An Alachua Audubon field trip spent the day in Jacksonville and
Fernandina Beach. We had some good birds though nothing mind-boggling.

We arrived at the north jetty of the St. Johns River before Hugenot Park
was open, so we drove a little further up the road to Camp Alamacani (on
the south shore of Ft. George Inlet), where we scared up two Saltmarsh
Sharp-tailed Sparrows. We noticed several dozen gulls roosting on a
sandbar in the middle of the inlet, one of them a large all-white gull
about which we debated for some time. It had a black-tipped pink bill
and a dark eye but was otherwise utterly devoid of markings. Some of us
thought it was a faded first-winter Glaucous Gull; others thought
leucistic first-year Herring could not be ruled out.

The tide was freakishly high at Hugenot Park, splashing at the foot of
the dunes, so we didn't stay there long. We did see a probable Peregrine
Falcon and, offshore, hundreds of southbound Black Scoters.

We drove north to Fernandina and spent an hour at the end of the Ft.
Clinch pier, buffeted by an unpleasantly cold wind as we scanned the
ocean. We saw hundreds more Black Scoters, several Northern Gannets,
several of them very close in, and about 15-20 Red-throated Loons (all
but a few flying singly). All these birds were northbound. We saw no
Common Loons at all. We also found four Purple Sandpipers, one on the
beach below the pier and three more on the rocks just inshore from the
fort itself. On a normal day these birds would have been more than
usually satisfying, but today we were hoping for more exciting fare -
did you see the report from Huntington Beach State Park in South
Carolina? - so we were a little let down. Pathetic, isn't it?

If anyone has any hints for distinguishing a leucistic Herring Gull from
a faded first-year Glaucous, please contact Steve Collins at
[log in to unmask] since Steve is the one with the pictures.

Rex Rowan
2041 NE 15th Terrace
Gainesville, Florida 32609
(352) 371-9296
[log in to unmask]

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