Category Archives: Viera Wetlands

Preening Roseate Spoonbill

Earlier this month Arthur and I visited Viera Wetlands and the nearby Click Ponds. I had read a lot about the Click Ponds this summer, especially since they hosted some great birds in July and August, but we couldn’t get out there until September 8th. One of our best birds was a very cooperative Roseate Spoonbill, an individual that gave us our best looks ever of this magnificent species. We used our car as a blind and watched the bird preen, feed, and loaf around.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

After a marathon preening session the bird fed in the shallow water. It’s always fun to watch spoonbills feed in their unique way. They move their heads back and forth with their long bills in the water; when something to eat comes in contact with the bill – snap!

Roseate Spoonbill

And later it was time for even more preening. :)

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

I’ve submitted this post to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Behavior, Bird Photography Weekly, Florida, Viera Wetlands | 3 Comments

Random April Viera Wetlands

This might become a longer series, now that Viera Wetlands is a day trip rather than a week-long road trip. My first such post was back in November, 2009. All of these photos were taken in late April, 2011.

Viera Babies
Baby Anhingas and baby Great Blue Herons share a nest tree

Juvenile White Ibis
Foraging juvenile White Ibis

Viera Rookery
Heron/Egret rookery

Crested Caracara pair
Pair of Crested Caracara

SACR Family
Sandhill Crane family

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike

Limpkins
Pair of Limpkins

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BPW: Baby Limpkin

While house-hunting in central Florida a few months ago, Arthur and I saved some time for birding at Viera Wetlands. The highlight of our visit on April 27 was seeing this baby Limpkin.

Baby Limpkin

Although Limpkins seem very rail-like, they are more closely related to cranes. If you can’t tell from its looks, you might notice the resemblance in its song, which sounds a lot like a Sandhill Crane.

Baby Limpkin

Limpkins are residents through much of Florida. Elsewhere in the United States, their range pokes a bit into southern Georgia. They are also found in Cuba and other Caribbean islands, and through parts of Central America. Their wide distribution through Florida makes them one of the state’s specialties for visiting birders.

Baby Limpkin

Unlike other (wading) birds with whom they may share feeding grounds, Limpkins survive almost exclusively on a diet of apple snails. We didn’t get to see this baby eat, but it was a lot of fun to watch him preening.

Baby Limpkin

This baby Limpkin was being closely attended by two adults, but I was so smitten by its cuteness that I failed to take any photos of the parents or of the whole family together. Whoops!

Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Looking Forward

Oh, there are many things I will (and already do!) miss from our former northern Illinois home. But there are also things to look forward to here in central Florida. Especially bird-wise.

Lifers

I started keeping track* of my life’s birds in April, 2005. In late April, Arthur and I visited Florida together for the first time. That’s how 27 of my first 31 life birds were recorded in the great state of Florida, starting with a Black Vulture at Oscar Sherer State Park and ending with a meager six species found along the Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Black Point Wildlife Drive Sign
The entrance to the wildlife drive on a late April afternoon

After a few more visits to the state, none primarily for birding, my state list stands at 116 (as of early July 2011). 66 of my life birds were recorded in Florida. Before we moved last month, I made a very rough list of life birds I hoped to find during our time in Florida. The first one, Gray Kingbird, became lifer 561 on June 23rd at Merritt Island. The other birds on that rough list were: Burrowing Owl; Red-cockaded Woodpecker; American Oystercatcher; Snail Kite; Rails Clapper, King, and Black; and Doves White-winged and Common Ground. Some of these will be hard, I’m sure, but some will be easy. And they’ll all be fun.

Getting to know

There are plenty of birds here about which, while already on my life list, I know far too little. So I have a few bird species in mind that I’m hoping to get to know a little better here in Florida. Families of birds that seem to be more confiding here, like herons and egrets, top that list. I hope I never become bored with Tufted Titmice in my back yard (!!), Turkey and Black Vultures soaring over my neighborhood, and Ospreys everywhere.

Titusville Osprey
An Osprey takes off as we wait for the shuttle to lift off, April 29, 2011

There is also an abundance of Barred Owls, my favorite bird. We heard our first ones the other night at the Highbanks boat ramp, about 4 miles from our house; eBird tells me they are found in our neighborhood. And I’m very excited to live in a state where seeing this blog’s namesake bird is much more likely than back in Illinois.

Yard birds

The first bird I saw from our yard was a flyover Swallow-tailed Kite. Regular back yard visitors right now include birds I struggled to see back in Lake County, Illinois: Northern Mockingbirds, Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmice. The different birds are fun to watch and get to know.

Birding

There’s a lot to look forward to in terms of birding spots. Arthur and I have been exploring new preserves and I’m trying to figure out what our new “local patch” will be. Being within striking distance of popular hotspots like Lake Woodruff NWR, Merritt Island NWR and Viera Wetlands is pretty exciting.

Viera Wetlands Road
Viera Wetlands on a beautiful late April day

Within and immediately surrounding our county there are numerous state parks, a national forest, county parks, plus access to natural springs, freshwater lakes and Florida’s longest river, the St. Johns. True pelagic trip opportunities are also here.

While the birding right now, at the height of summer, is a bit slow, early migrants are starting to make their way to central Florida. Finally, I’m looking forward to having more birds during the winter.

*A few Colorado birds from a September, 2004 trip are the first birds on my list (added from photos, though these were birds I knew from many previous trips to the area).

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Posted in Florida, Illinois, Viera Wetlands | 1 Comment

Reverse migration

Gearing up to move from Chicagoland to central Florida in mid-June might seem like a case of reverse migration, but that’s exactly what we’re planning on doing in just under three weeks. I’m looking forward to this new adventure but I’m also terribly sad to leave behind so many good friends and my family. Between the packing and the planning, stay tuned for more news on our big move.

Egrets
Cattle Egrets at Viera Wetlands, April 28 2011

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Some favorite photos

I’ve been looking through my bird photos, trying to come up with my favorite birds of the last decade. I’m saving that list for another post, but I managed to pick out some favorite photos of birds that didn’t make my top ten list.

These twelve photos were taken in four different countries between 2006 and 2009 (since I haven’t been birding all that long and have only had my (super-zoom point-and-shoot) camera since ’06).

Can you guess what they are? They all link to Flickr where you can find out, or scroll to the end for a list.

Indian Pond Heron

Robin

Common Coot chick

Black-headed Ibis

Blue-winged Teal

Rufous Treepie

Chaffinch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Great Crested Grebe on nest

RSHA

Red-vented Bulbul

Tufted Ducks

Indian Pond Heron: Kota, India;
American Robin: Great Smoky Mountains National Park USA;
Common Coot chick: Starrevaart, Netherlands;
Black-headed Ibis: Ranthambhore, India;
Blue-winged Teal: Viera Wetlands, Florida USA;
Rufous Treepie: Ranthambhore, India;
Chaffinch: Munster, France;
Red-breasted Nuthatch: Illinois USA;
Great Crested Grebe: Voorschoten, Netherlands;
Red-shouldered Hawk: Viera Wetlands, Florida USA;
Red-vented Bulbul: Jaipur, India;
Tufted Duck: Flevoland, Netherlands.

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Posted in Florida, France, Illinois, India, Netherlands, Travel, Viera Wetlands | 1 Comment

Chattering Shrike

I haven’t been out birding much lately, but I hope that will change in the coming weeks. In the meantime I’ve been reflecting on the past year’s birding. I thought about the Loggerhead Shrikes we saw when we first arrived at Viera Wetlands on a visit in November. A pair was hanging out at the entrance and seemed to welcome us. Later, during the same visit, this shrike gave me a giggle when I watched it chattering from its treetop perch.

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BPW: Red-shouldered Hawk

Here’s another Viera bird. During our first visit we heard a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk calling, over and over. The next day I watched an adult polishing off a meal on a post at the back of the wetlands.

RSHA

RSHA

RSHA

More photos of this bird at my Flickr stream here.

When the meal was done, the bird joined another RSHA in a tree further from the road.

RSHA

Later we saw this RSHA perched over the wetlands.

RSHA

RSHA

RSHATree1

More photos of this bird at my Flickr stream here.

Red-shouldered Hawks range where we live but I have never seen one around here before. With so many of the birds at Viera and in Florida in general, you can get such good looks. The birds seem so much more relaxed and approachable. It was great to see these hawks at the wetlands. This was not a lifer but among our best looks at this bird (besides a couple of other times – in FL of course!).

This post has been submitted to Bird Photography Weekly, hosted by Birdfreak. I love BPW because not only can I see great bird photos, but I can read the cool reactions people have to them. There might be a bird I would consider common that is a lifer for the poster. Yet other posts will be of birds that would be a lifer for me, taken in someone’s back yard. Then there are the familiar but far-away European birds that make me feel homesick for Holland. It’s always a great mix. Check out this week’s submissions. While you’re at it, why don’t you submit your own BPW post?

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Florida, Viera Wetlands | 9 Comments

Random Viera Wetlands

Can you tell I like Viera Wetlands? We visited twice last week and it was great, much better than our previous visit mosquito-wise too. What a relief, we could drive with the windows down and not get eaten alive. We had 48 species over the two visits, including our lifer American Bittern (in flight, no photo unfortunately). Here are some other Viera highlights from 15 and 18 November.

ATTENTION

Viera Wetlands

White Ibis

Northern Shoveler

Tricolored Heron

Hooded Merganser

Blue-winged Teal

Bald Eagle flying

Viera Wetlands

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