Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dry Tortugas Boat Trip

Sherman, set the way back machine! Today, I will take you back to 2012, when David and I went to the Dry Tortugas. It was an amazing trip, and we got see an incredible number of birds. I am hoping to see get even more lifers when we return there this May. If you are interested in joining us, there are still seats available on the boat, go to the Florida Nature Tours web site for details.

We set out on the Playmate, a lovely boat that sleeps 11 people.

This was the first critter I saw, a big Bottlenose Dolphin playing in front of the boat.
 We made it to the Dry Tortugas National park, shown here behind a bunch of Brown Boobies.
There were lots of warblers on the island. Shown here is a female Cape May Warbler. This was a lifer for me.
 Tennessee Warbler, also a lifer for me.
Palm Warbler, looking all fluffy.
Female Black-throated Blue Warbler. Another lifer for me.

One of my favorite warblers, the Common Yellowthroat.
I thought I had gotten a picture of two Magnificent Frigate birds mating. David pointed out to me that it is in fact one frigate bird, apparently mating with his own wing.
The water is just an unbelievable color there.
 Grey Kingbird.
Rock Pigeons. Notice that one of them is chewing with his mouth open. Ew.
Lesser Yellowlegs.
Another one of my favorite warblers, the Northern Parula.
Prairie Warbler.
Blackpoll Warbler.
Some lacy coral that was on the beach.
Eurasian Collared Dove.
Ruddy Turnstone, mooning.
My favorite critter of the weekend, a Hermit Crab. He just has such a happy little face.
An Antilean Nighthawk, taking a nap. This was a lifer for me.
Palm Warbler.
 Magnolia Warbler, another lifer for me.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, another lifer for me.
The boat, from shore.
The Dry Tortugas are really the main resting stop between here and Cuba. Many birds don't make it and many who do are weak and easy prey. This was a shore bird of some kind who was predated by something.
There was a Blue Grosbeak (forefront) hanging out with an Indigo Bunting. I like this picture cause it shows how despite both being blue, they aren't even close to being in the same color palette.
A close up of the Blue Grossbeak.
This was White-winged Dove, note the pretty blue face.

Day two of the trip started out a little iffy. The winds were very strong, so we were not able to visit the smaller islands. Instead, we spent the day back at Fort Jefferson. The weather went between rainy and sunny, but it was all good birding. from the boat.

I forgot to charge my camera and was waiting for it to charge, so David went on the first boat to the island, and I stayed back for a bit to wait for my camera. It was worth it though cause I got a really cool shot of David on shore. There is a little speck on the end of the island near the rainbow. That is David, looking at a Sandwich Tern, which I did not get a picture of.
There were a ton of American Redstarts all over the island. This is a male.
This is a female American Redstart. They both do this little fan dance with their tail feathers to stir up bugs to eat.

Some of the arches in the fort.
David, taking a break.

We spent some time going through the museum in the fort. This was their coral display.
Male Black-throated Blue Warbler. This was a lifer.

Ovenbird, another lifer for me.
A Grasshopper Sparrow being eaten by a Cattle Egret. Ironically, the dead Grasshopper Sparrow was a life bird for me.
Outside the fort.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
A Conch shell on the beach.

A Cattle Egret, getting a drink. We saw a different Cattle Egret drop dead right in front of us, from exhaustion. It was pretty sad, but a fact of life on the island.
Black-throated Greed Warbler.
Worm-eating warbler. Another lifer for me.
Palm Warbler.
This was weird - a leucistic Hooded Warbler. Hooded Warbler is a lifer for me. I doubt I'll ever see a partly albino one ever again.
Male Cape May Warbler, another one of my favorites of the weekend, and also a lifer.
Merlin. Not a lifer, but the first decent shot I've taken of one.
Back on the boat. Our cabin. The cabin was very nice, we are just slobs.
David, looking out at the island.
Of course the skies cleared as we neared home. But actually, the weather is one of the reasons we had so many birds, so it was a trade off.

All in all it was a great trip. If you are interested in joining us for the trip David will be leading for Wes Biggs starting May 13, visit the Florida Nature Tours web site. There are still seats available on other Tortugas trips as well, check out the web site for details.