Posts Tagged ‘florida keys birding’

Spring Migration Coming to a Fulfilling End

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Greetings Dry Tortugas birders,

I hope everyone made the most out of this year’s spring migration, and maybe some of you made the Dry Tortugas part of the experience.  We had a couple of late fronts that blew some exciting birds down at the park, including a fork-tailed flycatcher and over tw0-hundred yellow-billed cuckoos!

Fork-tailed flycatcher in late April  after a storm.

Fork-tailed flycatcher in late April after a storm.

There has also been a regular black noddy spotted on the Bush Key tern colony for the last couple of weeks, although that particular bird continues to elude me.

Keep an eye out for bridled terns on the ride to and from the park, as they have been regular sightings while underway, and the roseate terns have been regularly sighted from the south coaling dock ruins.

The late warblers to show up were quite beautiful, including yellow, chestnut-sided, bay-breasted, magnolia, Tennessee, and Nashville.

Yellow warbler in the parade ground.

Yellow warbler in the parade ground.

Magnolia warbler near the south beach dunes.

Magnolia warbler near the south beach dunes.

Male chestnut-sided warbler at the temporary water source.

Male chestnut-sided warbler at the temporary water source.

Birders coming back for a repeat trip to the Dry Tortugas, keep in mind that the NPS has taken down the long-standing brick bird fountain from the parade ground, and temporarily replaced it with a small plastic container of fresh water. It’s no where near as large as the prior fountain, and the water does not flow, but it does seem to attract the smaller passerines. Please direct any questions about the fountain and it’s future to the National Park Rangers.

Male bay-breasted warbler in the parade ground.

Male bay-breasted warbler in the parade ground.

We also had an Antillean short-eared owl that was sighted several times over a tw0-week period in mid-April.

Antillean short-eared owl that stuck around for several weeks in mid-April.

Antillean short-eared owl that stuck around for several weeks in mid-April.

Also keep an eye out for continuing white-crowned pigeons, bobolinks, upland sandpipers, and a shiny cowbird this week!

Hope to see you out there!

Happy birding,

–Chelsea B.

Warblers, warblers, and more warblers!

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

This supplemental post is dedicated entirely to the warbler migration through the Dry Tortugas National Park, which is one of the most spectacular in the country!

Warbler species seen this migration:

Palm

Prairie

Yellow-rumped

ovenbird

American redstart

Louisiana waterthrush

Northern waterthrush

black-and-white

blackpoll

Northern parula

worm-eating

blue-winged

prothonotary

hooded

yellow-throated

Enjoy the photos I’ve added of regular migrants seen in the last two weeks:

Profile of a blue-winged warbler in the parade ground.

Profile of a blue-winged warbler in the parade ground.

The blue-winged warbler was a particular favorite of mine, and is a less common visitor to the Dry Tortugas.

Female American redstart. No male observed yet.

Female American redstart. No male observed yet.

Worm-eating warbler foraging on a buttonwood tree in parade ground.

Worm-eating warbler foraging on a buttonwood tree in parade ground.

Pale palm warbler not quite in full breeding plumage.

Pale palm warbler not quite in full breeding plumage.

Look for the constant tail-bobbing of this funny little warbler, and note that they hang out in large groups and can be seen out in the open in the grass.

Northern waterthrush foraging in the camp site area leaf litter.

Northern waterthrush foraging in the camp site area leaf litter.

The waterthrushes, ovenbirds, worm-eating, and Swainson’s warblers all have similar feeding techniques: rustling through leaf litter on the ground under trees to turn up insects and larvae.

Black-and-white warbler in the parade ground.

Black-and-white warbler in the parade ground.

Blackpoll warbler in the parade ground.

Blackpoll warbler in the parade ground.

Beautiful northern parula on the heli-pad by the south beach.

Beautiful northern parula on the heli-pad by the south beach.

These multi-colored beauties are not shy of people and are not afraid to hop down to a low branch and sing right in front of you.

Male hooded warbler on the south helipad.

Male hooded warbler on the south helipad.

Female hooded warbler foraging in the parade ground.

Female hooded warbler foraging in the parade ground.

These are mostly early migrants, but the two later species yet to be seen at the Park include the Swainson’s warbler and black-throated blue warbler.

Happy birding!

–Chelsea B.

 

After last week’s cold front, the migrants keep coming

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Happy April, Dry Tortugas birders!

I hope everyone is having a fun and productive spring migration season this year. We haven’t even reached peak season out at Fort Jefferson yet, but even the casual birder is racking up at least 30-40 species in a day trip out to the Park right now.

The sooty tern chicks have hatched (according to NPS biologists), so the young birds should be fledgling and visible on the shorelines of Bush Key in the coming weeks.

I’ve posted some photos of regular migrants to the Dry Tortugas, and will post an additional warbler post dedicated to the colorful little birds.

One lonely glossy ibis has been hanging out with a large flock of cattle egrets in the parade ground, browsing for insects.

One lonely glossy ibis has been hanging out with a large flock of cattle egrets in the parade ground, browsing for insects.

On this gray kingbird, notice the bulkier overall size, heavier bill, and the head that lacks the distinctive black cap of the eastern kingbird.

First gray kingbird of the season. These tropical migrants will be nesting in the Keys during the spring and summer.

First gray kingbird of the season. These tropical migrants will be nesting in the Keys during the spring and summer.

The songbirds are bright, singing, and abundant in almost any tree in the parade ground or near the camp sites, and several accipiters are still present, including kestrels, merlins, and a pair of peregrines.

One of several merlins present for the last week in the parade ground. The resident kestrel is not too happy having to defend its territory against the marauders.

One of several merlins present for the last week in the parade ground. The resident kestrel is not too happy having to defend its territory against the marauders.

Male scarlet tanager seen last week in the parade ground.

Male scarlet tanager seen last week in the parade ground.

Male summer tanager has been present for at least a week.

Male summer tanager has been present for at least a week.

Notice the key difference between the eastern US’s two most common tanagers: the black wings present in the scarlet, and lacking in the summer.

The first observed yellow-billed cuckoo of the season.

The first observed yellow-billed cuckoo of the season.

A very elusive bird, they flush from the trees when startled, so you must look carefully for this well-camouflaged bird.

Female yellow-bellied sapsucker on a buttonwood in the parade gorund.

Female yellow-bellied sapsucker on a buttonwood in the parade ground.

Three unique birds seen (and confirmed by photograph) by other birders at DRTO but not by myself include: Antillean nighthawk, Antillean (or Arawak) owl, and American golden plover.

Good luck and hope to see you out at the beautiful Dry Tortugas!

Happy Florida Keys birding,

–Chelsea B.

Spring Migration is Here!

Friday, March 8th, 2013

 

Greetings Dry Tortugas birders!

I know it’s been a while, but after working out some technical difficulties, out bird blog is up and running again at full force, just in time for spring migration at the Dry Tortugas.

For birders new to this remote and beautiful national park, if you’re planning your spring trip, here are the Dry Tortugas specialties you’re guaranteed to see:

Masked Booby

Brown booby

Magnificent frigatebird

Brown noddy

Sooty tern

There has also been one confirmed sighting of a bridled tern mixed in with the sooty colony, but no black noddy sightings have been made as of yet.

I’ve posted below some photos of spring migrants from the last week, and hopefully there are many more to come.

Barn swallow flying over parade ground.

Barn swallow flying over parade ground.

Young male bunting sitting in first-tier casemate.

Young male bunting sitting in first-tier casemate.

Close-up of young male blue bunting, midway between juvenile and adult plumage.

Close-up of young male blue bunting, midway between juvenile and adult plumage.

Bonaparte's gull seen for several days in moat, eating bugs from between the bricks.

Bonaparte’s gull seen for several days in moat, eating bugs from between the bricks.

Close-up of winter Bonaparte's gull.

Close-up of winter Bonaparte’s gull.

Burrowing owl perched in first-tier case mate.

Burrowing owl perched in first-tier case mate.

Forster's tern in winter plumage, perched on south coal piling with two sandwich terns.

Forster’s tern in winter plumage, perched on south coal piling with two sandwich terns.

Northern parula perched on button wood in parade ground.

Northern parula perched on button wood in parade ground.

Adult peregrine falcon seen perching on Bush Key and flushing tern colony.

Adult peregrine falcon seen perching on Bush Key and flushing tern colony.

Beautiful royal tern on far left in full breeding plumage (full black cap).

Beautiful royal tern on far left in full breeding plumage (full black cap).

I hope these photos were both helpful and exciting for any birders planning to come visit the Dry Tortugas National Park. Happy birding and see you at Fort Jefferson!

–Chelsea B.

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