Lead By: Wes Biggs and other great leaders
Aboard: M/V Playmate
Departing From: Key West
The Destination & The Birds
Dry Tortugas National Park is the most remote park in the entire system. Located 68 miles from Key West the park consists of 7 islands and 102 square miles of ocean and coral reefs. The Dry Tortugas is quite simply one of the world’s greatest birding destinations!! For the North American or Florida lister it is a MUST BIRD place!! For the bird photographer it is spectacularly unique! The Florida peninsula and the Upper Keys are sub-tropical, but when you reach the town of Marathon on Key Vaca you enter the true tropics. There has never been a freeze recorded south of this location. A number of species reach their northernmost breeding range in the Keys and Dry Tortugas. The rare Antillean Nighthawk arrives in the lower keys to nest in the later half of April and is a regular migrant through the Tortugas. Brown Boobies, and Black Noddies are regular in the Tortugas as non-breeders and Red-footed Booby and White-tailed Tropicbirds are rare visitors as well. The Dry Tortugas is the only North American nesting location for the Magnificent Frigatebird, Masked Booby and Brown Noddy, and the only regular nesting site of the Sooty Tern. Migrating raptors and dozens of species of land birds are a great draw as well, but the lure of a stray from the Caribbean is like gold fever to the hardcore birder.
The photographic opportunities at Dry Tortugas are many and varied. Tropical species not found elsewhere in North America are great fun, but spring plumage migrants posing at very close range are just as exciting. Spectacular coral reefs and the most beautiful 19th century brick fort in the Western Hemisphere will keep you busy!
The human history of the Dry Tortugas began in 1513 when the islands were discovered by Ponce de Leon.
Construction on spectacular Ft. Jefferson began in 1846 and became the prison that held Dr. Samuel A. Mudd after he was convicted as one of the conspirators in President Lincoln’s murder. Every real history buff needs to visit this remarkable place.
How Do I Get To Key West?
|Air service to Key West is available from the following carriers:|
|One way we have found to be extremely successful for group travel is the Keys Shuttle from the Miami or Ft. Lauderdale’s Airport|
|Contact the Keys Shuttle at www.KeysShuttle.com|
Key West Express – www.seakeywestexpress.com from Ft. Myers Beach
|Dry Tortugas I||Friday April 6 through Monday April 9, 2018|
|Dry Tortugas II||Monday April 9 through Thursday April 12, 2018|
|Dry Tortugas III||Thursday April 12 through Sunday April 15, 2018|
|Dry Tortugas IV||Thursday May 10 through Sunday May 13, 2018|
We start out about 10:00 AM with an optional day of birding in the Lower Florida Keys. Mangrove Cuckoo, Gray Kingbird, Black-whiskered Vireo & White-crowned Pigeon are a few of the targets. Those who will be flying in will be picked up at the airport. Try to arrange for an arrival before 10:00 AM if possible, or fly in the night before & get a hotel. We can assist with arrangements. Lunch & dinner in Key West is almost as much fun as the birding. The last few years have produced some great birds in Key West, with the first US record of Cuban Vireo last April being the biggest thrill. At 7:00 PM we’ll board the Playmate to meet the crew and have a general orientation.
After an early morning departure we will start our search for pelagic species such as Audubon’s Shearwater, Bridled Tern and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. We will arrive at the Dry Tortugas about mid-day. After lunch we will begin our exploration of Garden Key and beautiful Fort Jefferson. Thousands of Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns will be close at hand, Magnificent Frigatebirds will be hanging overhead and colorful migrants will be only feet away. Don’t forget your camera! A beautiful sunset & maybe a view of ‘The Green Flash’ and a night walk around the moat wall looking for sea creatures will round out the day.
More birding the fort area today and a trip over to Loggerhead Key. The Masked Boobies ‘fly in’ at Hospital Key is always great fun. With a little luck we’ll see a Black Noddy today.
Breakfast and a morning search of Garden Key before we depart for Key West. With luck we may see some pelagic species before our arrival at around 3.00 PM.
The motor vessel, M/V Playmate, is 60 feet long with a twenty foot beam. The vessel, a Gulfstream, is U.S. Coast Guard Inspected and powered by twin 8v92ti Detroit Diesel engines.
With an experienced and well-seasoned crew of 3 to 4, (2 licensed Captains) she sleeps 11 guests in four separate air conditioned staterooms. There are two bathrooms with showers.
Your cuisine is prepared from the finest quality produce, meats and of course the freshest seafood you can get!
Please see this website for more information.
Dry Tortugas Tour
$1295 per person
Balance: 90 days prior to departure
Transportation, sleeping accommodations, all meals and leaders are included.
You may pay through PayPal on this site or mail us a check
To reserve a space: Contact Wes Biggs by email or call 813-438-5875 or 407-376-6967 or use our registration form.
We would be happy to answer any questions you have – just fill in our contacts form with your queries and we’ll get back to you.
Cell: 407-376-6967 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org