The Audubon Observer, Summer 2023
FALL ACTIVITIES PLANNING
Our chapter takes a break from regularly scheduled activities during the months of June, July, and August, but your chapter leaders have been working hard over the summer to plan exciting field trips, fascinating informational presentations, and much more for the fall season starting in September.
Duval Audubon Society's Board of Directors met on July 8th and had a great planning meeting for the 2023-2024 season. We are on track to deliver the brochure that outlines the schedule for the field trips and monthly programs.
The field trips are mostly planned for the entire year, thanks to new Field Trips Director Jessica Dyszel. In the past, field trips have been a major part of the program that DAS delivers and we will continue to provide expertly led, informative and fun field trips in the tri-county area, as well as one or two travel day trips.
Our monthly programs are being planned by Vice President Pete Johnson and we already have the first two locked down. We will continue to utilize the Southeast Regional Library in Jacksonville for the 3rd Monday of every month whenever possible. We are working to provide quality speakers and informative topics that should be of interest to everyone.
Collaborative efforts will continue on the Florida Shorebird Alliance Bird Stewarding Program with Conservation Director Elizabeth Filippelli at the helm. We're also continuing our partnership with Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens and St. Johns Regional Audubon Society to recruit and train volunteers for the Lights Out Northeast Florida (LONF) initiative fall migration season beginning on September 15th. If you would like to join our LONF volunteer team, please complete our application and we will get back with you soon.
We are also looking at new ideas for our core areas of conservation, education, and outreach and new ways of communicating through social media. We are all looking forward to another outstanding year!
~ Rich Egan, President
SAVING BIRDS WITH EBIRD COMMENTS
A recent unplanned trip to Pennsylvania brought me next door to a Common Shelduck that had been reported throughout the winter in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. This debated vagrant versus escapee bird had first been located at a nearby landfill and then seen again at a small pond at the town’s edge, where it remained through mid-May.
Upon my arrival in Lebanon after an all-night drive from Florida to Pennsylvania, I first went to the pond for a morning birding adventure for a chance to see the shelduck, which I could not pass by while in the area. My friend joined me and we both enjoyed watching singing Yellow Warblers and seeing the shelduck forage with its butt in the air. The amusing dabbling behavior entertained us and we sat on a bench to watch the bird, which allowed it to warm up to our presence, granting me amazing photo opportunities.
Later that day, I finalized my checklist and fancied writing a well-developed description to include in my comments. While reviewing my photos, I noted fishing line wrapped around the bird’s wings. I posted this in my comments as a final thought, not thinking much of the impact of my comments, and went to sleep.
The next morning I awoke to the sound of birdsong, and while checking my email as I often do first thing in the morning, I saw that I had an eBird reviewer email regarding the shelduck. Out of habit, I assumed the email was generated from a lack of photos and was surprised to see them reaching out to put me in touch with a local rehabber. Immediately, I called her and was surprised to hear that this local birder was full swing into mobilizing resources for a possible rescue. She had already been communicating with PA Fish and Wildlife and other members of her team. I was astonished! What started as an afterthought to add a brief tidbit in my comments resulted with an organized bird rescue.
The moral of this story is, if you worry that you are adding too much information in your eBird comments or that no one is paying attention to them, you might be surprised how many people are paying attention to your comments and how that information and data can make a real impact on the birds, sometimes even that one individual’s life. You do make a difference! Keep on birding!
~ Jessica Dyszel, Field Trips Director
SUMMERTIME PHOTO SHARING PROJECT
Last month we once again invited our members to share their best bird photos from the past year for our annual summertime virtual photo sharing project, and wow! did they come through. More than 100 different species were captured, from travels around the world to our beautiful local birds. You can view it anytime on our YouTube Channel.
Many thanks to all the contributors to this year's project for sharing their beautiful photography:
Chapter members are invited to contribute to the project every summer, so start photographing those birds now, and we'll look forward to seeing them next year!
~ Carol Bailey-White, Editor
We are excited to announce the local winners of this year's June Challenge!
Jessica Dyszel was the Clay County winner with 104 species but, in an incredible feat of dedication (and energy!), she also participated in Duval County, where she saw an impressive 116 species, AND Alachua County, with 86 species! She says, "I have to give serious props to Clay County participants because Martha Fethe, Donna Foley, and Debbie Cusick hustled their butts off and we all got amazing birds and had an incredible experience searching for birds and supporting one another! It’s extremely hard to get birds in Clay and our lack of diversity and good birding habitats makes Clay an extra challenge, so extra special kudos to Clay birders. I just got lucky with some straggler migrants early in the month but Donna really deserves a special shout out for motivating us all to get out and get birds!"
Congratulations also to Jay Kauffman, who not only won the 2023 Duval County Challenge but topped his last year's total by 10 species with a total of 127 bird species spotted in Duval County during the month of June! Jay and his sweetheart Debi Briggs logged more than 85 eBird lists and many miles in the county visiting and revisiting spots to get target species, and he says he couldn't have done it without the help of local birders Jeff Graham, Carol Bailey-White, Martha Fethe, Patricia Murphy and others.
Kudos and thank you to everyone who participated this year! You can see the full statewide results here.
If you didn't get to participate this year, mark your calendars for next June! It's a great way to keep on birding during the summer months and discover some magical places right in your area that you might not have visited before. Learn more at floridabirdingtrail.com/june-challenge.
~ Carol Bailey-White, Editor
Duval Audubon Society, Inc.