*Spoiler: I did see a Razorbill.
In case you haven’t heard, Florida is having an unprecidented Razorbill invasion. They have been seen all up and down both coasts, as far west as Pensacola on the Gulf coast. They usually don’t venture further south than coastal North Carolina or so. Florida had a handful of records prior to this invasion.
On December 12th I went to Lighthouse Point Park in Ponce Inlet, where Razorbills had been reported in earlier days. When I arrived at about 12PM it was drizzling steadily. I decided to walk out on the jetty without my scope. The rain came on and off, and though I didn’t see any Razorbills, there were birds around. I even saw a sea turtle.
Great Black-backed Gull
I think this is a Green Sea Turtle
I headed back into the inlet for a while, where I saw a huge flock of Black Skimmers fly down to land on a sandbar. I added a few other birds to my day list and watched some dolphins playing by a marina. The skies cleared a bit and I walked back out onto the jetty, this time with my scope. When I arrived at the end, birder Michael Brothers was there and informed me that a Razorbill had been seen about a half hour prior. Well, I stepped away just in time then, didn’t I? D’oh. I looked for another 45 minutes before I had to leave. It started raining again on my way back in and I got soaked. Sad, sad Razorfail. A half hour later I went back out on the jetty again with Arthur for a short look, but we didn’t see a Razorbill. We did see a flyover Roseate Spoonbill, though. Big pink birds are always good, even far away and in the rain.
Roseate Spoonbill, artsy ediiton
Last Wednesday I went out to Ponce Inlet again. Now the weather was spectacular — cool but sunny, with a bright blue sky and relatively calm waters. I collected my scope, binoculars, and camera, and headed out onto the jetty. A large group of Black Skimmers was loafing on the beach. They seemed quite photogenic so I stopped to take some photos, but my camera didn’t react. The card door was open and the card slot was EMPTY. After ransacking the car it became clear I had another case of Razorfail — there would be no photos this day. I consoled myself by thinking that such an error probably guaranteed I would see a Razorbill. I was right.
I set up my scope and looked. And looked. And looked. A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, a Common Loon, and a large flock of scoters all went by. Good birds, but no Razorbill. After about two and a half hours, Mr. Michael Brothers came out onto the pier. And about 20 minutes after that, he pointed out my lifer Razorbill to me. It appeared in the mouth of the inlet, actively feeding. It would bob up momentarily before disappearing underwater for extended periods. Michael left after a short while, but I stayed on the Razorbill for another half hour or so. After the feeding frenzy, it had an extensive period of preening, giving me very nice looks and letting me snap some terrible iPhonescoped shots. I didn’t take any nice photos but I’m happy I got to spend some quality time watching this special visitor. Good luck, Razorbill.
My lifer Razorbill