Number of Days (Length of Tour)
10 days / 9 nights
Dates & Cost
April 19-28, 2017
approx: $2995.00 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Miami, FL.
If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to get a roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $290.00 will be assessed.
NO SINGLE ROOMS AVAILABLE ON THE BOAT. Note: the accommodations aboard the “Playmate” are shared between 11 people in 4 rooms.
What is Included / Not Included in the Cost
Cost includes pick-up/drop-off at Miami Airport, all ground transportation and accommodations, entrance fees, permits and professional services of your leader. All meals aboard the “Playmate” while in the Dry Tortugas.
$500.00, check, paypal or credit card, along with your completed Registration Form
How to Book
In order to hold your space, you must complete the Registration Form found on-line, and submit it to us on-line, or download a copy and mail it to us, along with a $500.00 deposit per participant.
Full payment, by check, is due 120 days prior to the departure date
Day 1 : Afternoon arrival in Miami.
Day 2 : East Coast Wetlands
Day 3 : Central Pinelands
Day 4 : Central Scrub Prairie
Day 5 : Everglades
Day 6 : The Keys
Day 7 : The Dry Tortugas
Day 8 : The Dry Tortugas
Day 9 : The Dry Tortugas
Day 10 : Miami vicinity. Early afternoon departure from Miami
Day 1 ~ Arrive in Miami
Upon your arrival at Miami International Airport, you take the airport shuttle to the hotel, checking in any time after 2PM.
Day 2 ~ Miami; Pembroke Pines; Wakodahatchee Wetlands
We begin in the south eastern part of the state looking forany Caribbean stray that may have turned up along with a species that has declined dramatically this decade, the Smooth-billed Ani. We’ll get close up views of Burrowing Owl as they keep watch besides their burrows and visit a wetland where a rapidly expanding population of Purple Swamphens exists.
We’ll finish the day at a couple of wonderful man made water treatment facilities, Wakodahatchee Wetland and Green Cay. While walking the 1/2mile and 1 mile boardwalks respectively, we will encounter Mottled Ducks, Coots, Moorhens, Green Herons and an astonishing number of Least Bitterns, all feeding young. Least Terns are pairing up, Purple Martins are nesting, Limpkins walk the dikes and Purple Gallinules can be seen balancing precariously on the stems of fireflag.
Day 3 ~ 3 Lakes WMA and vicinity
Today we head north into the dry prairie and lake region of south central Florida, where we’ll look for the Florida race of Grasshopper Sparrow, Sandhill Crane and Crested Caracara. In the Slash and Long-leaf Pines our target species are Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Bachman’s Sparrow but we will also see the southern race of Eastern Towhee, Pine Warbler, Eastern Bluebird, Great-crested Flycatcher as well as the stunning Zebra Swallowtail butterfly.
Day 4 ~ Tiger Creek; Archbold BS; Fakahatchee Strand; Shark Valley
After breakfast, we search Tiger Creek for Short-tailed Hawk, followed by a visit to Archbold Biological Station for Florida Scrub-Jay, which are found in small family groups amongst the scrub oak. Heading south we’ll no doubt encounter the graceful Swallow-tailed Kite before reaching Shark Valley, the northern entrance to the Everglades, where we’ll scan the sawgrass for Snail Kite’s as they hunt for apple snail. If time permits we’ll end the day at a parrot roost in Miami, where anything is possible!
Day 5 ~ The Everglades
Should any rare species be reported within the area, we’ll make an effort to locate it, otherwise it is an all day visit to the Everglades National Park where we’ll explore a variety of habitats, including the ‘River of Grass’ where the endangered ‘Cape Sable’ Seaside Sparrow breeds. Bald Eagles are likely; a lingering Greater Flamingo would be a bonus and a plethora of shorebirds, waders, terns and pelicans can be seen, including American White Pelican, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Caspian and Gull-billed Tern. The endangered American Crocodile can often be found by the marina; Alligators are common inland and butterflies are plentiful, including Zebra Longwing, Gulf Fritillary, White Peacock and Ruddy Daggerwings. At night we will return to look for Chuck-wills-widow, Barred and Barn Owl and who knows, we may come across a Bobcat or be extremely lucky and see a Florida Panther!
Day 6 ~ The Keys
As we work our way down the Keys we’ll come across Gray Kingbirds and search the West Indian Hardwoods and Mangroves for Black-whiskered Vireo, Mangrove Cuckoo, Mangrove Yellow Warbler and White-crowned Pigeon amongst the numerous White-eyed Vireos. Various mudflats and beaches will hold Black-bellied Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Willet, Wilson’s Plover, Reddish Egret, ’Great White’ Heron, while Osprey, Double-crested Cormorant, Laughing Gulls will be common over the turquoise shallow waters as we cross the many channels between Keys. In Key West we’ll look for Shiny Cowbird and any reported rarity before our dusk vigil for Antillean Nighthawk. We then board our boat for the journey to the Dry Tortugas.
Day 7 ~ The Gulf Stream; The Dry Tortugas
Daybreak will find us out in the Gulf Stream (weather permitting), where pelagic birding should reward us with Bridled Tern, Audubon Shearwater, northbound Pomarine Jaegers and there is always the chance of a White-tailed Tropicbird (don’t count on it!) Roseate Terns often are seen on the buoys, as are Brown Boobies. Nearing the Dry Tortugas, Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies and Magnificent Frigatebirds will become a common sight. This is the only place in North America where these 3 species nest along with Masked Boobies. Once we reach the 15-acre Garden Key, the second largest of the 7 islands that make up the Dry Tortugas, most of our birding will be done within the remains of the impressive 19-century brick Fort Jefferson. Here amongst the sea grapes, cottonwoods and Geiger trees we should encounter a wide variety of migrants, including Eastern Kingbirds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Red-eyed Vireo, and numerous warblers including Blackpoll, Cape May, Black-throated Green, Palm and Magnolia. For those who are patient enough to sit by the water fountain, the only source of freshwater on the island, the rewards should be great, as all passerines will eventually make their way down for a drink or to bathe.
Day 8 ~ The Dry Tortugas
Garden Key will be explored for additional passerines that may have dropped in. The campground often holds Ovenbird, Wood Thrush, Common Nighthawk and Black-and-White Warbler. We’ll visit the largest of the islands, Loggerhead Key where the Caribbean race of Short-eared Owl known as the “Arawak Owl” can sometimes be found. The vegetation here is different, and Orchard Orioles, Indigo Buntings, Common Yellowthroats and Bobolinks can often be found hiding amongst the low scrub trying to avoid one of the many raptors such as Merlin or Peregrine that can be seen perched on one of the few trees. During our stay we will visit Hospital Key to see the Masked Boobies as they return to this small sand key from fishing forays; take a skiff ride to see Magnificent Frigatebirds nesting up close; view nesting Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies from the spit adjoining Garden and Bush Key; check the coaling docks for Black Noddy and go for a moat walk at Fort Jefferson, after dark, to view some of the marine life that can been seen in these tropical waters.
Day 9 ~ The Dry Tortugas; Return to Key West; The Keys
After breakfast, we’ll make a short visit to Garden Key to check for any overnight migrants before heading back to Key West. Along the way we should encounter Brown Boobies perched on buoys along the park perimeter boundary; Bottle-nosed Dolphins; Loggerhead Turtles and Gannets, Royal, Sandwich and Roseate Terns, as we get closer to our destination. We expect to return to Key West approximately 5PM and then head back up the Keys, picking up anything we may have missed on our way down.
Day 10 ~ Miami
We begin our final morning by visiting a nesting colony of the Caribbean race of Cave Swallows, before spending the remainder of our time in the Miami area looking for all the exotics that make this part of North America unique. Red-whiskered Bulbul, Spot-breasted Oriole, Yellow-chevroned & White-winged Parakeet, Hill & Common Myna will all be encountered. The tour concludes at Miami airport at 12 noon.
Good standard motels on the mainland portion of the trip with en-suite facilities.
On the boat for the Dry Tortugas portion of the trip, the accommodations are bunk beds in four shared compartments.
- Our motor vessel, M/V Playmate, is 60 feet long with a twenty foot beam.
- The vessel, a Gulfstream, is U.S. Coast Guard Inspected and powered by twin 8v92ti Detroit Diesel engines.
- Experienced and well-seasoned crew of 3 to 4, (2 licensed Captains)
- She sleeps 11 guests in four separate air conditioned staterooms. There are two bathrooms with showers.
- Cuisine is prepared from the finest quality produce, meats and of course the freshest seafood you can get!
- Sundecks Fore and Aft
- Shaded back deck
- Ice maker
- Fresh water maker storing 250 gallons
- Dual Engines and generators
- Satellite phone for emergencies
- TV DVD/VCR and Stereo
- 1100 Gallon fuel capacity
- Emergency oxygen and first aid equipment
- USCG Ceritified each year (stability rating is "excellent")
National Geographic Birds of North America
(6th Edition, 2011, national Geographic)
by Jon Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer
- Covers the most likely of possible Caribbean strays
This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.
Trip Insurance is required for the boat, and highly recommended for the land portion of the trip