Summary of the Winter Season
1 Dec 2014– 28 Feb 2015
Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam & St. Johns 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.
Five Greater White-fronted Goose continued at M&M Dairy (Duval) from the previous season, remaining until 25 December – unfortunately a few days shy of being included on the annual Christmas Bird Count. A single white morph Snow Goose was observed off Sawpit Road on Black Hammock Island on 27 December and remained through at least 4 January.
A first winter Common Eider was recorded at the foot of the George Crady fishing pier (Nassau) from 16 December through the end of the season. Across Nassau Sound from the Eider’s location, three White-winged Scoters visited Spoonbill Pond (Duval) from 21 February through the end of the season. A single Long-tailed Duck was recorded at Fort Clinch SP (Nassau) fishing pier on 31 January.
It was a good year for Red-throated Loons in Northeast Florida beginning on 26 December at Huguenot Memorial Park (Duval), with a close balance between sightings of Red-throated and Common Loons.
A single Magnificent Frigatebird was reported this season, coming from St. Augustine Beach (St. Johns) on 28 December.
Roseate Spoonbills continue to remain through winter in increasing numbers throughout St. Johns and Duval Counties; they have yet to push their wintering range north into Nassau, but it’s perhaps only a matter of time.
A very rare-in-county Short-tailed Hawk was recorded on Amelia Island (Nassau) 18 January.
Rarely reported in Duval County, two Virginia Rails were reported from the Pumpkin Hill area during the CBC on 27 December. An equally rare King Rail was reported from Ringhaver Park (Duval) on 21 January, and was subsequently recorded on 15 February at the same location.
Contracted bird surveys on government property within the Timucuan Preserve (Duval) produced two significant records this season: on 2 December a single American Golden-Plover was recorded, marking perhaps the only winter record for the species, and on 10 February the same survey team photographed the first Duval County record for Ruff (an adult female).
Purple Sandpiper has become very difficult to find the last few years at Huguenot Memorial Park, but at least two were regularly observed throughout the season at Fort Clinch SP (Nassau).
It was a down year for white gulls at Huguenot Memorial Park this season, with no Glaucous and just a single observation of Iceland Gull (18 January).
Reports of White-winged Dove increased this winter in Duval beyond their normal localized area in Atlantic Beach. A pair were recorded at the Jacksonville Zoo’s parking lot from mid-February through the end of the month. Another was reported from Huguenot Memorial Park on 23 February.
Eastern Whip-poor-wills are usually very scarce in winter, but there were three reports in Duval County this season, beginning on 27 December at Betz Tiger Point Preserve. They were also observed on Little Talbot Island and Reddie Point Preserve in January.
For perhaps the first winter in recent memory, no unusual hummingbirds were reported wintering in the region.
The Cassin’s Kingbird that has wintered along Route 305 in Flagler County was reported again this season from 14-20 January.
A Nashville Warbler was recorded visiting the bird bath at a private residence in Jacksonville (Duval) from 17-23 February. Prairie Warblers are annual, but uncommon in winter in NE FL; a single report came from the Mount Cornelia area of Fort George Island on 29 December. A single Black-throated Green Warbler was recorded on 1 February during an Audubon field trip to Cradle Creek Preserve (Duval).
One observation of Lincoln’s Sparrow came from the GTM NERR on 26 January, marking what is believed to be the first modern day St. Johns County report.
Two separate Western Tanagers were recorded in the region this season; one at a private residence in Jacksonville’s Mandarin area (Duval) from 1 December – 15 February, and the other on Amelia Island on 12 February. The Amelia Island tanager is the first known Nassau County record for the species.
Pine Siskins were reported on 1 January at Seaton Creek Preserve (Duval), and up to 15 of them were recorded there on 25 January, marking perhaps the largest recorded flock county history.