2017 Viera Wetlands Nature Festival: What you need to know



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The 8th annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m., and Sunday, April 23, from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. at Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands, located at 3685 Charlie Corbeil Way, Viera, FL 32940. 

Festival attendance is free, although donations are encouraged and gratefully appreciated. In addition to exhibits and vendors, this year's festival will include walking and van tours, classes and workshops, and special sunrise and sunset activities. Details will be available soon, here is just a sample to whet your appetite!

Sunrise Birding Tour with Chris Koeppel

Saturday, April 22
Limited to 20 attendees
Arrive: 6:15 a.m.; begin: 6:30 a.m. (twilight at 6:26 a.m.; sunrise at 6:50 a.m.); end: 8 a.m.

Join us for an early morning jaunt through one of the region’s most diverse and rewarding birding destinations in the state.  Expect to see and hear freshwater birds, birds of prey, shorebirds, and other species.  We’ll witness foraging techniques, and learn to recognize some birds by their vocalizations and telltale visual clues. Chris, of Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department, has been an avid birder for 35 years. A biologist and conservationist, Chris has decades of experience with protected and endangered wildlife, working with US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida DEP, the National Park Service, and other organizations. Chris was also the initial land manager for the Viera Wetlands when it first opened. Bring quality optics, if you have them available. 

Sunrise Advanced Photo Class, with Pat “Whitey” Bryan

Saturday, April 22
Limited to 15 attendees
Arrive: 6:15 a.m.; begin: 6:30 a.m. (twilight at 6:26 a.m.; sunrise at 6:50 a.m.); end: 8 a.m.

Pat has been an avid shutterbug since high school when his dad taught him how to use a 35mmm SLR. Specializing in landscapes, scenescapes, and nature, his photographs feature the natural beauty and wildlife of Florida, particularly the central East Coast.  He also enjoys shooting live bands as well as abstract photography. Pat has had his photos shown by the Brevard Cultural Alliance through their Art In Public Places program.  The new Elderly Mental Health wing of Palm Bay hospital features three of his photographs – chosen for their calming visages of The Space Coast’s natural beauty. As this is an advanced class, attendees will need to bring their camera equipment, and should be familiar with its use.

Wetlands Tour, with Dorothy Greenberg

Saturday, April 22
Limited to 15 attendees
Arrive: 7:45 a.m.; begin: 8 a.m.; end: 9:30 a.m.

Join Dorothy Greenberg on an early-morning walking tour of the wetlands. Dorothy has years of experience serving as a volunteer Wetland Ranger.  This tour will cover approximately 1.5 miles and will introduce the history, function, and diverse vegetation and wildlife found in the wetlands.  Beginning birders will learn to identify species encountered during the tour, and we will undoubtedly see and hear other wildlife, such as alligators, turtles, and frogs. We will stop by the butterfly garden to learn about butterflies and other pollinators, and discuss the use of rain barrels for irrigation.  We will also discuss efforts to maintain and improve wildlife habitat found throughout the wetlands.

Wetland Vegetation Tour, with Raleigh Berry

Saturday, April 22
Limited to 20 attendees
Arrive: 7:45 a.m.; begin: 8 a.m.; end: 9 p.m.

Join Raleigh Berry on an exploration of the vegetation found within the Viera Wetlands. Raleigh is a Senior Environmental Scientist with Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department; he is the current environmental land manager for the Viera Wetlands, among other sites. A Florida Master Naturalist and ISA Certified Arborist, with decades of experience in horticulture, Raleigh’s tour will focus chiefly on the identification of vegetation within and surrounding the wetlands, a discussion of the wetland’s vegetative communities as originally designed and how they have subsequently evolved, and the challenges of managing the wetland’s vegetation, achieving the goals of the treatment process while providing habitat for wildlife.       

Introduction to Wetlands Photography, with Stephen Blythe

Saturday, April 22
Limited to 15 attendees
Arrive: 8:45 a.m.; begin: 9 a.m.; end: 10 a.m.

Stephen Blythe is a volunteer Wetlands Ranger with forty years of experience in photography, and has been walking the wetlands for many of those. This class will be helpful for anyone who wants to photograph wildlife, whether with an iPhone or a DSLR. We will learn where and how to locate, and then appropriately interact with, wildlife. Basics of composition and control of exposure will be reviewed. Simple techniques for good hand-held telephoto images will be covered.

Wetlands Walking Tour, with Roland LeBon

Saturday, April 22
Limited to 20 attendees
Arrive: 9:45 a.m.; begin: 10 a.m.; end: 11:30 a.m.

Join Roland LeBon on a mid-morning walking tour of the wetlands, who will share knowledge gained through years of service at the Viera Wetlands as a veteran Wetland Rangers. This tour will cover approximately 1.5 miles and will introduce the history, function, and diverse vegetation and wildlife found in the wetlands.  For beginning birders, we will be identifying any birds on the route.  We will discuss attracting butterflies and other pollinators at the butterfly garden and have an introduction to rain barrels.  We will also discuss ongoing improvements to the wetlands to create and preserve its diverse habitat.

Wetlands Van Tours, with Dave MacDonald and Raleigh Berry

Saturday, April 22
Each Tour Limited to 10 Passengers
Tour 1 with Dave – Arrive: 9:45 a.m.; begin: 10 a.m.; end: 10:45 a.m.
Tour 2 with Dave – Arrive: 10:45 a.m.; begin: 11 a.m.; end: 11:45 a.m.
Tour 3 with Raleigh – Arrive: 11:45 a.m.; begin: noon; end: 12:45 p.m.      
Tour 4 with Dave – Arrive 12:45 p.m.; begin: 1 p.m.; end: 1:45 p.m.

Ride along with Dave MacDonald or Raleigh Berry on a van tour of the wetlands. Dave has volunteered as a Wetlands Ranger since 2014, and has a keen eye for spotting wildlife and wealth of knowledge concerning the wetland’s diverse species, which he will share during each 45-minute tour through the wetlands. Raleigh is the current environmental land manager for the Viera Wetlands, with Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department. Dave and Raleigh will also discuss the history and function of the wetland system. Note the vans are not equipped for infants or wheelchairs.

Climate Change Presentation, with Rob Quayle

Saturday, April 22
Arrive: 1:45 p.m.; begin: 2 p.m.; end: 2:30 p.m.

Join Climatologist Rob Quayle, Wetlands Volunteer Ranger since 2015, who will discuss the basic physics about how greenhouse gases work and alter the climate of the earth, and how this could influence habitats such as found within the Viera Wetlands.

The Fascinating Science of Water Treatment, with Stan Sircello

Saturday, April 22
Tour 1 – Arrive: 9:45 a.m.; begin: 10 a.m.; end: 11:30 a.m.
Tour 2 – Arrive: 11:45 a.m.; begin: noon; end: 1:30 p.m.

Join Stan Sircello and his billions of microscopic assistants on a tour of the South Central Water Reclamation Facility, which he manages.  The Viera Wetlands were constructed to serve as the final step in the facility’s advanced water reclamation process, and as previous attendees have experienced, you’ll be mesmerized as Stan steps you through the science of wastewater treatment in layman’s terms.  As one attendee put it, “He’s the Bill Nye of wastewater!”

Where Are the Bats? How to Attract Bats with Effective Bat Houses, with Shari Blissett-Clark of the Florida Bat Conservancy

Saturday, April 22
Program begins at 6 p.m.
Bat house installation at 7:15 p.m.
(Related Event: Sights & Sounds of the Wetlands at Night, with Ivan Green)

Join Shari Blissett-Clark, President of the Florida Bat Conservancy, as she demonstrates field-tested techniques for building effective bat houses.  Shari will discuss design, choosing bat-friendly materials, and construction techniques based on over 30 years of field tests. She will also offer tips on how to attract bats to your yard. Live Florida bats will be displayed and the presentation will be followed by the installation of a bat house. A related event, Sights & Sounds of the Wetlands at Night, with Ivan Green, is scheduled to begin at 8. Shari’s program is free and open to the public; the Florida Bat Conservancy is an IRS recognized Charitable Organization, and will gratefully accept your donations during the event to support bat conservation. Let’s help Florida's bats!

Sunset PhotoWalk, with Patty Corapi

Saturday, April 22
Limited to 50 attendees
Arrive: 6:45 p.m.; begin: 7 p.m. (sunset at 7:52 p.m.; twilight ends at 8:16 p.m.); ends: 8:30 p.m.

Join Patty Corapi on an evening photo-walk through the Viera Wetlands. Patty Corapi is an award winning photographer specializing in nature and bird photography: her published works include a cover of Audubon Magazine.  She is currently a member of the Art Gallery of Viera, Camera Club of Brevard, and Central Brevard Art Association.  For the past two years, Patty has been a leader of the Kelby PhotoWalk.  During the evening, roosting birds return to the wetlands for the night, joining the others who remain throughout the day. Opportunities for subjects include birds and wildlife, macro-photography of the plants, landscapes, sunsets—and maybe a gator will pose for a photo. Photographers of all levels are welcome. If you have the equipment, consider bringing a tripod and cable release, especially if photographing the sunset, a variety of lenses: long for the wildlife, macro for the plants, and wide for the land and water.  Point and shoots and phone cameras work as well.  Please remember to bring water and bug spray. And don’t forget your batteries and cards for the cameras. We will have two vans available to help provide transportation if possible.

Sights & Sounds of the Wetlands at Night, with Ivan Green

Saturday, April 22
Limited to 25 attendees
Arrive: 7:30 p.m.; Begin: 8 p.m. (sunset at 7:52 p.m.; twilight ends at 8:16 p.m.); end: 9:30 p.m.

Come on a night hike with a waning crescent moon and listen to the sounds and sights of the wetlands at night. Is that a pig frog or a gator growl? What is that glowing in the dark: a lightning bug or a frog’s eye or something else? From bats to meteors, who knows what we may see or hear? Ivan’s photography has been recognized locally and state wide in Florida as well as Tennessee, Texas and Washington DC. In 2013, to further understand nature specific to Florida, Ivan became a Certified Florida Master Naturalist. Ivan continues to enhance life by sharing his nature photography and has long served as volunteer Wetlands Ranger. Note: Bring bug spray and a flashlight. Our gates will close at 8 and will reopen only when the tour concludes.                     

Sunrise Birding Tour with Chris Koeppel

Sunday, April 23
Limited to 20 attendees
Arrive: 6:15 a.m.; begin: 6:30 a.m. (twilight at 6:26 a.m.; sunrise at 6:50 a.m.); end: 8 a.m.

Join us for an early morning jaunt through one of the region’s most diverse and rewarding birding destinations in the state.  Expect to see and hear freshwater birds, birds of prey, shorebirds, and other species.  We’ll witness foraging techniques, and learn to recognize some birds by their vocalizations and telltale visual clues. Chris, of Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department, has been an avid birder for 35 years. A biologist and conservationist, Chris has decades of experience with protected and endangered wildlife, working with US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida DEP, the National Park Service, and other organizations. Chris was also the initial land manager for the Viera Wetlands when it first opened. Bring quality optics, if you have them available. 

Wetlands Walking Tour with Ivan Green

Sunday, April 23
Limited to 20 attendees
Arrive: 9:45 a.m.; begin: 10 a.m.; end: 11:30 a.m.

Join Ivan Green on a mid-morning walking tour of the wetlands. Ivan is a Florida Master Naturalist, long-time volunteer Wetlands Ranger, whose photography has been recognized in Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington D. C.  This trek along the wetland trails will cover approximately 1.5 miles, during which Ivan will introduce the wetland’s history, function, vegetation, and wildlife; plus ongoing efforts to maintain and improve the wetlands habitats. Ivan will identify birds, butterflies, and other wildlife encountered during the walk, which will include a visit to the butterfly garden, where Ivan will discuss attracting butterflies and other pollinators.

Wetlands Van Tours with Dave MacDonald

Sunday, April 22
Each Tour Limited to 10 Passengers
Tour 1 - Arrive: 9:45 a.m.; begin: 10 a.m.; end: 10:45 a.m.
Tour 2 - Arrive: 10:45 a.m.; begin: 11 a.m.; end: 11:45 a.m.

Ride along with Dave MacDonald on a van tour of the wetlands. Dave has volunteered as a Wetlands Ranger since 2014, and has a keen eye for spotting wildlife and wealth of knowledge concerning the wetland’s diverse species, which he will share during each 45-minute tour through the wetlands. Dave will also discuss the history and function of the wetland system. Note the vans are not equipped for infants or wheelchairs.

To for more information or to register for these tours and workshops, go to the Wetlands Nature Festival Eventbrite page.

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Viera Event Calendar

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