WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Thu, 18 Jul 2019 02:38:16 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Susan Myers on her recently completed tour, <a href="">Japan in Spring</a></p> 2019-07-17 11:39:31 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our spring Japan tour is all about the endemics which means a lot of island hopping! We started our journey at Karuizawa on Honshu. In spring the forests resonate with the songs of newly arrived migrants. We had great luck with handsome Japanese Green Woodpeckers and Yellow Bunting. Exploring nearby fields, we found a number of species that prefer more open areas, including Green Pheasant, Chestnut-eared Buntings, Bull-headed Shrikes, and Eurasian Skylarks.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;<br /> <small><em>Green Pheasant</em></small></p> <p>Our next destination was that Japanese icon, the almost perfect Mount Fuji. This year she was magnificent during our stay as she burst through some early morning cloud. We explored the slopes of Fujisan and found Japanese Accentors, as well as many gorgeous Red-flanked Bluetail in stunning breeding plumage.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /> <small><em>Red-flanked Bluetail</em></small></p> <p>Heading to Miyakejima in the Izu Islands we were ably assisted by my friend Hitomi san and found all our targets&ndash; Izu Thrush, Iijima Leaf Warbler, Japanese Wood Pigeon, Japanese Robin, Winter Wren and Owsten&rsquo;s Varied Tit. The highlight of our stay here was the highly restricted Styan&rsquo;s Grasshopper Warbler, which showed amazingly well.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /><br /> <small><em>Styan&rsquo;s Grasshopper Warbler</em></small></p> <p>On Okinawa we immersed ourselves in the quiet and very beautiful forests of Yanbaru National Park that protects so much of the island&rsquo;s unique flora and fauna. Our two main targets &ndash; the Okinawa Rail and Pryer&rsquo;s Woodpecker cooperated very nicely, with a total of 17 rails seen!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;<br /> <small><em>Okinawa Rail</em></small></p> <p>Our next island hop was further south to the delightful island of Ishigaki. Here we met up with a local naturalist, Kobayashi san who knew all the spots and we drove right up to Ryukyu Scops Owl and Northern Boobook, Malaysian Night Heron and Ryukyu Serpent Eagle, which all posed perfectly for us. Ruddy Kingfishers seemed to be everywhere!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="427" height="640" />&nbsp;<br /> <small><em>Ryukyu Serpent Eagle</em></small></p> <p>Our last stop was the lovely, laid back island of Amami ƌshima where we explored the convoluted backroads meandering through the forests not just for birds but for the remarkable short-eared Amami Black Rabbit. We found elegant Ryukyu Flycatchers (split from Narcissus, and rightly so), Ryukyu Minivets, and Red-capped Green Pigeons as well as Lidth&rsquo;s Jay and a family group of five Amami Woodcocks.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="432" />&nbsp;<br /> <small><em>Amami Woodcock</em></small></p> <p>Fabrice Schmitt and Pierre Defos Du Rau on their recently completed tour, <a href="">France: Birding à la Française - Birds, Wine and Cheese in Southern France</a></p> 2019-07-16 09:08:43 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>After years of scouting little restaurants and testing local wines, we finally decided we were ready to propose a &lsquo;Birding &agrave; la fran&ccedil;aise&rsquo; tour...and it has been great fun!</p> <p>We had fantastic encounters including stunning views on a male Black Grouse displaying atop a little pine tree in the Vercors, an impressive Eurasian Eagle Owl hunting by daylight, a group of Great Spotted Cuckoo surprising us with amazing views at very short distance in Camargue,</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;<br /><small><em> Great Spotted Cuckoo</em></small></p> <p>superb views of the colorful European Bee-eater, elegant Scopoli&rsquo;s Shearwaters seen so well from our ferry on the way to Corsica, and finally fantastic views of the very local Corsican Nuthatch and Marmora&rsquo;s Warbler in Corsica.&nbsp;<br /> <img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><small><em>Greater Flamingo</em></small><br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="374" /><br /><small><em>European Bee-eater</em></small><br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="439" /><br /><small><em>Corsican Nuthatch</em></small></p> <p>Beside birds, we also had great memories of our splendid picnics during which we tested more than 15 different kind of cheese, several p&acirc;t&eacute;s, hams, sausages and other sort of charcuterie, always coming with excellent bread and, obviously, fantastic wines.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="853" /><br /><small><em> A splendid picnic</em></small></p> <p>The stunning flowering alpine meadows, the vast Camargue marshes and the dramatic Asco valley in Corsica were just a few of the many scenic places we travelled through during this succulent tour. We are already looking forward to the next edition!<br /> <img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /> <small><em>The Asco valley</em></small></p> Senegal 2019-06-24 09:20:06 Will Russell Recently updated tours Africa&rsquo;s Sahel region is vast and surprisingly undervisited by western birders. Sandwiched between the Sahara Desert to the north and the lush forests of Upper Guinea to the south, it consists mostly of dry savannah and semi-deserts but also supports some of West Africa&rsquo;s most important wetlands. The Sahel holds a wealth of special birds not easily found elsewhere, and Senegal offers the most easily accessible route into this remarkable region. New Mexico in Winter 2019-06-10 13:51:24 Will Russell Recently updated tours Riverine cottonwood stands along the Upper Rio Grande River, expansive fields and ponds where countless waterfowl and cranes spend the winter, large lakes attractive to wintering waterbirds, and snowcapped mountains swathed in conifer forest form the backdrop as we explore the central corridor of New Mexico. Along the way we&rsquo;ll witness one of North America&rsquo;s greatest wildlife spectacles, as tens of thousands of geese, ducks, and cranes fill the air at Bosque del Apache NWR. We&rsquo;ll also be able to study New Mexico&rsquo;s many wintering sparrows and raptors, and hope to encounter all three species of North American rosy-finch, which are not easily accessible elsewhere together in winter. Northwest Ohio: Spring Migration 2019-06-04 15:46:36 Will Russell Recently updated tours Branded as the &ldquo;Warbler Capital of the World&rdquo;, Northwest Ohio and the famous Magee Marsh boardwalk are one of the best areas to witness spring migration in North America! The convergence of several migration routes, the bird-blocking effect of Lake Erie, and a fine mix of habitats combine to produce a remarkable number and diversity of Neotropical migrants. Nearly all woodlots will be filled with song as breeding males near their northern breeding grounds. Raptors and shorebirds should also be passing through in numbers, while we will be able to catch up with a good number of lingering waterfowl as well. This is a migration spectacle well worth experiencing! Upcoming Publication: The Birds of Gambell and St. Lawrence Island 2019-05-31 10:58:46 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>Western Field Ornithologists is publishing Paul Lehman&rsquo;s book, <em>The Birds of Gambell and St. Lawrence Island</em>,&nbsp;in fall 2019. This WFO Special Publication will certainly be a valuable resource for many who visit this island on birding tours. All those with an interest in patterns of vagrancy, Alaskan birds, and eastern Palearctic migrants will want to get their hands on this book. You can read the book's <a href="">synopsis here</a>.</p> Just released: Oceanic Birds of the World: A Photo Guide by Steve Howell and Kirk Zufelt 2019-05-30 17:19:16 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>It&rsquo;s here! Advance copies of Steve Howell and Kirk Zufelt&rsquo;s ground-breaking (wave-breaking?) new book, <em>Oceanic Birds of the World: A Photo Guide</em>&nbsp;have just reached the US, with the main shipment scheduled to arrive in a month or so. This state-of-the-art photo field guide has been 30+ years in gestation but when finger hit keyboard took &ldquo;only" 4 years to pull together. Splits include 10 species of Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, 3 Brown Boobies, and much more&hellip; For more info see:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>Gavin Bieber on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Arizona: Owls and Warblers</a></p> 2019-05-28 13:06:42 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>This year&rsquo;s May tour fell in the middle of a mild and wet spring with temperatures significantly lower than average and migrant birds dispersed widely at all elevations including the greener than usual desert floor. Since it&rsquo;s an owls and warbler trip our highlights often come from those groups. &nbsp;Among the nine species of owls detected, the cooperative Spotted Owl and inquisitive Whiskered Screech-Owl were memorably close.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="677" /><br /><em>Spotted Owl</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="392" /><br /><em>Whiskered Screech-Owl</em></p> <p>As always, the warbler show was excellent, with our favorite local species likely the Red-faced Warbler.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="377" /><br /><em>Red-faced Warbler</em></p> <p>We also managed excellent views of several scarce border species such as nesting Black-capped Gnatcatchers and Buff-collared Nightjars, as well as the handsome Five-striped Sparrow which showed well at the south end of California Gulch.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="455" /><br /><em>Five-striped Sparrow</em></p> <p>As usual, hummingbirds are a focus of the tour as well, and we found seven species including several showy Blue-throated Hummingbirds.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="436" /><br /><em>Blue-throated Hummingbird</em></p> <p>We particularly enjoyed the nesting pair of Rose-throated Becards along the Santa Cruz River.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="429" /><br /><em>Rose-throated Becard</em></p> <p>Combining a wide array of spectacular birds &ndash; 206 species this year, I think &shy;- with a nice supporting cast of mammals, reptiles and butterflies, and with fantastic desert landscapes, Southeastern Arizona always seems to provide a truly excellent tour!</p> <p>Luke Seitz on his recent tour, <a href="">Guatemala</a></p> 2019-05-22 16:09:41 Wings Staff Field Reports <p class="p1">Our tour to Guatemala this year was nothing short of spectacular &ndash; it&rsquo;s difficult to articulate just how much fun we had. Of course, I always try to make my tours sound as good as possible in the write-up...maybe embellishing just a little bit, or glossing over the more challenging days. For this tour, the only challenge will be finding enough unique superlatives to use in describing our outrageous views of rare and difficult birds, the great sense of humor shared by everyone in the group, and the memories of a trip that will go down as one of the best I&rsquo;ll ever do!</p> <p class="p1">We started off with some easy highland birding around the historic city of Antigua (with regional specialties like Blue-throated Motmot, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, and our first Pink-headed Warblers) before heading west towards Huehuetenango. The weather on the high plateau is unpredictable but our time here was beautiful, allowing for a full morning of birding among the pines and junipers with abundant Goldman&rsquo;s Warblers&hellip;</p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="365" /><br /><em>Goldman's Warbler</em></p> <p class="p1">...and before long, it was time to head even further west, birding for two days on the slopes of Volc&aacute;n Tacan&aacute;. The bamboo was seeding, so amazingly, we enjoyed mega views of a singing Maroon-chested Ground-Dove in the scope for fifteen minutes! Wow &ndash; arguably one of the most difficult and unpredictable species in the Neotropics.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="Apple-converted-space"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="412" /></span><br /><em>Maroon-chested Ground-Dove</em></p> <p class="p1">One of the most sought-after species for any birder visiting Guatemala is the unique Pink-headed Warbler. It&rsquo;s a fairly common bird, and it&rsquo;s not too difficult to find a couple pairs in a morning of birding&hellip;but we were hardly expecting to see over SIXTY individuals in just a couple hours! We didn&rsquo;t get bored of this stunner, though.</p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="383" /><br /><em>Pink-headed Warbler</em></p> <p class="p1">Heading back east, we worked our way through various other birding locations in the highlands, with highlights too numerous to list&hellip;Fulvous Owls perched right over our heads, Azure-rumped Tanager singing in the scope, Bar-winged Orioles, Black-crested Coquette, outrageous views of White-faced and White-eared Ground-Sparrows, Slender Sheartail, Belted Flycatcher&hellip;our luck simply never ended. As our time in the highlands wrapped up, we looked forward to the Tikal extension&hellip;would our perfect trip continue? Unequivocally, yes, with cooperative Pheasant Cuckoos and Tody Motmots&hellip;</p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="412" /><br /> <em>Tody Motmot</em></p> <p class="p1">&hellip;and, most unexpected of all, JAGUAR! An adult quickly crossed the road in front of us, followed by this youngster, which paused for a solid 15 seconds as our group stared in disbelief. It&rsquo;s difficult to describe the adrenaline rush and excitement that come with seeing a big cat in the Neotropics. Heart pounding, goosebumps, and nausea were all among my symptoms. Wow &ndash; I wonder what next year&rsquo;s tour will hold?!</p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="429" /><br /> <em>Jaguar!!</em></p> Peninsular Malaysia 2019-05-13 16:55:06 Will Russell Recently updated tours About 720 bird species have been recorded in peninsular Malaysia, and a large proportion of these are resident, many unique to the area&rsquo;s lush tropical rainforest. Our short tour revolves around three nights in cool highlands at Fraser&rsquo;s Hill, where the first migrants from the north augment the local avifauna, and four nights in the superb Sundaic lowland forest of magnificent Taman Negara, Malaysia&rsquo;s largest national park. We&rsquo;ll be targeting some very special birds, including Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant, Great Argus, Rail Babbler, Giant Pitta, Bamboo Woodpecker and Ferruginous Partridge. This wonderful country remains one of the birdiest in Southeast Asia thanks to a system of excellent, well-protected nature reserves, and its multicultural population, modern infrastructure, great food and small towns with old-world charm help make Malaysia a comfortable and memorable birding adventure.&nbsp;