Openings Still Available for Dry Tortugas Tours 2013

There are several openings still available with Florida Nature Tours (http://www.floridanaturetours.net) with Wes Biggs and other fine leaders this month (April 2013). I went to the Dry Tortugas April 24-27, 2012 with Wes and company and had a blast.  The birds were in good supply, the weather was phenomenal, and the exotic blue waters were as magical as ever.

The brunt of the available spaces occur on the last trip in April 26-29, 2013.  Is this a good time to go?  If you check on eBird, you will find that almost 300 species of birds have been recorded in just the Dry Tortugas and Key West in Florida.  Of those 300 species, 221 have been recorded during the last week in April (the best week of the year in this area).  A whopping 39 species of warblers have been recorded in eBird for this area and 34 species during the last week of April.

I really love the mild weather and beautiful blue waters.  And the birds are fabulous.  You can walk around the Fort or you can sit on a bench and watch the show.  The show, you say?  Yes.  The Fountain.  A fresh water fountain is in the middle of the Fort.  Most all of the species of birds there will eventually show up at The Fountain for a drink.  It’s also a fun place to set up for photography (if that is your inclination).

The Dry Tortugas are a must-see spot for any birder.  A few specialty birds occur in the Keys and the Dry Tortugas including Mangrove Cuckoo, Antillean Nighthawk, White-crowned Pigeon, Black-whiskered Vireo, Gray Kingbird, Brown Noddy, Sooty Tern, Brown & Masked Boobies, and Magnificent Frigatebird.  Excited yet?  You should be.  It’s a great place to go birding.

Here is info from Florida Nature Tours:

Dry Tortugas photo & message for Florida Nature Tours

Dry Tortugas 2013 info sheet for Florida Nature Tours

And here are some photos from my trip last year to the Dry Tortugas with Wes Biggs (and a host of other fine leaders):

American Redstart adult male displaying - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-26 IMG_5154

American Redstart adult male displaying – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-26 photo by Greg Miller

 

Black-throated Blue Warbler - Key West FL - 2012-04-24 IMG_3859

Black-throated Blue Warbler – Key West FL – 2012-04-24 photo by Greg Miller

Black-throated Green Warbler - Loggerhead Key - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-25 IMG_4551

Black-throated Green Warbler – Loggerhead Key – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-25 photo by Greg Miller

Brown Noddy at coaling docks - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-26 IMG_5315

Brown Noddy at coaling docks – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-26 photo by Greg Miller

 

Leaders Wes Biggs and Michael Brothers and others - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-26 IMG_6027

Leaders Wes Biggs and Michael Brothers and others – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-26 photo by Greg Miller

 

Loggerhead Key - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-25 IMG_4445

Loggerhead Key – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-25 photo by Greg Miller

 

Magnificent Frigatebird male in flight - DryTortugas FL - 2012-04-26 IMG_4950

Magnificent Frigatebird male in flight – DryTortugas FL – 2012-04-26 photo by Greg Miller

 

Magnolia Warbler adult male bathing - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-26 IMG_5117

Magnolia Warbler adult male bathing – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-26 photo by Greg Miller

 

Ovenbird - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-25 IMG_4904

Ovenbird – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-25 photo by Greg Miller

 

Palm Warbler - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-26 IMG_5523

Palm Warbler – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-26 photo by Greg Miller

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak adult male at fountain - Dry Tortugas FL - 2012-04-26 IMG_5499

Rose-breasted Grosbeak adult male at fountain – Dry Tortugas FL – 2012-04-26 photo by Greg Miller

 

Scarlet Tanager - Key West FL - 2012-04-24 IMG_4139

Scarlet Tanager – Key West FL – 2012-04-24 photo by Greg Miller

A letter from Wes Biggs followed by a message from Michael Brothers:

As a fellow Florida birder I want to invite you to join us on a fantastic birding adventure. The Dry Tortugas is the most exciting birding location in Florida and chosen by top nature photographers as one of their 5 favorite bird photography locations in the country. This spring will be my 48th year going to the Tortugas; as a bird bander in my teens and 20s and as a professional bird tour leader for over 30 years. My wife Bettye and I were married there in 1988 in the middle of a bird tour!! My price of $1100. is $195. less than anyone else charges for a similar tour. I offer a free day’s birding in the lower Keys before we leave for the Tortugas. No one else offers this. This year we can sleep aboard the boat on the day we return to Key West.

The M/V Spree is a great boat. The upper deck makes a perfect birding platform. The crew is great, the food wonderful & the beds comfortable.

Go this year and save money! Increased costs have forced me to increase prices next year & the free days birding will probably not be offered in the future. Next year we may not be able to sleep aboard the boat on the return date.

Please read Michael Brothers below message:    Wes Biggs   Florida Nature Tours

I wanted to let you all know about an opportunity for the Marine Science Center to raise some additional funds. Florida Nature Tours is offing a series of trips to the Dry Tortugas and Owner Wes Biggs has generously offered to donate a stipend to the Friends of the Marine Science Center for each person that signs up through us. Having gone on one the these trips last year, I can attest that this is an extraordinary experience. Birders throughout the United States, know the incredible allure that these islands hold, especially in Spring migration. Before leaving, we spent a morning birding in Key West and had 22 species of warblers in one tree at Fort Zachary Taylor! The stunning Dry Tortugas held large numbers of warblers just a few feet away as well as cuckoos, tanagers, thrushes and even a Lincoln Sparrow. The nesting colonies of Brown Noddy and Sooty Terns and Magnificent Frigatebirds are a delight and we even were able to see the Masked Booby colony.

I have attached information on the trip. There is space available on the April 26-29 trip. If you decide to go on this great adventure, please mention the Marine Science Center! I appreciate your support of our bird hospital and our sea turtle hospital!

Best wishes,
Michael

Michael Brothers
Marine Science Center
100 Lighthouse Drive
Ponce Inlet, FL  32127
386-304-5543
mbrothers@volusia.org

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