To those who fly at the park,
We are getting to the season where the Red Knot migration is beginning. Some small flocks are starting to show up at the park. These birds feed on the small coquina shell clams found along the shoreline around the sand bars and sandy beaches. Most of the time there is little chance for conflict between kiters and these birds. For that to happen there has to be ...1. Red Knots in the park. 2. Kiters in the park. 3. The right tide level. 4. The right wind direction. 5. During park operating hours (daylight).
1. Knots will be in the park for several weeks as they migrate north.
2. Kiters may still kite any where in the park during the normal operating hours of 7 AM and 8 PM except where the debris field is being dredged by the jetty.
3. At high tide when the shoals are completely covered most of the park is fine to kite in. I would caution people about strong currents near the rocks and bridge. As the tide drops and the shoals become exposed please confine your riding to the east (ocean) side of the park or in the "pond" area. Try to stay as far from the exposed sand and mud as possible. At low tide it is not much of an issue since there is not enough water to kite across the shoals anyway. Most kiters will want to be on the ocean side. For those that want flat water there is one area that might be kiteable just off the north point. Shallow sand bars protect this from wave action right now. There is an easy guideline to help kiters back from feeding Red Knots. From the north point of Huguenot park look north to the south point of talbot Island. Stay as close to or east of this line as possible. On google maps look for the pic of the north jetty in jacksonville Fl. It is easy to see the shoal areas between the points. That is the area to avoid when the Knots are there. The only wind direction that makes shoal or Ft. George River good to ride in is NNW to NE and there has to be enough water to ride combined with an out going tide.
4. Day use patrons must leave the park by 8 PM. Campers that stay in the park are allowed on the beach after 8 but are not allowed to drive on the beach. It is unlikely that there will be any conflict with the birds after 8. However if you kite and you camp at the park please follow the rest of the guidelines. Kiting after dark is not a good idea for obvious reasons.
About 6 to 8 weeks from now we may begin to get fledgling birds on the beach. The City will install a post line that will keep cars from accessing either the beach on the Atlantic side, the mud flats on the "pond" side or both. This is to keep people from driving through baby birds. (Yes some people are that stupid) Pedestrian access will be maintained to the point during that time. If you walk to the point when baby birds are on the beach please take a path that keeps you as far as possible from them. If they are high up on the beach walk down by or through the water. If they are by the water walk along the dune line. There is typically an area further up on the point that will have only adult birds and there is plenty of space to set up and ride.
IN ALL CASES Please do not fly kites at flocks of birds or directly over them. Maintain as much distance as possible. They have built up a tolerance to the kites and kiters. However every time you scare them into the air the Audubon will be there waiting with a camera. They show these pictures to the ARC in Tallahassee which has already tried to permanently shut down the park. That point is not open to debate. That is their main goal. The Sierra Club representative (backed by Audubon) at the last Management meeting pushed the city to consider a complete ban on beach driving so they could include HP into the wildlife preserve. That would shut down the last remaining true access to beach front we have. Please don't help them. there is plenty of space to ride without conflict.
Thanks for reading this. I know I have said it all before and most of you guys know. Please spread the word to all the new kiters and if you are thinking about coming to the park for the first time send me a PM or ask kiters on the beach about the "bird protocol"
P. S. I will try to post some of the pics they have been taking of us. One of them has a camera lens that is powerful enough to identify the breed of dog seen running off the leash. He took the pic from Talbot Island!