Summary of the Fall Season
1 Aug – 30 Nov, 2016
Duval County, Florida
Sight-only observations are considered “reports”. Those supported by verifiable evidence (photographs, video or audio recordings, or specimens) are called “records.”
The Fall Season included the passage of Hurricane Matthew, which impacted Duval County 6-8 October with high winds, damaging storm surge, and some coastal flooding. The damage was extensive enough to essentially destroy Shands Pier in Clay County, force the extended closure of the pier at Fort Clinch State Park in Nassau, and semi-permanently close Huguenot Memorial Park in Duval. As of this report, no one has been allowed into Huguenot since the storm and it is expected to be closed through at least spring 2017.
Up to three American Black Ducks returned to Perdue Pond Wildlife Area 20 November and remained into the Winter season. The drake Northern Shoveler continued from last Winter at Big Talbot Island State Park’s Spoonbill Pond through 27 August. Two of the Black Scoters at Huguenot Memorial Park remained through 6 August. A single Red-breasted Merganser was recorded in Nassau Sound at Spoonbill Pond on 6 August.
A rare-in-county Magnificent Frigatebird was reported from Little Talbot Island State Park 13 September.
The season’s only report of American Bittern was from Ringhaver Park 22 August. The “white morph” Great Blue Heron remained at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park until 22 October.
An early Northern Harrier was recorded at Dayson Basin (restricted access) on 10 August.
A remarkable 31 species of shorebird were reported in Duval this season. Fourteen American Avocets recorded at Clapboard Creek 20 November were notable, as was a Marbled Godwit at Huguenot Memorial Park on 4 August (the season’s only report). A late White-rumped Sandpiper was well photographed at Spoonbill Pond 22 October. Other notable shorebirds included three Pectoral and three Stilt Sandpipers at Spoonbill Pond 3-27 August. An American Woodcock was flushed on the trail at Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park 19 November. Three Wilson’s Phalaropes reported from Spoonbill Pond 24 August were unfortunately not verifiable, nor were three Red-necked Phalarope reported there 14 September.
Interesting larids included a report of a first cycle Glaucous Gull at Helen Cooper Floyd Park 11 November and two Gull-billed Terns at Spoonbill Pond 3 August.
White-winged Doves continue to be very scarce and localized, so a report of one in Atlantic Beach 24 November is worthwhile.
As expected, Common Nighthawk and Chuck-will’s-widow were reported up to the last week of September, but not beyond. A series of Eastern Whip-poor-will records are very important, as we don’t understand their fall or winter abundance well. Records came from Reddie Point Preserve (2 birds) 28 October and three at Ringhaver Park on 7 November. The same diligent observers noted 1 at Old Jennings Recreation Area in Clay 5 November.
American Kestrels are very limited (and declining) breeders in northeast Florida, so a record of an orphaned juvenile in north Jacksonville on 1 August is of value. The bird was taken to a rehab facility.
A very rare Willow Flycatcher was carefully observed and the vocalization noted at Reddie Point Preserve on 1 October. A Bell’s Vireo reported from Perdue Pond Wildlife Area 8 October was unfortunately not recorded.
A mini-invasion of Red-breasted Nuthatch hit the state this Fall, but only one record occurred in Duval; two were photographed in Cary State Forest on 19 November. Another “heard-only” report came from Boone Park 23 November. It was a good season for normally rare Golden-crowned Kinglets; five were reported from Taye Brown Regional Park 23 October, four at Hanna Park on 29 October, and one more recorded at Taye Brown 20 November.
A remarkably late Wood Thrush delighted many during an Audubon field trip to Spoonbill Pond on 27 November, providing one of the latest verifiable state records ever for the species.
Thirty-one species of warbler were reported this season, a significant improvement over the spring season and matches the mark set last fall. Notable warblers included a Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warbler recorded at Theodore Roosevelt Area 9 October, a Swainson’s Warbler in Atlantic Beach 22 September, a Nashville Warbler at Reddie Point Preserve 9 October, and a late Blackpoll Warbler at Hanna Park on 29 October. Prairie Warblers are rare late fall/winter residents; one was recorded at Eastport Wastelands 26 November. Several reports of Black-throated Green included one from Reddie Point Preserve 5 November, and a Yellow-breasted Chat recorded at Eastport Wastelands 8-10 November was exciting.
Grasshopper Sparrow was recorded 8 November at Eastport Wastelands and observed again there 22 November. The other 13 species of sparrow reported were all expected and nothing unusual is worth mentioning.
A single Pine Siskin was reported in San Mateo 16 November.