Summary of the Fall Season – 2013

Summary of the Fall Season
1 Aug – 30 Nov, 2013
Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Baker, Clay, Putnam, & Flagler Counties

Sight-only observations are considered “reports”. Those supported by verifiable evidence (photographs, video or audio recordings, or specimens) are called “records.” A county designation (in italics) accompanies the first-time listing of each site in this report.

Mild weather patterns and higher-than-normal temperatures persisted throughout the season, with the only two notable fronts occurring the last week of September and the first week of November, which consisted of a Nor’easter with strong onshore winds. Hundreds of Black Scoters were observed passing south during this system, with as many as eight hundred counted on 5 November at Hanna Park (Duval). The only freezing temperatures in the region came on 28 November.

The season’s only (dark morph) Snow Goose was recorded at Purdue Road pond (Duval) on 28 November and was not relocated after that day.

Reports of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks persisted throughout the summer and into the fall season, with as many as eighty-five reported on 26 September at the Lem Turner spray fields (Duval), and as many as sixteen reported from the north end of Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR) (St. Johns) on 6 October.

Dabbling ducks began arriving in the region the second week of October, with Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, and Northern Shovelers all reported from GTM NERR. Often difficult to find in Northeast Florida, American Wigeon were recorded at the Purdue Road pond on 19 November.

On 10 November, eight Canvasbacks were recorded at the Trednick Road ponds across from Lowe’s in Regency (Duval) and continued through the end of the season; these were the only Canvasbacks reported in the region. A rather out of place male Black Scoter was also in the group. Redheads were recorded there later in that week; the only other Redheads this season were reported on 25 November from Marineland (Flagler) and from Washington Oaks State Park (St. Johns).

A Common Eider was recorded in the Amelia River (Nassau) 7 November, and another was reported from Little Talbot Island State Park (Duval) 8 November.

Approximately eight of the original twenty-two Black Scoters from the previous two seasons were present at Huguenot Memorial Park (Duval) to open the fall season. Scoters migrated through the region in great numbers this season, with many scattered offshore flocks consisting of hundreds of birds. Several Black Scoters were recorded in the middle of Duval County on retention ponds and in the St. Johns River. There were a few reports of White-winged Scoter: two on 8 November from Vilano Beach (St. Johns), and one on 27 November from Flagler Beach Pier (Flagler). Surf Scoters were reported 5 November from Hanna Park and Washington Oaks SP on 14 November.

Scattered reports of Northern Bobwhite came from Clay County in August, from Faver-Dykes State Park (St. Johns) on 26 September, and from the GTM NERR on 13 October.

Horned Grebes arrived in the region on 12 November and were recorded at Reddie Point Preserve (Duval).

Brown Booby was recorded at Huguenot Memorial Park twice: once on 30 September and again on 9 November. Northern Gannet arrived 4 November with the first reports from Little Talbot Island SP.

A Great Cormorant was recorded at Washington Oaks SP on 9 November.

There were just two reports of American Bittern, both on 20 October from St. Johns County at Fort Mose State Park and from Six Mile Landing.

Reddish Egrets were observed throughout the region, with one at Huguenot Memorial Park staying through the end of the season.

On 16 August, thirty-six Glossy Ibis were reported from Huguenot Memorial Park, flying in from Talbot Islands and heading south. A single Glossy Ibis was at the lagoon there the next morning. Smaller numbers were periodically reported in St. Johns and Flagler counties in August and the latest report 6 October in St. Augustine.

The only Short-tailed Hawk was reported 29 September at Lake Disston (Flagler).

Limpkins were recorded at the Westside industrial park off Pritchard Road (Duval) on 7 September, including at least one adult and three juveniles. This would mark the first breeding record in the county. At least three persisted through the season and were recorded on 30 November at the same location. Another Limpkin was reported at Seminole Woods pond 23 November (Flagler).

The season’s only American Avocets came from Bell River Island (Nassau) 25 August and then on 25 October from Flagler Beach (Flagler).

On 17 August, one Upland Sandpiper, two Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and several Pectorals Sandpipers were observed on a sod field in Flagler County. Single Uplands were also reported in Baker County (16 Sept) and Nassau County along the St. Marys River (13 Sept). No other observations of Buff-breasted were reported. Pectoral Sandpipers were also reported on Bell River Island 9 September and a few times at Huguenot Memorial Park from 13-22 September.

Purple Sandpiper was recorded at Marineland on 28 October; another was reported at Huguenot Memorial Park 6 November, and two were seen the last week of November at Huguenot. Red Knot were observed in Nassau, Duval, and St. Johns counties throughout the season, with a high count in the region of just twenty-one at Huguenot Memorial Park on 27 October.

The continued lack of Marbled Godwits in the region is perhaps just as notable as the previous shorebird observations. Once regular along the Northeast Florida coast, often including over-wintering birds, they were once again absent this season throughout the region.
One first cycle Franklin’s Gull was reported 21 October at Vilano Beach. Two first cycle Franklin’s Gulls were recorded at Huguenot Memorial Park 2 November, and then another first cycle was reported at Porpoise Point (St. Johns) on 17 November. Adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls were regular at Huguenot in October and November. One Glaucous Gull was reported in the region on 25 November from Flagler Beach.

A late Yellow-billed Cuckoo was recorded 10 November at M&M Dairy (Duval).

Belted Kingfishers arrived in the region around 20 August.

Flycatchers moved through in September, with Eastern Wood-Pewees showing up around 10 September in Baker and Duval. A cooperative Acadian Flycatcher was recorded at Reddie Point 10-12 September, and on 20 September a possible Least Flycatcher was also recorded there; unfortunately the bird never vocalized. A vocalizing Least Flycatcher was reported in Baker County (10 Sept) and another at Washington Oaks SP on 5 October. There was one report of a calling Willow Flycatcher in Baker on 11 October.

Western Kingbirds were recorded on 29 November in two locations in Duval County: one each at Helen Floyd Cooper Park and Imeson Industrial Center. A single Western Kingbird was recorded 25 November at Fernandina Beach Airfield (Nassau). On 23 November, a Tropical Kingbird was recorded at Imeson Industrial Center, marking just the second Duval County record.

Gray Kingbird was reported in Green Cove Springs (Clay) on 2 September, and a late one recorded in St. Johns County on 11 November. A Cassin’s Kingbird was recorded at the same location as last year along Route 305 (Flagler) 21-27 November.

A large movement of swallows was observed 16-17 August at Huguenot Memorial Park, including over 50 Cliff, several Bank, and over 100 Barn Swallows. In recent years, reports of Cliff Swallows in Duval County are all from Huguenot and occur from the 14th to the 18th of August. A single Cliff Swallow at GTM NERR on 15 August was the only report in St. Johns County, and there was one report on 13 August from Flagler. The only other report of Bank Swallow came from Flagler County on 8 October.

Thrushes moved through the region in October, including Baker County where Gray-cheeked Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Veery, and one Wood Thrush were all reported the week of 11 October. In Jacksonville, there were several reports of Gray-cheeked Thrushes during the first week of October, with one well-photographed bird 8 October at a private residence in Jacksonville Beach (Duval). The only other Gray-cheeked reported were from Jennings State Forest (Clay) on 3 and 21 October during nocturnal flight call counts.

A pair of American Robins was noted in Hyde Grove (Duval) 10 August; presumably the breeding pair recorded there all summer. A lone American Pipit was reported at the Flagler County sod fields on 27 November; the only report in the region for the season.

A female Snow Bunting was recorded 11 November at Amelia Island State Park (Nassau) during a shorebird survey of the southern tip of the island.

A very impressive thirty species of warblers was reported in the region this fall; they really began showing up the last week of August, and a good variety started the following week, with Blackburnian (7 Sept) and Kentucky (8 Sept) reported from Reddie Point Preserve. A front finally pushed through on 18 September and produced a little fallout of warblers, including Chestnut-sided and Blue-winged Warblers at Theodore Roosevelt area (Duval). A Blue-winged was also reported at GTM NERR on 19 Sept, and two more were reported at Washington Oaks SP on 4 October and Princess Place on 12 October (Flagler). A single rare Golden-winged Warbler was recorded at Ft. Caroline (Duval) on 29 September, providing the region’s only record this year.

This season was an uncharacteristically good one for Nashville Warbler, however the reports were isolated to Duval and Nassau counties. They were reported from Hanna Park (one bird, 6 Sept), Ft. George Island (one bird, 27 Sept), Blue Cypress (two birds, 28 Sept), and one cooperative bird was reliable at Reddie Point Preserve from 29 Sept – 31 October. A single Nashville was also reported from Florence Point (Nassau) 9-12 October.

A late American Redstart was reported 25 November in Jacksonville Beach. Magnolia Warblers were sighted in Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, and Flagler counties; with the exception of Reddie Point Preserve just northeast of downtown Jacksonville, all Magnolia observations were made at near-coastal locations.

Bay-breasted Warbler is another increasingly uncommon migrant in Northeast Florida, and they were observed at Florence Point and recorded at Reddie Point on 12 October; the only other report was from St. Johns County on 2 October. It is worth considering the pattern of recent sightings of this species in Northeast Florida over the last eight years, in that the vast majority of observations occur on 12 & 13 October (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013).

A rare-in-fall single Blackpoll Warbler was recorded on 3 October at Faver-Dykes SP. Three observations of Black-throated Green Warbler came from Hanna Park (24 Oct), GTM NERR (13 Oct), and Washington Oaks SP (10 Oct).

Two reports of Field Sparrow both came from Jacksonville on 10 and 17 November, both along Main Street at Pine Lakes and Imeson Industrial Center. Vesper Sparrows returned around 17 November along this same ‘corridor’ in Duval County and were recorded in the same locations as the Field Sparrows. Vespers also made a good showing at Little Talbot Island SP in the south parking lot picnic area the following weekend on 24 November. These were the only reports of either species in the region. White-crowned Sparrow is another species with declining observations in recent years; the only report came from New Berlin Road (Duval) on 27 October. A single Henslow’s Sparrow was reported 28 November at Haw Creek (Flagler).

Scarlet Tanager observations increased this year, with reports coming from Flagler, St. Johns, and Duval counties. They were observed regularly at Reddie Point Preserve from 2-24 October, and at Washington Oaks Gardens SP from 4-10 October.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were tough to find this fall, with reports coming from just three locations: Reddie Point, Harvest Bend (Clay), and GTM NERR.

The season’s only Bobolink was a single bird recorded at Reddie Point Preserve on 8 October.