Beyond the BackyardViera Wetlands

Chasing a Wilson’s Snake at Viera Wetlands

When Michael and Debbie and I spent the morning at Viera Wetlands with the tiny Sandhill Crane colts, we saw a lot of other birds too.  It was one of those mornings when sitting in one place was highly productive.  At places like Viera, it’s easy to get in your car and drive right past all sorts of fun critters.  When you get out and sit, and let the birds come to you, you never know what might pop up!

For example, there were at least half a dozen Wilson’s Snipes lurking in the marsh grasses.  Normally a secretive bird, these guys didn’t seem to mind showing themselves.  At one point, a snipe was in front of a tricolored heron and I pointed it out to Debbie.  She heard “Wilson’s snake” and wasn’t thrilled at the idea – she’s not a big fan of snakes!  After we realized our miscommunication, we spent the morning teasing about the elusive “Wilon’s Snake!”

Wilson's Snipe
Wilson’s Snipe

This American Bittern spent most of the morning hunting for food in the reeds.  He popped up with that long neck several times.  At another point, a second bittern flew in and walked right in front of us, completely in the open.  How cool!

American Bittern
American Bittern

The Great Blue Herons are still at their palm tree nests, and several have large chicks.  Spend a few hours at the wetlands and I guarantee you’ll hear the nagging “nah-nah-nah-nah” sound of the chicks as they beg to be fed.  This mom was more concerned about building up the nest rather than feeding Junior.  He was about to fall off the tree!  I hope he manages to hang on till he’s big enough to fly away.

Great Blue Heron with Chick at Nest
Great Blue Heron with Chick at Nest

I saw several Green Herons flying around that morning, and although I kept hoping they were Least Bitterns, they weren’t.  But this guy did land out in the open and let me take his picture.  Or pictures.  He was seeing double that day!

Seeing Double
Seeing Double

Turkey Vultures don’t tend to be the most popular birds, but this one was pretty in the soft morning light.  Look at that face.  He wants to make friends with some Wood Storks and form a club.

Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture

An Osprey sat in front of us most of the morning.  I think she was waiting for her mate to bring in some breakfast.  When he went circling for a fish, she cheered him on.  But when he caught one, he didn’t give it to her!  So she had to go flying herself. Maybe he’s not the right mate for her.

Stick Your Landing
Stick Your Landing

A Savannah Sparrow hopped up in the reeds right in front of us.  Unlike the Marsh Wren that we also saw, the sparrow didn’t mind coming out in the open for a photo.  Good bird.

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

As the sun got higher and the light harsher, I started looking for more creative shots.  The Osprey was still hanging out on her perch.  Above us, the moon was very big in the sky.  I remembered that my camera supports in-camera multiple exposures, so I started experimenting.  Fun!

Under the Moon (In-Camera Double Exposure)
Under the Moon (In-Camera Double Exposure)

Well, not as much fun as the Snowy Egrets were having across the marsh.  Yep, it’s spring!  Time for courtship dances.  I love the glub-glub-glub sound that they make as they fly around and try to impress each other.

Snowy Egret Courtship Chase
Snowy Egret Courtship Chase

Finally it was time to head home.  I said goodbye to my friends, and right before I got to the car, I had to stop and photograph this Osprey flying right towards me with a nice big fish.  What a great last shot!

Osprey with Fish
Osprey with Fish

All in all, it was a great morning with good friends.  Although I failed to capture the elusive Wilson’s Snake, so I think we’ll have to go back soon and try again! ;-)

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