Return to Viera Wetlands

This past Sunday, I headed to the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera (a.k.a. The Viera Wetlands) to check out the winter resident bird situation. I was last there this spring with my friend Cedric.

It was a cloudy and misty day, which will be evident in some of the pictures.

Just as in years past, these wetlands attract large congregations of waterfowl (mainly ducks and certain members of the rail family).

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One of many rafts of American Coots.

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Common Gallinule.

Right now, the American Coots are by far the most visibly numerous, but on closer inspection, there were a few interlopers among the rafts of chattering coots, including Pied-billed Grebes, Blue-winged Teals, Lesser Scaups, Hooded Mergansers, and Northern Shovelers (a first!).

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Pied-billed Grebe in winter plumage.

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A Nothern Shoveler female, can you dig it?

Of course, the usual waders were present as well, though there seemed to be a larger concentration of Tri-colored Herons than I’ve seen anywhere recently.

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You can see how blustery and damp it was by this Tri-colored Heron, balled up to conserve heat.

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Great! Egret!

photo stork.jpgWood Stork.

Anhingas outnumbered cormorants, though most had already done their morning fishing by the time I arrived. I’ve not often seen an Anhinga’s feet, but here you can see one of the reasons why they are such strong swimmers.

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I bet there are divers who would kill for a pair of flippers like these.

It was fun to see more Palm Warblers and Savannah Sparrows, too. Savannah Sparrows are quickly getting my vote as Bird with Personality!

photo savannah-sparow-dec.jpgPersonality Plus.

But this Boat-tailed Grackle was campaigning pretty hard, too. He landed about 2 feet from me. His total attitude had me laughing out loud. Boat-tailed Grackles seem to think they are Hot Stuff!

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Attitude without the Platitude.

There were non-avian residents as well. Along the wetland’s perimeter a pair of White-tailed Deer ran past. I think a mother and a yearling (is that a deer thing?). I was a bit surprised they were out in the open that late in the morning, but they soon found some brush to take cover in.

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Oh, deer!

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White tail showing.

At least 2 species of terns were present as well. The most common were Forster’s Terns (another first) which were diving for fish and frogs. In this photograph you can see the characteristic “ear” markings of the species’ winter plumage.

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Forster’s Tern.

Unlike my spring-time visit, there were only a few Crested Caracaras around, and with the weather, very few vultures. Apart from a brief glimpse of an unidentified buteo species, the only other predatory birds not hunting fish were the Loggerhead Shrikes.

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Don’t let the songbird schitck fool you. Loggerhead Shrikes are deadly.

As far as total species count, this trip was nearly as productive as Pine Island was two weeks ago.

Total species list:

  1. Pied-billed Grebe
  2. American Coot
  3. Common Gallinule
  4. Wood Stork
  5. Anhinga
  6. Snowy Egret
  7. Tri-colored Heron
  8. Boat-tailed Grackle
  9. Little Blue Heron
  10. Great Blue Heron
  11. Great Egret
  12. Common Ground Dove
  13. Loggerhead Shrike
  14. Lesser Scaup
  15. Blue-winged Teal
  16. Northern Shoveler (new!)
  17. Hooded Merganser
  18. Crested Caracara
  19. Turkey Vulture
  20. Forster’s Tern (new!)
  21. Common Tern
  22. Green Heron
  23. Black-crowned Night Heron
  24. Belted Kingfisher
  25. Savannah Sparrow
  26. Palm Warbler
  27. Red-winged Blackbird
  28. Double-crested Cormorant
  29. Northern Cardinal
  30. Common Yellowthroat
  31. European Starling
  32. Fish Crow
  33. Sandhill Crane

With the addition of the Forster’s Tern and Northern Shoveler, my 2013 species count is at 144.

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