A Visit to the Viera Wetlands

I took a drive over to Brevard County to visit the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera on Saturday. I had heard that the Click Ponds had been drained as part of the ongoing process of running a water treatment facility. As a result of the low water levels, the Click Ponds were full of wading birds and shorebirds. Since I hadn’t been out in 5 weeks for any shooting, I figured this might be a good place to reacquaint myself with the camera.

The good news is that there were lots of shorebirds there, but not much in the way of wading birds. That’s OK as I have plenty of wading bird images. Shorebirds were my primary goal, especially the American Avocets. Alas, I was denied the opportunity for the Avocets as they were in the dead center of the north Click Pond, too far for my equipment. I also found out that after a 5 week layoff, I was a little rusty with the camera. A lot of my images were not in sharp focus for some reason. That may be because I was working with a wide open aperture in the low morning light. I need to get that figured out pretty quickly.

But as I mentioned, the shorebirds were quite numerous, especially the Black-necked Stilts. Click an image to view larger.

Black-necked Stilt

The low water levels and the early morning light made for some great reflections. Here is a juvenile Black-necked Stilt that is probably only 5-6 weeks old. They do grow up fast.

Juvenile Black-necked Stilt

I also scored my first Pectoral Sandpiper with a camera. I had seen them at Viera last summer during Fall migration, but I couldn’t get close enough for a photo. This year the low water levels in the Click Ponds paid off for me.

Pectoral Sandpiper (Juvenile)

I was also able to get my first decent image of a Spotted Sandpiper.

Spotted Sandpiper

I have a few images of Lesser Yellowlegs, but I’ll always look for ones with a nice reflection. This one was busy preening himself that morning.

Lesser Yellowlegs Preening

Killdeer are fairly common in the fields and marshes of Central Florida.

Killdeer

The Click Ponds were also full of Least Sandpipers. These little peeps are so small that you really need the big telephoto lenses to do them justice.

Least Sandpiper

On my way out of the Click Ponds I came across a Florida Softshell Turtle crossing the road. He was a big bruiser and a great way to cap off the day.

Florida Softshell Turtle

The wetlands proper had plenty of other birds in them, but nothing too exciting. I did see the Purple Gallinules and their chicks, but they were between me and the sun, so I couldn’t get any decent images. Plus the grass around the berms is pretty high, so these little chicks, all black at this age, were pretty hard to pick out of the blades of grass. I didn’t stay as long as I usually do. By 10:30 the temperature was in the upper 80’s and all the smart birds were hiding in the shade. I took their advice, rolled up the windows, cranked on the A/C and headed home.

6 Comments

  • Dina J

    July 25, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I’d say for you it was like riding a bike. Rusty or not you got some pretty great pictures. Love those stilt pictures. Amazing detail. And that turtle, he looks a little chubby. Must be good eats there for a turtle.

  • Jason Hines

    July 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Great captures! The reflections are really awesome.

  • Roni

    July 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Michael, every one of these is beautiful and it looks like the light was perfect. But the Lesser Yellowlegs Preening? Wow do I love that image. I so enjoy your blog. Nice to get back to reading again.:)

    • Michael

      July 31, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks, Roni! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Scott Simmons

    August 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the update! I need to get back there again. Looks like I know where I’m going this Saturday.

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