Birding Tour USA: Florida Peninsula – Southern Specials and the Keys


DISCOUNT: WE'VE MANAGED TO REDUCE THE ORIGINAL PRICE

Dates and Costs:

 

22 – 30 April 2023

Price: US$4,180 / £3,577 / €4,152 per person sharing assuming 4 – 8 participants

Single Supplement: US$880 / £753 / €874

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

 


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)


Tour Details

Duration: 9 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Miami
Tour End: Miami


Price includes:

Meals
Accommodation
Transport
Guiding fees

Price excludes:

Flights
Personal insurance
Drinks
Gratuities – (please see our tipping guidelines blog)
Laundry service
Personal expenses such as gifts

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Florida Peninsula: Southern Specials and the Keys
April 2023

 

On a map, the finger-like state of Florida protrudes prominently from the continental United States, reaching south towards the Caribbean just barely missing Cuba 90 miles (c. 140 kilometers) beyond. To the north, frost-hardy, temperate deciduous forest dominates, while warm bodies of water surround the rest of the state. Together, both climate and geography isolate Florida from the rest of the country. Because of its geographically unique position, Florida is a crossroads between the temperate northern latitudes and the sultry Caribbean tropics with almost tropical forest-like habitat resulting in some fantastic bird watching opportunities. Indeed, about a dozen bird species of West Indian origin reach the northern limits of their range here, while many species typical of more northern latitudes reach the southern edge of their range in Florida. Many of the West Indian species live nowhere else in the United States. We also time our tour in late April, when spring migration peaks and the national parks, botanical gardens and residential areas are teeming with bird life, potentially augmenting our trip list with a wide variety of colorful warblers and charismatic shorebirds.


Florida Scrub Jay is a charismatic and quizzical species.

 

On this tour, we cover the southern two thirds of the state comprehensively in search of the many special birds on offer. We begin by exploring Miami, a city with a decidedly Caribbean flair, in search of several established exotics such as Spot-breasted OrioleWhite-winged Parakeet and Red-whiskered Bulbul. In the central/western part of the state, pinelands feature a specialized avian community, including Red-cockaded WoodpeckerBrown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman’s Sparrow. We also explore nearby oak scrub for Florida’s only endemic bird, Florida Scrub Jay. On the last leg of our journey, we explore the tropical hardwood hammocks and mangrove swamps of the Florida Keys in search of Caribbean specials such as Mangrove CuckooWhite-crowned Pigeon and Black-whiskered Vireo. We also take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, where Sooty Tern and Brown Noddy breed in their thousands. With some luck, many of the sites we visit on this tour may be alive with migrant songbirds, and there is always a chance for a vagrant from the Caribbean like a La Sagra’s Flycatcher or a Western Spindalis to show up.

 

Itinerary (9 days/8 nights)

 

Day 1. Arrival in Miami

After arriving at Miami International Airport, you will be transferred to a nearby hotel for the night.

Overnight: Miami

Florida birding toursSpot-breasted Oriole is one of the many exotics we will target in the Miami area.

 

Day 2. Miami and the Palm Beach Area

The nearly tropical climate and exotic vegetation of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area offers a unique landscape of opportunity for a myriad of introduced bird species from all over the world. We spend our first morning in Florida exploring this urban landscape in search of ABA-countable exotics such as Grey-headed SwamphenSpot-breasted OrioleWhite-winged ParakeetRed-whiskered Bulbul, and Common Myna. However, introduced species are only a small fraction of the avifauna of Miami, a county which claims one of the longest bird lists east of the Mississippi River. Parks, preserves, and even parking lots provide opportunities to see native species like Grey KingbirdWhite-crowned Pigeon, and more, along with a supporting cast of migrant songbirds.

After a delicious lunch at a local spot in Miami, we will head north to Green Cay Wetlands and Wakodahatchee Wetlands, two artificially created wetlands that host nearly all of Florida’s water-associated specials: Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Least Bittern, Limpkin, Anhinga, Purple Gallinule, the incredibly beautiful Roseate Spoonbill and more. The rookeries at Wakodahatchee Wetlands should be active at this time of year, providing excellent birding photographic opportunities of nesting herons, egrets, ibises, and storks.

Overnight: West Palm Beach

Florida birding toursThe Palm Beach area usually holds decent numbers of Grey-headed Swamphens.

 

Day 3. Ocean side to gulf side

We will spend the morning hours birding the ocean (east) side of the Florida peninsula at several local parks, hoping to catch a new batch of migrant songbirds. Depending on how we faired with waders the previous day and how migration fairs for the day, we may head to Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge for species such as Roseate Spoonbill, Snail Kite and a shot at Smooth-billed Ani. After lunch, we will spend the slower afternoon birding hours driving across the middle of Florida towards Fort Myers. The late afternoon and evening hours will be spent birding the gulf (west) side of the peninsula, searching the coastline for shorebirds including Snowy, Piping and Wilson’s Plovers, American Oystercatcher, Willet and more.

Overnight: Fort Myers

 

Day 4. Babcock-Webb and Tamiami Trail

Today will be an early start to ensure our sunrise arrival at the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area. This huge tract of land hosts a wide variety of habitats including Florida slash pine, a favorite of several special bird species. We will spend the better part of the morning exploring these pines in search of Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman’s Sparrow and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Following a successful morning at Babcock-Webb, we will then explore one or two other locations to search for the endemic Florida Scrub Jay. Where we go will depend on recent trends and timing.

Afterwards, we start our journey southeast across the peninsula via the Tamiami Trail to Homestead, passing through Big Cypress National Preserve and the northern edge of Everglades National Park. Sites along this road provide excellent opportunities to see King Rail and Snail Kite for our growing trip list.

Overnight: Homestead

Florida birding toursThe majestic Swallow-tailed Kite is often encountered on this tour.

 

Day 5. Everglades National Park

Published in 1947, Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s The Everglades: River of Grass highlighted the uniqueness of the Everglades. Lying at the southern tip of the state, the Everglades is a vast, subtropical sawgrass prairie broken only by cypress domes, tropical hardwood hammocks, pinelands and mangrove swamps. There is nowhere else in the United States with such a decidedly tropical suite of habitats. We bird throughout the day along the length of the main park road that terminates in flamingo campground, exploring these various habitats for several birds, difficult or impossible to see anywhere else in the country, like “Cape Sable” Seaside Sparrow and Shiny CowbirdAmerican Crocodile is possible at the marina in Flamingo. There will also be an optional birding session after dark to look for Eastern Screech OwlBarred Owl and Chuck-will’s-widow.

Overnight: Homestead

 

Day 6. Florida Keys

After an early breakfast, we will drive along Card Sound Road to Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, making a brief stop at a patch of mangroves along the way to look for the Florida race of Prairie Warbler and the Cuban race of American Yellow Warbler. Once slated to become a housing development, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park protects one of the largest tracts of tropical hardwood hammock in Florida. It is also an important breeding ground for several target species on our tour, particularly the elusive Mangrove Cuckoo and the vociferous Black-whiskered Vireo. For the rest of the day we will keep our schedule open as we make our way south to Key West, to accommodate the presence (or absence) of migrant songbirds or even the possibility of chasing a Caribbean vagrant. Regardless of the status of migration, we visit a breeding colony of Roseate Tern in Marathon and stand vigil in the evening for Antillean Nighthawk in Key West.

Overnight: Key West

 

Day 7. Dry Tortugas National Park

Seventy miles (c. 110 kilometers) west of Key West, the Dry Tortugas National Park consists of a series of tiny coralline islands surrounded by the shimmering aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Among birders, these islands are particularly famous for having the only nesting colonies of Brown NoddySooty TernMagnificent Frigatebird and Masked Booby in the contiguous United States. We reach these islands via the Yankee Freedom II catamaran on a day trip.

Upon arrival at Garden Key, we have about four hours to enjoy the cacophony and bustle of activity from the seabird colonies on nearby Bush Key as well as marvel at impressive Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. Due to the isolation of these islands from any land, the parade grounds of this grand fort function as a welcoming oasis for exhausted migratory songbirds including warblers, cuckoos, flycatchers, vireos, tanagers, and buntings. On our return voyage to Key West we make sure to stop at nearby Hospital Key to see the colony of Masked Booby.

We spend a second night in Key West to hopefully allow some time to relax and admire this famous town and perhaps to visit Ernest Hemingway’s home for example.

Overnight: Key West

Florida birding toursBrown Noddy will certainly be a highlight of the Dry Tortugas.

 

Day 8. Florida Keys to Homestead

We drive north back towards Miami, stopping at various state parks and preserves in the Florida Keys to look for species we may have missed (possibly a Bald Eagle or two). Perhaps we’ll find some new migrant songbirds and breeding specials or maybe we’ll even chance upon finding a Caribbean stray (we’ll be checking the e-bird reports frequently to see what’s around!). We also usually make a stop at the National Key Deer Refuge to see the miniature and endemic Key Deer, the smallest subspecies of White-tailed Deer and the smallest deer in North America. This will be a flexible day so that we can chase any reported rarities, and we will keep ourselves wired to any special sightings.

Overnight: Homestead

 

Day 9. Transfer to Miami International Airport

After some optional early morning birding, looking for any bird species we may have missed, we drive back (less than an hour when there is no traffic) to Miami to catch our flights home.

 

 

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

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Florida Peninsula – Southern Specials and the Keys Trip Report

 

17 – 25 APRIL 2022

By Luis Gles

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

 

florida peninsula trip report 2022The elusive Mangrove Cuckoo.

 

Overview

 

This nine-day set departure birding tour of southern Florida commenced on the 17th of April and concluded on the 25th of April in Miami in 2022. Over these nine days we covered a lot of ground, managing to drive across eight counties exploring parts of two national parks, a few state parks and birded in nearly a dozen different key habitats, ensuring we got to see a large and unique diversity of birds and other wildlife.

During spring southern Florida can be an amazing experience, filled with avian possibilities: hundreds of migratory species stopping over the region during northbound flights, returning Caribbean breeders settling back into their territories and the prospect of vagrants from the tropics. This all contributed to giving us a great list for our southern Florida tour. The highlights featured a long list of Florida specials and migrants including: Swallow-tailed and Snail Kites, Shiny Cowbird, Mottled Duck, Mangrove Cuckoo, White-crowned Pigeon, Grey-headed Swamphen, Limpkin, Wood Stork, Piping Plover, Brown and Black Noddies, Sooty, Bridled and Roseate Terns, Magnificent Frigatebird and Masked Booby. We also had a few migrant warblers including the likes of Cape May, Magnolia, Blackpoll and Pine Warblers. Additionally, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Yellow-chevroned and Mitred Parakeets, Grey Kingbird, Black-whiskered Vireo, Florida Scrub Jay, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Bachman’s Sparrow and Spot-breasted Oriole were loved by all on the trip.

A total of 188 bird species were seen and two species heard only. Species lists are at the end of this report.

 

Detailed Report

 

Day 1, 17th April 2022. Arrival in Miami

After arriving in the busy city of Miami, the most tropical city in the USA, we checked into our hotel close to the airport. After settling in, we left for lunch, but not before checking the small pond behind the hotel. Here, we saw some of our main targets such as the introduced Grey-headed Swamphen and returning Grey Kingbirds as well as Sora, Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Parula and Summer Tanager. After this good start we were ready for a delicious Cuban lunch.

After lunch, we began birding some of the city’s parks in search of multiple introduced species like Red-whiskered Bulbul, Common Hill Myna and Spot-breasted Oriole. A number of parrots and parakeets were also seen, and most definitely heard, such as Red-masked and Yellow-chevroned Parakeets and a pair of Chestnut-fronted Macaws in their cavity nest.

 

Day 2, 18th April 202. Miami and Palm Beach Area

We started the day with a quick breakfast and continued exploring for more exotic parrots around one of the oldest neighborhoods in Miami. Here we were able to see more parakeets including Green, Mitred, Yellow-chevroned and Monk Parakeets. Later we transferred to the Island of Key Biscayne, located in the southeastern part of Miami-Dade County. It is a barrier island connected by the Rickenbacker Causeway and home of Crandon Park. This park is a hotspot for birdwatching, where we are fortunate to see one of the largest extensions of beautiful white sandy beaches. These beaches are critical for providing habitat to large numbers of shorebirds and seabirds. This specific park is famous for being a wintering ground for a great number of the threatened Piping Plovers. Here, the group enjoyed Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Grey (Black-bellied) Plover, Laughing Gull and Magnificent Frigatebird, before seeing the most unexpected bird for the tour so far, Thick-billed Vireo. This vagrant from the Caribbean has a restricted range between the Bahamas and Cuba with increasing numbers of records in southern Florida in recent years. The newest addition to the county bird list after this rarity became the Least Grebe which we were lucky enough to see on this tour too!

florida peninsula trip report 2022Thick-billed Vireo, a vagrant that we enjoyed on our second day.

 

After lunch we drove north to Palm Beach where we spent the rest of the afternoon at Green Cay Wetlands and Wakodahatchee Wetlands. These two artificially created wetlands are an oasis for breeding waterbirds, including Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Least Bittern, Anhinga and the incredibly beautiful Painted Bunting.

 

Day 3, 19th April 2022. Ocean side to gulf side

We spent the morning hours birding the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge looking for and finding some top targets, such as Roseate Spoonbill, Limpkin, Pileated Woodpecker and Barred Owl. While here we crossed paths with a mixed flock of warblers which included American Redstart, Black-and-white, Cape May and Black-throated Blue Warblers, to name a few.

After lunch we spent the slower afternoon birding hours driving across the middle of Florida towards Fort Myers. Before reaching our final destination, we stopped at the magnificent Lake Okeechobee where we had great views of a couple of Snail Kites and dozens of Sand Martins (Bank Swallows) and Tree Swallows with a few Barn Swallows mixed in. The late afternoon and evening hours were spent birding the gulf finding many of our targets such as Wilsons Plovers, Willet and Reddish Egret.

 

Day 4, 20th April 2022. Babcock-Webb and Naples

We started in the early morning before sunrise to get to the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area. These Florida slash pine forests attract specials not found elsewhere. We were pretty lucky to hear one Red-cockaded Woodpecker as soon as we stepped out of the van, soon revealing itself to us. Following this Near Threatened species, were excellent views of Bachmans Sparrow and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Afterwards we passed by a known territory of a pair of the southeastern subspecies of American Kestrel. This is one of the most endangered subspecies of this fantastic falcon. A nearby neighborhood gave us Florida Scrub Jay, Florida’s only endemic bird species.

florida peninsula trip report 2022The sociable Florida Scrub Jay.

 

After a successful morning and a delicious lunch, we were ready for our departure south to Naples to look for one of the newest additions to the ABA acceptable bird list, the Rose-ringed Parakeet. After we added another yet parakeet to our list, we finally got to see the cute Snowy and Piping Plovers as well as Least and Sandwich Terns. Afterwards we drove southeast across the peninsula via the Tamiami Trail to Homestead, passing through two of the best-known wilderness areas in the state of Florida, Big Cypress National Preserve and the northern edge of Everglades National Park. The tasty Mexican food around the corner is a must-go and we enjoyed this treat before getting to our hotel in Homestead.

 

florida peninsula trip report 2022The endangered southeastern subspecies of American Kestrel.

 

Day 5, 21th April 2022. Everglades and Homestead

We started the day early to be in the most favorable habitat where we saw and enjoyed the one and only “Cape Sable” Seaside Sparrow. This subspecies of Seaside Sparrow is the first bird to adapt to the climate change and rising sea levels. There are many trails to explore in the Everglades including: Anhinga Trail, Gumbo Limbo Trail, Mahogany Hamock Tail and Pahockey. A great diversity of warblers including Black-throated Green, Prairie, Magnolia and Cape May Warblers, greeted us on these trails while a Barred Owl chick had us all staring. Short-tailed Hawk is a Florida special, sought out by raptor-lovers, and today we had a light morph soaring above us which we all enjoyed. After all the excitement we finally got to the Flamingo Visitor Center area, where we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the edge of the impressive Florida Bay. Following our lunch, we observed a Swallow-tailed Kite on the nest, feeding their young along the Anhinga Trail. The Everglades offers wildlife of all kinds and the group couldn’t pass up seeing American Alligators, Yellow-bellied Sliders and strange Florida Softshell Turtles.

Knowing that we would be going owling in the evening, we decided to take a more relaxed afternoon around the pool of the hotel. Following another delicious Mexican dinner, we enjoyed an excellent evening of owling, where we were able to see and hear White-tailed Kite and American Barn Owl, foraging at dusk outside of the everglades. Chuck-wills-widow and Eastern Screech Owl could be heard singing inside the park. Southern Toads on the side of the road were a regular occurrence and multiple Two-striped Walkingsticks were seen crossing the road.

florida peninsula trip report 2022The localized Bachman’s Sparrow gave us great views on this Florida birding tour.

 

Day 6, 22th April 2022. Florida Keys

After an early breakfast, we began our drive south to Key West, but before reaching the southernmost town in the US, we stopped along the road at multiple birding hotspots like Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. Here, we enjoyed seeing Prairie and Blackpoll Warblers, American Redstart and other regional specials, like Black-whiskered Vireo. The vireo breeds in the Caribbean but has been extending its range to southern Florida. After a full morning of driving and birding, we had lunch in Marathon at a famous food truck, Irie Island Eats. A quick vote easily decided this was the favorite restaurant of the tour! After lunch, we continued driving south while we kept a lookout for the elusive Mangrove Cuckoo and the Cuban race of American Yellow Warbler. On our search we visited Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge where we saw a family group of the endangered ‘Key Deer’ (a subspecies of White-tailed Deer) before ending our day indulging in a flavorful Key West dinner.

 

Day 7, 23th April 2022. More of the Florida Keys

After a delicious Cuban breakfast, we kept searching for the elusive Mangrove Cuckoo. Our adventures that morning went from Key West to Big Pine Key. During the search for the cuckoo, we were able to see multiple White-crowned Pigeons, a top target for the tour, since this bird only just reaches southern Florida and the Keys to breed. We also saw ‘Great White Heron’, a white morph of Great Blue Heron that only occurs in this region. We took advantage of the opportunity to explore multiple islands in the lower and middle Keys where we got to enjoy the amazing landscape – white sandy beaches with clear blue waters, unlike anywhere else in the word which enchants its many visitors. All these places were surrounded by mixed flocks of warblers and fishing Western Ospreys and Northern Gannets. Closer to noon we received information of two Mangrove Cuckoos that were seen in a neighborhood of Big Pine Key. We rushed to the area where we were finally able to see this extremely shy bird! Probably one of the hardest birds to see in the US.

Before heading out for lunch we visited Blue Hole, a trail inside the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge, where we enjoyed more migrant warblers and local food. In the afternoon we went around Key West and got to see one of the most iconic places in Florida, the southernmost point in the US, just 90 miles (c. 140 kilometers) from Cuba. Then we cooled off around the hotel pool, before getting ready for dinner.

 

Day 8, 24th April 2022. Dry Tortugas

Today we yet another early start, as this day was probably the most-anticipated day of the tour. We left our hotel to jump aboard the Yankee Freedom II catamaran on a day trip heading 70 miles (c. 110 kilometers) west of Key West to the Dry Tortugas National Park. This park is composed of seven sandy islands that barely rise above sea level and are often changing with the tides and storms. Once we were within the boundaries of the archipelago, the deeper waters of the straits were replaced by the bright turquoise, light blue and emerald-green hues distinctive of the Dry Tortugas National Park. The only key we were able to explore was Garden Key, where we had four hours to awe over the famous nesting colonies of Brown Noddy, along with the hundreds of Sooty Terns, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Masked Boobies and a few Bridled Terns. We were extremely lucky to see one White-tailed Tropicbird flying between Garden Key and Loggerhead Key. There were also some migrants around the impressive Fort Jefferson including Ovenbird, Black-and-white and Cape May Warblers, Barn Swallow, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Sharp-shinned Hawk, an extremely rare Red-shouldered Hawk and an unusual Cooper’s Hawk. Taking the ferry there and back offers opportunities for other highlights including Black Noddy, Audubon’s Shearwater, Loggerhead and Green Sea Turtles, many flying fish, Common Bottlenose Dolphin and a group of Roseate Terns, before returning to Key West and starting the scenic drive back to Homestead.

 

florida peninsula trip report 2022The rare Black Noddy at Dry Tortugas National Park.

 

Day 9, 25th April 2022. Homestead area and tour conclusion

On our last day of the tour, we decided to do a clean-up outside the Everglades for some of the missing species. A few meters out of the van and we were lucky to encounter a Great Horned Owl, followed by a good variety of flycatcher including. Great Crested, Least and Brown-crested Flycatchers, Tropical and Western Kingbirds and another rare visitor to this part of the country, a Cassin’s Kingbird, all making the last morning a treat. Shiny and Bronzed Cowbird were the last of the regional specials added to our list! Before the airport we had to stop for a delicious Cuban lunch. After lunch all the participants were brought to their hotel or the airport. This concluded another successful tour full of great moments, delicious food and amazing birds!

 

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

Please see the downloadable PDF above with the full species lists included. This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

USA: Florida Peninsula Southern Specials and the Keys

 Tour-specific Information

 

PASSPORT AND VISA

For US citizens, no visas or passports are required. You will need to bring along a government issued ID as they are sometimes required for hotels.

Non-United States citizens will require a valid passport to enter the country, and some may require a tourist visa. Please consult with your local US Embassy for more details and information. You may need to show your ID/passport at various hotels and for the boat departures on this tour.

 

TRAVEL INSURANCE

We strongly encourage you to purchase trip cancellation or interruption insurance in case you have to cancel due to illness or for any other reason, as tour payments are non-refundable as per our terms and conditionsWe advise you to get a plan which covers all your medical care and evacuation back to your country of residence, repatriation, and trip cancellation due to illness just prior, or any other reason.

 

HEALTH

Florida poses no major health risks and there only a few potential minor items to consider. There is a boat ferry (approximately two hours each way) which typically is smooth sailing but if you are prone to seasickness, it is best to pack the needed medication. Additionally, some of the drives can be long and pose similar issues. Climate can pose small issues but overall, the temperatures tend to be pleasant with a consistent breeze and plenty of water will be made available. Mosquitoes and other biting insects can be present, especially in wet swampy areas, so we recommend insect repellent and appropriate clothing to help with this. Your guide will inform you when they think things might be particularly “buggy”.

 

MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Please make sure that you are covered by medical insurance in case of an emergency while on this trip. Without insurance the cost of medical care can be extremely high. Please notify us at the time of registering for this tour of any medical conditions you think we should know about (including allergies, heart conditions, epilepsy, etc.). This will greatly help us to cater to your needs and to update emergency services if required.

 

WEATHER/CLIMATE

The weather in Florida in April can range from 70–90 °F (21–32 °C) during the day with nights remaining mild and warmer. Rain and thunderstorms can occur at any moment, so it is best to be prepared with a waterproof jacket. Just as quickly as clouds can appear, they can dissolve, leaving behind a wave of hot and humid conditions. Wind is typically present, especially near water, with a gentle breeze felt most of the time.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

We will be staying at comfortable hotels throughout the tour.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

Our hotels should have decent access to Wi-Fi throughout the trip and phone service is typically fine near these areas and in the larger more populated cities. There are times throughout the trip where we will be out driving through the swamps between destinations so service can be lost there. Additionally, out on the boat and Dry Tortugas, service will be spotty.

 

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS AND PACE OF TOUR

Overall, this tour is labeled as fairly easy from a physical requirement perspective. All hiking will be on flat ground with an occasional stray to more sandy trails. There will always be an option to remain back with the vehicle if needed. There are no long hikes on this tour (all less than one mile). There are a few drives of distance but none lasting longer than three hours and those drives do have birding and restroom stops planned to break things up.

 

WHAT TO BRING

Please kindly read the general list of what to bring on a birding tour, here.

Layers and waterproof gear are always a good idea when preparing for a wide variety of possible weather conditions, and we consider them essential on this tour. We also do recommend bringing Dramamine or other motion sickness medications if you need them as there are longer drives in the vehicle and the ferry ride. Also, please bring along a face mask (or a few) to ensure we are able to follow local guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic as they will be required in certain areas.

Do not forget – Binoculars, prescription drugs (also bring the generic names for these drugs), toiletries, prescription glasses (and a spare pair), sunglasses, camera, batteries (for electronic equipment and chargers for re-chargeable batteries if required), alarm clock, money pouch, field guide(s), daypack.

Key Documents and Cash – Passports, your travel or health insurance cards, photocopies of which can be carried by the tour leader in case of emergency, Covid-19 vaccine card (or photo/copy), credit cards (see info above). US dollars for drinks, gifts, tips, items of a personal nature, etc., which are not included in the tour cost.

 

LUGGAGE

There should be enough space for each participant to bring one medium-sized suitcase as well as a personal bag to keep at their seat with them. Please do be mindful with large cameras or tripods if you choose to bring these along.

Birding Ecotours

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