Dry Tortugas 2015


Lead By:  Wes Biggs and other great leaders

Aboard:  M/V Spree

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.


Photography

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!


 

History

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.

 

 

Dates


Dry Tortugas I       Sunday April 12 through Thursday April 16, 2015

Dry Tortugas II      Saturday April 18 through Wednesday April 22, 2015:

Dry Tortugas III     Friday April 24 through Tuesday April 28, 2015:

 

South Florida Land Tour:  Wednesday April 29 - Tuesday May 5

(Connects with Dry Tortugas III & V)


Dry Tortugas IV       Thursday April 30 through Monday May 4, 2015

 


Itinerary

Day 1

Day one is a travel day.  You will need to be in Key West at the boat by 7:00 PM on the date the trip begins. There will be a meeting with Florida Nature Tour leaders to discuss what you can expect and a general schedule.  Then at 8:00 pm there will be a meeting with the captains of the Spree regarding the ship layout and safety rules.

Day 2

After an early morning departure we will enter the Gulf Stream in search of 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 magnificent 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.

Day 3
Today we will explore close up views of the Masked Booby colony and the frigatebird colony. We will see Brown Boobies and with a little luck Black Noddy.
Day 4
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. Those that wish may stay on board the boat this night and either depart the next morning or spend the next day with the leaders birding Key West and the lower Keys.
Day 5
We will have a full day of birding in the Lower Florida Keys. White-crowned Pigeon, Mangrove Cuckoo, Antillean Nighthawk, Black-whiskered Vireo and "Golden" Warbler will be some of the primary targets among spring migrants. The birding will end around 4:00 pm. For those departing by air or shuttle a suggested time would be to make departure arrangements after 5:00 pm on this day.  You are responsible for meal cost on this day and entrance fees to any parks.
A van will be provided for those who arrived by air or shuttle and wish to bird.

 

The Boat

The Spree is 100 feet in length, air conditioned, with three heads and showers and equipped for international travel. It sleeps 22 guests and the food is great! The boat is set up primarily for diving but is perfect for birding with a large observation deck on top. Check out the website


M/V Spree




 

The Price

Dry Tortugas tour

$1195.00  per person

$300.00 deposit

Balance:  90 days prior to departure

Transportation, sleeping accommodations, all meals and leaders are included.

South Florida Tour:

$1,295.00 per person (double occupancy) includes hotel, transportation and guides.

Meals are not provided on this tour.Single occupancy supplement:  $350.00.

A $300.00 deposit is required to hold a space.

 

You may pay through PayPal on this site or mail us a check

To reserve a space: Contact Wes Biggs by email or call 407-384-9766 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.

 

Office: 407-384-9766   Cell: 407-376-6967     Email: infofloridanaturetours@gmail.com