Friday, April 30, 2010
Last night we boarded the Tiburon, the ship that will take us to the Dry Tortugas. After some safety instructions and introductory remarks, we went to bed. All the participants had a shared cabin with bunk beds. The plan was to defer our departure until 6:00am rather than starting immediately since the weather was a bit iffy. I got a great night’s sleep and got up in time to see our boat depart the harbor. The weather was less than good, so we set a course that would take us through Florida Bay instead of via the Gulf Stream. That meant we were not likely to see pelagic birds, but the ride would be a whole lot smoother. We did see a lot of Northern Gannets and Magnificent Frigatebirds, and eventually some Brown Boobies (web photo) and a Bridled Tern. When we got near Fort Jefferson, we finally got to see Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns. We passed close to Hospital Key where at least 50 Masked Boobies were attempting to nest. After anchoring the Tiburon, we took an inflatable that we had towed from Key West to the Fort. Over the next few hours we combed all the trees and bushes for migrants finding about a dozen warblers one of which, Chestnut-sided, was new for the year. The Fort was hopping with other birds as well including over a dozen Yellow-billed Cuckoos. We scoped out the coal piers for Black Noddy without success. We returned to the boat, did the checklist, and had a great dinner. The hoped-for green flash didn’t appear. Tomorrow we go to Loggerhead Key. The species total for the year is now 512.