Florida trip report header

This holiday was a bit different from usual. I normally have to make significant compromises to accommodate my non-birding wife but this holiday was my 40th birthday present - I could pretty much make it a birding holiday if I wanted (which of course I did).

We'd have gone last year but I'd worked out that the second half of April was the best time to go as spring migration would be peaking, and last year commitments in England prevented me from going at this time. So I'd had plenty of time to look forward to it, and it didn't disappoint!

We covered most of the key birding sites in southern Florida but unlike a lot of birders who visit Florida we didn't go as far north as Merritt Island. We could have squeezed that in but I decided it would be better to give ourselves plenty of time at each area plus a bit of flexibility at the end to 'clean up' on anything missed.

The icing on the cake was a trip out to the Dry Tortugas. I didn't fancy camping but I wanted to stay there longer than would have been possible on a day trip - and that meant going on a tour and staying on a boat. Having enquired about a couple of options I chose Larry Manfredi's tour, and I think that was an excellent choice. Not cheap by any means but it was an unforgettable experience, the memories of which I shall cherish for a long time. As well as the birds, the boat (our hotel and transport) was comfortable, the food was the best all holiday and the company was excellent.

My two previous trips to North America were both on the west side (California and British Columbia) so there were a lot of new birds for me in Florida. In total I saw 185 species (excluding non-countable exotics) of which 84 were completely new to me.

As usual there are two parts to this report:

Itinerary - details and maps of the sites visited in diary form with summaries of the bird highlights but no bird photos

Systematic list - full details of all the birds and other wildlife seen with lots of photos

Feedback is always welcome - feel free to get in touch (especially please let me know if you find any errors).