Welcome to my backyard--the Florida Keys! I'm a travel writer, blogger and photographer with a passion for all things Florida, especially the Florida Keys. These islands are so much more than Duval Street and Jimmy Buffet. They are rich in history, culture, cuisine, nature and events--all surrounded by pristine waters teeming with wildlife. Whether you're a local or a visitor, the Conch Republic has many surprises in store. Let me be your guide.
Birding enthusiasts will be migrating to the Florida Keys Sept. 25 through Sept. 30 for the 14th annual Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival. The Keys are a mecca for birdwatchers in the fall, as tens of thousands of our feathered friends wing their way to more hospitable wintering grounds. While the six-day festival will be anchored inCurry Hammock State Parkin Marathon, events span from Key Largo to Key West. Field trips are slated to national, state and private natural areas like the Dry Tortugas National Park, National Key Deer Refuge and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock State Park. Guided bird and butterfly walks, wildlife photography workshops, an environmental fair, the Florida Keys Hawkwatch, sunset sails and boat trips into the backcountry round out the festival.
Bill Thompson III, editor of Bird Watcher's Digest and author of several birding guides, will be the keynote speaker on Sept. 27 at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo and Sept. 28 at the Marathon Garden Club. He'll also lead several birding walks. On Sept. 30, Key West birding expert Mark Hedden and South Florida photographers Dick Fortune and Sara Lopez will lead two separate groups on one of the most popular tours — the daylong trip via ferry to the isolated Dry Tortugas, 70 miles from Key West. Birders will be on the watch for brown noddies, sooty terns, masked boobies and and magnificent frigatebirds that nest there, as well as southbound songbirds and raptors such as merlins and peregrine falcons. Don’t wait to sign up; many of the activities require advance registration and have limited space.