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Florida Keys Birding

Join Us on a 7-day Professionally Guided Birdwatching Tour in the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas

Overview

The Florida Keys are home to many birds not seen anywhere else in the United States. Seabirds such as masked boobies, magnificent frigate birds, sooty terns, and brown noddies breed in the Dry Tortugas National Park. Subtropical land-birds such as white-crowned pigeons, mangrove cuckoos, Antillean nighthawks, and black-whiskered vireos nest on Key Largo and Big Pine Key. In addition to the natives are the many shorebirds and northern warblers who winter in the productive hammocks and mangroves of the balmy Keys. Fall and spring migration funnel countless warblers and birds of prey through the area. More peregrine falcons have been counted passing through Marathon Key in the fall than any other place in the world.

Our spring and fall 7-day birding trips begin in the upper Keys and work south to the Dry Tortugas. The first three nights are spent in Key Largo and two in Key West. Sites visited depend on seasonal productivity for different species. Regular stops include Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Curry Hammock State Park, National Key Deer Refuge, Key West Tropical Forest, and Fort Jefferson and Garden Key in the Tortugas National Park.

Our Program

Unless otherwise specified, the Group Leader will lead all lectures, field trips, and birding exercises. Transportation throughout the program will be provided by passenger vans unless otherwise noted. As wildlife is unpredictable, changes in times and locations may occur, even at the last minute. A final itinerary will be distributed at the last minute. Each evening, we will review the bird sightings of the day as a group and assess the plans for the following day.

Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions.

Small Group

Meals at restaurants will be plated and served dishes featuring regional specialties with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water included unless otherwise noted.

STARTING AT

$1,837

SINGLE: $2,637

N

Meals at Local Restaurant

N

7 Nights of Lodging

N

Complimentary Transportation From Airport

Itinerary

DAY 1: ORIENTATION

Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone at 5:00 pm at Hotel Lobby with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

DINNER:

We’ll drive to a favorite local restaurant in Miami for a plated meal featuring regional dishes with coffee, tea, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

DAY 2: EVERGLADES, KEY LARGO

EARLY BREAKFAST:

At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a breakfast buffet with options including an egg dish, breakfast meats, a variety of breakfast breads with assorted jams, cereals, coffee, tea, juice, and water.

MORNING:

We’ll drive to the kayaking location where you will receive instructions about kayaking basics and familiarize us with the kayaks and necessary paddling equipment. We will be assigned to tandem or single seat sea-kayaks according to ability. In the interests of safety, couples and companions may be placed in different kayaks as determined by the instructor. We will be out on the water for approximately 60-90 minutes.

LUNCH:

At Local restaurant

AFTERNOON:

Depart to Key Largo (1.5 hours drive approx.)

DINNER:

At local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

DAY 3: LONG KEY, CURRY HAMMOCK, CRANE VISITOR CENTER

BREAKFAST:

At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal including juice, coffee, tea, and water.

EARLY MORNING:

Our first field birding trip of the day will be at Long Key State Park. This trail site is a must-visit for birders traveling to the Florida Keys. Two nature trails and a mile of natural shoreline provide easy access to mangrove swamp, Rockland hammock, mudflat, beach, and coastal berm habitats. The Golden Orb Trail can be fantastic during fall migration. Over 30 species of wood-warbler have been recorded plus all the other typical songbird migrants that head south through the Florida Keys.
Our next stop will be Curry Hammock State Park, this coastal park offers Rockland hammock and beach viewing of waders and shorebirds.

LUNCH:

Lunch Box

AFTERNOON:

After lunch, we will drive to Crane Visitor Center. The center provides visitors with interesting and educational interpretative displays of local wildlife, marine life, dioramas, and dramatic exhibits featuring artifacts and objects of cultural interest.

DINNER:

At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with soft drinks, coffee, tea, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

DAY 4: BAHIA HONDA, OHIO KEY, AND KEY WEST

BREAKFAST:

At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a plated breakfast with options including an egg dish, breakfast meats, a variety of breakfast breads with assorted jams, cereals, coffee, tea, juice, and water.

MORNING:

Hotel Check Out. Depart to Key West. Our first stop on our way will be Bahia Honda State Park, the park offers spectacular views and tropical hardwood hammocks, coastal berm, and dune communities for some of the richest birding habitats.
We will continue our journey and drive to Ohio Key before our lunch.

LUNCH:

At a local restaurant

AFTERNOON:

After transferring by van, we will stop at Key Deer Sanctuary. We will head to the Blue Hole Trail, which partially circles one of the few bodies of freshwater on Big Pine Key, a feature that not only attracts Green Herons and Belted Kingfishers but also brings in migrating warblers, vireos, and thrushes. Jack Watson Manillo Trail passes through Pine Rockland, an uncommon habitat this far south, and brings you close to the island’s resident songbirds as well as species like Black-whiskered Vireo, Gray Kingbird, and White-crowned Pigeon. After the hotel check-in in Key West, free rest of the day to explorer Key West.

DINNER:

At your leisure, not included.

DAY 5: DRY TORTUGAS

BREAKFAST:

Aboard the ship, we’ll have a breakfast buffet including bagels, cereal, yogurt, fruits, juices, coffee, tea, and water.

MORNING:

En route to Dry Tortugas National Park, our onboard naturalist will give provide an orientation lecture on the area and the national park’s surroundings.

LUNCH:

Aboard the catamaran, we’ll enjoy a buffet lunch.

AFTERNOON:

Continue birding in the park. The Dry Tortugas play an important part in the lives of birds migrating between South America and the eastern United States because they are the first bits of dry land that these birds see during that trip. Many birds even die of starvation en route. Birders may be so lucky as to see an Antillean short-eared owl, sighted fairly frequently, as well as peregrine falcons, warblers, ruddy turnstones, and frigatebirds. The only nesting colony of Magnificent Frigatebirds in North America resides on these islands along with the largest Sooty Tern colony in the Northern Hemisphere on nearby Bush Key with some Brown Noddies. 

DINNER:

At a local restaurant.

DAY 6: FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR, KEY LARGO

BREAKFAST:

At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a plated breakfast with options including an egg dish, breakfast meats, a variety of breakfast breads with assorted jams, cereals, coffee, tea, juice, and water.

MORNING:

Hotel Check Out. Depart to Key Largo. Our first stop on our way will be Fort Zachary Taylor We’ll learn about Florida’s southernmost state park, U.S. Military history of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, and the role that Fort Zachary Taylor played in it. The fort was built in the mid-1800s and completed in 1866 as one of a series designed to defend the nation’s southeastern coastline. Afterward, we’ll hit the sand at the Key West Beach Area for a birding walk with our Group Leader and a local expert.

LUNCH:

Lunch Box or Local Restaurant

AFTERNOON:

After transferring by van, we will stop at Key West Botanical Garden. Hundreds of birders visit the garden each year to identify and track our native and migrating birds. You never know which exotic birds you’ll meet.

Hotel Check-In in Key Largo.

DINNER:

At a local Restaurant.

 

DAY 7: DAGNEY JOHNSON STATE PARK, MIAMI

BREAKFAST:

At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal including juice, coffee, tea, and water.

MORNING:

After breakfast, we’ll begin our transfer to Miami Airport with a stop on the way to the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park where we will enjoy our final field trip of the program. Led by our Group Leader on some trails, we may find breeding populations of white-crowned pigeons, black-whiskered vireos, mangrove cuckoos, and, if we are lucky, migrating warblers. Sightings of the Zenaida dove, thick-billed vireo, and the rare LaSagra’s flycatcher are also documented. We’ll then continue our transfer to the airport. Approximate arrival to MIA is 11:45 am.

Lodging

HYATT PLACE MIAMI AIRPORT-EAST

UNIQUE FEATURES

Free Wi-Fi

Coffee to Cocktails Bar

Business Center

24/7 Gallery Market and 24/7 Gallery Menu

Valet Parking – $20 per night

Complimentary 24-hour airport shuttle, 7 days a week runs every 30 minutes and picks up outside of gate 4, 14, 24, and 33

FACILITY AMENITIES:

N

Free Wi-Fi everywhere

N

Swiveling 42" flat screen HDTV

N

Contemporary bathroom

N

Luxury skin and hair care amenities from KenetMD™

N

Oversized Cozy Corner sofa-sleeper

N

Single serve coffee/tea maker

N

AM/FM alarm clock radio with MP3 connectivity

N

Separate workspace

N

Cordless speakerphone with voicemail

N

Mini-fridge

N

Wet bar

N

1875 watt hair dryer

N

Iron/ironing board

N

Remote printing

N

All Hyatt Place hotels are smoke-free

TRANSPORTATION INFORMATION:

Free shuttle from Miami to Hyatt place airport east

OCEAN POINTE SUITES AT KEY LARGO

UNIQUE FEATURES

Ocean Pointe is an all-suite resort located directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Their 60 acres are part of a protected mangrove forest and is entered through a private gatehouse and road. Your vacation begins the moment you drive through our gatehouse entrance into their beautifully landscaped tropical grounds and enter your spacious room.

FACILITY AMENITIES:

N

Oversized heated swimming pool with whirlpool spa

N

Free tennis on 2 lighted courts

N

Marina with boat ramp and rental slips

N

Waterfront cafe and lounge

N

Small, private white sand beach, volleyball court and kayak rentals

N

Courtesy guard at gatehouse

N

For kids there is also a children's play area.

ADDITIONAL NIGHTS:

Call the resort directly to make the reservations. Mention you are part of the GL Explorers.

24 NORTH HOTEL

UNIQUE FEATURES

Key West offers accommodations in Key West. The hotel has an outdoor pool and fitness center, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar.

All rooms are fitted with a flat-screen TV. Certain rooms feature a sitting area for your convenience. The rooms are equipped with a private bathroom equipped with a bathtub and bathtub or shower. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. 

You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property.

FACILITY AMENITIES:

N

Free Wi-Fi

N

Free parking

N

Swimming pool

N

Fitness center

N

Bar/lounge

ROOM AMENITIES:

Air Conditioned
Alarm Clock
Cable TV
Coffeemaker
Connecting Rooms
Cordless Telephone
Free Local Calls
Hairdryer In Room
High Speed Internet
Iron
Ironing Board
Microwave
Personal Refrigerator
Queen Bed
Radio
Shower
Sitting Area
Telephone
TV
TV Remote Control

What’s Included

7 days /6 Nights Accommodation (1 Miami, 3 Key Largo, 2 Key West)

17 meals (6 B, 5 L, 5 D)

Customary Gratuities

Expert Tour Director

10 Field trips

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