|The Yankee Freedom III|
|The bow of the YFIII|
The journey out of Key West was and remains, 70 miles on quite a bumpy sea, Thank heavens I don't get sea sick. Unfortunately for our little squad, the hurling masses included stalwart soul, Steven. He had the tenacity to stick it out, even though going in, he knew it was going to be rough. The man is quite the trouper!
|Approaching Fort Jefferson on the Garden Key|
|The Garden Key dock|
|Larry scoping for the Black Noddy|
|View of Fort Jefferson, as we headed |
back from looking for the Noddy
|Over the moat and into Ft. Jefferson|
|Bedraggled little Barn Swallow|
|Lots of grounds in the Fort interior|
|The entrance in the interior of the Fort|
The birds can seem 'tame' as did the female Hooded Warbler below. She hopped around at eye level in one of the trees (seen above). I got the photo below from distance with my long lens. The pink knobs on the lower right of the photo are the knuckles of another birder who walked right up to the bird for phone photo.
|Female Hooded Warbler|
|Cute little biddie; Grey-cheeked Thrush|
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Ovenbirds, Yellow, Magnolia, Black and White, Black-throated Green Prairie and sundry other Warblers, with Kingbirds littered about. Hungry Cattle Egrets strolling around on the lawns like they owned the place.
|Scattering of Eastern Kingbirds|
Overhead Frigatebirds surveyed the grounds, and various raptors paroled for their lunch. I saw one Peregrine Falcon, a few Merlin and many Sharp-shinned Hawks.
|Tyrant of the Tortuga: Peregrine Falcon|
Really, the fierce-some little Sharp-shins were everywhere and I've never had a better opportunity to get action Sharpie pics. I shot one swooping bird just outside the fort, getting many interesting shots of the bird sailing past tourists.
|Sharpie swooping past tourists that did not notice the bird|
It was interesting to hear Larry say that for all his b'jillion trips to the Tortugas he has never seen a Cooper's Hawk. Wow! That thought should keep me up nights wondering.
It occurs to me - as it rarely does - I ought to show pics of the grounds itself, however bird free, as the Fort is awesome. I probably spent an hour or so wandering about on my own. Everywhere there were birds and history. The view below faces where rangers are boarded as well as where a Northern Waterthrush hopped around the underbrush.
|Facing Ranger's Quarters|
|Remnants of old barracks with 'case-mates' or gun rooms in the rear|
|Hot Shot Furnace|
|Bottom of Hot Shot Furnace, where cannon balls emerged|
|Larry crossing 'Large Parade Magazine' whatevertheeff that is|
|One of several 'chugs' or escape boats at the Fort|
|The winding stone stairwell|
The views from the top of the Fort are marvelous.
|View from 2nd landing of stairwell on the way up|
|The view, stepping out of the stairwell - that's cannon 'dead' center|
|Looking back at the cannon and the lighthouse|
|Looking north past the moat|
Larry took up a post in front of the Fort lighthouse, setting his spotting scope towards Long Key.
There, huge flocks of Brown Noddys and Frigatebirds swirled. A peregrine dive bombed the isle, which kept the birds on their toes... or rather on their wings.
|Frigatebirds and Brown Noddies by the Long Key|
|Coaling Dock with its Noddys and a scattering of terns/gulls|
|Four Brown Noddys|
Enlarged, teensy bit better view of Masked Boobys
I spent the trip back to Key West on the ship's bow, hoping to see a Bridled Tern. Oooo had I gone to the top deck with Larry and the others I'd have seen my lifer. Rats! Oh well, another time.
|Sooty Tern on the return to Key West|
|My 'ride' in 1998, the original Yankee Freedom|
I can't believe I'm even posting this, but here I am, or was, back in 1998. Note the fat knees and massive grin.
How old is this photo? Note faint ratchet marks along the the top, from the negative I scanned this from, not to mention, notice I'm wearing a watch. Do you even remember what watches are?
On that trip, our boat load were the only tourists on the Garden Key for three days, save for other tourists at the Garden Key's campground. My group would return to the Yankee Freedom for meals and for sleeping at night. Daytime we'd tour the Garden key sometimes returning on board to boat around the Tortugas to view its Tortuga islands, such as the Hospital Key. One day we snorkled on the shores of the Loggerhead Key.
|Male Frigatebird, art by David Sibley|
One morning we took turns ferrying to the Bush Key for a closer view of the Brown Noddys and nesting Frigatebirds. The male Frigates had massive, & rather obscene looking red throat pouches with which an equally obscene noise was produced. All that and I got NO photos as I had nothing more than a 25 mm lens back then.