Glauczilla – king of the Gulls.

Last Sunday, I walked the entire perimeter of Huguenot Memorial Park in Jacksonville with a local birder, Alta. We were looking for and discussing the possibility of a Lapland Longspur or Snow Bunting, since it was just about a year to the day since I found both there in 2018 over two days. We didn’t see one, but wouldn’t you know it – Mike C found a Lapland (or two?!) the next day. I was in Minnesota all week for work so was unable to try for it in the evenings and I got back to town around midnight last night. I was at the park by 7AM this morning, and walked up the river side to the jetties.

Within about 5 minutes of scanning the flock, I found this Glaucous Gull (or, as Marie and I like to call them, Glauczilla). I pointed it out to Dave and another birder, and we all got nice shots. This is my 12th observation of a Glaucous Gull in Duval County in the last ten years (2009-present). Almost all have come from Huguenot, and almost all of them are one-day wonders.

Glaucous Gull. Huguenot Memorial Park. 23 Nov 2019.

I continued to scan the flock in case there was an Iceland or Franklin’s, but did not see one. Nor did I detect any Purple Sandpipers, and of course no Surf Scoters (public nemesis number one). I did see this pod of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, which may be a treat for out of towners to see, but they’re a pretty common sight in the St. Johns River here.

Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. St. Johns River. Jacksonville, Florida.

I walked around the dunes to the Lapland spot and then up around the rim of the interior lagoon, but didn’t see much of interest. I did run into some other birders and was able to share the Glaucous sighting and they were able to go over and see the bird. On my way out, I finally met Voicu, a local birder that recently found and photographed a very rare-in-county Ash-throated Flycatcher at Little Talbot Island State Park.

On the way out, i walked right past this Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron. Huguenot Memorial Park. Jacksonville, Florida.

I had to run home to catch up on chores, but may try for the ‘spur again this evening or tomorrow.

Hudsonian Godwit at Spoonbill Pond.

On October 22, 2019 I observed a Hudsonian Godwit at Spoonbill Pond. The bird was first reported a couple days prior by some (presumably) out of town birders, and many locals chased it the next weekday morning. Woe is me…work often gets in the way of leisurely pursuits, so I found myself unable to seek the bird until a couple days later when I got off early enough to try to make it up to Spoonbill in the evening’s fading light. Marie and I located it about 3 minutes after arriving, and I shot the quick video below.

Hudsonian Godwit. Big Talbot Island State Park. Jacksonville FL
Hudsonian Godwit. Spoonbill Pond.

The no-see-ums were incredibly bad at that time of the evening, so we pulled a classic “tick and go” and got the hell out of dodge. This is just the 3rd county report of the species, and only the 2nd supported by photographs. I was just wondering two weeks ago how many more “county ticks” I’d get before leaving, and this one fits the bill. I’m still hoping for a huge Duval nemesis this winter – Surf Scoter.

I don’t have time to do any structured analysis, but it’s occurred to me that the overwhelming majority of significant county rarities are first observed by out-of-state or out-of-county birders. Sure, I find my share as well, but other than that, true rarities are few and far between from locals.

Otherwise, if I’m not traveling for work, I seem to travel for fun, and Marie and I recently got back from the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming. It was a wonderful trip to a new place, and we saw some great birds as well. Not the best picture, but the subject is pretty cool…Red Crossbill just outside of Mount Rushmore.

Red Crossbill. South Dakota, USA
Red Crossbill, Black Hills, South Dakota.

It’s not a bird, but I was very happy with this Buffalo shot and composition.

Badlands National Park - South Dakota, USA
Home on the range. Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

We spent 4 days, with full days in each of the Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, and Spearfish Canyon / Lead / Deadwood areas. The weather was bright and around 65F at Rushmore, around 40F and windy as all hell at the Badlands, and between 12-23F in Spearfish and out to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. We left Rapid City at 8F and arrived home to 85F in Jacksonville. Not sure what’s next, but the adventures continue.