On my first day of vacation freedom, I headed over to the Viera Wetlands for sunrise. I knew that the Great Blue Herons would be nesting, and I was hopeful that the cooperative Belted Kingfisher would pose for me again. I arrived about half an hour before sunrise, and the sky was red and pink and orange with color. The clouds were magnificent! I hopped out of the car and started shooting…
It’s cool to see how the sky colors change so quickly during sunrise. This first image was made at 6:53 am. The deepest colors are actually well before sunrise, which was scheduled for around 7:15 on this particular morning. A mere eight minutes later, at 7:01, the bright pinks and blues were no longer so vibrant. But my bird started cooperating, fluffing up her chest and arching her head into the air in a display of Great Blue Heron courtship. Basically she was saying, “hey, the nest is progressing and I need some help from Dad now!”
Well, Dad showed up to help. As the sky glowed orange with the rising sun, he brought in a new stick to add to the nest. The herons are so graceful when they build their nests. When Dad brings in a stick, Mom takes it in her beak too, and together they place it into the woven mess of sticks that comprises their nest. Often they stand there for several minutes, positioning and repositioning it, until they get it in just the right spot.
I had fun watching this pair do a little courtship dance. The birds throw their heads back and forth, biting at each other with their beaks. I captured a burst of stills, which I then turned into a short animation in iMovie.
A few minutes later, a second pair of herons started doing the same dance. This pair was a little closer and at a better vantage point, where I could move my tripod a bit and photograph them without the grasses in the foreground. Nice!
After the spectacular sunrise, I turned my tripod around and focused on The Perch where the Belted Kingfisher has so cooperatively posed for the past few weeks. Before the sun really came up, the kingfisher obligingly flew in…
Look at how the kingfisher stretches her wings as she flies in to the perch! She looks like she’s conducting an orchestra. I was glad that I’d dialed in enough ISO to mostly freeze her wings in such low light. This was the best I saw of the kingfisher all morning. I stood watching her perch for about three hours, and after her quick visit, she never returned! Silly bird. Sometimes patience pays off and you get an amazing shot. Sometimes it doesn’t and you get…well, a nice morning standing in the fresh air. :)
Here’s one last look at that pretty sunrise. It was to be one of two good sunrises for my entire Christmas vacation. The second was on the next day during the Lakeland Christmas Bird Count. Then the clouds came in, and it was rainy and foggy and just plain old icky for the rest of my vacation. Yuck!!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Viera Wetlands?
Check out my Viera Wetlands page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!