This morning I met Dave Foster and Reinhart at Huguenot shortly after sunrise to look for the Lapland Longspur. Yesterday I didn’t have my camera with me and I was hoping to get a few decent shots. We knew the high tide would be coming in again, so wore our boots and headed out from the nature center parking lot. As we rounded the “corner” of one of the dunes, we happened upon a SNOW BUNTING sitting on the edge of the dune about 5 feet above the ground.
Based on eBird, this is the first Snow Bunting anywhere in the State of Florida since 2014 (which was also at Huguenot park). Dave and I managed a few shots before it took off over the dunes and we never relocated it.
Reinhart caught up with us and we walked around for at least another hour before he saw a bird come in and land along the wrack line on the ocean side. He pointed the bird out, and sure enough it was the Lapland Longspur. I squatted down using a small dune as a blind, and the darn thing walked almost right up to me.
I wish I were a better photographer because I really missed a chance to get some spectacular shots.
I’m a little surprised no one else was out there looking for this bird. It’s significantly rare anywhere in Florida and now there are TWO significantly rare birds out there to be seen. I’m looking forward to what’s next – a Horned Lark? Short-eared Owl?
Lapland Longspur has been one of my biggest “nemesis birds” in Duval County…they used to be somewhat “regular” at Huguenot Memorial Park in the old days but I think the last credible report is from 2002. I asked Roger Clark about them many years ago and his advice was to “work the edge of the dunes” in winter, something that I’ve done probably (literally) hundreds of times now for around 15 years. In inclement or cold weather, I’d make the rounds in the 4×4 but otherwise on foot…always with Laplands in mind. Snow Buntings have come and gone (and will undoubtedly come again…that’s what she said), but I’ve never lucked out with a Lapland.
This afternoon I decided to wait until “low tide” (which was still high based on astronomically high tides this week), and walked out to the jetties to look for Franklin’s or Glaucous Gull, an Eider, something.
I dipped on any unusual gulls or ducks, and decided to head north along the ocean side – purposefully walking between the roped off dunes and trash cans. In other words, as close to the dunes as I could get, to look for Lapland Longspurs. No shit.
I rounded the north end and scoped a “blue morph” Snow Goose. Cool! My first Snow Goose ever at Huguenot; it’s hard to get a new patch bird here anymore after like 700 birding trips. I was slogging through calf-deep mud when I noticed three Ruddy Turnstones on the top of a high, clear dune. I thought that was odd, and paused to get the bins on them when I saw something small fly in…I thought it might be a Savannah Sparrow, but glassed it and just about crapped my pants! Lapland Longspur, after all these years! I will be riding this high for awhile; it’s the first report at Huguenot in 16 years and the first verifiable record of one there in many more than that.