Historic City News readers in St Augustine and St Johns County flock to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve for some of the area’s best bird watching; but a sighting near the Guana Dam has the birding community all aflutter.
In the first ever sighting in Florida, and one of less than 10-times in North America, a Variegated Flycatcher (Empidonomus varius) was spotted by Research Reserve volunteer Diane Reed. The bird was last seen at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, above the dam dumpster on a power line.
“The range of the Variegated Flycatcher is known to be as far north as northern South America, east of the Andes,” the Research Reserve reported. “We have documented the sighting Wednesday evening near the Reserve’s day-use bath house — between the Reserve’s Environmental Education Center and the Guana Dam.”
According to the Audubon Society, one subspecies of the Variegated Flycatcher is a long-distance migrant, which occasionally seems to migrate past its usual range.
The American Birding Association, which keeps statistics in an area covering North America, says this is a very rare occurrence. They have classified the sighting a “Code 5”, indicating that the bird is an accident to the area and has been reported less than five times.
The Guana Tolomato Matanzas Research Reserve, located at 505 Guana River Road in Ponte Vedra Beach, encompasses more than 74,000-acres. Guana Dam is open 7 days a week from 4:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Please note there is an admission fee of $3 per vehicle (up to 8 people).