We have been a bit off the map for a bit. Not because anything is wrong, but just things have been a bit boring. Since sailing from Charleston down to Florida we have mostly been working on Harmonie and working with new owners of another Amel Super Maramu bring their “new to them” boat up to top shape. It has been kind of different from what passes for our usual routine, actually “commuting” to work every day!
Last week we took a break from that and left with Harmonie and our friends Aras and Vickers (from the Amel Sharki, Fiasco) and set sail for 10 days exploring. Our destination was Dry Tortugas National Park, about 50 miles west of Key West.
The most visited part of the park is Fort Jefferson, a very well preserved fortification from the mid 19th century that defended the United States’ access to the southern sea lanes between Florida and Cuba. It was never attacked, and with over 400 of the most advanced cannons of its day, it would have been essentially impregnable to any naval weapons of the time. It was built of 16 million standard red bricks that were sourced from all over the young United States. No, I did not count, I’ll trust the word of the park ranger. You can see across the structure the color variances of the brick, and the differences in quality of the mortar used as construction progressed.
For the Birds!
One of the delights of visiting the Dry Tortugas in the spring (or fall!) is it is located near the flyway of millions of birds as they make their way north for the summer breeding season. Birds of all kinds and from all over can be found resting here before resuming their journey. This is a problem for amateur and inexperienced birders like us: You can’t use geography to help narrow down the list of birds that are possible matches to what you are seeing.
There are very few types of birds that actually live or nest here, and they are all seabirds. Everybody else is just passing through.
Lots of Good Terns.
The Dry Tortugas might not have a large variety of birds that live here, but what they lack in variety they make up for in numbers.
The most dramatic of the local nesters is the Magnificant Frigatebird. A large and graceful bird that is a bit nasty. They are famous as “kleptoparasites,” making a good part of their living by stealing food from other birds. They also are nest robbers, grabbing eggs and chicks from nests while swooping by. This includes unattended nests of other frigatebirds!
The chicks are very slow developing, they are almost 6 months old before they fledge, and rely on their mother for food for almost a full year.