Terri and I visited the Viera Wetlands and surrounding area on Wednesday (my Sunday) and were thrilled with the number of species that were available to watch and photograph. I purchased Terri a new Canon Powershot sx50hs for Hanukkah and I decided that Viera would be an awesome place for her to try it out. She took some amazing pictures for her first time out with the camera and I can only imagine the images to come as she gets accustomed to it. The great thing about this camera, besides the incredible 50x zoom is that it takes incredible video, so I may be borrowing it occasionally!!
I did have an ulterior motive for taking the two-hour drive North since we do have plenty of fantastic locations with 10 minutes of the house. For the past week and a half an Ash-throated Flycatcher has been easily seen at the River Lakes Conservation Area. This is a fairly common Flycatcher out West but only a handful are seen anywhere in Florida in any given year. This particular bird has been very cooperative and I was happy to add him to my Florida list.
This pair of Mute Swans was probably the most unexpected species we saw. They were in the far Southern impoundment and according to some locals only have been around, off and on, for the last couple of weeks. This was another new Florida species, so they were and added bonus to the above Flycatcher!
Just North of the wetlands proper are a couple of impoundments that are called the Click Ponds. The water level is down considerably and there were 100’s and 100’s of Ducks, mostly Blue and Green-winged Teal but also Ruddy Ducks, Gadwell, Northern Shoveler and a couple of Mottled Ducks. There were also large quantities of Shorebirds including Dowitchers, Dunlin, Stilt-sandpipers, Western and Least Sandpipers and a favorite of Terri’s (and many people actually) American Avocets. We were told that just after sunrise there was around 250 Sandhill Cranes roosting in the ponds and that they had just dispersed for the day. The above two came back in while we were there and posed nicely with their reflections.
I’ve also had a pretty nice week at home. The lake behind the house continues to attract new species including a Royal Tern (see below) and one of the “celebrity” Neotropic Cormorants. Just a little info on these guys. Three years ago a photographer from New York was visiting Wakodahatchee Wetlands and was taking pictures of the breeding Double-crested Cormorants. There are usually a couple dozen nest of this common species at some stage of breeding any time of the year at Wako. When this person returned home and was looking at their pictures they noticed something odd about one of the Cormorants and sure enough a couple of Neotropic’s had snuck in on us locals and were mixed in with the other breeders. Many of the local birders, including myself never even entertained the thought that this “Western” species would ever show up in Florida let alone breed here and we pretty much just ignored the breeding Double-cresteds. Birders flocked (pun intended) to Wakodahatchee to get this great species for their Florida list and they became quite the local “Celebrities”. This year there were at least 3 nests with Neotropic or Neo/Double hybrids in them. The picture below shows the size difference between the two species as well as the facial differences which includes the bill size and coloration.
The weather has been unseasonably warm and the 10 day forecast has daytime highs in the low 80’s every day. I would love for a little bit of the cold weather the Mid-West has been hogging to slip a little further South and bring us some Robins and Waxwings for Christmas!
Thank you all so much for visiting and as always God Bless!