Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife
Festival Pelagic tour, September 25, 2009
We had four participants on another great pelagic trip off
Marathon in the Florida Keys. We had sunny skies with 2-4 foot seas
which makes for a not too bad ride. We had a pretty good variety of
pelagic species as well as a few other non pelagic species. We were on
a 30' boat with a 12' stern. We all had plenty of room to move around
and were able to get great looks at most of the birds.
We left the dock in Marathon at 8:00a.m., we proceeded toward the
Marathon Hump 22 miles from shore. The hump creates upwelling which
attract bait fish and then the larger fish that feed on them. All of
the bait and larger fish, attract pelagic birds which makes the twenty two
mile run well worth it. The first bird we were able to see was a
Bridled Tern not too far past the reef. We had ok looks at the bird as
it flew away. As we went farther out we had the first of many Brown
It was nice to see so many adults, in the spring I see almost all immature
birds and hardly ever any adults. We had several Magnificent
Frigatebirds which is always nice, it is amazing how they soar for hours
Magnificent Frigatebird, male
Magnificent Frigatebird, immature
We had a Merlin cruise close to the boat feeding on a migrant bird,
perhaps a thrush?
We also had some phalaropes fly by, they may have been Red-necked
but I could not see them well enough to be sure. We were able to see
where the Marathon Hump was by a large flock birds feeding around it.
Flock of Brown Boobies with a couple of Sooty Terns
One of a few large flocks of Brown Boobies present
While scanning through the flocks we were able to get a good look
at a single Black Tern
We also had several Sooty Terns including some immature birds.
Sooty Tern, immature
While continuing to scan the flocks we were able to see a couple
of Cory's Shearwater.
Cory's Shearwater with Brown Booby
With so much bait in the water and so many fish around, we
dropped a line over and caught a few fish.
Another scan of the flocks revealed a Brown Noddy, which was very
cooperative and sat in the water for us!
We had a flock of herons go by, a couple of them were Little Blue
Herons, the others may have been Cattle Egrets.
In the channel on the way in, we saw a Great White Heron, white
morph of Great Blue Heron. It was standing in a little skiff near a
Great White Heron, white morph of Great Blue Heron
Last year we were able to find four Black-capped Petrels, I had
hoped for some on this trip but no luck. Here is a list of birds seen.
Brown Booby 75
Sooty Tern 6
Bridled Tern 4
Black Tern 1
Magnificent Frigatebird 6
Cory's Shearwater 2
phalarope species 2
Great White Heron 2
Little Blue Heron 2
Royal Tern several
For next years festival click here