Monday, January 6, 2014

Birding the Jacksonville Area Beaches

Many of the birders we met at Little Talbot Island State Park where we saw the celebrity Snowy Owl were also looking for other rarities that were recently spotted in the area. We gathered information and headed to Huguenot Memorial Park just up the road to see if we could find the Snow Buntings that have been reported. The tide was still too high to drive on the beach so we got lots of exercise.

We never found the buntings, but saw lots of ducks. The profile of a Merganser is unmistakable. There were hundreds of Red-breasted Mergansers swimming in a large tidal pool across the dunes from the beach. They were quite far away.

I saw this lone Grebe among the ducks. It must be a Horned Grebe but it sure looks like the Western Grebes I see in Colorado.

There was different activity on the beach - and lots of it!

I like the silhouette of the ship in the background.

On our way out of the park we saw some of the regulars. There were lots of Osprey...


and a Wood Stork keeping guard while a Big Blue Heron fishes down in the ravine. It was still early so we decided to head further north to Ft. Clinch State Park located on a peninsula on the outermost point of Amelia Island to see if we could see the Harlequin Duck that has been seen at the end of the pier.

The pier was long (lots of exercise!) and the water was choppy. There were several Black (or American) Scoters swimming near the pier - a Life Bird for us both.

The Harlequin Duck had been swimming too far out to see without a scope - but swam in just as we arrived to the delight of the birders on the watch. He actually swam along side the pier towards the beach diving in the rough waves next to the rocks for as long as we were there.

Another Red-breasted Merganser.

 The water was clear enough that we could see his feet and he was close enough that many of the birders with enormous lenses had to change them out. My lens was perfect.

All along the jetty we saw dozens of Ruddy Turnstones.

While I was watching the Turnstones a Purple Sandpiper hopped up on the wall! Yet another Life Bird!

The Purple Sandpiper didn't stay in view very long but while he was there the cameras were clicking like crazy (mine included!)

Fort Clinch Beach is a prime nesting area for Black Skimmers and the beach was loaded with them! Bill and I had an amazing birding day in the Jacksonville area - but I just might have to go back and try to get a picture of the Snowy Owl with her eyes open! On our way home we spotted the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher sitting on the wire near the Ocala Regional Sportsplex - but I was too tired to get out the camera and Bill was too tired to stop.

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