Summertime at the Dry Tortugas – Update

Bridled tern egg at the Dry Tortugas.

Bridled tern egg at the Dry Tortugas.

Thunderstorms and early morning downpours bring a deluge of birds to the Dry Tortugas National Park. Fall migration is well underway and these early morning storms bring to the ground an interesting array of birds. Numerous herons, egrets and even a Least Bittern land in the parade ground of the fort. The flooded section of the parade grounds is the area of choice for four Golden Plovers. Side by side, Louisiana and Northern Water Thrushes search for juicy morsels. They are accompanied by many Redstarts, Ovenbirds, Prothonatary Warblers, Prairie Warblers, Parula, Yellowthroats and Black Whisked Vireo. Eastern Wood Pewee and Gray Kingbirds chase insects. The call of the Belted Kingfisher is heard above the ruckus. Overhead the hawk migration is underway as Well-Broadwinged Hawk and Peregrine Falcons were sighted. Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows and Northern Rough Winged Swallows make their way south. On the coal dock pilings Sandwich, Royal Terns, Double Crested Cormorants, a Black Bellied Plover and a lone Witlet sit and wait.

Roseate colony at the Dry Tortugas.

Roseate with decoy at Fort Jefferson.

Roseate with decoy at Fort Jefferson.

This summer was exciting for birds in the Dry Tortugas National Park. The Roseate Tern colony on Long Key grew to 47 pair and they were joined again this year by Bridled Terns. At least five pair were observed and at least 3 had nests. Thanks to Sharyn Hood of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for the photos and updates on the Roseate Tern colony.

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