A Double Bittern Day!

I think this male red-bellied woodpecker was feeling what quite a few of us were feeling Tuesday morning at Viera Wetlands (aka Viera Sewage Treatment Facility) during the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. BRRRRRRR (a cold snap has hit Florida creating temperatures in the low thirties with wind chills in the twenties) Br! I left a good chunk of my hardcore winter gear at home and kind of regretted it. My toes and fingers suffered. Most of the stores were out of winter gear, but you can usually find some good winter stuff if you look in the hunting section of a Walmart. Reluctantly, I headed to the Big W and I was not disappointed. I found some sensible gloves and even my favorite Hot Hands warmers in the hunting section. So, all should be good when it's the same temperature in Florida on Thursday morning as it is in Minneapolis and I'm out hunting for red-cockaded woodpeckers.

But it was not all cold and suffering, how could it be when our field trip group ended up having a double bittern day and I even got a lifer - a limpkin (above). Of course, now that I have finally seen a limpkin, a bird that has eluded me at all previous opportunities--I'm seeing them regularly now. At one point, we passed someone's yard in a trailer park and it there was a limpkin having a stand off with a black-bellied whistling duck on their dock. That's not the only bird that was in this person's yard--there was also a big flock of sandhill cranes. How's that for a yard list?

We saw quite a few great birds, but the highlight for many was the least bittern that Jeff Gordon found for the group--it was so, so tiny. Looked to be about the size of my fist. Because we were so close and there were many cars jockeying for position around our tour bus, we opted to stay inside to get a look at the bird.

I was amazed that I was able to contort my scope's tripod in my seat to get a somewhat in focus photo, but I did manage. It's a young one, since the back is not black, but he was a cutey.

Another participant on our trip managed to find the larger American bittern blending in perfectly well with the surrounding vegetation. I put my scope on it for others to see and at first they would say, "I don't think it's there." Then a few seconds later, much like looking at a magic eye puzzle, they would exclaim, "I SEE it!"

I'm writing this post on a Wednesday night to be published on blogger Thursday morning. I have to meet our next field trip bus at 4:30am and looking at my clock, I need to hit the hay.