I love late July because it means the return of shorebirds and marks the beginning of the time to start looking for Black Terns. This morning I was off work and decided to cruise Fort George Island again where I was able to see another Louisiana Waterthrush near the Dyal House. I then stopped briefly at Huguenot to look specifically for Black Terns and struck out at both the jetties and the north end. Seeing nothing exceptional, I quickly bumped up to Little Talbot Island State Park and rode my bike to Big Bird Island from 7:50-9:30AM. I didn’t see any Black Terns there either, nor much of anything else (Wilson’s Plovers, Reddish Egret, a couple of yellowlegs, etc.).
It was getting hot, but I decided to bump on up to Spoonbill Pond and started by scoping from the south pavilion. There wasn’t much of anything on the pond and the water level is very high…but deep in the far corner I saw a couple of shorebirds and was quickly able to determine one was a Stilt Sandpiper! I walked all the way around the pond and managed a couple decent shots.
There were a handful of Black-necked Stilts and a couple Spotted Sandpipers as well, but not much of anything else. This is the first Stilt Sandpiper noted for “fall” in Northeast Florida this year, and is the fourth time I’ve found one here in NEFL in 2017 (Six Mile Landing, Spoonbill Pond, and Dayson Basin are the spring records). I’m not sure why no one else seems to look for them, find them, or report them around here very often. Perhaps it’s due to very limited habitat leading to a general lack of effort? What a shame because these are gorgeous shorebirds to see.