On August 25, 2017, Dave and I made a planned visit to Dayson Basin to do a shorebird and waterfowl survey. This is the perfect time of year to see something like a Wilson’s Phalarope there, and possibly a pseudo-rarity like an Upland or Buff-breasted Sandpiper (it’s a little early yet for White-rumped or Baird’s). We admittedly still had Martin’s August 8th Ruff in the back of our mind as well.
We started at the northwest end and at our first stop were amazed at the numbers of dowitchers and Lesser Yellowlegs – literally hundreds of each. At our second stop we came across a mixed group of dowitchers and a couple dozen Stilt Sandpipers. Stilt Sandpipers are still very uncommon in Northeast Florida due to lack of accessible habitat, but I’ve seen them now on six occasions this year nonetheless (twice at Spoonbill Pond and four times in the Basin).
Our third stop along the north berm produced about 10 American Avocets and a handful of Black-necked Stilts.
Our fourth stop was highlighted by dozens of Roseate Spoonbills and a good mix of shorebirds. As I was scanning about 150 yards out, a large pale shorebird caught my eye…smallish head, sloppy tertials, and huge strong shoulders…damn, it looked like a Ruff! We both got our scopes on it and began taking some distant photos – for sure, it was a Ruff, and based on plumage we think it’s a different one than Martin’s just a couple weeks ago.
This is the 5th Duval County record of Ruff, and 4th in this location; the only verifiable record here outside the Basin was a bird I found at Spoonbill Pond on 3 May 2016 and confirmed with Dave and Graham on 5 May; that bird stayed until 8 May.