Long Key State Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
Cape May Warblers
Other Dry Tortugas birds
But it wasn't all warblers on the Dry Tortugas. Here are other birds.
The Dry Tortugas are known for Brown Noddies. Brown Noddy has been called the "anti-tern", being dark with a white cap whereas most terns are white with a black cap. It is common around the world in the tropics, but in the continental United States, the Dry Tortugas are the only place where they nest. There is a large breeding colony, but it is off limits so we could only observe from a distance. This is the one life bird that I expected to see in the Dry Tortugas (and the only one that I did see there).
There was an even larger breeding colony of Sooty Terns, likewise observable only from afar. As with Brown Noddy, in the continental United States the Dry Tortugas are their main breeding colony but they also may venture as far north as North Carolina.
With a wing-span of 7–8 feet, Magnificent Frigatebirds fly effortlessly with little flapping. They especially seemed to like soaring over the fort, I suppose because the wind against the fort walls probably created a strong updraft that they used to good advantage.
Unlike most seabirds, their feathers don't shed water and they cannot alight on water.
A recent news story
reports that satellite tracking has shown that individual frigatebirds may remain airborne non-stop for weeks on end!
Magnificent Frigate birds have a nesting colony on the Dry Tortugas, which started only in 1988. Males leave the nesting colony early, and we saw mostly females (white-chested birds) and immatures (white-headed). It takes five years for them to become full adults.
Adult males are known for their red gular patch, which they can inflate to impress the ladies.
Ruddy Turnstones are about the tamest shorebirds, always hoping for a handout.
This immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron decided to work the surf by day.
It wasn't just warblers, Cattle Egrets also enjoyed the well.
Two Peregrine Falcons were hanging around the fort, occasionally engaging in aeronautical duels.
A couple of Merlins also helped out with the terrorizing of the songbirds.
Gray Kingbird is another south Florida specialty, infrequently seen further north.
A keen-eyed member of the group spotted this Sora, most improbably perched 10–15 feet up in a sea grape tree!
We saw a couple of Chuck-will's-widows, just trying to sit out the day until night comes around again.
Another nightjar, Common Nighthawk
A few Bobolinks showed up inside the fort.
On the trip back, the boat passed by the seemingly barren tiny island named Hospital Key, where we could observe Masked Boobies. This is the only place in the United States where this tropical species nests.
We also saw Brown Boobies on channel markers. This photo shows three Brown Boobies and a female Magnificent Frigatebird.