Nature Tour: Birding in Jacksonville

Stop 1: Big Talbot Island – State Road A1A North, 32226

Big Talbot island offers you the opportunity to become one with nature. The diverse eco-system offers a chance to see so much, especially when looking for birds. If you want to explore via water, you have the option of renting a kayak from local vendors in the area like Kayak Amelia or you can bring your own. Launch from any of the local boat ramps and view the birds from the water. Here is just one of the many tours available on land for the bird lovers of the world.

Park your kayak or car at Sawpit Creek Boat ramp. In the marsh you may catch a glimpse of Clapper Rails, Seaside Sparrows and Marsh Wren.

Across the road from the boat ramp is Spoonbill Pond, spot waders and shorebirds can be spotted there.

Further down the road in the park there is also a birdwatch station. It allows you to relax take a seat and observe the birds in their habitat.

Head to The Bluffs Scenic Shoreline picnic area to enjoy great shoreline views.

End your day with a hike towards Black Rock Beach. Though it is called a beach, you are not permitted to frolic in the waters here. No worries, Little Talbot Island is just a short distance away for all your swimming desires. While at Black Rock Beach, you can park and take a hike. Along the trail, you should be on the lookout for migratory songbirds and painted buntings.

Stop 2: Ft. Caroline National Memorial & Theodore Roosevelt Area – 12713 Fort Caroline Rd, 32225

In the Arlington neighborhood, this historic fort is part of the National Park Service within Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve and represents some of the last untouched coastal habitat in Northeast Florida.

Stop by the Fort Caroline visitor center for an introduction to the area, a bird checklist and a map.

Along Hammock Trail you can spot migratory songbirds.

Wading birds and raptors may be seen from the fort.

Across the road in Spanish Pond you will find Clapper Rails.

Brush along Willie Brown Trail provide refuge for songbirds like Red-eyed Vireo, Veery and Painted Bunting.

Stop 3: Castaway Island Preserve - 2885 San Pablo Rd S, Jacksonville, FL 32225

Located in the busy Southside area, the Preserve is home a unique ecosystem and hiking trails plus a kayak launch that connects you the Intracoastal Waterway.

Along the intracoastal waterway you will find Wood Storks, Tri-colored Herons and Snowy Egrets can be seen.

During a low tide you can launch a kayak or canoe at the end of the boardwalk. This provides a great sky view of Northern Harriers and Tree Swallows during the winter months and Swallow-tailed Kites between spring and fall.

Relax on the covered observation platform and let the Clapper Rails, Marsh Wren and Spotted Sandpiper sing to you.

Stop 4: Camp Milton Historic Park – 1225 Halsema Rd N, 32220 Daily, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Located on Jacksonville’s Westside, Camp Milton Historic park is the former site of the largest Confederate Army encampment in Florida and several Civil War skirmishes.

Winter migration is the best time for birding here. Strolling along the paved trails you will spot Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, Palm Warblers and Loggerhead Shrike.

The skies are scattered with Bald Eagles, American Kestrels, and Sharp-shinned Hawks.

Near the creek area you will find songbirds like Red-eyed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Eastern Phoebe.

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