Beyond the Backyard

Viera Wetlands and Scrub Jays with my Dad

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Blue-winged Teal (Drake)

Regular readers of my blog will know that my dad and I love to go out on photo expeditions together.  With my crazy work schedule, we haven’t been out much lately.  All winter I’ve been promising him a trip to Viera Wetlands.  Well, we finally went!  The wetlands were a little quiet, but we had some good photo ops.  Then on the way back, we stopped off to see Scrub Jays.  It was a great morning and so nice to be back out behind a camera!! The Great Blue Heron nesting season is starting wind down at Viera Wetlands.  Junior, the first baby, stood tall and proud on his nest.  I’m not sure the piggy-back rides that I saw on my last visit amounted to much. Only one pair appeared to still be nest-building.  The rest of the birds had fairly big babies.  I think stick-stealing season is over for the year. We noticed a little Green Heron sitting at the edge of the water.  They are rarely this visible, preferring to stay under cover when possible.  We hopped out of the car to take a few shots of this very cooperative subject. The ducks weren’t as plentiful at Viera […]

Beyond the Backyard

Fun with the Scrub Jays

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Jess with a Scrub Jay on her Head!

After shooting at Viera Wetlands last weekend, my friend Michael took me to a new place, a Florida Scrub Jay trail.  I don’t have a whole lot of experience photographing Scrub Jays.  They are a threatened species, and their habitat is in decline.  I’ve photographed them at the Scrub Jay Trail at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and my dad and I tried for them once at Lyonia Preserve, but we got there too late in the day and the jays didn’t come out for us.   So I was excited at the prospect of seeing some Scrub Jays.  Besides, Michael told me that these birds are so tame that they often hop onto your head! The sky was dark with rainclouds, and we weren’t at all optimistic that we’d see any birds.  We figured they’d have more sense than we did, and stay under cover while it was raining!  So I was pleasantly surprised when we saw our first jay after less than five minutes of walking.  Florida Scrub Jays are extremely inquisitive birds.  As soon as they noticed us, they wanted to come check us out.   They came so close that I got full-frame shots with just […]

Beyond the Backyard

Beautiful Morning at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

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After hearing  time after time about how great the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is, Dyeyo decided that he wanted to go with me and see it.  It was a pretty foggy morning, but the sun burned off the fog just as we arrived at the refuge around 8:30.  The Birdbrains have been saying that the Peacocks Pocket drive has been fairly active, so we headed there first.  We found Black-Necked Stilts and a small variety of shorebirds.  Then we went over to the Scrub Jay trail and found a Scrub Jay!  Finally we ended up at the Visitor’s Center, where they have a little boardwalk.  We found a pair of White-Eyed Vireos building a nest, and we stood and watched and photographed for probably over half an hour. Dyeyo and I are used to walking the trails at the Circle B Bar Reserve, so it was strange for us to drive Peacock’s Pocket.  The car works as a bird blind, but the birds at Merritt Island are also more skittish than our birds at Circle B. Our first bird of the day was this White Ibis, who probably had no idea that he was casting such a great reflection […]