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South Florida Birding Trip Planning Stage


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We are planning a trip to South Florida next month. This is suppose to be a mostly birding trip but our 16 year old granddaughter is coming with and she is not so much into birds. We are staying in Florida City near the entrance to the portion of the A1A that takes you into the Florida Keys. We also intend to bird some of Miami-Dade County. We leave on a Monday for the 8 + hour drive there. Coming home on Friday another 8+ hour drive home. So basically Tuesday-Thursday are left for birding and other activities.

We sadly won't be able to get to the Dry Tortugues on the ferry at least, as it is booked solid. I have been researching on ebird and have a list going of where to go and what we might see at each birding hotspot. The birds we are looking for in general are those that more specific to south Florida than central or north Florida. 

So here are my questions-first does any one know of an affordable way to get to the Dry Tortugues? If not this trip then maybe in May. The best month to go from what I can tell. And what are the insider tips? Is parking going to be a problem? Are some trails better in certain hotspots than others for viewing birds? Are there boat trips we should try besides the Dry Tortugues? How do I get my granddaughter more interesting in birding? (really I don't know how I failed here) Must sees both bird related and not bird related. Any lesser known great birding spots. Oh and my granddaughter loves the beach and art (she is a very talented young artist herself) and shopping, any recommendations there also appreciated? Food a birder has to eat? Any bests here or places to avoid always good to know! 

All information that could help us make the most of this trip will be appreciated more than I can say. Thanks in advance!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Clip said:

Oh and my granddaughter loves the beach and art (she is a very talented young artist herself)

 

2 hours ago, Clip said:

How do I get my granddaughter more interesting in birding?

You might try suggesting that your granddaughter incorporate birds into her artwork. Who knows, maybe you can talk her into being your in the field artist and get her to sketch/draw/paint/etc the birds you're observing.

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46 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

 

You might try suggesting that your granddaughter incorporate birds into her artwork. Who knows, maybe you can talk her into being your in the field artist and get her to sketch/draw/paint/etc the birds you're observing.

She can actually earn scholarship money by incorporating birds into her art work but she doesn't. 😢

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Being in Florida City, obviously you will have close access to the Everglades. March should be a decent time, waders will be in close to viewing locations and there should be migrant song birds around. If your thinking of heading further south, I strongly recommend visiting Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West. One of my best days of birding ever was there. Lots of places to stop along the road to Key West... Blue Hole, Bahia State Park, and any little pull off from Rte 1. If sticking closer to Florida City, Miami is fun with the invasive species, Key Largo has some nice parks and there are lots of opportunities northward into Big Cypress.

 

Oh, and as for your granddaughter, keep trying! Some day something might click. We've been lucky with our young kids that they enjoy being outside and following us around birding. Not that they have a choice at 4 and 7 years old!

Edited by Skull Guy
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1 hour ago, Seanbirds said:

Isn’t that the first thing every birder thinks of when they think of Florida??!!?? :classic_laugh:

And it's something I don't think they should. There are much better places to bird then the middle of a giant swamp, as I've learned from experience. It's worth it to go once, but after that, I would suggest heading to other costal locations, as there will be better variety of habitats and passerines.

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On 2/22/2021 at 11:03 AM, IKLland said:

I can’t help much, the only thing I know is that when the report comes, I’m gonna be jealous.......

I hope so but birding is never predictable! I have taken long trips and come home empty handed.🤞

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/23/2021 at 2:58 PM, Skull Guy said:

Being in Florida City, obviously you will have close access to the Everglades. March should be a decent time, waders will be in close to viewing locations and there should be migrant song birds around. If your thinking of heading further south, I strongly recommend visiting Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West. One of my best days of birding ever was there. Lots of places to stop along the road to Key West... Blue Hole, Bahia State Park, and any little pull off from Rte 1. If sticking closer to Florida City, Miami is fun with the invasive species, Key Largo has some nice parks and there are lots of opportunities northward into Big Cypress.

 

Oh, and as for your granddaughter, keep trying! Some day something might click. We've been lucky with our young kids that they enjoy being outside and following us around birding. Not that they have a choice at 4 and 7 years old!

Ft. Zachary is on my list for sure. I booked a Schooner trip for one of our days. It is only 1 1/2 hour long. What are my chance of seeing some of the ocean birds? Blue hole also on my list. It has a Black-faced Grassquit hanging out there that I want to see and possibly a couple of other rare birds.

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On 2/23/2021 at 7:21 PM, Seanbirds said:

Isn’t that the first thing every birder thinks of when they think of Florida??!!?? :classic_laugh:

It is! I have been in the Everglades once before and saw nothing I can't see else where. Of course, you can't judge by one trip but my research in ebird isn't showing anything on my Florida's needs list. There is one place on the out skirts of the glades that is on my list.

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On 2/23/2021 at 1:16 PM, blackburnian said:

Early May/late April is decidedly the best time to do Tortugas. I assume you could charter a boat but the easiest access is via the ferry. Additionally, Key West is a considerable distance from FL City. I have some experience birding down that way. What are you target species? 

Consider this a scouting trip for a return visit in May. I think this May for the ferry is already booked. But, we may go any way this May and either hope to see some birds off the beaten path so to speak or find another way there. Yes, from Florida City is 2 1/2 hours to Ft. Zachary Taylor. But, we are early risers.

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On 2/23/2021 at 8:23 PM, Connor Cochrane said:

And it's something I don't think they should. There are much better places to bird then the middle of a giant swamp, as I've learned from experience. It's worth it to go once, but after that, I would suggest heading to other costal locations, as there will be better variety of habitats and passerines.

I completely agree!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/22/2021 at 11:03 AM, IKLland said:

I can’t help much, the only thing I know is that when the report comes, I’m gonna be jealous.......

Pretty sure you wouldn't be too jealous of this particular trip. The main point of going was to see birds I do not already see in North Florida. While I did see a few I'm afraid there were too many distractions for serious bird watching. I came away with just 3 life birds. But two of those were rare birds any where in Florida so that is cool. Both pictured below. The Least Grebe completes my North America Grebe species list. I have now seen them all which is pretty cool. Then the Black-faced Grassquit was cool too. I only got one photo of it. I got a bunch of the grebe. The 3rd life bird was a Short-tailed Hawk which I didn't get a photo of as we were in the car with no place to pull over. I did add at least one Butterfly to my Butterfly life list (Julia Heliconian) maybe two I haven't got one identify for sure yet.

Saw a few lizards I had not seen in North Florida or in previous trips south. Saw a couple of snakes but nothing new I don't think. I do not know my snakes that well.

The scenery was awesome once we got far enough into the Keys. The water color is beautiful. Where I live in Northeast Florida the water is dark gray or brown I'm guessing due to river water spilling into the ocean from the St. John's River which is stained by cypress trees.

The trip all things considered was a fun adventure but it was not without hiccups and birding ended up taking a back seat.   

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On 3/13/2021 at 9:42 AM, Clip said:

Saw a few lizards I had not seen in North Florida or in previous trips south. Saw a couple of snakes but nothing new I don't think. I do not know my snakes that well.

You could PM me on any herp ID’s you’re not sure on if you’d like.

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On 3/13/2021 at 10:57 AM, floraphile said:

Native-Floridian hubby says Everglades good for herping and mosquitos, not so much for birds.

If you want incredible photo opportunities of wading-type birds, it’s the place to be. I had La Sagra’s Flycatcher down there last year as well, but I agree there are better places for variety in Miami-Dade. 

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4 hours ago, blackburnian said:

If you want incredible photo opportunities of wading-type birds, it’s the place to be. I had La Sagra’s Flycatcher down there last year as well, but I agree there are better places for variety in Miami-Dade. 

He may have an ulterior motive in telling me that.  Because I might make him take me.  

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