Day 122 – Dry Tortugas National Park, FL

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My total species for 2017 now stands at 540!

On May 2, me and fellow crazy birder, Charlie Trapano, chartered the “Ware’s the Fish”, captained by none other than Al Ware, for a fast ride to the Dry Tortugas. I invited my buddy Nicole to come along on this adventurous ride.

The Tortugas are 70 miles from Key West. I had been dreading this Pelagic trip for weeks. As you may remember, I just sold my boat. I love being out on the water but only when it’s nice and calm. The day before the trip, winds were 25 mph! I get seasick and did not relish a miserable day out at sea.

I woke up to a beautiful, sunny, windless day. I only had one problem–I dropped my camera the day before and now my lens was stuck. Optics and concrete don’t mix. There are no camera shops in Key West, not even a Best Buy. Now I was begging Nicole and Charlie to share their photos.

The ride over was fast. Let’s just say, Al is not afraid of much. At 40 mph, my new raincoat went flying out of the boat. You’d think I’d know better.

This trip was getting costly.

We circled the Marquesas, scanned for birds and headed to Hospital Key for ridiculously close views of the Masked Boobies. As we approached Fort Jefferson, many of our target birds were right next to the boat on the pilings!!

As we looked for the Black Noddy that had been there for a few weeks, the Yankee Freedom pulled in with many birders I knew. Not long after, James Huntington discovered a young Red-footed Booby perched on Long Key with the nesting Frigatebirds! He was able to get many happy birders on it through his scope.

We dipped on the Noddy and pictures of the Booby were next to impossible. 2 unidentified birders kayaked right to the island for close looks. We attempted to get closer with our boat but the water was only 3′ deep.

Most migrants were already absent from the Fort. Oddly enough, we hardly saw any birds on the open water, either.

I’ve included pictures taken with my cell phone. Amazing how attached I’m becoming to my camera! You’ll have to use your imagination on these shots.



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