Saturday, February 24, 2007

Washington Oaks Finds

The Florida Parks service was having a little shindig for volunteers in the district and this year it was honoring the 1 millionth volunteer hour, give or take a few, at Washington Oaks Park near Ormond Beach. I was looking forward to seeing what the ceremony might be like and to try and get in a bit of birding.

Even if you never make it into the main part of the park, my favorite part of this area is the beach with its coquina rock formations, shells, and the occasional fun bird sighting. Today we even found a starfish, I think and Armored Star, that I let the youngest hold as it crawled across his hand. We decided not to hold any of the numerous jellyfish that the wind had pushed on shore.

Armored Star

After making that first beach investigation it was time to head into the park proper and check the activities. We were given a schedule of events and lunchtime and headed off to look around. I had high expectations for some good birds in this part of the park but there was very little activity all day. A few expected birds but nothing too exciting.

Once lunch and the ceremony speeches were concluded the boys were getting bored. Time to hit the beach one last time. They headed toward the rocks while I was more interested in a large gull seen as we crested the dunes.

I followed it down the beach a while and tried to get some photos to ID later and it finally allowed me to slowly get in range. Turns out it was my second ever Greater Black-backed Gull. This time a juvenile.

Greater Black-backed Gull

I finished getting more shots and was turning to join the family when I noticed a black shape in between the waves. It was moving fast and the waves were crashing quickly, making a good view difficult. A few minutes later, the bird moved closer to shore and revealed itself.

A male Red-breasted Merganser!

Red-breasted Merganser

I have read reports of them along the eastern coast in the past but always managed to miss them. The last time I had seen this species was out in Washington State. A very pleasant surprise!

Made up for the common birds seen all day.

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