August 2012 Close To Home

August can be quite hot and humid, which is not conducive to being out doors for very long.  So birding close to home is often a good way to go.  And one of the quickest ways to find wild birds is by looking in your own back yard. 

This month we saw Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (male, female and juveniles) visiting the flowerbeds.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Adult Female)

And for the first time we saw Northern Parulas bathing in the fountain bowl.

Northern Parula (Bathing)

Besides Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens and Tufted Titmice, we saw Finches and Chickadees coming to the feeder.

House Finch (Male)

Carolina Chickadee

Castaway Island Preserve is only five minutes from the house and an easy walk if you can avoid the midday sun.  I found this juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk in the pines searching for prey.  Its left eye looked damaged though the right one appeared fine.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

Also, for the first time, I saw a Towhee, Green Heron and a Waterthrush in the preserve.

Eastern Towhee

Green Heron

Northern Waterthrush

Hanna Park is just fifteen minutes from home, and easy to cover since you can drive to many locations around the lake and lagoons.  I found my first of the season migrating warbler—a “Yellow”.  Identifying the bird from a front or side view seems easy enough, but the back view might present a challenge.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Regulars in the park included Gallinules, Blackbirds, and a Green Heron catching fish.

Common Gallinule

Red-winged Blackbird (Male)

Red-winged Blackbird (Juvenile)

Green Heron (Fishing)

Several Ospreys were circling the lake looking for fish.


I got a good look at a Blue Jay, and then four Night-Herons flying overhead.

Blue Jay

Black-crowned Night-Heron

About forty-five minutes away, Huguenot Park offers some nice ocean breezes that help mitigate the heat.  I was greeted by an Osprey finishing a freshly caught meal.


Nesting activity at the park had subsided, but there were still some “big babies” (juvenile Terns and Gulls) crying to be fed.

Royal Terns

Laughing Gulls

During the shorebird survey I also got a good look at a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Caspian Tern.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Caspian Tern

Finally, about fifteen minutes down the road on the way into town (Jacksonville), at the Florida State College south campus, I relocated a lone Limpkin preening by the pond next to the Wilson Center.  I didn’t even have to get out of my air-conditioned car to get a decent picture!


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Thanks again,

Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist