Well it’s 7:45 AM Saturday April 9th and I’m stuck in the American Airlines Boing 757 waiting to take off for Miami. The pilot has just informed us that one of the employees just found a piece of the airplane on the ground! Maintenance is looking at the problem. That’s reassuring. This trip to the Dry Tortugas has had an unsettling beginning. To gain full benefit of the whole trip, one must enter Ft. Jefferson, which is a National Monument I went to sleep last night assuming that the government would shut down and that most likely we wouldn’t be permitted to enter the fort. Unfortunately that’s were all the trees and shrubs are. The fort can be dripping with weary migrants northward bound from Cuba or South America. Included among these migrants might be a West Indies castaway such as Bahama Mockingbird, Bananaquit, and Key West Quail Dove just to name a few. So the shutdown was averted just before midnight, which is good news.
And now the bad news. Here’s the update. The flight was canceled. We were told to leave the plane, gather our luggage and return to ticketing to reschedule. What a drag! That’s the way it is now days. One thing goes wrong and your whole schedule is jacked. Anyways, it’s now 7:30 PM Dallas Time and I’m in flight to Miami with an estimated arrival of 10:40 PM . I’ll rent a car and drive to Big Pine Key. That’s 100 miles from the Miami Airport, which wouldn’t be so bad EXCEPT the speed limits in the Keys are 45 mph and at the cops are crawling all over the place. Well I can get seep tomorrow. I’m to be on the boat at 6:00 PM tomorrow for Larry Manfredi’s Dry Tortugas Tour. We’ll sleep on the boat and sometime early Monday morning will push off into the Gulf Stream for a circuitous route to the Dry Tortugas. If all goes well we’ll pick up pelagic birds in the Gulf Stream. Shearwaters, storm-petrels and terns, maybe even a White-tailed Tropicbird.
We’ll then spend parts of three days exploring the various keys that make up the Dry Tortugas returning to the boat to sleep Monday and Tuesday evenings. After a final exploration of Ft. Jefferson Wednesday morning we’ll return to Stock Island via a more direct route. There’s no telephone or internet service so I won’t be able to post to the blog. My current plan is to write a piece each night and then upload all at once Wednesday evening.
For those interested in the lists I’m keeping, I’ve updated my 2011 projections. Currently my year total sits at 453 species. The projected total at the end of this trip is now 475 species. What matters most is picking up the rarities that are restricted in North America to the Tortugas. Stay tuned. I’ll post again as soon as possible.