February 2012 Winter Shorebird Survey

The annual Winter Shorebird Survey gave me an opportunity to get out with Martin Cooper in his boat for some close looks at a number of birds.  We traveled from Mayport north across the St Johns river and up Sister’s creek to the Ft George river and back.

First we saw eight Least sandpipers foraging on a bank, and later had four sightings of forty plus White pelicans on the islands and in the air.

Least Sandpiper

White Pelican

We also encountered a Great Horned Owl that had taken over an Osprey nest on top of a beacon marker in the middle of the channel..

Great Horned Owl

Later we found nine Oystercatchers on a spit of land sticking out into the water.  One of the birds was banded.  From Pat Leary we later learned that this bird had been banded in July 2004 on North Core Banks, Cape Lookout, NC, and has returned here every year since 2005.

American Oystercatcher (Banded)

Along the way we saw pair of Great Blue Herons, a Kingfisher, and a Cormorant downing a fish.

Great Blue Heron

Belted Kingfisher

Double-Crested Cormorant

We finished off the trip with a Yelllowlegs and a Loon for a total of 30 plus species for the day.

Greater Yellowlegs

Common Loon

I also accompanied Chris Angel the day before for the survey at Huguenot Park.  The most interesting sighting was a “one-eyed” first winter Bonaparte’s gull.

Bonaparte’s Gull

Finally, after the survey at Huguenot I returned to the park and found a pair of Loggerhead shrikes on the edge of the dunes near the shoreline.

Loggerhead Shrikes

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Thanks again,

Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist

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