WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Sat, 22 Jan 2022 05:12:40 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Jake Mohlmann reports from a successful return to Argentina</p> 2022-01-21 11:08:21 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We just navigated through a hugely successful trip across the southern cone of South America on our latest Argentina expedition. This extensive tour covered the vast pampas grass and wetlands, wind-swept Patagonian steppe, and southern beech forests enshrouding the southern tip of the continental Americas. The scenery was always stunning, and many of the abundant varied habitats offered were thoroughly explored providing an amazing array of regional specialties. One such rarity was the near-endemic Band-tailed Earthcreepers seen on multiple days at Punta Tombo and along the dusty 2-tracks outside of El Calafate. Visiting the barren landscapes around Rio Grande on the island of Tierra del Fuego provided up close and personal views of both juvenile and adult Magellanic Plovers. This year we saw them from the comfort of our comfortable sprinter van as we pulled up to a lakeshore and closely observed this unique shorebird of the southernmost reaches of the planet. The famed Valdez Peninsula seems barren, but the shoreline is filled with life including several colonies of breeding Southern Sea Lions and the bird species that utilize the chance at this ephemeral meal source, such as the 20 Snowy Sheathbills we tallied. Our unforgettable boat trip down the Beagle Channel was filled with nesting pelagic birds including thousands of Magellanic and Imperial Cormorants raising their sea-bound young. Raptors were seen daily and often next to the roadsides. One particularly photogenic species was Cinereous Harrier, sometimes at eye level and quite close. As one heads south the tree line gets lower in elevation. As a result obtaining views of birds normally seen high up with little oxygen are much easier to accomplish. As was the case for an unbelievable encounter with a male Yellow-bridled Finch braving the steep scree slopes outside of Ushuaia. All this makes it hard to believe we packed in so many amazing experiences in just 2 short weeks in southern South America.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="591" height="443" /></p> <p>Our excited group after seeing an enormous ice chunk slough off the Perito Moreno Glacier</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Near-endemic Band-tailed Earthcreepers crossed our paths</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Magellanic Plover; A Magellanic Plover feeds on the shores of a salty lagoon</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Snowy Sheathbill and Southern Sea Lions; A Snowy Sheathbill feeds on an afterbirth in a Southern Sea Lion colony</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Imperial Cormorants and Ushuaia; Productive Imperial Cormorant colonies along the Beagle Channel</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>A Cinereous Harrier gave us multiple amazing photograph opportunities</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>This Yellow-bridled Finch came within a meter of some lucky tour participants</p> <p>Rich Hoyer completed his wonderful Christmas in Oaxaca tour recently.</p> 2022-01-07 09:42:42 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>It can&rsquo;t have been a surprise that the <strong>Red Warbler</strong> was mentioned by the most participants as one of their favorite birds on this year&rsquo;s Oaxaca at Christmastime tour &ndash; it&rsquo;s always an arresting sight to see such a jewel in the pine-oak forests.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="652" /></p> <p>The first one we saw was up high and difficult, the second was a bit better but in the dark forest understory, the third was brilliant and gorgeous, the fourth was just as cooperative, and then we saw a fifth and realized that there might be too much of a good thing.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="830" />&nbsp;</p> <p>So we turned our attention instead to a Golden-browed Warbler and flock of Dwarf Jays until we were drawn by the stunning beauty of a pair of <strong>Princely Tiger Moths</strong> mating in the middle of the road.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="736" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Birds from the drier parts of the Oaxaca Valley included great views of the Mexican endemic <strong>Boucard&rsquo;s Wren</strong>, not quite as cactus-bound as our own Cactus Wren, but certainly reminiscent of its close cousin.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The Covid situation in Mexico was taken very seriously, even though case numbers were quite low during our visit. As a result, the radish carving competition of <strong>Noche de R&aacute;banos</strong> was officially canceled only a day before the event on December 23. Nevertheless, at the last minute, we heard that some were being displayed at various hotels and caf&eacute;s, and we got to visit three and learn from their creators about the process and symbolism portrayed in their art.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="411" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Presumably another casualty of the pandemic was the non-announced closure of Yagul ruins, but we did get to enter the fascinating and more modern <strong>ruins of Mitla</strong>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The <strong>studio of the master rug weaver Nelson Perez Mendoza</strong> was open for business, and we gratefully received a brief explanation of the natural fibers and dyes he uses in the yarn for his award-winning and truly inspirational weavings, some of which we then either coveted or bought.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="473" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Our three-day side trip to Tuxtepec was marred only by sunny weather&nbsp;&ndash; such beautiful conditions certainly make for comfortable birding, but they also result in a lack of flock activity at higher elevations. No matter the weather, birds at the lower elevations were as busy as ever, and the sun also created perfect soaring conditions, allowing for the addition of a rare <strong>Gray-headed Kite</strong> to the master list for this tour, which now includes 17 years of data.</p> <p>Gavin Bieber completed his 3-tour traverse of Panama with a stay in the Darien region</p> 2021-12-16 10:51:13 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our 2021 <a href="">Panama Darien</a> tour immediately followed the western trip through the Chiriqui Highlands and Bocas del Toro.&nbsp; The vast and sparsely populated Darien Province in the far east of the country contains some of the most remote and wild lowland and montane wilderness remaining in Central America.&nbsp; Our base for the week was the very comfortable Canopy Camp.&nbsp; We spent several days exploring the camp trails and various spots along the end of the Pan-American highway, where patches of forest and more open fields revealed widespread birds such as Chestnut-headed Oropendola and the hard-to-actually-see Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant as well as more localized ones such as the impressive Barred Puffbird, Greater Ani, and the globally scarce Dusky-backed Jacamar.&nbsp; Near the town of Yaviza which sits at the terminus of the Pan-American Highway we tracked down the only known pair of Bicolored Wrens on the continent and enjoyed a vocal and visual show from the always charismatic Donacobius.&nbsp; The grounds around the camp were excellent for hummingbirds, and we enjoyed multiple views of species such as Long-billed Starthroat, Violet-bellied Hummingbird and the incredibly cute Rufous-crested Coquette.&nbsp; A few stray non-birds crossed our path too, such as this incredibly attractive pair of Rainbow Ameivas, and a host of interesting insects like this pair of Carmine Skimmers.</p> <p>On one day we took boats out into Embera territory past the end of the road which gained us access to a recently discovered Harpy Eagle nest, surely the highlight species of the trip for most.&nbsp; Over the course of the week we encountered 263 species of birds including 15 species of antbirds, an impressive 13 species of herons and 35 species of everyone&rsquo;s favorite bird family; the new world flycatchers!&nbsp; These areas in the Darien are little explored and I am sure that the creation of a comfortable lodge here will produce a lot of new discoveries.&nbsp; I very much look forward to returning next fall!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>Canopy Camp Common Area</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="603" /></p> <p>Chestnut-headed Oropendola</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="483" height="541" /></p> <p>Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="640" /></p> <p>Barred Puffbird</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="292" /></p> <p>Greater Ani</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="427" height="613" /></p> <p>Dusky-backed Jacamar</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="648" height="404" /></p> <p>Bicolored Wren</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="461" height="567" /></p> <p>Donacobius</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="422" height="620" /></p> <p>Long-billed Starthroat</p> <p><strong><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="414" /></strong></p> <p>Violet-bellied Hummingbird</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="624" height="419" /></p> <p>Rufous-crested Coquette</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="754" height="347" /></p> <p>Rainbow Ameivas</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="960" /></p> <p>Carmine Skimmers</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="570" /></p> <p>Harpy Eagle</p> <p>Gavin Bieber has concluded our recent Panama: Western Highlands and Bocas del Toro tour</p> 2021-12-16 10:40:25 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>The <strong>2021 WINGS trip to <a href="">Western Panama</a></strong> wrapped up to great acclaim.&nbsp; It&rsquo;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.&nbsp; 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.&nbsp; 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.&nbsp; 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. &nbsp;</p> <p>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.&nbsp; 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&rsquo;s Motmot, Spot-crowned Euphonia and Silver-throated Tanager.&nbsp; I very much look forward to returning to this dynamic and bird-rich region annually!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>semi aquatic town of Bocas, Panama</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>travel is by boat</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="401" /></p> <p>Red-billed Tropicbird</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="561" /></p> <p>Three-wattled Bellbird</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="516" /></p> <p>Collared Plovers on the beach at the mouth of the Changinola River</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="345" height="640" /></p> <p>Resplendent Quetzal</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="515" height="640" /></p> <p>White-throated Mountain-Gem</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="744" /></p> <p>Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="501" height="640" /></p> <p>Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="640" /></p> <p>Panama-style Thanksgiving feast at Los Quetzales Lodge</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="469" height="640" /></p> <p>Lesson&rsquo;s Motmot</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Spot-crowned Euphonia</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="483" /></p> <p>Silver-throated Tanager</p> Lesser Antilles 2021-11-22 09:44:46 Will Russell Recently updated tours These 10 stunningly beautiful Caribbean islands form the eastern border between the placid Caribbean Sea and the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Each tropical island gem is separated by turquoise seas and boasts rich wetlands, vast open grasslands, dynamic coastlines and lush tropical rainforests. These diverse habitats are home to a lengthy list of highly threatened single-island endemics and near endemics along with a host of indigenous regional specialties. 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. Global Birding Event 2020-11-18 16:36:51 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>The Global Birding Event held on 17 October proved to be an amazing success. 32,790 people took part around the world and between them recorded an incredible 7111 species through The combined number of species seen by the WINGS/Sunbird team was 595 and the event as a whole raised in excess of $30,000 for Birdlife International. But perhaps its greatest achievment was pulling together all those birders around the world and it was wonderful to be part of something so big - we are already looking forward to next year&rsquo;s event. You can read all about the big day and see all the statistics at&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p><br />If you would like to contribute to Birdlife&rsquo;s continued work trying to end the senseless trade in wild birds, donations can be made direct to Birdlife International by clicking&nbsp;<a href=";_gac=1.263092478.1605609806.Cj0KCQiAhs79BRD0ARIsAC6XpaWdmnCHNWNrgH8DrANdTglJf2eWDxGmaF1GerJ8B_aerYSre8OBpsYaAntrEALw_wcB"><strong>here</strong></a>.</p> 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. Scotland 2020-02-06 10:39:20 Will Russell Recently updated tours The Scottish Highlands are one of the last truly wild places to be found in the United Kingdom. Ideally placed to explore the region, the imposing Grant Arms Hotel is home to The Birdwatching and Wildlife Club which provides its own Club room with a wildlife information centre, a bookshop and a natural history library. It also has a large lecture theatre which hosts evening talks from a range of guest speakers.