Beyond the Backyard

Christmas Coot!

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Christmas Eve Sunrise at Viera Wetlands

The weather forecast this morning was a little frightful (mostly cloudy), but the prospect of birding was delightful, so I headed to Viera Wetlands to celebrate a wonderful day off from work!  It was great seeing Michael, Donna, and Mike as the Belted Kingfisher “Miss Viera Sushi” mocked us and evaded her favorite perch. We’ve having record hot temperatures in Central Florida – it’s expected to hit 87 tomorrow on Christmas Day!  Usually Viera mornings of watching the nesting Great Blue Herons involve extra layers, a hat, and a scarf.  Today the pale skies added to the tropical feeling as I wished I had worn shorts! The light wasn’t awesome, but the birds were fun.  I loved the nesting herons with their courtship behaviors at sunrise.  Immediately behind them was the famous Belted Kingfisher who likes to pose for photographers.  Today, though, one of the Great Blue Herons kept coming to that perch to sit.  So the Belted Kingfisher stayed farther out in the marsh.  So I trained my camera on some of the little birds in front of me… I’m out of practice with my camera!  My focusing times were pretty bad today.  So it was nice of the little birds […]

Beyond the Backyard

Betcha Can’t Go Just Once!

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On December 31 I made yet another trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, this time with Dyeyo. He had never been on Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. We carefully planned to go on a day when it would be sunny with little wind. Then we got there and it was a little windy, and there were not as many birds as my last visits. Go figure. Our goal was for Dyeyo to see the Horned Grebe and a Reddish Egret (Big Red doesn’t make it inland to Circle B Bar Reserve, so Dyeyo hadn’t ever seen the Drunken Sailor Dance!) Dyeyo got to see both his birds. :) The Horned Grebe has been hanging out by the culverts at the bathrooms for the past few weeks. Dyeyo and I set up by the culverts, watching and waiting. It didn’t take long for the grebe to appear–and then disappear back into the culverts! We must have sat there for about half an hour to get glimpses of this silly little bird as he darted out and then went back in again. I guess it was less windy inside the pipes. Then as soon as we left, the bird came out and posed […]

Beyond the Backyard

Finally!

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Finally! I got to use The Beast for the first time in almost a month! After hearing friends talk about the great birds at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I went there yesterday. Blackpoint Wildlife Drive was busier than I’ve ever seen it (both with birds and photographers :)). The birding wasn’t spectacular, due to the winds, but I did get to see my first Horned Grebe. He was hanging out by the culvert near the bathrooms on Blackpoint. I was amazed at his bright red eye. After I got home and saw his pictures, I saw that he’s missing part of the top of his beak. Poor little guy. A flock of several hundred American White Pelicans was hanging out fairly near the road. It was fun to see them. They certainly haven’t settled at Circle B this year. I had fun trying to photograph them – there were always lots of birdie butts! I tried to wait until they were all facing the same way. I think this one should be called “the eyes have it!” The terns and gulls flew over the pelicans, trying to steal fish whenever possible. They kept flying away from me, though! I […]