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I'm looking for suggestions on how I should amuse myself next
week and the week after. My grandmother, who lived with my
relatives outside of Jacksonville died recently, resulting in my
needing to travel to Florida to be there for some ceremonial &
family stuff in a few days. Since I don't care for the idea of
driving 1,000 miles or so and then turning around and driving
back right away, I'm going to stay for a while and do some
birding. (That wasn't exactly a hard decision to make.)

First off, we're going to scatter her ashes in the ocean, off of
St Augustine. Are there likely to be any birds 3 or 4 miles
offshore there at this time of year? Jaegers, maybe? Gannets?
Anything else? We've got a boat chartered for 3 hours, the rules
say we need to go out three miles, and I'm sure it isn't going
to take that long to go out and scatter ashes and come back. If
there's a spot that is more likely to have birds out there, we
might manage to get ourselves pointed in that direction. (My
father will be sympathetic to looking for birds while doing
this, I'm not so sure about the rest of my relatives. They're
the ones who had difficulty with the fact that I got up and went
out birding at 6 AM the last time I visited them. I think they
do not understand birders.)

Second, I'm thinking about staying for at least some of the
Space Coast Birding festival, but what should I do with myself
in-between? I figure I'll be done with the family stuff by
Wednesday next week. I mostly just want to do some interesting
birding so that I end up associating good memories with this
trip, not just sad ones. I don't really have any targets as far
as birds go. For the most part, I don't think there's any
species that would be usual for peninsular Florida at this time
of year that I'm likely to be able to find and that I haven't
seen before. (And, no, I don't intend to drive out to the
western edge of the panhandle to add new species to my Florida
list, as has already been suggested by someone.) If a Black Rail
wanted to show itself to me, I'd be really happy though. I've
only been to Florida in the fall once before and that was a
month or so later than this. I'm definitely not planning on
staying with my relatives near Jacksonville the whole time, so
I'll be doing some driving around but I'm not sure how far much.
I'm tempted to head south and look for flamingos, but I'm not
sure that's practical. Is it too late for hawk mifgration in the
Keys now or is it still worth going down there? That's something
I've always wanted to do in the fall. Suggestions on how to use
my time to see lots of birds would be appreciated. I've got lots
of ideas but doing them all would take several weeks and I'm not
sure what places would be most interesting right now.
Suggestions on inexpensive places to stay - camping or cheap
motels would be appreciated too. This trip wasn't in my plans or
my budget, so I'm not going to be able to spend a lot. And I
wouldn't argue with having someone to go birding with along the
way.

And third, to all the various people I know, I've just been too
busy re-arranging my life to make this trip possible to send
individual messages to everyone. If you want to get together,
contact me off-list.

--
Katrina Knight
[log in to unmask]
Reading, PA

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