Last evening was supposed to be one where I was going to meet Dave and Graham at a local brewery and continue our journey along the “Jacksonville Ale Trail”, but being Cinco de Mayo we opted to avoid the crowds and go birding instead. We had some pretty high winds out of the west and decided Spoonbill Pond would be as good a place as any to meet up. Dave and I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of Graham and started working our scopes from right to left, tallying interesting species like Stilt Sandpiper, a first in season White-rumped Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and gorgeous drake Green-winged Teal. We got to the far edge and picked out a different looking shorebird that we tentatively identified as a Ruff! Graham arrived, the bird continued to cooperate while the fading light actually got more favorable, and we were able to cinch the ID.
This is just the third record of Ruff in Duval County history, and the first that is “chaseable” – the previous two were in a spoil area controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers (previous records were 10 Feb 2015 and 6 Oct 2015). The bird was at such a distance as to make photographing it difficult, but still possible and good enough for ID confirmation. My video clip is a little better. Overall, we had 16 species of shorebird during this visit.
Now for the hard part – two days prior on 3 May, I was birding at Spoonbill and photographed an odd looking shorebird that was “not quite right”. I was leaning towards Ruff, but since there were two reported in Seminole Co. earlier that day, I thought I was trying to over-convince myself on this bird, so I called it a Pectoral. Looking back at my image, I’m confident I did have the Ruff on 3 May at this location as well. Just goes to show you to always “think big”, trust your gut, and never rule anything out.