Summary of the Summer Season
1 Jun – 31 July, 2016
Duval County, FL
Sight-only observations are considered “reports”. Those supported by verifiable evidence (photographs, video or audio recordings, or specimens) are called “records.”
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were fairly prolific breeders the last few summers in the Thomas Creek corridor, but their numbers were down significantly this season – to the point of being undetectable on a number of visits designed specifically to survey their presence. The only seasonal reports of the species included eight observed at the Lem Turner Spray Fields on 26 June and up to six at Westside Industrial Park on 24-25 July.
A drake Northern Shoveler continued at Big Talbot Island State Park’s Spoonbill Pond through 25 July, marking the second consecutive summer the species summered there. Huguenot Memorial Park hosted up to eight lingering Black Scoter through 17 July, marking at least the second year in a row the species persisted into summer there. A rare-in-summer female Hooded Merganser frequented the small pond in front of the Gate gas station at I-295 and Heckscher Drive from 9 June through 18 July. Up to two Red-breasted Mergansers (likely different birds) were reported at various locations in the St. Johns River the first week of June, where the species is very uncommon but annual.
Northern Bobwhite sightings continue to be valuable since they are in steep decline and continue to lose habitat to urban sprawl. Branan Field Wildlife and Environmental Area in southwest Jacksonville may be the most important property left for this species, and they were reported there from 8-28 June.
The breeding Least Bitterns in the small pond at Imeson Center were reported on 4 June. A “white morph” Great Blue Heron was at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park through 27 July. Glossy Ibis are locally uncommon, so one at Spoonbill Pond from 4 June through 23 July was notable; a report of ten there on 26 June was unfortunately not verifiable.
American Coots are very limited breeders in Duval County, and the pond where they bred in 2015 was “cleaned out” by the Department of Transportation thereby prohibiting nesting this year. A pair was observed at the large pond underneath the I-295/I-95 interchange in south Jacksonville on 5 June and a single Coot was detected at Westside Industrial Park that same day.
Limpkins continue to breed and maintain a year-round presence at Westside Industrial Park. A high count of six were reported there 2-3 July.
Sandhill Cranes bred off New World Avenue again this year and two adults with two colts were recorded there on 11 June. This location continues to be the only known breeding location of the species in Duval County.
Two American Avocets were reported from Helen Cooper Floyd Park on 1 June. One Piping Plover was at Spoonbill Pond 16 July; the species is difficult to find in summer and can be even more uncommon within the “pond” there. Other notable shorebirds at Spoonbill Pond included five Spotted Sandpipers, one Pectoral Sandpiper, and two Stilt Sandpipers on 16 July.
Gull-billed Terns are another species in serious decline. Reports came from Huguenot Memorial Park on 12 June, Spoonbill Pond from 26 June through 17 July, and Big Bird Island in Nassau Sound on 18 June. Four early Black Terns were reported from Big Bird Island on 18 June; more typical reports started again on 23 July through the remainder of the season.
Acadian Flycatchers were reported from Seaton Creek Historic Preserve from 4-12 June, where they are known to breed. One was also recorded at Theodore Roosevelt Area on 15 June.
Gray Kingbirds presumably still breed at Mayport NAS but not many local birders have access to the base, and those that do don’t check there. One was recorded at Little Talbot Island State Park’s south parking lot on 16 July.
Louisiana Waterthrushes are very early fall migrants, and the best place and time to look for them is on the dirt roads of Fort George Island the first two weeks of July. Accordingly, one was found there on 3 July.