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From the Home/From the Field

December 16:

Gavin Bieber has concluded our recent Panama: Western Highlands and Bocas del Toro tour

The 2021 WINGS trip to Western Panama wrapped up to great acclaim.  It’s surely a testament to the diversity of habitats and of birds that exist in this relatively small geographic area that over the course of eight birding days we detected 341 species between the Caribbean lowlands and Pacific-slope Highlands.  We started out in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, where the semi aquatic town of Bocas served as our access point to the idyllic Tranquillo Bay Ecolodge.  Traveling largely by boat we ventured out to other islands and the adjacent forested lowlands where we were introduced to a wealth of birds and other animals amid the picturesque archipelago and humid Caribbean foothills.  A few of the trip highlights from Bocas and the lowlands this year include the displaying pairs of Red-billed Tropicbirds at a small offshore colony, a male Three-wattled Bellbird just a few hundred yards from the lodge, and the Collared Plovers on the beach at the mouth of the Changinola River.  

The second half of the trip found us exploring the cool and heavily forested highlands around the impressive 11400-foot Baru Volcano where new birds like Resplendent Quetzal, White-throated Mountain-Gem, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher and Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl and a fantastic Panama-style Thanksgiving feast awaited.  Our last day was down in the pacific lowlands where we eventually caught a return flight to Panama City from the town of David, but not before finding a wealth of pacific slope birds and such local specialties as Lesson’s Motmot, Spot-crowned Euphonia and Silver-throated Tanager.  I very much look forward to returning to this dynamic and bird-rich region annually!

semi aquatic town of Bocas, Panama

travel is by boat

Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth

Red-billed Tropicbird

Three-wattled Bellbird

Collared Plovers on the beach at the mouth of the Changinola River

Resplendent Quetzal

White-throated Mountain-Gem

Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher

Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl

Panama-style Thanksgiving feast at Los Quetzales Lodge

Lesson’s Motmot

Spot-crowned Euphonia

Silver-throated Tanager

December 14:

Gavin Bieber reports from the famed Canopy Tower of Panama

Our short fall 2021 trip to the famous Panama Canopy Tower was packed with birds and several charismatic mammal species including almost daily visits to the tower from Geoffrey’s Tamarins and a Western Lowland Olingo.

Around the tower we located well over two hundred species of birds, including gaudy and overtly tropical birds such as Black-throated Trogon, Collared Aracari Orange-chinned Parakeet and Black-cheeked Woodpecker. Pipeline Road, a signature site for lowland forest in Central America was excellent this year, with point-blank views of Ocellated Antbird and Streak-chested Antpitta.

The day trip up to the (relative) highlands of Cerro Azul produced a wonderful Blue Cotinga, plentiful butterflies such as this handsome Sara Heliconian and a surprise in the form of this Fasciated Tiger-Heron.

This tour continues to impress me, as the diversity and richness of the region, paired with ease of access and the comforts and uniqueness of the tower make for a truly wonderful experience.

Collared Aracari

Western Lowland Olingo

Black-cheeked Woodpecker

Black-throated Trogon

Blue Cotinga

Sara Heliconian

Orange-chinned Parakeet

Ocellated Antbird

Geoffrey’s Tamarin

Streak-chested Antpitta

Fasciated Tiger-Heron

December 13:

Rich Hoyer recently finished an excellent tour to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

The birding in the Yucatan Peninsula on this year’s tour was simply fun. Everywhere were reliable numbers of our North American breeding species – Magnolia Warblers and White-eyed Vireos dominated almost every stop, but Northern Parulas, American Redstarts, Hooded Warblers, Least Flycatchers, and so many others made every stop a delight.

This Summer Tanager made it to the short list of favorites by being so cooperative.


Amongst all the migrants were good numbers of tropical residents, such as furtive Bright-rumped Attilas, chattering Red-crowned Ant-tanagers, primped Turquoise-browed Motmots, rambunctious Keel-billed Toucans, and this cheeky Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet that arrived to mob one of many Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls we found.

One thing that makes this region special are the regional endemics, and we saw all the expected ones – Yucatan Wren, Yucatan Gnatcatcher (the recent split from White-lored), Black Catbird, and many others. Mexican Sheartails were common this year, though the amazing color of the male’s gorget was visible only if the light was just right.

We also scored all the endemic species and the most distinctive subspecies on Cozumel with not too much trouble, and the Cozumel Vireo was a popular bird for the group. After having such great views of and listening to the song of this amazingly distinctive endemic subspecies of House Wren (Troglodytes aedon beani), we were all left wondering only when, not if, it will be split.

Water birds were a big part of this year’s tour, with our newly revised itinerary giving us a full day and a second morning in the Rio Lagartos area, where we tallied eleven species of heron and egret and 24 species of shorebird. A close comparison of Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs like this is quite a treat. (photo by Rich Bayldon)

We estimated well over 1000 American Flamingos on the salt ponds, and this pair provided for a racy moment as the male came up from behind and mated with the female while she continued to act as if feeding.

There was never a dull moment, with so many other interesting critters drawing our attention, such as polydesmid millipedes, two species of army ants, and colorful butterflies, such as this Northern Mestra.

Unlike the mainland species, the smaller and endemic Cozumel Raccoon was charming in its almost polite, demure way of asking for a handout.

December 9:

Luke Seitz has reported back from a successful trip to Guyana

We just wrapped up our Guyana tour in fine fashion, with over 400 species of birds and a long list of other highlights, from mammals to food to waterfalls.


It’s a stunning, birdy, welcoming country, perhaps my favorite tour to guide…starting off bright, with Toco Toucan in Georgetown…


…and quickly transitioning to the one of the stars of the entire trip, the must-be-seen-to-be-believed Guianan Cock-of-the-rock!! This year, at least a half-dozen males provided long scope views and photo opps…


…and not far from the scenery peak of the tour, the ridiculous Kaieteur Falls, apparently the largest single-drop waterfall in the world (by volume).

From here, we spent several days working through mixed flocks and eking out shy forest species, somewhat more challenging but certainly rewarding. Here’s a rare Long-tailed Woodcreeper that posed beautifully near Atta Lodge…


…and a silent Black-faced Hawk perched along one of the forest trails, oblivious to its excited onlookers!


Not everything in the forest was challenging, however…the Black Curassows at Atta Lodge are getting friendlier by the week, now brazenly running INTO the dining room at times!


One of the top birds of the trip was this Rufous Potoo, rare and enigmatic throughout its range. This is only one of a handful of known sites in the world, and although it required wet feet, it was well worth the pain. We stood transfixed as it gently swayed back-and-forth, as if to mimic a dead leaf in the breeze…


From the forest, we transitioned abruptly to birding in the extensive Rupununi savannah, where birds like Sun Parakeet and Red Siskin performed brilliantly. They were very nearly outshined by this glorious lunch on one of the final days of our trip, even more proof that Guyana is a simply wonderful destination. I’m already looking forward to the next tour!

November 21:

Jon Feenstra reports from southern Ecuador

This was my first time out of the country (or Southern California) since the onset of the pandemic and only my second trip away from home, so it was excellent to get back on the road again to southern Ecuador of all places, perhaps my favorite place to bird on the planet. I was joined by 7 equally eager birders. We enjoyed a marathon 16 days of birding, 517 bird species, and all of the parks, reserves, and great lodges that were happy to be back in business.

Southern Ecuador is a trip of extremes through elevations high and low, rainforests, deserts, tropical deciduous forest, paramo, mangrove forests, wetlands, and the expected diversity of birds that such a diversity of tropical habitats bring.

Here the group walks through the paramo of Cerro de Arcos, the isolated home of the Blue-throated Hillstar, a hummingbird only first discovered by birders in 2017.

We not only got to see the Blue-throated Hillstar quite close on its favored perch, we watched it feed on its obligate chuquiragua flowers and buzz around its territory.

Though the trail was a long muddy slog, we got up into the deep forest of the Tapichalaca Reserve to see perhaps the most famous bird in southern Ecuador, the spectacular Jocotoco Antpitta. 

Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan is another big, wild-looking thing of the high country. This one came in quietly and gave us a great view.

Lower down, Amazonian foothill specialties like this Foothill Stipplethroat intersected our birding travels in the lower Cordillera del Condor, an isolated tepui ridge along the Peruvian border. With the help of GPS, we found that the road actually crosses unmarked into Peru for about 500m, so we took the opportunity to stop and add some birds to our Peru list.

I was having too much fun watching things, so missed photo opportunities of some of the other highlights like Long-wattled Umbrellabirds on their lek, an Orange-throated Tanager glowing in the fog, Horned Screamers shuffling around, or the Watkin’s Antpitta nonchalantly poking around in the leaf litter. It was great to be back!

October 16:

Skye Haas reports from Cape May: 

Cape May, New Jersey is undoubtedly the capital of birding in North America, and WINGS' first visit since 2014 did not disappoint! A migration tour always makes a leader a touch nervous as unlike going to a fertile breeding area or a region where hordes of birds spend their winters, there is quite the roll of the dice to see if there will be favorable conditions for migration or not. But as it turned out, we rolled a natural 20 and our days were full of birds, mirth and pleasant weather! We tallied in an impressive 151 species of birds for the week with warblers (18 species), shorebirds (25 species) as well as great raptor flights and a handful of goodies that were not on our radar. Highlights we encountered included European Wigeon, Great Cormorant, 4 Roseate Spoonbills, Hudsonian Godwits, Avocets, Blue Grosbeaks and an afternoon that was just filled with Kestrels and Merlins winging their way southward. One day we got up early and took the Lewes ferry to Delaware where we saw our only Brown-headed Nuthatches of the trip and then experienced the shorebird bonanza of Bombay Hook NWR. Another morning we boarded a flat-bottomed boat to explore the coastal salt marshes with flocks of herons and egrets as well as saltmarsh specialties like the Diamondback Terrapin. One of the true delights of this tour is how little time we spent in the van. Most of our days we birded in a five mile radius, drifting from the Morning Flight Count to the Hawk Deck to enjoying flocks of Black Skimmers on the beach in front of our inn. Cape May is an adorable resort town and our evening meals were excellent with many participants bending towards the ample local seafood . And everywhere one went, there were groups of birders enjoying their Cape May experience like us. It felt like community, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s tour.

Cape May Warbler

Broad-winged Hawk

Great Egret

Diamondback Terrapin

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Monarch Butterflies

Cape May Lighthouse

Pine Warbler

Red-eyed Vireo

Roseatte Spoonbills

October 11:

Rich reports from the Madre de Dios region of Peru. 

The rainforest lodges of Madre de Dios were an abrupt but delightful change of pace from the first Peru tour, where we had been mostly in mountains of the neighboring department of Cusco. For one, it was warm and humid, though on two days we were under the influence of a late cold front, when the overcast skies and cooler temperatures were quite welcome.  

We walked every day, piling on the miles, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of this tour is being able to bird right outside our rooms. It was right there when we heard a ruckus from inside a dead, hollowed-out palm trunk, and we looked up to see this Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl indignantly poking its head out of the top.


Another treat was walking the same trails on multiple days – and discovering how different they can be from one day to the next. On our first pass by a large tree dropping red fruits to the ground, a group of Pale-winged Trumpeters approached and put on quite a show. The next time we passed there, a stunning Plum-throated Cotinga sat just under the canopy for extended views. And on a third visit we flushed a Ruddy Quail-Dove off its nest with two eggs, right next to a stunning cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis) that was dropping its flowers all around the tree. 

And yet on another pass on the same trail, this female Cream-colored Woodpecker perched at eye-level very close to the trail and sat there for an extended time, seemingly unafraid of our presence.


We birded one of the closer trails to the lodge several times in search of its bamboo specialties, and we were surprised on one morning by a pair of very quiet Rufous-capped Nunlets low in the vegetation right off the trail. 

Then again there were some reliable birds, such as the lek of Band-tailed Manakins which showed well when we stood still near their favorite display area, and on our second stop they were even more cooperative. Or the pair of Great Jacamars that we found along the same stretch of one trail on several days. We suspected they might have had a nest nearby.


Two surprises at Los Amigos were a rare Brown-banded Puffbird that flew in quietly while we were scanning the canopy for a singing Western Striolated-Puffbird (which we ended up seeing on another day). Another was the scarce and very unpredictable Amazonian Parrotlet, which if found is usually just a quick-flying flock through the canopy. This year we saw pairs and multiple small flocks on five days, perched in trees and feeding right over the trails, offering great views of this bird that Don Stap wrote about in his popular book A Parrot Without a Name

The last days of birding at Tambo Blanquillo were a nice change of pace, starting with a long boat ride on the Madre de Dios river. We spent most of a morning at the famous clay lick. It was a thrill to see a flock of about a hundred Red-and-green Macaws take off in a deafening flight. They never did come down to feed on the dirt, but many other species did, including this collection of Blue-headed, Orange-cheeked, and Mealy parrots.


We had a delightful paddle around one of the oxbow lakes, where Pale-eyed Blackbird, dozens of Hoatzins, Greater Anis, Sungrebe, and many other species presented themselves. A favorite bird of the tour and a very lucky find was this lone Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, perched typically in the deep shade of the overhanging vegetation.


We also saw a fantastic variety of butterflies and other insects, frogs, and mammals, including nine species of monkey, many in abundance. Along one trail we looked up into a tree cavity only to see this sac-winged bat scramble out and perch in plain sight on the trunk.


The station science coordinator at Los Amigos was very generous with his time, and he showed us this White-lined Leaf Frog that had been roosting on the same leaf for a few days right by the office; here it is in the evening setting off to forage.

The tour ended with an impressive total of about 375 species of birds. And though no one took part in both tours, the total 20-day total came to about 650 species.

October 7:

Raymond reports from our Alaska - Fall Migration in Gambell tour:

Fall migration on the Bering Sea islands is unpredictable and exciting, as this tour proved yet again! Few things had changed at Gambell since our last fall visit, in 2019. Many ATVs had fallen into disrepair during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which made for some bumpy birding, but the locals greeted us with beautiful smiles on their faces, breathtaking ivory carvings, and were as welcoming as ever. A notable difference from our last trip was the presence of sunshine, very little rain, and many vagrant birds from Asia! We encountered all expected trans-Beringean migrants, including large flocks of White Wagtails and Northern Wheatears, two Eastern Yellow Wagtails, many Bluethroats (all without blue throats), and multiple small groups of Red-throated Pipits. Arctic Warblers were surprisingly scarce with only two very brief, very poor views.

The group boarding the plane to Gambell (Howell)

Group photo

Our list of rare Asian vagrants was impressive, with Siberian Chiffchaff, and Middendorff’s Grasshopper-Warbler, representing the most unexpected, both with fewer than 16 records for North America. The juvenile Middendorff’s Grasshopper-Warbler (right) was not merely seen, it was seen incredibly well, with extended scope views on open gravel – very uncharacteristic of the species. Perhaps it had just completed an open-ocean crossing moments before being found and was simply exhausted (most likey), or maybe Raymond scared it into sitting-still when he leapt from his ATV to document the fleeting bird upon initial discovery. Whatever the reason for the uncharacteristic behavior it was most welcome. It’s not often that you hear, “Middendorff’s is in the scope”, or even more impressive, “Middendorff’s is still in the scope!”                                               

Middendorff’s Grasshopper-Warbler

The list of vagrants doesn't stop there, in addition to the two megas, we encountered multiple Dusky Warblers, and three Siberian Accentors  during our routine boneyard stomps.


One of at least two Dusky Warblers seen on September 4th in the Far Boneyard

Siberian Accentor

Gray-tailed Tattler made us work hard this year, encountering Wandering Tattler on three occasions, before finally finding one along the west side of Troutman Lake on the day before departure. In general, shorebirds were few and far between on this tour but what views we did have were very nice. A favorite moment for many was enjoying a spectacularly plumaged Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (right) mousing its way through the grass, mere feet from the group, for upwards of 10 minutes.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Seawatch seemed slow overall compared to previous years, perhaps due to the slightly later tour dates, or maybe because we had fewer days of north winds. Despite lower species diversity than expected we still witnessed impressive migratory activity with Short-tailed Shearwaters gunning past the point in the thousands, beginning their journeys back to nesting grounds around Tasmania. Yellow-billed Loons were only seen twice, and not for long. Steller’s and King Eiders flew by but were always distant. We made up for these views with close encounters of King, Common, and Spectacled eiders around Safety Lagoon in Nome. Alcids of all shapes and sizes were seen most days at seawatch, with large groups of Horned and Tufted puffins barreling past most mornings. Least, Crested, and Parakeet auklets were seen mostly near their nesting cliffs, some of which were still attending burrows, but most of which were forming small, mixed species rafts offshore.

A small, and lucky, group of birders witnessed a male Snowy Owl fly right over the lodge late one evening while preparing for an evening of seawatch and sewage. Despite our attempts to track it down the runway, with ATVs at full speed, we were unable to refind it. Snowies are a rare sighting this time of year at Gambell, with encounters during only 4 of the last 14 fall trips.

Our group’s good fortune extended well beyond avian sightings as one morning, after a good hard boneyard stomp, we noticed a group of Rough-legged Hawks diving aggressively on something high on the ridgeline of Sivuqaq Mountain. They were persistent, and so were we, hoping to catch a glimpse of their aggravator. Before long an Arctic Fox appeared, running in short bursts along the ridge and then ducking to avoid the talons from above.

Arctic Fox

To top it all off, on the clearest night of our tour, all participants (and WINGS cooks, Debbie and Larry) were able to watch the aurora borealis dance about above the village of Gambell, while Steve and Raymond slept soundly in the annex, earplugs buried deep in their skulls, completely unaware of the atmospheric lightshow going on outside. It’s fine, we’re not jealous at all.

Aurora Borealis above Gambell

Ironically the clear skies that allowed for aurora viewing signaled departure for many of the migratory songbirds that we’d enjoyed during our stay and the next morning was very slow – everything comes with a price, but this was a welcome trade.

Congratulations go out to Gary Rankin for reaching an impressive milestone of 800 species for his ABA list while on this tour, and to Len and Cheryl as the winners of the 2nd annual “What Do You Call Your Clunker: ATV Naming Contest” who clunked into 1st place with their winning name of Middendorf’s Red-backed Aviraptor (Aviraptorix metallica gambelii, obviously).

Birders from the perspective of the Middendorff’s Grasshopper-Warbler

It was an absolute blast of a trip and I’m already looking forward to what next year holds. Hope to see you there!

 “Quu-qu” the juvenile Emperor Goose (pronounced “Coco” with a throaty quality) out for a stroll with its St Lawrence Yupik family. This bird was taken from a nest over the summer and is being raised as a pet. We hope to see it next year as an adult!

Winter is coming, as evidenced by this Arctic Ground Squirrel prepping its food stores. (Howell)

Frontal view of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper in the Ooynik Lagoons south of Troutman Lake.

Juvenile dark morph Pomarine Jaeger along the Ooynik Lagoon shoreline.

Siberian Chiffchaff in the far boneyard, can’t you tell? (Howell)

Lining up for a bit of “fun” at the Circular Boneyard, everyone’s favorite mid-morning activity… not! (Howell)

Your intrepid leaders, Steve Howell and Raymond VanBuskirk (Kay Hawklee)

Driving past the dump (Howell)

Not so white White Wagtail (Howell)

Not so yellow Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Howell)

Debbie and Larry Brooks, our fabulous chef and her bubble master. (Kay Hawklee)

October 1:

Rich Hoyer reports from our first tour to Peru since the start of the pandemic

Rich Hoyer reports from our first tour to Peru since the start of the pandemic, and everything went exceedingly well. Some of the lodges and hotels were running with a much-reduced staff, still rebuilding since opening back up to international tourists in July, but you wouldn’t have known it. Clean rooms, excellent meals, and well-maintained trails greeted us at every stop.

We hit the ground running with a full day in the high wetlands near Cusco and superb birding in the Sacred Valley, where a hummingbird feeding station with Giant Hummingbird, Shining Sunbeam, Black-tailed Trainbearer, and Tyrian and Scaled Metaltails was a highlight. We ended the day with this Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, which came in cooperatively for a tour first. The ruins of Machu Picchu were as fabulous as they promise to be, and while there we had a very close encounter with a pair of the lovely Inca Wren as we climbed through the bamboo to the upper platforms and their magnificent views. We then birded the forests along the Urubamba River and had wonderful views of this gorgeous Masked Fruiteater.

Peruvian Pygmy-Owl

Inca Wren

Masked Fruiteater

After birding the dry, rain-shadow side of the mountains north of Cusco, where we saw Mourning Sierra-Finch, White-winged Cinclodes, and Streak-backed Canastero, we dropped down through the moist cloud forests to Wayqecha Biological Station with its enchanting view of hillsides in all directions covered by pristine montane forests. We saw most of the specialties here, including a pair of Urubamba Antpittas at close range in the dark mossy understory. This Yungas Pygmy-Owl and this ridiculously fearless Puna Thistletail just down the road were among many other wonderful birds we saw here.

Yungas Pygmy-Owl

Puna Thistletail

One of the most exciting sightings of the tour was a mammal in the higher cloud forests at 2000 m elevation. We were in touch with a couple of regular WINGS clients who happened to be on a totally separate tour just a week ahead of us, and they spotted what turns out to be Brown’s Toró clambering into its mossy nest, a caviomorph rodent (that is, related to the guinea pig, capybara, agouti, spiny-rats, and not closely related to rats). What was most amazing is that this species was discovered only in 1999 (described in 2006), and the only evidence of its existence until this week was the lone type specimen in the Lima museum. We hope that some more details of its natural history can be learned from this amazing find.

Brown’s Toró 

Among the highlights at our mid-elevation stop were the Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek, Peruvian Piedtail at garden flowers, a pair of Squirrel Cuckoos on the roadside (one carrying a praying mantis back to their nest), a kettle of 87 Swallow-tailed Kites taking off from their night roost and heading south to winter in Bolivia and Brazil, and this male Versicolored Barbet accompanied by a female Silver-beaked Tanager at the lodge’s feeders.

Versicolored Barbet and a female Silver-beaked Tanager 

Our last birding lodge was Villa Carmen, where an explosion of tropical diversity greeted us, and the soundscape of so many birds singing was almost overwhelming. We saw over 100 species before lunch each day, with a glowing male Band-tailed Manakin getting the most votes for most memorable bird of the tour. Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Rufous-capped Nunlet, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl (nesting down in the top of a small, dead palm stem behind cabin 3), multiple Bluish-fronted Jacamars, Blue-throated Piping-Guan (with it’s amazing rattling wing display), Gray-cowled Wood-Rail in the trail almost at arm’s length, and this ear-piercing Red-throated Caracara putting on a show were just a few of the favorite sightings.

Red-throated Caracara 

Two new hummingbird feeding stations just up the road from Villa Carmen really filled out our birding list, one of them hosting 18 species at the feeder, including this amazing male Rufous-crested Coquette. A bonus there was Buff-tailed Sicklebill that came to its favorite heliconia that was growing off to the side of the garden.

Rufous-crested Coquette

Finally, among the exciting non-bird highlights were the amazing butterflies we saw everywhere. This minute metalmark Syrmatia lamia on our first morning at Villa Carmen was special, as this rarely seen species represents the first sighting in the entire Manu region, the most diverse area in the world for butterflies and also one of the most thoroughly sampled regions anywhere.

Syrmatia lamia 

I’m now heading onward for our Jungle Lodges of the Madre de Dios tour, where more fabulous birding and natural history experiences await us.

September 30:

Jake has wrapped up a successful Arizona and Utah tour

We just wrapped up the WINGS tour through northern Arizona and southwestern Utah. Over 2,000 miles of canyon country were explored from the cactus-studded slopes around Phoenix to the flexible limber pine trees at 9,000 feet in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Our group overlooking Bryce Canyon’s famous Amphitheatre.

In the 100 plus degree temperatures we decided to work the shoreline of Roosevelt Lake. We pulled close to the edge and within minutes a juvenile Sabine’s Gull landed just offshore. As we were trying to document the gull another bird slowly came to rest on the water right next to the gull. It was a complete surprise juvenile Long-tailed Jeager!

This Long-tailed Jeager found on tour, a first for Gila County.

California Condors were a highlight on this tour as we documented nine birds over 3 days. It was great to see this many of a species once on the verge of extinction. At one point we even saw a Condor set amongst throngs of other scavengers all waiting patiently for this big bird to open up the recently deceased.

A California Condor casts a long shadow.

The rushing waters of the Virgin River cut down through Zion Canyon with precision. We enjoyed strolling along the water’s edge and eventually found what we were searching for. An American Dipper was unusually approachable as we watched it foraging through the ripples.

American Dipper fed slowly amongst Zion’s cliffs.

Any and all migrant traps were checked and some of them were very productive. Flocks of warblers including Hermit, many sparrows including many Vesper, and singles of flycatchers such as Hammond’s were all utilizing these lush oases.

We saw several Hammond’s Flycatchers at migrant traps.

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