Bring your binoculars!
Northeast Florida’s moderate temperatures, diverse habitats, and migratory route location, make it a popular birding destination. The 2,000-mile Great Florida Birding Trail, designated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is a self-guided trail complete with detailed guide books showing pecies descriptions, directions, and maps of birding opportunity sites.
One of the Trail's designated "gateway" sites is Amelia Island's Fort Clinch State Park. Scan the shoreline of this park for laughing, ring-billed herring, great black-backed gulls, royal terns and other shorebirds. In the spring and summer, stay alert for glimpses of the brilliantly plumaged painted bunting.
Huguenot Memorial Park is another designated Great Florida Birding Trail site where birders are likely to spot gannets, loons, and sea ducks. This park includes a critical nesting area for terns and shorebirds, and often hosts rarities like bar-tailed godwits.
Visit Little Talbot Island in the spring to observe the migratory red knot as it makes its layover stop between Argentina and Canada. Spectators can observe these birds as they feed on surf clams to build up their strength and fat reserves for the final push to reach their breeding grounds up north.
Birders may want to rent a canoe or kayak from Kayak Amelia, in order to view the hundreds of bird species that make their homes in inland salt marshes, which are inaccessible by foot.
Area attractions also offer opportunities to spot rare birds. Take a walk through the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park’s wild rookery or photograph beautiful specimens at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
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March 10, 2016