Hairy Highlights Record Setting Seven Pecker Day

On Sunday, February 22, 2016, Roger Clark and I had a record setting day in Duval County history – we observed seven species of woodpecker in the county in a single day!

Our day started at Perdue Pond Wildlife Area, where we tried to locate the American Black Ducks without success. Our eBird list quietly included Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers; we did not expect for these to be the first two species in a banner day.  Our next stop was Westside Industrial Park to add Limpkin to Roger’s year list and we found five of them along with 46 other species – including the day’s third woodpecker, three Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. We added another Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and two more Downys at Taye Brown Regional Park while searching for the American Bittern, and while we were there I was filling Roger in on the Hairy Woodpecker that was recorded deep in the property there last June. At nearby Fretwell Park we observed Red-bellied and Downy Woodpecker, and added yet another Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Neither of us had ever birded in Branan Field Mitigation Park and decided to drop in for Bachman’s Sparrow. We split up by about a hundred yards to cover more territory and I soon heard the distinct sharp ‘peek’ call of the Hairy. I shouted out, “I have a Hairy Woodpecker over here!” and as Roger was sprinting through the undergrowth faster than he used to run down the Hart bridge during the Gate River Run a second Hairy flew into my view! The two woodpeckers interacted and flew from pine to pine right in front of us for the next ten to fifteen minutes, providing as extensive a view as we could ask for. Roger managed a few photos, which were just the second verifiable records of the species in at least the last thirty years here in Duval County. We also had three more Red-bellied and two more Downys during this visit.

At this point, we were sitting on just four woodpecker species and weren’t really thinking of any kind of record – but we were thinking about adding Red-headed Woodpecker to the list. Our last stop of the day was Eastport Wastelands and we were promptly greeted by two Northern Flickers (number five) and a flyby Pileated Woodpecker (number six). Since they’ve walled off the entrance to Eastport we had to walk several hundred yards through loose sand to reach the Red-headed spot, and as soon as we turned the corner a stunning adult came flying directly at us! It soon dawned on us what had just happened – a “seven pecker” day!


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