an active nest cavity, because two adults kept going in and out of the top of a palm tree. They never left it alone. It was amazing to watch these big ducks disappear down the little tree trunk with a quick leap, then come hopping out again later. Talk about cramped quarters!

The advantage of a cloudy day is that you don’t have to worry about sun angle. I was able to shoot against trees that normally would have been totally backlit by the sun. I couldn’t get enough shutter speed for the fun shots of ducks coming and going from the trees, so I went for portraits. For this one, I photographed the duck with the focus point on him, then moved the focus point to the sky to get the background. A little combination in Photoshop yielded the picture that captured the sentiment of the day: “babies, when are you coming out?” :)