The last time I visited Viera Wetlands was in March of 2019, so I’ve been wanting to go back. Each time I checked the road conditions hotline, it said they’re closed to vehicles. But the message hasn’t been updated since mid-November and I suspected (hoped?) it wasn’t accurate. This week I decided to go down anyway.
I started the morning with a pretty sunrise at the River Lakes Conservation Area Boat Ramp where the St. Johns crosses SR 520.
A very calm morning
Then I headed down to Viera. The hotline is correct – the wetlands roads are closed to vehicles and there’s some repair work going on. I haven’t found any info posted about when they expect to allow cars again. Anyway, I took off on foot with my camera and had a nice walk around the east half of the park closest to the parking area. Here are some of the things I saw.
“Who are you lookin’ at?” (3). These early morning deer were very alert and very suspicious of me and my long lens. I saw about a dozen of them and there were probably more. I liked the light on this group and how they were all staring right at me.
Redwing Blackbird launch. I managed to catch it just as it as it took off.
Cormorant in flight – There were a great many there that morning.
Sunning Anhinga. There were a large number of anhingas too, and this lady was enjoying the early morning light.
I heard lots of Sandhill Cranes but only saw them in the distance and there was one Spoonbill that was too far away for a photo, I didn’t see anything rare or exotic on my walk, but there were plenty of smaller birds, water birds, vultures and alligators. And I enjoyed my time out in nature and got some steps too!
Here are some photos from a trip to Viera Wetlands last week. There’s a lot to see there!
Dawn in the harbor – A sunrise stop at the Cocoa Riverfront Park on the way to Viera
Sandhill Crane and egg in nest – it’s fairly close to the berm. I think I’ll go back in a week or so and see if it’s hatched.
Deer – I’ve seen them several times hanging out at the east end of the park
Web – The spiders were busy and some of their work was catching the early morning sunlight
American Robin – Winter visitors / migrants are showing up in force
Eastern Phoebe. Ash-throated Flycatcher(?) I didn’t recognize this bird when I made the photo. and I’m still not totally sure what it is. A Great crested Flycatcher was seen at Viera Wetlands in January, but this one seems too small for that. An Ash-throated Flycatcher was seen there in previous years. Many thanks to Wally Jones for the ID help!
So I had a very nice visit to a wonderful place – if you’ve never been, now is a good time to go!
I wrote this on board the Amtrak Auto Train between Lorton, Virgina and Sanford, Florida. Lynn and I were returning from Ohio where we attended the annual PITCA convention and Virgina where we spent a week in Shenandoah National Park. We both enjoy riding this train and we’re grateful for the 900 miles of driving that it spares us.
I made a great many photographs on the trip and haven’t gotten through them yet, so I thought I’d post a few wildlife photos now as a teaser for one or more posts to come.
Stop and smell the flowers – The wild deer in Shenandoah are protected and the ones around Big Meadows are very tolerant of people. We saw this faun feeding with its mother in the field outside our room.
It’s exciting to spot and photograph animals in the wild, some more so than others! I was farther away from this next one than it looks (I used an 800mm equivalent lens).
Shenandoah Rattlesnake – Lynn spotted this and came and got me so I could photograph it. It was a surprise to see it moving through the grass outside the Big Meadows Lodge. Some folks called the ranger and he “escorted” it away from the cabins.
Lynn is a really excellent bear spotter too. She saw three and was always the first to notice them. This one caused a small “bear jam” along Skyline Drive.
Shenandoah Black Bear – This young bear was wandering near the road. It kept foraging while I made a photo from inside the car. Sorry for the motion blur – it was pretty dark back in the trees.
I have many “out of Florida” photos to share with you today from Utah. MK wanted to take a short sightseeing trip out there over the 4th of July weekend and asked me to be her travel buddy. Of course, I couldn’t turn that down! Last year on my trip out west , I passed up seeing Zion and Bryce Canyon because I wanted more time in Death Valley National Park. I’m glad I got to go back.
Flowers at daybreak – Cedar Breaks National Monument. We visited this beautiful place twice. The second time before dawn, when we were the only ones there.
Because this was my first time there and our visit was so short, I’m going to write more of a “travel log” instead of a “what and where they are and how to photograph them”. I wouldn’t try to write that until I was way more familiar with the area. I will say that it is spectacularly scenic and if you get a chance, just go. You’ll find all sorts of things to point your camera at.
The first place we visited was Cedar Breaks National Monument. It was a surprise to me – I hadn’t really heard of it before. It’s very scenic and has a lot of wildlife too. We saw many deer on the trip. Unfortunately, there were several on the side of the road – we watched carefully to make sure we didn’t hit any.
We actually went by Cedar Breaks twice. The second day, we left early to find a sunrise spot and ended up there. By ourselves – magnificent!
Sunrise at Point Supreme – Cedar Breaks
We were walking through the visitors area and I was looking around in the trees trying to find the bird making a very strange call I didn’t recognize. A nice German gentleman came up to me and pointed out the Marmot that was making the racket. A bit embarrassing – but I did get a photo.
Yellow Bellied Marmot
Our bird watching was casual, but I did record one new life bird.
Mountain Bluebird – These were quite common at Cedar Breaks National Monument
One other place we wandered to was Brian Head Peak – a very scenic ski town. You can tell from the first photo and this one that there were lots of wildflowers blooming – a beautiful bonus!
Flowers by the road to the top – On the way up to 11,000 feet at Brian Head Peak, Utah
3 National Monuments (Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Timpanagos)
1 All-American Scenic Byway (Route 12)
1 life bird (Mountain Bluebird)
1 Yellow-Bellied Singing Marmot
Lots of deer
14 stamps for MK’s National Park Service passport
1 epic father-daughter Utah road trip! We were so very tired when we got home!
What a terrific trip – thank you MK! I’m still going through the photos and adding favorites to my Utah album on Flickr. You can take a look there if you want to see more. And click on any of the photos in this post to see a larger version on Flickr.
I’ll work on a post with photos from the other spots next week. Until then, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
Meerkats make wonderful subjects and these were active – digging burrows and keeping watch. This one even looked like it was trying to smile for my camera. I was able to frame this photo over the glass against a nice background.
One of the things mentioned by TripAdvisor is how friendly their staff is. We saw that too. A deer kept following this zookeeper around the enclosure and bumping into her. After she bent down and hugged it, the deer left her alone and wandered off for a while. The animals do seem well cared for.
Like at every zoo, I was somewhat conflicted. A few of the animals act a little too “caged”. The big cats for instance seem either restless or a little melancholy. Watching them can make me feel a bit low too. This Jaguar was resting in the shade and watching the watchers.
By the way, I knew that Jaguars once lived from Brazil up to much of the Southwest United States. I didn’t realize that they’ve been sighted as recently as 2013 in Arizona.
Brevard Zoo is very nice. One of the best smaller zoos I’ve ever been too. They have some unique attractions too – like a guided kayak tour around their African exhibit. If you like zoos or want to practice your animal photography, it’s a great place to visit.
The zoo is in Melbourne, Florida at 8225 N. Wickham Road (Phone: 321-254-9453). It’s not too far from Viera Wetlands, so check that out too if you get down there. Admission is $15 for adults and the hours are 9:30 to 5.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I don’t know about you, but this often happens to me when I’m trying to make photos of birds. And if they don’t hurry into the bad light, then they usually turn away from the camera. The backs of birds are not as photogenic as the front. Yesterday the birds were a little slow and we managed to catch some of them in very good light and not facing away!
Into the light
I wish I hadn’t been framed so close on this Bald Eagle. I would have loved to catch it in full flight. They’re seen down there often, so I’ll have to try again.
The meadows along the roads were full of Eastern Meadowlarks. And when we couldn’t see them we could definitely hear them.
There were signs posted at the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area with results from recent hunts. And the deer we saw were definitely very wary. These two stared at us for a while before running off into the trees.
Two wary deer
All in all, it was a good day for photography. And the banter in the car was quite entertaining too.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Again in 2011, I’ve been blessed with a huge amount of photo opportunities. The 2011 folder on my hard drive takes up about 178 GB of space. Wow – good thing storage is so cheap now days! I’m still using the following system to rate my photos. The numbers in parentheses are the counts for 2011 .
1 star – The photo is interesting (262)
2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others (400)
3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) any given photo shoot (81)
4 stars – My favorite photo of a year (1)
5 stars – My favorite photo ever (none, I’m not done making photos yet!)
Photos without stars are seconds or not so good versions of other photos. I usually keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention. I’ve been using this system consistently, and it seems to work for me. I’ve reviewed my 2011 photos and selected what I think are my best. Of course, this is all subjective and my opinion only. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.
Here we go. I have 3 mammals, 3 birds, 2 landscapes, and 3 miscellaneous subjects …
November: Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar Reserve. I’ve seen Bobcats in the wild before, but I’ve never been able to take a good photo of one. We saw this one resting up on a branch and it posed for a while. In this image, I think it was trying to figure out how to get through the crowd of humans at the base of the tree. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/11/24/landscapes-and-bobcat-at-the-circle-b-bar-reserve/
July: Baby mountain goat, Mt. Evans summit, Colorado. There were several families of mountain goats on the way up and at the summit. This little one posed for me so I could frame him against the out of focus mountains in the background. It’s amazing to watch them scramble from rock to rock and never slip. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/07/10/mount-evans-redux/
March: Tomb of the unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. I’d never been to Arlington before this trip. As a US Navy Veteran and a patriot, I have to admit it made a huge impression on me. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/03/19/washington-dc/