Summary of the Summer Season – 2013

Summary of the Summer Season
1 Jun – 31 July, 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.

There were some very significant observations in this year’s summer season, despite it being a short period and traditionally ‘slow’ birding season. The season was highlighted by a first county breeding record for Sandhill Crane and most significantly by a brand new addition to the state species list.

Reports of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks persisted throughout the summer season, including a report of them nesting in the cavities of cabbage palms at Six Mile Landing (St. Johns). Sightings of up to 8 individuals continued at the Lem Turner Spray Fields (Duval), and single individuals were recorded at the Purdue Road pond (Duval) and at Huguenot Memorial Park (Duval) on 3 June. Four of them were reported from Olustee Beach (Baker) on 15 June.

On 13 June, a Red-breasted Merganser was recorded in the St. Johns River at Helen Floyd Cooper Park (Duval). A few are recorded in the area each year during the June Challenge. On 26 June, a single Ring-necked Duck was recorded in a retention pond in Jacksonville.

A group of approximately 22 Black Scoters was present at Huguenot Memorial Park from mid-April and continued throughout the summer season. The single White-winged Scoter in the group persisted until 22 June.

Northern Bobwhites have been reported with increased frequency the last year and the summer season has been no exception. They were reported from western St. Johns County on 5 July, and could be heard calling at Sheffield Regional Park (Duval) the last two weeks of June. One was also recorded at Ringhaver Park (Duval) in June.

One Common Loon was reported during the season, on 2 June from Alpine Groves Park (St. Johns, adjacent to St. Johns River).

A single Sooty Shearwater was reported from Anastasia SP (St. Johns) on 24 June. A pelagic trip out of St. Mary’s Georgia on 2 June produced 6 Cory’s Shearwaters and 9 Red-necked Phalaropes in the waters offshore of Nassau County.

Glossy Ibis were regular the last two weeks of June through the first week of July at the north access of Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR) (St. Johns).

Mississippi Kites could still be seen in decent numbers early in the season over the spray fields at Lem Turner and Lannie Road in Jacksonville, and as many as 20 Mississippi Kites were fairly regular at M&M Dairy (Duval) the first week of July. A group of Swallow-tailed Kites, including a least one fledgling, was recorded in Fernandina Beach (Nassau) on 12 July. Oddly, no reports of Mississippi Kites came from St. Johns or Flagler counties in the summer season (following no reports from the spring season).

One King Rail was reported at Olustee Beach (Baker) on 12 June.

On 23 June, Sandhill Cranes were recorded off New World Avenue on the extreme western border of Duval County. The 2 colts with 2 adults mark the first breeding record in Duval County, and were recorded as late as 4 July.

A pair of American Oystercatchers at Huguenot Memorial Park successfully fledged at least one chick this season. Up to 48 Semipalmated Plovers were observed 22 June at Huguenot.

There were no notable gull reports this season, outside of a single adult Lesser Black-backed Gull recorded at Huguenot Memorial Park 15 June.

Purple Martins were abundant the last week of June at Cecil Commerce Center (Duval), with as many as 200 birds lining the trees. The numbers were significantly lower by 4 July, with only 5 birds present.

On 5 June, Diane Reed recorded a Variegated Flycatcher at GTM NERR. Despite significant efforts the next few days by a large group of birders, the flycatcher was not relocated after 5 June. The Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee has officially accepted the record, which is the first Florida state record.

Prothonotary Warblers continued their confirmed nesting at Thomas Creek Preserve (Duval) and at the Crabshack restaurant on SR13 (St. Johns) on 5 July. On 6 July, the first Louisiana Waterthrush of the fall migration was reported in Orange Park (Clay).

A very rare breeding pair of American Robins produced at least one fledgling in Hyde Park (Duval) in early June, and another American Robin was reported in Ortega (Duval) on 14 Jun.

A rare-in-county Bachman’s Sparrow was reported along the edge of Durbin Preserve (Duval) on 12 July. Several were reported in the GTM NERR (St. Johns) on 4 June.

Orchard Orioles, Eastern Kingbird, Blue Grosbeak, and Indigo Bunting all were observed on territory at Sheffield Regional Park (Duval) in mid-June. In western St. Johns County, male and female Indigo Buntings were observed on 5 July.

M&M Dairy

GoogleMap to M&M Dairy

Location: M&M Dairy is located on Port Jacksonville Parkway between Alta Drive and New Berlin Road in north Jacksonville (Duval County).

Parking: There are no designated parking spaces for visitors as this isn’t a park. Park in one of the warehouse parking lots; they are not marked as “No Parking” and I’ve never had an issue parking there. DO NOT park in the middle of the road or along the side of the highway. There is also parking room available on the grass under the power lines.

Trails: There are no trails, but there are paved sidewalks on both sides of the street running the length of Port Jacksonville Parkway and about 100 yards north along New Berlin Road.

Facilities: There are no public restrooms or facilities; visit nearby Sheffield Regional Park about 1 mile away for the closest public restrooms and water fountains.

The Dailey Birder’s Tips: The tip for M&M Dairy is simple – don’t be fooled by its simplicity. A casual drive down the street won’t reveal very much; you really should invest the time to park and walk the sidewalk. The exercise will do you good and it’s the only way you’re going to find such rarities as Upland Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Greater White-fronted Goose or Fulvous Whistling-Duck.

Target Species: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Kingbird, Greater White-fronted Goose, Glossy Ibis, American Kestrel, Mississippi Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Black-necked Stilt, Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Rusty Blackbird, Wild Turkey, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Pectoral Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, Upland Sandpiper, Killdeer, Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Vesper Sparrow, Canada Goose.

About: Port Jacksonville Parkway runs just 1.2 miles, and is marked on both ends by a “Northpoint” industrial park sign. M&M Dairy is family owned, and has been continuously operated in north Jacksonville since 1921. In 2004, 220 acres of the dairy were sold and construction shortly began on a planned 3 million square feet of industrial warehouses. The original plan also called for the purchase of another 100 acres for construction of 150 single-family homes, but the real estate market crashed and the last part of the development plan has not yet been seen through to fruition.SDC16710

While large warehouses and a few retention ponds make up the majority of the south side of the road, the north side has just a single warehouse and over a mile of slightly rolling pastures bordered by barbed-wire fencing. The wide sidewalk and unobstructed views of the farm fields are a birder’s treat that is rarely interrupted by an occasional jogger or pedestrian.

Birding Strategy:
I usually park at the first warehouse lot on the south side of the road closest to New Berlin Road and start with birding the little swampy area there near the corner. This location is fairly reliable for Rusty Blackbird in December and January each year, and Wood Duck year round. It’s also good for a variety of other migrants songbirds during migration.

Cross the street and set up your scope on the northeast corner of Port Jacksonville Parkway and New Berlin Road to scan the fields. This corner often holds standing water and in the spring can be particularly excellent for wading birds and shorebirds like Pectoral Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Black-necked Stilts, Glossy Ibis, and Wilson’s Snipe. Buff-breasted Sandpiper, American Black Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, White-faced Ibis, and American Golden-Plover have all been recorded in that same part of the pasture, and on the 2009 Christmas Bird Count the county’s only record of Lesser Nighthawk occurred here.

Head west along the sidewalk towards Alta Drive and you’ll soon see a metal cattle gate that marks an excellent area for Vesper and Savannah Sparrows in winter, as well as American Kestrel and Eastern Meadowlarks. Continuing west along the sidewalk, make sure to stop and scan the pasture every 30 yards or so – this technique has produced Greater White-fronted Goose and Upland Sandpiper in recent years. Also, make sure to scope the small body of water that runs perpendicular to the road and terminates at the sidewalk about a quarter mile west of New Berlin Road. Shorebirds, waders, and ducks are common here along with an occasional Sora. This is roughly across the street from the APR Energy office where parking is ample; in November 2014 five Greater White-fronted Goose were recorded from that very spot.

Behind the single warehouse on north side of the road is a small pond that is worth checking and will usually reward you with a few shorebirds, hawks, Common Gallinule, American Coot, and a variety of ducks during winter. During migration, this is also a good place to observe swallows as they hunt over the water, and you’ll add Double-crested Cormorant, European Starling, and Eastern Bluebird to your day list. The woods on the far side of the pond can offer calling Barred Owls and (rarely) Wild Turkey. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks have been recorded there the last couple of years. As of this writing, the area is still accessible by foot even though it looks like it may be restricted; walk along the barbed wire fence to the east side of the tractor trailer parking lot to get there, and keep in mind it is an active business.

The birding heading towards Alta Drive from that last warehouse can slow down a bit, but can still be very productive. Check around the ponds for Green Heron, Anhinga, Orchard Oriole (in spring and summer), Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Belted Kingfisher, and Lesser (and Greater) Scaup. At the last warehouse on the south side of the road there is small stand of pine trees along the back of the property, which will produce woodpeckers, sparrows, a variety of migrant land birds, and even wintering Ovenbird. The clearing beneath the massive power lines is great for sparrows and Wild Turkey in winter, and for Blue Grosbeak and Brown Thrasher in summer. In the summer of 2014, Marie and I found a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in this location that remained for only 2 days.

A visit to the dairy during spring migration will yield Northern Rough-winged, Barn, Tree, and the occasional Bank Swallow, a variety of shorebirds, both Mississippi and Swallow-tailed Kites, and many other raptors. This location is also perhaps the most reliable place in northeast Florida to observe foraging Bobolinks, which can be found in flocks of up to 200.

Known breeding birds along this 1.2 mile stretch of road include Eastern Kingbird, Mallard, Northern Cardinal, Blue Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole, Wild Turkey, Black-necked Stilt, Common Gallinule, Canada Goose, Loggerhead Shrike, Brown Thrasher, and Northern Mockingbird.

Summary of the Spring Season – 2013

Summary of the Spring Season
1 Mar – 31 May, 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.

Heavy rains in March and May contributed to flooded fields at the M&M Dairy in north Jacksonville (Duval), producing a great variety of birds throughout the spring season. Ultimately, there were more species recorded at this location than more popular local hotspots such as Huguenot Memorial Park (Duval) or Ft. George Island (Duval).

Beginning 2 May 2013, a severe weather system moved through the area and by 3 May there were several reports of pelagic species such as Sooty Tern and Red-necked Phalarope being seen well from land.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks can be considered rare in NE Florida, and most reports the last 5+ years are in the second week of May. This year they were right on schedule, with 3 photographed at M&M Dairy on 5 May, and as many as 23 over the next few days at the pond off Purdue Road on Jacksonville’s northside. Two lingered as late as 22 May at that location. Reports of juveniles of this species at “Gander pond” (River City Marketplace in northern Duval) and M&M Dairy in the late summer the last few years indicate they may be breeding in Duval County now, but that has yet to be confirmed. Other reports from the region this season included 4 individuals at the Outlet Mall in St. Johns County (14 May) and 4 at the GTM NERR (St. Johns) on 22 May.

A pair of Greater White-fronted Goose was recorded at Mayo Clinic (Duval) on 8 May, providing the first county record since 6 March 2010 (M&M Dairy).

Redhead, Greater and Lesser Scaup, and Northern Shovelers all persisted through the end of March, and only Lesser Scaup from that group into April.

A group of approximately 22 Black Scoters was present at Huguenot Memorial Park from mid-April through the end of the season, with a single male White-winged Scoter discovered with the group beginning 12 May. While certainly not a first county record, this White-winged Scoter is the first Duval County entry ever submitted to eBird, which is indicative of how uncommon the species is here. An additional report of Surf Scoter from Huguenot in early May rounds out the family with all three Scoters reported from a single location this season.

Magnificent Frigatebirds made appearances three times along the St. Johns County coastline; one in April from Ponte Vedra, 2 photographed from Anastasia SP on 3 May, and another on the final day of the season along the GTM NERR coastline; a Brown Booby was also photographed there the same day (31 May).

Least Bittern arrived again in Jacksonville at the reliable locations of Hanna Park (Duval) (near the kayak rental area) and in Mayport behind the Safe Harbor warehouse. Roseate Spoonbills fledged young again this year at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine (St. Johns) as they have expanded their known breeding range north to this location over the last few years.

Locally rare Glossy Ibis were recorded on two occasions at M&M Dairy, with 5 individuals on 24 March and a single bird the first week of May. Sandhill Cranes were reported in St. Johns County on 8 May; two adults and one colt, suggesting a rare breeding pair in the area.

There were no reports of Broad-winged Hawk in migration this season and just two for Short-tailed Hawk; one in Hastings (St. Johns) on 13 March and another in Arlington (Duval) on 8 May.

Mississippi Kites arrived the last week of April and were most often seen at M&M Dairy in Jacksonville, with other reports coming from Jennings State Forest (Clay), and as far north as Amelia Bluff (Nassau). Oddly there were no reports from St. Johns County. On 26 May, over 35 Mississippi and 20 Swallow-tailed Kites were seen foraging low over the spray fields at Lem Turner and Lannie Road in Jacksonville.

After many years of being absent from Huguenot Memorial Park, two pair of American Oystercatchers are regular along the lagoon and are attempting to nest at the location. Their presence should be considered an indicator of the excellent job the park is now doing with managing the park and restricting vehicular, canine, and pedestrian access from key areas.

Pectoral Sandpipers arrived at M&M Dairy on 10 March, and on 24-26 March, a pair of Upland Sandpipers was recorded at M&M Diary, providing the first county record since April 2010. White-rumped Sandpipers were recorded there beginning 3 May.

Overall, 31 species of shorebirds were reported in Duval County this season, including a single collected specimen Red Phalarope at Huguenot Memorial Park on 28 March. Red-necked Phalaropes were recorded in St. Johns County beginning 3 May, bringing the region’s shorebird count to 32 species.

Notable Laridae included a 2nd cycle Glaucous x Herring Gull hybrid recorded at Huguenot Memorial Park on 9 March, and single Sooty Terns in Duval and St. Johns (both 3 May). There were also single reports of Black Tern in Jacksonville and Vilano Beach (St. Johns) the first week of May.

The waning Razorbill invasion included just single reports in Duval (29 Mar; Little Talbot Island SP) and St. Johns (18 Mar; St. Augustine pier).

White-winged Doves are very localized in Northeast Florida but were reported 13 April and 18 April in Atlantic Beach and Mayport (Duval).

Noteworthy woodpecker sightings are rare, but this season produced two: a single Hairy Woodpecker at the Jacksonville Arboretum (Duval) on 12 April, and a Red-cockaded Woodpecker at Bayard Conservation Area (Clay) on 21 May.

Although no Western Kingbirds were reported in the region for the first time in 4 spring seasons, Gray Kingbirds returned to their breeding area in Mayport (Duval) and in front of Ripley’s in historic St. Augustine (St. Johns).

The winter irruption of Red-breasted Nuthatches in Northeast Florida continued into the season, with 2 reported in Ponte Vedra (St. Johns) on 9 March, and 3 as late as 20 April along the St. Mary’s River (Nassau). Golden-crowned Kinglets were reported throughout the month of March in Baker County.

Many species that are uncommon-to-rare in spring were reported, including Veery, Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked Thrushes.

Twenty-six species of warblers were reported in Duval County during the season, including 2 Wilson’s (6 Apr, Kingsley Plantation), 2 Black-throated Green, 1 Connecticut (8 May), 1 Blue-winged (17 Apr, Reddie Point), and 1 Magnolia (26 Apr, Hanna Park).

Twenty-four species of warblers were reported in St. Johns County, including the region’s only Bay-breasted (9 May; Faver-Dykes). A single Blue-winged was reported 8 April at Vaill Point park (St. Johns), and a Nashville Warbler was reported on 23 March from GTM NERR (St. Johns). Overall, the region produced twenty-nine species of warblers during the season.

On 5 April, lone Grasshopper Sparrows were reported in Hanna and Helen Floyd Cooper parks in Jacksonville (Duval); then on 20 April, single Clay-colored Sparrows were recorded at Reddie Point (Duval) and at the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine (St. Johns). Our coastal state parks produced noteworthy sparrows as well, with a Fox Sparrow at Faver-Dykes SP (St. Johns) on 3 March and a Dark-eyed Junco at the Ft. Clinch SP (Nassau) feeders on 17 April.

One of the highlights of the season was a very cooperative Western Tanager visiting a feeder in Jacksonville’s west side from 22 March – 11 April 11 (Duval). Equally cooperative was the homeowner that graciously allowed any and all visitors to come enjoy the bird.

Gnatcatchers and Kinglets

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are a year round resident and breeding species in Duval County, with the earliest breeding record from 3 April 1931 (Stevenson & Anderson, 1994). They are relatively easy to find in any of the birding hotspots or local parks, so you shouldn’t have much trouble locating them. They are abundant at places like Reddie Point Preserve, Fort George Island, Sheffield Park, Pumpkin HIll, Cedar Point Preserve, or Theodore Roosevelt Area. In March, a good location to observe them setting up breeding territories is at Julington Durbin Creek Preserve or any other park with extensive pine woods. In 1928, Grimes noted “the pine is the tree most commonly chosen for the nest site” and noted six nests in pines on 8 April 1925 (Howell, 1932, p. 368).

Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
Golden-crowned Kinglets are a little more common just to the west of Jacksonville in Clay and Baker counties, but they still shouldn’t be expected in any season. When they are observed in Duval County, it is in the winter season and typically associated with a “mini” irruption of the species. In 1988-1989 Peggy Powell noted it was a “good winter” for them, but no further details are available (Ogden, 1989).

The most recent such event was in the winter of 2006-2007, where they could be found relatively easily at Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island and along the treeline at the entrance to Cedar Point. Remarkably, they are one of the county’s oldest recorded species, as Maynard collected a pair in December 1868 (Howell, 1932, p. 368). Perhaps the earliest fall arrival was at Kingsley Plantation on 29 October 1995 (and seen again there on 27 November) (Rowan, 1995). On 30 January 2016, Dave Foster and I recorded five in one flock off Starratt Road in north Jacksonville and found three more there two weekends later.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
Ruby-crowned Kinglets are very abundant in winter, arriving the first week of October and departing by the end of April. Much like the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, they can be found throughout the county in any park or suitable habitat with almost no effort.


House Wren Troglodytes aedon
House Wren is a fairly common species from October through April, but can be very difficult to find during the summer months. There are just a handful of reports from May through September each year, and most of those are “heard only”, lacking photographic support. In fall and winter, listen or look for them in the wooded areas of local parks and brush piles; they can also be quite common along the dunes of A1A at Little Talbot Island State Park and in the parking lot at Huguenot Memorial Park. They are quite vocal and their harsh scolding call is a rather familiar sound on most winter morning outings. In summer, I’ve seen them on Black Hammock Island and Sheffield Regional Park where they can be found with some effort to the south of the football fields. There are no known breeding records here for the species.

Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis
Winter Wren is a species that should not be expected in northeast Florida on any given day, but should always be considered as a possible rarity. There are a handful of reports over the years but unfortunately no known records (an observation supported by photo, video, or audio). An early report comes from the 1960 Christmas Bird Count, and one was noted as singing by Grimes on 23 March and 1 April 1968 (Stevenson, 1968). West (1996) noted a single wren in south Jacksonville observed between 28 November 1995 and 30 January 1996. More recently, one was observed on 18 November 2000 at Kingsley Plantation, another on 12 November 2004 in Jacksonville’s south side, and most recently at “Sample Swamp” during the 2010 CBC. As rare as the species is today, it nevertheless shows up on CBC data in 1931, 1950, ’51, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’60, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’68, ’69, ’71, ’76, ’77, ’80, ’81, ’84, ’86, ’89, and 2010. I remain heavily skeptical about CBC data and take most of these reports with a grain of salt.

Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis
Sedge Wren is an uncommon winter resident with no records or reports from May through September. They can be difficult to find even in suitable habitat, and are most often heard rather than seen. The most reliable place to search for them is along the two boardwalks at the southern parking lot of Little Talbot Island State Park. Sheffield Regional Park has good habitat for them adjacent to the first large pond and basketball courts, but that may change if the property is further developed for soccer fields in the future. In western Duval, Fretwell Park, Branan Field Mitigation Area, and Taye Brown Regional Park are all excellent locations for the species. In the eastern and northern part of the county, try the eastern side of Fort George Island along the saltmarsh, Little Talbot Island, and throughout Cedar Point Preserve where there is perhaps the largest expanse of suitable habitat in the area.

Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris
Many local birders don’t realize that Marsh Wren (specifically, the “Worthington’s” Marsh Wren) is a year-round resident and breeding species in Duval County. Their breeding habits have been studied for years and it is suggested that while they do occur south of the St. Johns River in winter, they move to the marshes of the Timucuan Preserve north of the river in summer to breed. I can personally attest that they seem to be an abundant breeding species in those marshes, as each summer I kayak into the finger creeks just north of White Shell Bay off Heckscher Drive, where they can be heard singing and seen perching in the grasses. Stevenson and Anderson (1994) noted one on 24 September 1957 as an early fall report, but did not note why it wasn’t considered one of the abundant breeding population in the area. Good areas to search for them in winter include around the observation tower at Theodore Roosevelt Area, the small fishing pier at Betz Tiger Point Preserve, and the dock behind Jim King Park at Sister’s Creek.

Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
Carolina Wren is by far the most abundant wren in the county and can be found in all seasons in appropriate habitat. These inquisitive birds are almost always heard when birding any of the major hotspots and a little pishing should produce them quickly. They are expected on virtually any outing at places like Kingsley Plantation, Fort George Island, Reddie Point Preserve, Little Talbot Island, Sheffield Park, Cedar Point Preserve, or Hanna Park. If you’re looking for near-guaranteed pinpoint locations, you could target the area around the interpretive garden at Kingsley Plantation, the “free” parking lot at the entrance to Huguenot Memorial Park, or around the parking lot trailhead at Reddie Point.

Page updated 21 Jan 2019

Frigatebirds and Sulids

Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
The earliest report of Magnificent Frigatebird in Duval County comes from around the summer of 1935 when a commercial fisherman claimed to have seen two or three birds during inclement weather around the mouth of the St. Johns River (Grimes, 1943, p. 64). Brookfield (1951) noted four off Neptune Beach on 3 June 1950; the next report followed seventeen years later on 30 May 1967 off Jacksonville Beach (Stevenson, 1967). Jacksonville Beach then produced one on 30 November 1980 (Atherton & Atherton, 1981), and five were in south Jacksonville following Hurricane Elena on 1 September 1985 (Atherton & Atherton, 1986).

There have been a few reports of Magnificent Frigatebird over the last ten years, with about half of them occurring in late August, two on 6 September 2004 (Pranty, 2005) and one as “late” as 15 December 2005 (Anderson, 2006). Most recently, Bob Richter observed one some twenty miles inland at Ortega on 18 February 2016.

This is not a species that you can “target” in Duval County; unfortunately it is one that will just have to find you. I’ve spent many thousands of hours birding along the coast in Jacksonville and have never seen one here just to provide some perspective. I’ve heard speculation that the best time would be after strong west winds, but have no real evidence to back that up.

Masked Booby Sula dactylatra
There is only one reported observation of the extremely rare Masked Booby in county history. The report was of a “well described” bird twelve miles offshore of Mayport observed by Chuck Hunter and Paul Beiderwell (Edscorn, 1980).

Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
Grimes (1943) described Brown Booby as “a casual straggler on our coast”, and noted that Frank M. Chapman reported up to twelve at the mouth of the St. Johns River on 11 March 1907. Almost seventy years passed before the next report on 7 September 1975 offshore of Mayport (Edscorn, 1976). Edscorn (1980) then noted two more reported six miles offshore on 27 June 1980, along with the county’s only report of Masked Booby. There was then a twenty-six year gap in reports until several sightings in 2006-2008, leading to speculation that this species was extremely rare here.

I believe Brown Booby is more regular in Duval County than we once considered, but they hang out on the east end of the jetties and rarely come further up the river. This makes seeing them very difficult unless you get out on a boat. There have been a few “up river” sightings since 2005, with one coming from Clapboard Creek in May 2008 (R. Clark) and another unconfirmed sighting from as far up river as Blue Cypress park.
I’ve had the good fortune to see one from Huguenot Memorial Park on two occasions, but my best luck has been from my boat where I’ve seen as many as three sitting together on the jetties in July.
Three Brown Boobies. July 4 2012. Mayport Jetties. Jacksonville, FL.
I always scope up and down both sides of the jetties when birding Huguenot just in case you can pick out a distant silhouette. More often than not, weather conditions and heat signatures will prohibit seeing birds at that distance, but I have been able to pick one out using this method on a clear day. They are quite obviously different in size, posture, and shape than the usual pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants out there, so you will know it when you see one.
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
Howell (1932, p. 89) noted a Northern Gannet killed by an airplane near Jacksonville Beach on 12 May 1924. At the time it was the latest (May) occurrence of the species in Florida, until one was recorded in 27 June 1947 in the Dry Tortugas (Sprunt, 1948). Northern Gannets typically arrive in mid-October and are abundant throughout the winter. Some linger through May now, but are gone by June all the way through late September. You can typically see them from any beach in Duval County; great vantage points are Little Talbot Island State Park, Huguenot Memorial Park, Hanna Park, and the Jacksonville Pier.