Viera Wetlands is a series of connected ponds created to treat wastewater from the Central Brevard area. Since opening in 2001, this site has rapidly gained recognition as a premier birding destination. During fall and winter, a remarkable diversity of bird species uses these wetlands and nearby prairie hammocks and cabbage palm savannahs.
An active Bald Eagle nest is visible from the dike road, two families of Crested Caracaras maintain territories around the wetlands, and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are regularly seen. Thousands of wintering ducks concentrate here, including Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mottled Duck, Hooded and Red-breasted Merganser, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Pintail, Bufflehead and Ruddy Duck.
Ponds on the north side of the complex are productive for shore birds when water levels are low, especially during migration. Since opening in 2000, Viera Wetlands has been visited by several rarities, including the first North American record of Mangrove Swallow.
Source: Brevard Nature Alliance
Although most people would not necessarily think of going to a sewage treatment plant for bird watching they can actually be excellent places for birds to over winter, feed and breed
This was not my first visit to such a birding hot spot. In 2005 I visited Sweetwater in Tucson.
Sweetwater Wetland is a constructed wetland located in Tucson between I-10 and the Santa Cruz River, near Prince Road. Built in 1996, it helps treat secondary effluent and backwash from the reclaimed water treatment system at adjacent Roger Road Wastewater Treatment Plant.
This image from the Brevard County, Utility Services Department gives one a bird's eye view of the South Central Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, AKA Viera Wetlands. The surrounding area is and mix of prairie hammocks and cabbage palm savannahs. Just to the east is the busy 1-95 corridor and the sprawling city of Viera. There is a huge housing development just next door. Also adjacent is the Duda Ranch. The Duda Company , established in the 1940s had land holdings so vast it was able to develop the city of Viera.
Little Blue Herons are common in the marshy areas.
This Anhinga had selected this outflow pipe to warm himself in the morning sun.
Overview of one of the 4 cells.
There were 1000s of Tree Swallows out in the reeds.
Many of the Cabbage Palms were inundated, something they area apparently quite tolerant of.
The cloud of dots in the middle of this picture are more Tree Swallows.
In a certain light, some of the plams looked rather eery.
As I was standing along the water's edge getting ready to shoot I was suddenly eye-to-eye with this River Otter who had just emerged out of one of the ponds. As I slowly and quitely switched lenses he continued to look me over - and then made a dash for the road.
I followed him and got these two shots before he was gone.
I wish I had not had to take the time to switch lenses!
A quick slide into the water and the Otter was gone.