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morning birding options near Jacksonville

Chris Merkord

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Can anyone familiar with Jacksonville suggest some good spots near town to do a bit of birding in the mornings before the plenaries? The meeting website has the following, but I'm guessing there will be people looking for more:


Late July marks the beginning of shorebird migration in Florida, and one of the premier sites for shorebirds in Florida is Huguenot Memorial State Park, at the mouth of the St. Johns River, just north of Jacksonville. Rarities recorded here include Greater Sand-Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit. Most early migrants are adults still in alternate plumage. Reddish Egrets, various tern species, and seabirds are also possible. Wilson’s Plovers and Least Terns nest on the sand and mud flats. Breeding by a large colony of Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns may still be active at Huguenot at the time of the meeting. A side trip, time permitting, will visit the nearby Kingsley Plantation where Painted Buntings breed.


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Can anyone familiar with Jacksonville suggest some good spots near town to do a bit of birding in the mornings before the plenaries?


Here is a reply from Patrick Leary, who had trouble posting and forwarded this to Peter Frederick:


Given the complexity of Jacksonville’s roads, I would certainly caution all visitors to use Mapquest or Google Earth to study the roads for the most expeditious and least problematic route to and from their destinations. Below are the best bets, closer to downtown is the sports complex (Everbank Field) straight down East Bay Street offering open fields and some ponds. West of downtown is Riverside Park off Riverside Avenue (passerines) Otherwise, downtown is a wasteland! There is a small wetland (M&M Dairy) near the power plant north of town (New Berlin Road?), but the site is ephemeral and in a busy industrial area. When wet good shorebirds, waders and waterfowl can be found there, but it’s iffy and I haven’t heard any recent reports.


Please copy and paste this material to the AOU forum. Pat


Early Morning Birding Venues in or near Jacksonville (from nearest downtown to more distant)


Best bet is an early morning visit to the Ft. George Inlet area for the huge aggregation of larids on beaches and inlet bars. Most originating from the nesting colony in HMP, but migrants now arriving in this region. En route, search marsh vistas along Heckscher Drive for waders - WOST and ROSP (now in region)

Sites south of St. Johns River and east of downtown:


Ft. Caroline National Monument (Main office of the Timucuan Ecological Historical Preserve)

Mathews Bridge to Arlington Expressway to Ft. Caroline Road

Features: a short nature trail to a marsh overlook

See website for directions and details

Passerines, waders, shorebirds

University of North Florida campus

Mathews Bridge to Arlington Expressway to 9A bypass south to University Drive

Campus has a large greenbelt, wetlands and trails

Passerines, waders, waterfowl

Sites north of St. Johns River and east of downtown:


Ft. George Island open night and day no fee

Mathews Bridge to Arlington Expressway to 9A North across Dames Pt. Bridge to Heckscher Drive east to Ft. George Island (look for sign opposite large boatyard on river)

Passerines, early migrants, PABU common


Huguenot Memorial Park opens 0800 $1 fee

Same as above but drive east 2 miles to well marked park entrance

Huge larid colony, shorebirds in bay, COTE, BLTE, SATE, ROYT, CATE, LETE, GBTE, GBBG, LBBG


Ft. George Inlet (state park fees)

Same as foregoing but drive beyond HMP entrance .5 miles to inlet bridge

Large parking lot on east side of bridge - cross highway for inlet views

Note: Due to current conservation measures, vehicular access to bird concentrations in HMP is restricted (beach driving permitted) Panoramic views are available from the inlet shore outside the park

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