Florida

  1. 2018
    Monday, February 26, 2018 to Tuesday, March 6, 2018
    Tour Duration: 
    9 days
    Tour Price:
     $4,525 CAD, $3,395 USD
    Single Supplement:
     $1,235 CAD, $925 USD
    Tour Starts/Ends: 
    Fort Myers / Miami
    Guide: 
    Number of Persons Limit: 
    12
Highlights

• Excellent and often easy wildlife viewing, especially large waders

• Specialties of the pine woods of the southeast USA

• Exciting birding on the Keys and the Dry Tortugas

 

Overview

Late winter is a great time to visit south Florida, the subtropics of the United States. In our Florida birding tour, we experience a range of fascinating habitats from upland pine forests, prairies and cypress swamps to mangrove swamps, hardwood hammocks, and the sheltered waters of the Florida Keys. We take in the famous Ding Darling NWR for its waterbirds, Babcock-Webb WMA for the pine trio of Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman’s Sparrow and Brown-headed Nuthatch, Everglades National Park for Mottled Duck, Limpkin, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Snail Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Short-tailed Hawk, Purple Gallinule and others, and the Keys for southern Florida specialties such as Mangrove Cuckoo and White-crowned Pigeon.

We also take a day trip to the fabulous Dry Tortugas, to witness the onset of breeding by thousands of Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies and Magnificent Frigatebirds. We end our tour in the Miami area, where several exotic species have become naturalized - various parakeets and parrots, mynas, exotic waterbirds, Red-whiskered Bulbuls and Spot-breasted Orioles are resident here. We will also keep track of local sightings, in case a vagrant occurs close by.

Itinerary View Short Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival

Our Florida birding tour begins with a meeting for dinner in the hotel lobby at 6:30 p.m. Night in Fort Myers.

Day 2. Ding Darling NWR and San Carlos Bay 

Our first birding day is a big one, as we visit the world-renowned Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island.  Among the spectacular array of waders and shorebirds we will search for some local specialities, including Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. With some luck we may catch a glimpse of a resident Short-tailed Hawk or Bald Eagle flying overhead. Here we will also have our first chance at the elusive White-crowned Pigeon. 

En route back to Fort Myers we will stop at San Carlos Bay/Bunche Beach Preserve to look for saltwater-loving species such as Black Skimmer and Reddish Egret. In the early evening we will look for resident Burrowing Owls and Monk Parakeets in Cape Coral. Night in Fort Myers.

Day 3. Babcock-Webb WMA

On day 3 we will drive north to Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management area, a large tract of slash pine and marsh, for three pinewoods specialties - Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman’s Sparrow. Other species here include Limpkin, Eastern Towhee, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Bluebird and Eastern Meadowlark. Sandhill Cranes nest in the area, and roadside wetlands support American Coot and Common Gallinule.

In the afternoon, we search for species we may have missed and look nearby for Florida Scrub-Jay, a threatened species found only in Florida. Nearby wetlands support Black-bellied Whistling-Duck and Glossy Ibis. Night in Fort Myers.

Day 4. Corkscrew Swamp and Miccosukee

In the morning we visit the famous Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. After checking the visitors center birdfeeders for Common Ground-Dove and Painted Bunting we will head out on the beautiful boardwalks in search of the swamp’s residents. Many northern warblers spend their winter months here, and Tufted Titmice forage in the cypress. If our timing is right, we may see recently-arrived Swallow-tailed Kites circling overhead.

In the afternoon we carry on across southern Florida towards Homestead, stopping in the Miccosukee area to search for the endangered Snail Kite  foraging along the irrigation canals. Night in Homestead.

Day 5. Everglades

We spend the day in the Everglades, Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s “River of Grass”. We travel from Royal Palms to Flamingo, the terminus of Everglades National Park’s main road. We stop at well-known sites such as Anhinga Trail, where conspicuous residents include Purple Gallinule, “Great White” Heron, and, appropriately, Anhinga, Mahogany Hammock with its diverse tropical hardwood trees and marvelous land snails, and Paurotis and Nine-mile Ponds for Mottled Duck, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill and soaring Short-tailed Hawk. The mudflats at Flamingo host shorebirds and terns, including Marbled Godwit and Gull-billed Tern, and Eco Pond occasionally has Glossy and White Ibis, and possibly  Black-necked Stilt. We will also be on the watch for American Crocodile and West Indian Manatee. Our tally of birds could include many specialties of southern Florida - White-crowned Pigeon, Short-tailed and Swainson’s Hawks, Barred Owl, Swallow-tailed Kite and even Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Night in Homestead. 

Day 6. Florida Keys

We leave Homestead and head down to the keys. We begin the morning at two sites on Key Largo in search of specialties such as White-crowned Pigeon and Yellow-throated Warbler, and with luck scarcer species such as Mangrove Cuckoo and Painted Bunting. The keys are a hotspot for rarities, so we will watch for reports of any unusual visitors. Time permitting, we will end the day at Key West Botanical Garden.Night in Key West.

Day 7. Dry Tortugas

This morning we catch a boat and visit the Dry Tortugas with its plethora of pelagic species - Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy, Magnificent Frigatebird and Masked Booby, with scarcer ones such as Brown Booby possible. Our route will take us swiftly and directly to the Tortugas, arriving in late morning. We spend a few hours on the islands, visiting Fort Jefferson to look for early migrants, and then we head back, keeping an eye out for Masked Booby, should we have missed it up to then. Night in Homestead.

Day 8. Miami Area

Our final birding day will be spent in the unlikely birding destination of urban Miami. Numerous exotic species have become naturalized here - various parakeets and parrots, mynas, Gray-headed Swamphen, Egyptian Goose, Red-whiskered Bulbul and Spot-breasted Oriole are possible. We will also keep track of local sightings, in case a vagrant occurs close by. There are usually one or two goodies to be found. Night in Miami.

Day 9. Departure

Our Florida birding tour concludes today in Miami.  You can depart anytime for your flights home. 

 

 

Map
Featured Wildlife
Past Tour Checklists
Reviews

"This was my first official birding tour. The daily schedule was well thought out. The birding was wonderful due to planning and Kyle." - 2016 Florida participant

"Overall the tour was pleasant, interesting and very well led by Kyle. I am not a serious birder but found the various locations he took us to interesting, especially as attention was paid to habitat, other life forms such as butterflies and reptiles." - 2016 participant

"The selection of birding sites and pacing of the tour was good; we particularly liked the visit to the Florida keys (2 days) and unexpectedly, some of the Miami stops." - 2016 participant

"It was a trip to remember. 5/5 stars" - 2015 participant

"A very well-conceived and led tour. The small group was congenial and Kyle was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic director." - 2015 Florida participant