Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park is one of my favorite birding destinations in north Florida. It offers 10 miles of shared-use trails, which wind through a variety of interesting habitats. My typical loop takes me through restored longleaf pine flatwoods, where Bachman’s Sparrows and Summer Tanagers can be heard singing in spring, down a gentle slope past expansive live oaks, and into lush deciduous forests traversed by several small creeks wending their way to the shore of Lake Jackson, one of the biggest lakes in the area. I’ve spent many cool fall mornings hiking the trails along these creeks in search of migrant songbirds, which can be found here in good numbers. No fewer than 33 species of warbler have been observed here, including annual occurrences of Cerulean, Golden-winged, Canada, and Bay-breasted.
An expansive field at the shore of Lake Jackson can be good for sparrows in winter and is home to many Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings spring through fall. Limpkins can occasionally be heard calling from the shoreline, and Sedge Wrens winter in the reeds by the water’s edge. On a typical two-hour hike in winter, I’ll find between 40 and 50 species at the park. Butterfly viewing is also good here in summer and fall.