Summary of the Fall Season
1 Aug – 30 Nov, 2014
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.
The first front of the fall came on 7 September with persistent rain and low cloud ceilings. These conditions created the first little fall out in the region with Chestnut-sided and Tennessee Warblers along with Baltimore Orioles and good numbers of Prothonotary Warblers. Thousands of Bobolinks were reported from Nassau and St. Johns Counties, as well as up to 300 migrating Common Nighthawks in Hastings. Despite that front, the best two days of for observing warblers was from 17-18 October.
Five Greater White-fronted Goose were recorded at M&M Dairy (Duval) on 22 November and remained throughout the season. Snow Goose were reported from several locations, including 4 (3 blue phase, 1 white phase) at Sheffield Regional Park (Duval) from 23 – 27 November.
An early Northern Shoveler and a hen Green-winged Teal were recorded in the Timucuan Preserve on 31 August, marking the earliest migrant waterfowl for the season. Green-winged Teal can be difficult to find each year, but this winter they were fairly reliable at both Perdue Road pond (Duval) and Spoonbill Pond (Duval) throughout November. The region’s only Canvasback was recorded at Perdue Road on 29 November.
Two Common Eider were observed, with one recorded at Huguenot Memorial Park (Duval) on 7 November, and a first winter male reported from Amelia Island State Park (Nassau) on 18-29 November. There were two reports of Surf Scoter, both from the pier at Ft. Clinch SP (Nassau) on 2 and 30 November. A single White-winged Scoter was observed at Ft. Clinch SP (Nassau) on 29 November.
Single Magnificent Frigatebirds were reported from Nassau and St.Johns County coastlines on 23 November.
The only Short-tailed Hawk this season came from the Ordway-Swisher station (Putnam) on 27 September.
Three King Rail were reported on 16 November from Gold Head Branch SP (Clay). The species could also be found reliably in the Deep Creek Conservation Area (Putnam) in mid-October.
Perhaps a record high count for Duval, up to 24 Limpkin were reported from the Westside Industrial Park location on 7 September.
The region’s only American Golden-Plover report came from the Route 100 sod farms (Flagler), where 4 were observed from 7-22 September. Snowy Plover is a rare (but annual) species on the Northeast Florida coast, and one was recorded from 20-23 August at the south end of Little Talbot Island SP (Duval). Marbled Godwit is another Duval County rarity; this season only two were recorded: one from Huguenot Memorial Park on 23 August, and another from Big Bird Island on 30 October. It is worth noting that none were recorded in Nassau, St. Johns, or Flagler this season, further suggesting a very sharp decline in their abundance in Northeast Florida in recent years.
The region’s only Purple Sandpipers came from Ft. Clinch SP, where up to two were recorded from 25-30 November. White-rumped Sandpipers were easy to find at Spoonbill Pond (Duval) from 2-16 August. Just 7 Stilt Sandpipers were recorded, all from the Timucuan Preserve (Duval) on 31 August. Two Buff-breasted Sandpipers came from the Route 100 sod farms on 21 September. Records of Wilson’s Phalarope came from Duval County on 31 August, where 2 were photographed in the Timucuan Preserve, and a single bird was reported from Route 305 in Flagler on 7 September.
Black Terns arrived in the local beaches around 19 July. The most significant record from this season is a record of a first cycle Little Gull from Big Bird Island on 28 October, which despite several attempts to relocate the following week was only observed that one afternoon.
Franklin’s Gull occurred regularly at Huguenot Memorial Park from 4-29 October, where they could be found more often than missed. A single record also came from Big Bird Island on 30 October. The Iceland Gull from the previous season remained at Huguenot until 16 August, at which time it finally perished.
Two very rare-in-county White-winged Doves were recorded in Fernandina Beach (Nassau) on 29 November.
Always a treat in the region, a single Barn Owl was reported from the GTM NERR (St. Johns) on 12 October. A Short-eared Owl was recorded on the airfield at Mayport Naval Air Station (Duval) on 3 November.
The region enjoyed a great movement of Common Nighthawks in early September, with a single high count of 300 noted in Hastings (St. Johns) on 7 September. Eastern Whip-poor-wills were heard calling on Fort George Island (Duval) on 11 October and at Nocatee Preserve (St. Johns) on 10 October.
Belted Kingfishers are very scarce in late spring and summer; observations in St. Johns and Flagler County started increasing 15 July.
A rare-in-county Peregrine Falcon was reported from Baker on 29 September.
On 20 September, 2 Least Flycatchers were reported at Reddie Point Preserve, a year to the day since one was recorded there in 2013. On 15 October, an Alder Flycatcher was reported from Baker. Gray Kingbirds lingered in Duval until 3 September, where one landed on the Victory Cruise casino boat offshore of Mayport NAS, and in St. Johns until 3 October at the GTM NERR.
On 5 October, a Philadelphia Vireo was recorded at Reddie Point Preserve (Duval). Another was reported from Putnam on 22 October.
Thirty species of warbler were recorded in the region this season, matching last fall’s total precisely. Both St. Johns and Duval County reported 27 species each, tying for the regional lead in variety. Notable warblers included a single Blue-winged Warbler report from Reddie Point Preserve on 21 September and a Golden-winged Warbler reportfrom Princess Place Preserve (St. Johns) on 2 October. A Cerulean Warbler was reported on 15 August from the GTM NERR in St. Johns, and another from Princess Place on 18 September. Black-throated Green Warblers were observed several times this season in Duval, with the earliest being on 5 October. A single Wilson’s Warbler was recorded at Reddie Point Preserve on 24 September, and perhaps the same bird again on 16 November.
A single rare-in-region Henslow’s Sparrow was recorded at Huguenot Memorial Park on 4 November.