WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Thu, 26 Jan 2023 15:40:44 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Jake Mohlmann reports from Argentina</p> 2023-01-26 12:37:28 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We just wrapped up another WINGS tour through southern Argentina covering several distinct habitats like the vast wind-swept steppe, southern beech forests, and the dry monte desert.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="1280" height="963" /></p> <p>Our excited group in front of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Calafate. </p> <p>One of the reasons to come to this part of the world is to see the Magellanic Plover, the only member of its unique family resembling a tiny dove pirouetting on wind-swept shorelines. Not only did we have the best views ever of this species in the morning light, we quickly realized the reason we got so close was because of two golf ball-sized chicks running for cover amongst the rocky substrate. </p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="429" /></p> <p>An adult Magellanic Plover with chick nearby. </p> <p>Waterfowl is a constant presence no matter which habitat we explore, with flocks of some species into the hundreds. Roughly 30 species were encountered on the trip. This year was by far the best year for not only viewing numbers of Spectacled Ducks, but getting extremely close too.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="418" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Spectacled Ducks in Tierra del Fuego National Park. </p> <p>The <em>Nathofagus</em> forests of southern Patagonia host a unique palette of species endemic to this particular habitat. Perhaps the most sought after is the Magellanic Woodpecker, South America&rsquo;s largest and darn good looking too! We had searched for over half the day for this species in Los Glaciares National Park and just before we were going to throw in the towel, our driver mentioned seeing a pair fly in near where he had parked. Lucky for us they were still in the area and we were able to take endless pictures of both male and female of this coveted creature. </p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="366" /></p> <p>This male Magellanic Woodpecker aflame atop a snag. </p> <p>Argentina doesn&rsquo;t boast the numbers of endemic bird species that some South American countries do, but the ones they have are quite special. We were excited to see the endemic White-throated Cacholote, a large member of the furnariid family, defending its well-constructed nest with gusto just outside Puerto Madryn. After walking through a nesting colony of thousands of pairs of penguins, the trail at Punta Tombo led us to the coast where another pair of Argentine endemic White-headed Steamer-Ducks rested on the rocks. </p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="410" /></p> <p>The endemic White-throated Cacholote near its nest.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="417" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A pair of White-headed Steamer-Ducks endemic to this region. </p> <p>Mammals are always a highlight on any trip through Patagonia. There were several highlights among the 17 species we saw including a very confiding Argentine Gray Fox. A pair of these &lsquo;false foxes&rsquo; were stretched out across the road outside Punta Tombo. They were so approachable in fact those who wanted got out of the van and got quite close for a serious dose of photographs.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="408" />&nbsp;</p> <p>an Argentine Gray Fox lounging in the road. </p> <p>Most of the reptiles, especially the snakes, that we see tend to be roadkill at some point during the trip meeting their demise from unsuspecting drivers. Due to the temperatures being in the perfect range this year we got to see a couple live ones, including a monte desert endemic Mousehole Snake crossing the road at Punta Piramides. </p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="606" height="480" /></p> <p>A docile Mousehole Snake on a dusty road. </p> <p>A constant wanderer around the breeding Southern Sea Lion and Elephant Seal colonies is the Snowy Sheathbill. This odd bird is the custodian of the mammal groups, frequently cleaning up scraps of afterbirths and carcasses. It was a good year for this species. A sign of good times, or maybe bad? </p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="396" /></p> <p>Snowy Sheathbill walks through the Sea Lion colony.</p> <p>Jared Clarke reports from our recent <a href=""><strong>Newfoundland in Winter</strong></a> 2023 tour</p> 2023-01-25 16:08:28 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>The first of two &ldquo;Newfoundland in Winter&rdquo; tours this year was held January 7-13, with five excited birders braving the elements to enjoy some wonderful winter birding. Participants traveled from across the United States to enjoy the diversity of northern species that call this island home, and they were not disappointed. <strong>Dovekies</strong> had been scarce so far this season, but our group&rsquo;s persistence paid off and we eventually found several throughout the week &ndash; including close-up views of one very obliging bird in a sheltered boat harbour.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="730" height="521" /></p> <p>We also enjoyed great looks at a Thick-billed Murre loafing on the waters of Conception Bay, and several Razorbills battling much rougher seas of the open North Atlantic. Sought-after birds like Purple Sandpiper, <strong>Tufted Duck</strong>, Black-headed Gull and Great Cormorant were on full display almost daily, and Boreal Chickadees popped in to visit as we strolled forest trails.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="730" height="521" /></p> <p>A <strong>Pink-footed Goose</strong>, a rare visitor from Europe, was an added highlight everyone and a &ldquo;lifer&rdquo; for most.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="730" height="521" /></p> <p>We enjoyed seeing numerous seals, including two extremely handsome <strong>Harp Seals</strong> lounging at a yacht club.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="730" height="521" /></p> <p>An exciting encounter with three <strong>Willow Ptarmigan</strong> and a beautiful Rough-legged Hawk on the snow-covered tundra rounded off a fantastic week of winter birding at the edge of the continent!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="730" height="521" /></p> <p>Also seen on this tour were:</p> <p><strong>Bohemian Waxwings</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="" alt="" width="730" height="521" /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Eurasian Wigeon</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="" alt="" width="730" height="521" /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Black-headed Gull</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="" alt="" width="730" height="521" /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Steve Howell reports from the completion of his ever-popular <strong>San Blas, Mexico</strong>, tour.</p> 2023-01-17 10:54:45 Wings Staff Field Reports <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /></p> <p>Cloudless blue skies every day and warmer than usual temperatures made for a wonderful remedy to the cold and rain across much of North America and Europe. One day we started with this pair of Collared Forest-Falcons posing on a palm frond,</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Followed by this elegant male Elegant Quail.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;</p> <p>While another day ended with close-up and personal views the bizarre Northern Potoo.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The boat trips are always fun, this year with good numbers of Bare-throated Tiger-Herons</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" />&nbsp;</p> <p>And great views of nesting Wood Storks...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Plus the bonus of Yellow-breasted Crake, only discovered in the area in 2022.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Colima Pygmy-Owls were more numerous than usual, and we had to walk away from this endearing fluffball.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="425" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Bat Falcons continue to maintain their presence in the area and were one of 20 species of raptor we encountered in a fabulous and fun winter getaway, which was over all too soon&mdash;I&rsquo;m already ready to go back in 2024!</p> <p>Steve Howell and Luke Seitz report from their recent <strong>Tasman Sea Cruise between New Zealand and Australia</strong>.</p> 2022-12-21 13:26:00 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Before the actual cruise our pre-extension around Melbourne introduced us to many austral delights, such as the aptly named Superb Fairy-Wren...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" /></p> <p>And the bizarre Tawny Frogmouth, here on a nest with its young.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Then to the cruise proper, which proved highly successful, with birds ranging from gadflies to parrots, and often we were able to watch from the bow...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" /></p> <p>Where seeing this Wandering Albatross one minute...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" /></p> <p>And this Red-tailed Tropicbird only three minutes later reinforced the mixed pelagic habitats we traversed.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Notably notable were the 11 species of gadfly petrels (genus <em>Pterodroma</em>) we encountered (of some 36 tubenoses in total), including the handsome White-headed Petrel</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p>Here with Striped Dolphins in the background</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p>And the poorly known Pycroft&rsquo;s Petrel,</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Here in direct comparison with the notoriously similar Cook&rsquo;s Petrel.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p>On land we enjoyed close views of two iconic New Zealand Parrots, the notorious Kea...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p>And the subtly multicolored Kaka</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Plus the vocally arresting and visually stunning Tui, a large honeyeater.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Various other species ranged from the elegant Royal Spoonbill</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" /></p> <p>To the scarce New Zealand Falcon,</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="660" height="528" />&nbsp;</p> <p>But ultimately it was mostly about seeing oceanic birds in their element, the Southern Ocean, from a stable platform.</p> South Africa: The East 2022-11-18 12:09:59 Will Russell Recently updated tours South Africa has long been considered a prime birding destination and our Eastern South Africa tour offers an incredible experience of one of Africa&rsquo;s most ecologically diverse countries. Our route will draw us from sea level at the Indian Ocean coast to above 9400&rsquo; along Sani Pass in the Drakensberg escarpment, a route which will provide us with a sampling of a host of habitat types and bird communities. Susan Myers has a new book out about bird names 2022-11-07 11:04:22 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>Listen to a podcast interview with Susan on the ABA website <a href="">here.</a></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="505" height="764" />.&nbsp;</p> Zambia 2021-10-25 10:37:16 Will Russell Recently updated tours Zambia is a wonderfully scenic country in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa with numerous parks and safari areas.&nbsp; It is also unusually diverse biologically, and&mdash;although under birded&mdash;has one of the largest bird lists in Africa, surpassing 750 species.&nbsp; We&rsquo;ll visit a range of habitats, each with its own set of species, beginning in the extreme northwest corner on the border of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This remote area, rarely visited by tourists, offers a chance to see many Congo Basin species normally inaccessible to birders. From here we&rsquo;ll travel south towards Kafue National Park, one of the largest parks in Africa, with its extensive Miombo woodlands interspersed with grassy depressions called &ldquo;Dambos.&rdquo;&nbsp; Here we may see the highly localized Black-cheeked Lovebird and very likely some of Africa&rsquo;s iconic mammals. Continuing south we&rsquo;ll stop near Choma for the endemic Chaplin&rsquo;s Barbet, before spending the last couple nights in the Lower Zambezi Valley where we&rsquo;ll target the iconic African Pitta, one of Africa&rsquo;s most sought-after birds. The Solomon Islands 2020-09-23 16:36:25 Will Russell Recently updated tours The Solomon Islands are one of the few remaining places where one can well and truly get away from it all. Many of these islands support only tiny coastal villages where the main mode of transport is dugout canoe and where fishing on reefs by hand is commonplace. They are very much off the tourist map and, until recently, have been difficult and expensive for birders to reach, and the Solomons are worth reaching. The tour of these islands and the optional extension to the islands of the Western Province offer the opportunity to see more than 70 endemics and more than 20 near endemics (also found on other Melanesian islands), in addition to a large number of regional specialties.