My trip this morning was to the Viera Wetlands, a place used to treat wastewater – indeed designed and built for that purpose – which is nevertheless quite scenic and birdy. It also has a road that goes right around the perimeter of the water, so it can be birded with little to no walking. Knowing it would be an easy trip, I just grabbed a couple Clif Bars, my binoculars, and my camera, and set out for the meeting point – at 5:20am.
At festival HQ, I grabbed a scrambled-egg bowl from the local yolk’l food truck… which I now see is not coming back tomorrow. Ugh. Guess I have a Clif Bar breakfast to look forward to. Anyway, when I stepped onto the bus at five minutes to six, I found it practically full. Turns out I was the last one to show up, and as I made my way to the empty seats at the back, row after row of smiling, silver-haired heads looked up to greet me. Yeah, I’d say the median age of that group was in the upper 60s. Well, who cares? It’s not like I’m here to meet girls. (For anyone who may be considering it, I would not recommend coming here to meet girls.)
Our trip was led by three super-knowledgeable, super-nice guys: Dan Click, of the Merritt Island Wildlife Association; Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association; and Nate Swick, of both the ABA and 10,000 Birds. Nate, consummate pro that he is, has already blogged about the trip, including much better photos than you will find on Birding for Humans. However, if you are my close friend or relative (and you probably are), you are still obliged to read my post.
We arrived before first light, and it was mad cold, considering we were dressed for Florida Winter, not Real Winter. But it was a clear day, and the birds were plentiful. Aside from that, there’s not too much to say. Allow me to drop some photographic knowledge on you instead:
I went out to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, my Dad’s and my favorite birding spot when I was growing up. I’ve been there so many times over the years – as a middle-schooler, a high-schooler, a college student, a… well you know just a regular working dude… and I’ve seen more species of birds there than at any other place. I was excited to get back. And though it was late afternoon, the birding didn’t disappoint. I saw a bunch of cool stuff I hadn’t seen in a while – American Avocets, Reddish Egrets, hundreds of gorgeous Northern Pintails…