Letter to Birder’s World: Birding the Dry Tortugas

While I was globetrotting around the world earlier this year, it was bought to my attention by our good friend Jeff Wahl, that the February 2010 issue of Birder’s World magazine contained a letter about Birding the Dry Tortugas, written by Jay Huner.

Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, Dry Tortugas National Park

As you may know, I have been leading birding trips to the Dry Tortugas (70 miles west of Key West, Florida) each spring for the past 15 years. Both Jeff and the author of the letter, Jay Huner, were on our April 23-26, 2008 trip.

The following letter appeared in the February 2010 issue of Birder’s World Magazine  www.BirdersWorld.com    

Birding the Dry Tortugas
I visited the Dry Tortugas described very well by Steve Betchkal in “Island Stopover” (December 2009, page 24). I had the very good fortune to be in a tour led by Adrian Binns and did not have to backpack like Steve. I cannot say enough good things about Adrian’s skills as both a tour leader and birder.

The Dry Tortugas was everything that Steve described and then some. One special bird was associated with Dr. Mudd’s cell. While Adrian and the others were birding around the grounds, I broke off to see what I might find in the covered walkways inside the fort. Darned if I did not flush a Chuck-will’s-widow that flew along the dark arcade into the open door of Dr. Mudd’s cell. I peered around the corner and saw the bird resting on the ledge of one of the cell’s open windows.

I went back to find the group several hundred yards away and advised Adrian about my find. He asked if the Chuck would be a lifer for anyone. Sure enough, one of the ladies had never seen one. As luck would have it, the bird held long enough for the lady to see it. And, yes, we had both Black Noddy and Red-footed Booby as well as scores of Cape May and Black-throated Blue Warblers.

Other neat critters included a spiny lobster that looked to weigh over 25 pounds in the moat and several 300-400+ pound goliath groupers hanging under our boat. — Jay Huner, Boyce, Louisiana

Editor’s note: You can find Adrian at Wildside Nature Tours, www.wildsidetoursinc.com.

Chuck-wills-widow resting a few feet off the ground in a buttonwood tree on Garden Key

Thank you to Jay for writing a glowing report, and to Chuck Hagner, editor of Birder’s World for allowing me to replicate the letter.

all photos © adrian binns



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