PURPLE SANDPIPERS WINTER FAR TO THE SOUTH ON THE USA'S ATLANTIC COAST. Following a tip from Andy Wraithmell early morning saw me at Lighthouse Park at the southern end of Daytona Beach Shores. Even though it was also a new ABA area bird for me I need no excuse to look for Purple Sandpipers, another one of my favourites! Following heavy overnight rain the rocks of the jetty were suicidally treacherous so I had to wait until the sandpipers eventually worked their way towards the landward end of the jetty, in the company of Ruddy Turnstones. Happily they were incredibly tame and I was even able to approach them from the beach as they fed at the water's edge. Several bottle-nosed dolphins were feeding in the channel of the Halifax River, attracting numerous Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls to join their frenzy. A Palm Warbler hunted insects on the rocks of the jetty and the fishermen there trying in vain to catch something complained about the strength of the tidal race, which makes their task very difficult. From here I headed north to the pretty Anastasia State Park at St Augustine. Very similar to Little Talbot Island it is an area of protected dunes and foreshore stretching for miles. Of note here were 13 Semi-palmated Plovers seven Black-bellied Plovers, a handful of willets and the scattered beach roosts of gulls and terns included around 300 herring gulls.
Returning south I stopped at Daytona Beach Shores for the gull 'fly in', parking at Frank Rendon Park. I had seen it before but this evening's spectacle was even more amazing at high tide the gulls were squeezing on the narrow stretch of beach and being flushed constantly by millions of beach walkers. Some would take care to give the gulls some room but others delighted in flushing them deliberately. Sifting through the thousands of Laughing and Ring-billed, a couple of hundred herring gulls and a few Royal Terns I did manage to find an Iceland Gull (roughly behind the Best Western Plus Hotel), five Lesser Black-backeds and two Great Black-backeds.