This is the first year in many many years that I decided not to participate in the local Christmas Bird Count (for a number of reasons), and it paid dividends. Marie and I decided to go bird at Little Talbot Island State Park to look for the recently reported Lark Sparrows (we didn’t find one). We walked around for about an hour and a half and came right up on a large flycatcher along the road – we were almost on top of it before we even saw it. I recognized it as an Ash-throated Flycatcher immediately (I’ve seen only one in Florida, but really countless ones in the west over the last 10 years).
I managed a few poor, backlit shots before it took off across the dunes and disappeared for 40 minutes. I patiently waited and it came right back out in front of me for another 5 minute look before flying off again. I waited around for another 45 minutes and birded the area, but it never reappeared. This is a pretty significant find for Duval County, and is roughly only the 5th one ever reported in the county. It was #311 for me in Duval.
Marie and I headed to lunch and to run some errands, and swung behind the old Gander Mountain store to check the ponds. We saw a lone white morph SNOW GOOSE mixed in with the Canada Geese. I got out of the truck to grab the camera, and I’m not sure if was my movement or something else, but the whole flock spooked and flew off over the treetops, never to be seen again. This is only the 3rd Snow Goose observation in 2018, and I was lucky enough to find two of those…and one each Blue and White!
I’ve had a pretty good run lately – to recap the last couple months, I’ve found an Ash-throated Flycatcher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Lapland Longspur, a Snow Bunting, two Snow Geese, three Purple Sandpipers, a White-winged Scoter, a Western Kingbird, and two Grasshopper Sparrows…not to mention seeing the Smooth-billed Ani that someone else found. I guess I can’t complain!