A06. Little Talbot Island State Park
SiteID: E6 (E5 old)
Nearest City: Jacksonville
Phone Number: 904-251-2320
Website: A06. Little Talbot Island State Park
Features/Amenities: Restrooms, Entrance fee required, Good for beginners, Birding by foot/hiking, Best time of day: Morning, Recommended length of visit: a few hours, Camping br>
Habitats: Freshwater Marsh/Wetlands, Dry Prairie/Grassland, River/Stream/Spring/Canal, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest, Marine/Bay, Beach/Dune, Coastal Strand, Mudflats
Little Talbot Island State Park is the center of the public lands on the north shore of the St. Johns River’s outlet to the Atlantic. This should be your first stop before visiting the other sites in this complex--where you can pick up bird lists and maps, and learn of educational programming that may occur during your visit. Little Talbot is an excellent birding spot alone; be sure to ask at the ranger station for recent Painted Bunting sightings in spring and early summer. The 3.8-mile Little Talbot Hiking Trail to the island’s northernmost point is a great location to see buntings, and its hammocks are good for migratory songbirds in season. At trail’s end on the north point, loafing Black Skimmers and terns are common. Large numbers of Piping, Wilson’s and an occasional Snowy Plover feed in winter on 5 miles of pristine beach. Other beach birds here and at neighboring Huguenot Memorial Park (site #11) include seven sandpiper species, four plover species, Red Knots, Dunlins, Marbled Godwits and occasionally Long-billed Curlews. Watch offshore from the first beach boardwalk for Jacksonville’s famed rare pelagics: jaegers and Northern Gannets are not unlikely! The park has 7 miles of hiking and biking trails, with one ADA-accessible boardwalk. Educational programs are available for groups by advance reservation; call for details. For a water-based birding and wildlife-viewing excursion, kayak rentals and guided kayak tours of the Talbot Islands are available from the park concessionaire.
Directions: From I-95 in Jacksonville, take exit 358A for SR 105/Heckscher Dr., and head east until you cross the Fort George Inlet. From this point, the entrance to Little Talbot Island State Park is 2.7 mi. on your right (east side of the road).
Open all year, 8 AM to sundown.