The Spring 2017 season is in the books, and overall it was pretty lackluster. Sure, there were some good birds seen here and there, but numbers of migrants are down. Way down. There have been two major bright spots however – a Common Eider and Purple Gallinule!
The Common Eider reported at Huguenot Memorial Park on 6 May lingered until at least 27 May. It has been found most often at the Mayport Ferry slip on the Heckscher Drive side. This Eider, which I photographed again on 27 May, is now the Northeast Florida record setter for the latest spring occurrence of the species ever.
Perhaps even more notable is a Purple Gallinule I found on 29 May. Purple Gallinules are historically documented breeders in Duval County, but haven’t been seen often in the last thirty years. In fall a couple years ago, JC recorded one at Westside Industrial Park and I was lucky enough to see that bird very briefly. On the morning of 29 May, I was birding a location I’ve covered many times specifically looking for this species in an effort to retrace the footsteps of Sam Grimes some 75+ years ago (Sam photographed them on the nest in this general area). After years of searching, I was able to happen upon one for a brief encounter. I think the bird was as shocked to see me as I was to see it, but I managed a few very important photographs to document this wonderful sighting. What makes it even more special is the timing; a bird in this habitat this late in the season is no doubt nesting in the area.