WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Sun, 20 Aug 2017 23:29:26 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Rich Hoyer on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Brazil: Marvelous Mato Grosso</a></p> 2017-08-01 12:16:48 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>This year&rsquo;s Marvelous Mato Grosso tour was amazing. Each of the four areas we visited provided indelible memories of fabulous birds, mammals, and other critters. On our first stop at the Chapada dos Guimar&atilde;es we connected with most of the cerrado specialties such as Coal-crested Finch and Chapada Flycatcher and enjoyed the marvelous scenery and the best food of the tour at our wonderful lodge nestled in the middle of the national park. Among the favorite birds we saw there was the stunning Helmeted Manakin.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="516" /><br /><em>Helmeted Manakin</em></p> <p>Cristalino Jungle Lodge was even more amazing, and we&rsquo;ll probably never repeat this year&rsquo;s unbelievable sightings of Crested and Harpy Eagles in the same week. The former we discovered perched in large trees close to a trail, being mobbed by toucans, aracaris, and woodpeckers, and we had it in the spotting scope right over our heads before it flew, landing on an open branch for an even better view. Three days later, the Harpy was found by two of the boatmen running an errand, and guide Diego sped 20 minutes upriver to fetch us; remarkably the bird stayed on its riverside perch for at least 45 minutes, and we got there just in time &nbsp;(one minute!) to marvel at this monster of a raptor.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="440" /><br /><em>Crested Eagle</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="466" /><br /><em>Harpy Eagle</em></p> <p>Then came our time in the Pantanal, with so many birds and animals, and all so much easier to see than those in the Amazonian forests. The Jaguar experience was unbeatable and the best we&rsquo;ve ever had &ndash; on three outings upriver from our hotel we spotted five different individuals, with excellent views of all, one even successfully catching a small caiman as we watched. With each animal&rsquo;s spots like an individual fingerprint, we were amazed to discover that these were all different individuals than any of those seen on the previous seven tours we&rsquo;ve taken here &ndash; now totaling 24 jaguars. The birding was fabulous too, with White-naped Xenopsaris, Hyacinth Macaw, and Great Rufous Woodcreeper among the favorites, but we were especially lucky to have one stunning Scarlet-headed Blackbird perch next to the Transpantaneira on our way back north.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="434" /><br /><em>Jaguar</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="721" /><br /><em>Scarlet-headed Blackbird</em></p> <p>We finished the tour with an extension to Foz do Igua&ccedil;u, then transferring to the Argentinean side for birding and visiting Iguaz&uacute; Falls. The falls were as spectacular and beautiful as imagined, as we birded our way to three different viewpoints. A Blond-crested Woodpecker, Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher, Rufous-capped Motmot, and Black-fronted Piping-Guan were some of the highlights in the area, but we saw many other attractive, more common birds such as the stunning and unusual Magpie Tanager in the national park where they have become acclimated to people on the trails below.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Iguaz&uacute; Falls</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="464" /><br /><em>Magpie Tanager</em></p> <p>In the end we saw or heard a mind-boggling 560 species, and I&rsquo;m already looking forward to next year.</p> Guyana 2018 price reduced 2017-07-12 14:08:26 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>Our tour to <a href=""><strong>Guyana</strong></a> in 2018 has experienced a price reduction. There has never been a better time to go to this little-explored country tucked away in northern South America. A few spaces still remain on this tour. We'd love for you to join us!</p> <p>Derek Lovitch on his just-completed tour, <a href="">Maine and New Hampshire</a></p> 2017-07-11 12:49:18 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We recorded 157 species, including 19 species of warblers, eight species of flycatchers, seven thrushes, five terns, and four alcids. Saltmarsh and Nelson&rsquo;s Sparrows in the coastal salt marshes and Bicknell&rsquo;s Thrushes at 5,000 feet highlighted the first two days. Boreal birding yielded specialties such as Spruce Grouse before we ventured offshore to visit with Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Black Guillemots, and so much more. Breathtaking scenery. Great food, especially lots of fresh lobster. A couple of Moose, too. Yes, this is how the birding life should be!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Spruce Grouse males are arguably the most stunning of all the grouse</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills taking a short break from their breeding responsibilities</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br />These Northern Gannets, here with Common Murres, may be prospecting a new breeding site</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>The perfect dinner...lobster steamed for 12 minutes and served outside with melted butter and lemon</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Moose are in steep decline in northern New England so we felt lucky to see this one</em></p> <p>Gavin Bieber, Jon Dunn and Jake Mohlmann on the <a href="">Alaska Majesty Extensions: The Pribilofs and Barrow</a></p> 2017-07-10 13:24:12 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>The Pribilof Islands were amazingly productive both for the diverse and stunning complement of breeding alcids, fulmars and kittiwakes that clog the island cliffs in the summer, and for wanderers from Asia.&nbsp; Views of birds like Tufted Puffin or the diminutive Red-legged Kittiwake are daily occurrences here.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="708" /><br /><em>The unparalelled Tufted Puffin</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="385" /><br /><em>Handsome Red-legged Kittiwakes, here with a Black-legged Kittiwake, are a north Pacific specialty</em></p> <p>Certainly not a daily occurrence was this lingering Marsh Sandpiper, perhaps the best of a great suite of vagrants including Common Snipe, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Tufted Duck and Hawfinch.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="486" /><br /><em>This long-staying Marsh Sandpiper was a welcome sight.</em></p> <p>Our post tour extension to the high arctic north slope around Barrow was superlative, with repeated views of all four species of Eider in excellent plumage including dazzling Steller&rsquo;s and vaudevillian King, a ghostly white male Snowy Owl, and foraging Sabine&rsquo;s Gulls just feet away from our van.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>King Eider males are extraordinary</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="436" /><br /><em>Steller's Eider populations have declined in recent years but they still grace the tundra at Barrow</em></p> <p>Here though it is the shorebirds which dominate, as they are in active display during the onset of their breeding season.&nbsp; Watching the astonishing Pectoral Sandpipers call and strut around like grouse, or the very approachable Red Phalaropes in their gaudy summer dress is always a treat.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Courting Pectoral Sandpipers add a dramatic aspect to a species we normally see creeping around muddy pools</em></p> <p>These two outposts act as a perfect complement to the mainland tour, offering excellent views of some of the hardest to find breeding species on the continent, and truly unique scenery.</p> <p>Gavin Bieber on his and Jake Mohlmann's tour, <a href="">Alaska: Majesty of the North</a></p> 2017-07-05 12:22:51 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>A very mild winter coupled with the apparent failure of many Arctic breeders made a few species hard or impossible to find but, as if in compensation,&nbsp;<span>above average sunshine and temperatures virtually everywhere made for a gloriously comfortable tour. &nbsp;</span>We started with a drive to Denali National Park, finding both Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers feeding in a recent burn. The Park itself was as always extraordinary with stunning landscapes at every turn and a wilderness that seems to stretch on forever.&nbsp; Here we found mammals of the north such as Grizzly Bear, Reindeer and Moose, and as well several cooperative Spruce Grouse. Nome combined the best of Alaska with riveting scenery and great birds. We had close Long-tailed Jaegers, point blank views of Willow Ptarmigan, an unusually high number of range-restricted Aleutian Terns, lots of Arctic Warblers...and very few mosquitoes. &nbsp;Resurrection Bay, this year with ample sun, was almost impossibly beautiful with Humpback Whales, Orcas and Bald Eagles really putting on a show, and close sightings of Kittlitz&rsquo;s Murrelets. The towering forests around Seward were filled with the song of Townsend&rsquo;s Warblers, Varied Thrushes and pugnacious little Golden-crowned Kinglets.</p> <p>The variety and abundance of birds and other wildlife on this tour is staggering, and contribute to what must be one of the most spectacular birding tours in the world.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>The Denali Highway offers endless and spectacular scenery</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>A herd of Reindeer stroll through Denali National Park</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Moose are common and often hard to see...but not in this case</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Spruce Grouse, once you find them, are not shy</em></p> <p><em><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Elegant Long-tailed Jaegers dot the tundra at Nome</em></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>This year, Nome's Aleutian Terns gave particularly good views</em></p> <p><em><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Our day on Resurrection Bay is always a highlight</em></em></p> <p><em><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="415" /><br /><em>A Kittlitz's Murrelet at close range</em></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="457" /><br /><em>Townsend's Warblers are common in the Sitka Spruce around Seward</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="404" /><br /><em>It's not every day one sees the full crown on Golden-crowned Kinglet</em></p> Study in White: Polar Bears and Ivory Gulls of Svalbard 2017-06-21 15:00:25 Will Russell Recently updated tours The Norwegian island of Svalbard, or Spitsbergen, is full of spectacular landscapes and wildlife. It lies within a stone&rsquo;s throw of the North Pole, at around 80 degrees latitude, with twenty-four-hour sunshine for the entire summer. Our new cruise, with Oceanwide Expeditions (See &ldquo;Notes&rdquo; below), will explore this wonderful destination, with a particular focus on finding two of the planet&rsquo;s most stunning Arctic residents: Polar Bear and Ivory Gull. The supporting cast will include numerous jaegers, Great Skua, Reindeer, Walrus, millions of seabirds, and a sprinkling of whales and seals. <p>Evan Obercian on his just-concluded tour, <a href="">Minnesota and North Dakota: North Woods to Prairies</a></p> 2017-06-19 15:24:40 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>This year&rsquo;s Minnesota and North Dakota tour was a delight, with lovely summery weather and a great abundance of breeding birds in full form.&nbsp; In a little over a week&rsquo;s time we covered a wide range of habitats, from eastern broad-leaf forest, to boreal bogs and fens, to short-grass prairies and cattail-filled pothole lakes.&nbsp; Among the many highlights were stunning views of singing Connecticut Warbler, a daytime singing Northern Saw-whet Owl, multiple Ferruginous Hawks, close scope views of Baird&rsquo;s and Henslow&rsquo;s Sparrows, a Chestnut-collared Longspur nest with eggs, and a fledgling Sprague&rsquo;s Pipit flushed from the grass while an adult sang overhead.&nbsp; We also had a great encounter with a wolf!</p> <p>We thank Peter Schneekloth for providing the following images from the tour.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /> &nbsp;</p> <p>A few pairs of Great Gray Owls nest in the bogs north and west of Duluth.&nbsp; We were particularly lucky this year to locate a family group on our first evening in Sax-Zim Bog, even witnessing two fledglings being fed by an adult.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Among the more sought-after boreal zone species, this Yellow-bellied Flycatcher provided a wonderful study.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>It&rsquo;s not always easy to find Sharp-tailed Grouse in June, but this one seemed reluctant to enter the wet grass one morning, remaining in the road for prolonged views</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Of the 23 species of breeding warblers encountered on our tour, it&rsquo;s difficult to say which is the most remarkable, but the Cape May, being a bird of true boreal spruce forest, is always among the most exciting.&nbsp; We find them on only one day of our tour, in the spectacular forests of Lake County, Minnesota, where they are quite numerous.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Upland Sandpiper is an increasingly scarce bird of America&rsquo;s grasslands.&nbsp; It wasn&rsquo;t until our final day of birding that we managed to locate several in a well-managed prairie in western Minnesota.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Uganda: Shoebills to Gorillas 2017-06-19 15:22:37 Will Russell Recently updated tours Uganda is the jewel in the crown of East Africa, generally recognized as having some of the best remaining forest in Africa and with it some truly remarkable birdwatching. Our first taste will be a search for the enigmatic Shoebill at the edge of Lake Victoria. We&rsquo;ll continue our journey to the papyrus-fringed lakeshore of Lake Mburo National Park, renowned for its mammals and birds, including White-backed Night-heron. The wonderful Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a magical place of mists, hanging mosses, and luxuriant vegetation, and it is also where we&rsquo;ll see some of the rarest and most exotic birds of the trip. However, it will probably be a mammal that is uppermost in people&rsquo;s minds here. Over half the world&rsquo;s population of Mountain Gorillas can be found in this forest, and during our stay there will be the option to take part in a guided trek to search for a group of these magnificent animals. In Queen Elizabeth National Park we&rsquo;ll encounter a variety of habitats more typical of East Africa along with an equally varied array of birds and mammals. In Kibale Forest we&rsquo;ll be surrounded by birds as well as some of the eleven species of primate, including Chimpanzee, and in the rainforest at Budongo Forest Reserve we&rsquo;ll explore the famous Royal Mile, a wide pathway through the forest that simply drips with birds. We&rsquo;ll conclude at Murchison Falls National Park, where we&rsquo;ll take to the water, not only to visit the spectacular Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile but with another chance to appreciate the unique Shoebill in its papyrus home. The Solomon Islands 2017-06-05 13:57:29 Will Russell Recently updated tours The Solomon Islands archipelago stretches from Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, in a southeasterly arc across the Pacific. Consisting of several large islands and numerous small ones, many of which are uninhabited, it is a must-see destination for serious birders. The archipelago is known for endemics, especially among pigeons, monarchs, fantails, myzomelas, and white-eyes. It also has a couple of near legendary flightless rails and some of the least-known birds on the planet. This tour, while visiting a number of the main birding sites within the Solomons, concentrates on areas that are most easily accessed. We&rsquo;ll see a good selection of Solomon Island endemics, but it won&rsquo;t be possible to reach a number of high-altitude specialties because of difficult terrain and steep trails. Some of our accommodations will be basic with limited facilities.&nbsp; Derek Lovitch's newly published guide to birdfinding in Maine 2017-04-28 14:45:35 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>WINGS leader Derek Lovitch is the lead editor of a newly published book titled <strong>Birdwatching in Maine: A Site Guide. </strong>This is a great new resource for finding birds throughout this beautiful state.&nbsp;The state&rsquo;s wealth of undeveloped land and its extensive coastline, countless islands, and varied habitat combine to host an impressive diversity of birds at all times of year. Birders travel to Maine from near and far to seek hard-to-find species, from the only Atlantic puffins breeding in the United States on offshore islands to Bicknell&rsquo;s thrushes high in the mountains.</p> <p>Derek leads two tours for WINGS to this region of the US; <a href="">Maine Coast in Fall</a> and <a href="">Maine and New Hampshire</a>.</p>