Tag Archives: Hooded Merganser

Viera Wetlands – 1/13/16

Kevin M. offered to help me scout for the Smooth-billed Ani that’s been seen at Viera Wetlands.  I’ve wanted to get over there – so I readily agreed to meet him Friday Morning.

It was the first Friday the 13th of the new year, but our luck wasn’t completely bad.  The day started early with some challenging light and fog at sunrise.  I’m glad I brought my IR modified camera and used it to cut through the limited visibility.  I did get one or two pleasing photos, including this one.  But it’s a B&W sunrise! What’s up with that?

The boardwalk by the boat ramp in the fog The boardwalk by the boat ramp in the fog – at SR 520 and the St. Johns River

Kevin led us right to the Smooth-billed Ani (thanks Kevin!).  The light was still poor and we ended up coming back later for a better look / image.  These aren’t normally found this far north in Florida and they’re unusual looking with a very large beak – fun to see.  People have also reported a close relative (Groove-billed Ani) on Apopka Wildlife Drive.

Smooth-billed AniSmooth-billed Ani

We saw Scaups, Mottled Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Limpkins, White Pelicans, a Wilsons Snipe, a Great Horned Owl, Coots, Moorehens, Roseate Spoonbills, and Osprey among other things.

Hooded Merganser pairHooded Merganser pair

Mom and juvenile Limpkin about to enjoy escargotMom and juvenile Limpkin about to enjoy escargot

The light was spotty all morning with periods of rain.  There were a couple of images I tried  that didn’t work out.  I’m going back soon to try again.  NOTE:  Their website says that Viera Wetlands is closed January 16 – 20.  Plan accordingly.

Based on this post and my previous one, I think you can see that the bird activity has picked up here in Central Florida.  It’s time to get out and enjoy our natural wonders.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Viera Wetlands – February 19, 2013

Most people just call the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands near Viera, Florida “Viera Wetlands”, although I’m sure they mean no disrespect to Mr. Grissom.  I hadn’t been there in a while, and since it’s one of my favorite places I took a trip down to check on things last week – it didn’t disappoint.

On the way, I stopped by Kelly Park in Merritt Island for sunrise.  I’m not sure if this Great Blue Heron was really getting ready to fish, or just enjoying the beautiful, pre-sunrise light, but I was glad it waded into my photo.

The early birds get the fish
The early birds get the fish – Looking east over the Banana River from Kelly Park in Cocoa, just before dawn.

At Viera Wetlands, I got to watch this otter’s antics as it enjoyed a dirt bath in the road:

River Otter dust bath
River Otter dust bath – I watched it rolling around in the dirt on the road for a while. When it had enough, it stood up, shook itself off, and moved back into the water.

I also watched this scene and although I felt badly for the frog, I guess I should feel good for the bird:

This doesn't end well for the frog.
Hooded Merganser catches frog at Viera Wetlands – This doesn’t end well for the frog.

I don’t see Green Herons as often as some of the other herons and egrets, so it was nice to watch a number of them in the reeds along the sides of the berms.  This pose is typical of one of their hunting techniques.  They’ll perch frozen on the water’s edge and wait for prey to come within striking distance.  Green Herons are reportedly one of the smartest birds.  I haven’t seen the behavior, but they’re said to drop small bits of food or insects onto the water to attract fish.

Concentration
Concentration – A Green Heron stalks its prey.

Viera is a great place to see Great Blue Herons courting, nesting, and raising young and there are several pairs active now.  I saw one nest with very small chicks already hatched.  I also saw many of the regulars there including alligators, Great Egrets, Tri-color Herons, Scaups, Coots, Red-winged Blackbirds, and others.  On the way out I also took a turn around the Click ponds, but didn’t notice anything I hadn’t already found in the main areas.  A great trip and well worth the time!

Click on the photos to go to Flickr, where you can see larger versions (the otter photo especially where you can see all the dirt it’s flung around) .  You can also see more photos from Viera Wetlands in this set on Flickr.  And I have many older posts about Viera Wetlands  – you can look through them from this link.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.