Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife
Festival Dry Tortugas Tour
September 27, 2009
We had a really good turnout for the Dry Tortugas Tour, 24-participants
signed up including six birders from Belgium. We saw some
Black-bellied Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Ruddy Turnstone along the
rocks as we were leaving the port. We had a beautiful 70-mile ride out
to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. The seas were flat calm as we
cruised along at 30-plus miles an hour. We saw many Magnificent
Frigatebirds on the way out and an interesting jaeger species or better???
We saw what I first thought was a Pomarine Jaeger near some Laughing Gulls,
it was all dark with white in the wings. I looked hard to see any tail
projections but there were none. When the boat is moving so fast, you
don't have much time to go over details. The very experienced Belgium
birders first words were Great Skua!! If
I were to guess as to which skua, I would say dark morph
South Polar Skua based on what I saw. The bird was larger
than the near by Laughing Gulls, the birds were flying over the water behind
the boat. It is a shame that the boat was so fast, it is like trying
to bird from a car. I guess were are going to have to leave it as an
unidentified bird, it is a shame we could not turn the boat around!
As we got closer to Ft. Jefferson we saw a Brown Booby fly by. Once in
the park boundaries we cruised over to Hospital Key. We had some
Masked Boobies in flight which was nice.
We were able to see many Masked Boobies as well as Brown Boobies on the sand
bar of Hospital Key.
The birds were on Middle Key last year at this time, but it is now under
water. Hospital Key is not much bigger and seems to keep shrinking and
growing, mostly shrinking.
We had the ever present Magnificent Frigatebirds soaring over Long Key as
well as Fort Jefferson.
Magnificent Frigatebird female
We were all anxious to get on shore to see what migrants we might find.
We had a pretty good assortment of migrants including some that are not that
common in Florida. We had a few Ovenbirds which are a common migrant
We also had several other warbler species including this Prairie
A male Hooded Warbler is always a beautiful bird, can't see enough of these!
We had one Swainson's Thrush but no other thrushes.
We had a nice Canada Warbler and a Chestnut-sided Warbler, I was not able to
get a photo of them. We also had an American Golden Plover that we saw
fly by with a Black-bellied Plover. The bird landed far from Garden
Key. When we saw it again, we were all on the boat leaving. It
was on the beach area near the north coaling docks. I was not able to
get a photo but always a nice bird to see.
A list of birds seen are below, we had great weather and smooth sailing.
I can't wait until the next festival in 2010!
Click here for
|American Golden Plover
||Kentucky Warbler seen by one participant.