Central Florida Wildlife Pt.3
Ever notice how you can drive along the highway thinking you are paying attention when miles down the road you have little recollection of what you have passed. While retracing my steps back to the north looking for the Viera Wetlands I had noticed on my way to Vero Beach, I was absolutely positive it should be a 30 minute trip. Being a stereotypical male traveling with no road map, I decided a scenic route along the coast would be more interesting than the highway. I totally believe in my homing instincts and good sense of direction but, after an hour, that confidence was finally shaken necessitating another gas station stop and, what the hell, maybe the purchase of a state roadmap. What, gas stations don’t sell roadmaps anymore! Oh well, I was only 10 miles off course and I had verbal directions.
The Viera Wetlands were a large series of recharging ponds and connecting swamp intended to handle the gray water from an adjacent sewer treatment plant. Although not a huge area, it supported an extremely large and diverse wildlife population.
All the normal suspects were there. The Great White Egret
The Great Blue Heron.
The strong breeze rearranged the heron’s breeding plumage.
Dead palms made perfect bases for the construction of nests for the Blue Herons.
The previously unseen Sandhill Crane made a spectacular appearance. Standing nearly 4 feet tall, it moved with grace and a sense of style.
The iridescent Glossy Ibis showed off.
Although not a great photo, the elusive male Hooded Merganser was quite a sight with its distinctive patterns.
But the highlight of Viera for me was spotting a small curled up brown ball of fur over a steep bank on the edge of a swamp. I could not identify what it was but I knew it did not belong. Not wanting to startle whatever it was, I drove well past the location. Quickly grabbing my camera, I quietly moved down the bank and hustled along to gain a vantage point. Realizing I had caught something sleeping, I settled in to see what would happen. After about 15 minutes, a very sleepy Otter woke up from warming himself in the sun. He did not realize I was there and proceeded to put on quite a show for my benefit before disappearing back into the swamp. What a fortunate experience!
Within a half hour, clouds moved in and it began to rain. I had intended to stay until sunset before returning south so I could visit my cousin. I wanted to stay on the east coast so I could make my way back to Dick and Darlene’s place in order to photograph a rocket launch scheduled for the following day. Their back deck looked right onto the Cape Canaveral launch site, what an opportunity! What a dilemma, pass up a day and a half of wildlife shooting or take the chance the launch would go off according to plan. Having been advised by fellow photographers of don’t miss sites on the west coast and knowing I wanted to see my sister in Tampa, I packed up my gear and headed across the state. I wasn’t looking forward to the long drive in the rain but life is all about difficult choices.