WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Mon, 03 Oct 2022 21:16:04 -0700 en daily 1 Eastern South Africa 2022-09-29 12:58:36 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. <p>Jake Mohlmann has just completed our always-popular Arizona & Utah tour and reports:</p> 2022-09-23 13:18:54 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>&nbsp;We just finished up our WINGS tour through northern Arizona and southern Utah, traveling just over 2,000 miles of paved and dusty roads, and coming across 205 species of birds while doing it. The scenery was simply stunning, and the wildflower show was spectacular throughout our entire journey proving the parched landscape received some good rains this year.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="594" height="440" /></p> <p>Our group enjoying Bryce Canyon&rsquo;s famous amphitheater.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="591" height="443" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Rains brought a rainbow over Canyon de Chelly&rsquo;s Spider Rock. </p> <p>A complete surprise occurred when the group found not one, but two different White-winged Crossbills high up on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. If accepted, this would constitute the third (and fourth) record for this species on Arizona&rsquo;s state list. Not an easy task considering how many birders cover this popular birding state every year.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="926" height="699" />&nbsp;</p> <p>This male White-winged Crossbill will likely be Arizona&rsquo;s fourth record. </p> <p>There were many migrant birds we crossed paths with during our adventure. The southwestern Willow Flycatcher was seen multiple days, as well as other <em>empidonax</em> species like Dusky and Hammond&rsquo;s. Even Say&rsquo;s and Black Phoebes were seen multiple days rounding out our large flycatcher list for the tour.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="648" height="403" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Hammond&rsquo;s Flycatcher strikes a beautiful pose.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="926" height="699" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A Black Phoebe reduces the fly population by one. </p> <p>Some days birds filled the skies. Whether it was flocks of American Robins plucking ripe juniper berries, or troops of Pinyon Jays flying over in formation, or even multiple sallying Townsend&rsquo;s Solitaires all utilizing the same perch. </p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="633" height="413" />&nbsp;</p> <p>This Townsend&rsquo;s Solitaire at Wenima was &lsquo;whisper singing&rsquo;.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="654" height="400" /></p> <p>Crissal Thrasher was seen well. A statement not said often! A major highlight was getting amazing looks at a Crissal Thrasher along the Arizona Strip. This species can be extremely difficult to get a look at, and seems to taunt birders as it calls incessantly only to remain concealed in frustration. </p> <p>Mammals tend to also be a highlight on this tour as it traverses latitudes from 1,100 feet in the Sonoran Desert all the way up to over 10,000 feet amongst alpine meadows and spreading coniferous forest. Although there&rsquo;s a chance to see two subspecies of Bighorn Sheep on this tour, we were elated to see one. A pair of rams were roadside first thing in the morning and didn&rsquo;t seem bothered with our presence.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="649" height="403" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A roadside ram Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. </p> <p>A lot of the small mammals are nocturnal, but the ones we normally get to see on this tour often include the small Utah Prairie Dog, ubiquitous Rock Squirrel and Gray-collared Chipmunk. This chipmunk is endemic to east-central Arizona and southwest New Mexico, and awfully cute.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="638" height="410" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Gray-collared Chimpmunk in the White Mountains.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cold-blooded creatures are few and far between once one leaves the desert, but we were lucky enough to add Plains Spadefoot Toad to the list at an ephemeral pond north of Flagstaff, as well as a Wandering Garter Snake at Sipe Wildlife Management Area.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="631" height="414" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Wandering Gartersnake sunning on a log. </p> <p>A highlight in the odonatan department was a huge Common Green Darner whose wings seemed to glitter metallically as it winged along Luna Lake&rsquo;s shore oblivious to the human onlookers wrought with admiration.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="616" height="425" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Common Green Darner seeking refuge amongst grass.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="599" height="437" /></p> <p>This Greater Roadrunner was a hit -- found while sunning in the early morning light.</p> <p>A major highlight was getting amazing looks at a Crissal Thrasher along the Arizona Strip. This species can be extremely difficult to get a look at, and seems to taunt birders as it calls incessantly only to remain concealed in frustration.</p> <p>Rich Hoyer reports from our second Mato Grosso/Cristalino tour in Brazil</p> 2022-08-31 09:41:54 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our second Marvelous Mato Grosso tour this summer was in reverse order, so our first six days of birding in the Pantanal was an almost overwhelming barrage of birds and animals.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="443" /> </p> <p>Though jaguar is certainly a target, even this modified itinerary was supposed to have saved this amazing animal for a Day 4 highlight. Yet before this tour was even six hours old, we jumped the gun by surprising a jaguar on the entrance road of our first lodge. The shy Nana, as we found she was named, had been seen only once before, photographed and named by researchers on a neighboring ranch only a couple weeks earlier.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="492" /></p> <p>Gray-cowled Wood-Rails were confiding and seen every day for a full week.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="402" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A Marsh Deer with a pair of Cattle Tyrant tick-eaters on its back posed nicely.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="432" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A Yellow Anaconda hunted along the side of the road, causing all passing vehicles to stop.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="436" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Our boat rides on the Cuiab&aacute; River resulted some fantastic experiences with families of Giant Otters.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="459" />&nbsp;</p> <p>And in the end, we did have more amazing jaguar sightings. This young male, named Hays, was bothered by all the deer flies and rambunctiously came down to the river&rsquo;s edge for a drink.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="390" />&nbsp;</p> <p>After the Pantanal, we made our way to Cristalino Jungle Lodge at the far northern end of the state, where Red-breasted Meadowlarks showed nicely on the road north of town.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="1334" height="750" /><br />Birding from the two canopy towers at Cristalino was a highlight here, and sunrise with this view over one of the richest ecosystems in the word was a sight to behold.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /></p> <p>From the tower we had great views of Red-necked Aracari.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="466" />&nbsp;</p> <p>At the top of the granite dome called Serra I, a pair of Eastern Striolated-Puffbirds responded readily to a whistled imitation of their sad song.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="446" />&nbsp;</p> <p>If you like colorful insects, the Amazon is the place to be. Vibrant puddle parties made up of several species of whites and sulphurs were often joined by various other species of butterflies.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="473" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A moth sheet had a few interesting things to see each evening, such as this curious moth called the Emeraldine.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="440" />&nbsp;</p> <p>During this hot, dry time of year, bird baths within the forest were a great place to get views of difficult birds, and this confiding American Pygmy-Kingfisher was one of them.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="445" />&nbsp;</p> <p>We finished the tour at the Chapada dos Guimar&atilde;es area, a totally different ecosystem of dry scrub, woodland, and grasslands with some amazing birds. We were surprised on our first morning by this scarce Checkered Woodpecker.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="461" />&nbsp;</p> <p>But the most exciting bird came on our last morning when this Blue Finch came in after nearly an hour of hopeful searching. Photo by John Sullivan.</p> <p>Jon Feenstra reprorts from Sani Lodge, Ecuador</p> 2022-08-23 12:57:54 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We just got back from a fun and successful tour to the lowland Amazon Rainforest of eastern Ecuador. We were based for a week at Sani Lodge, as guests of the indigenous Sani Kichwa people who paddled us through their flooded varzea forest and took us to some great birding. Highlights included such signature birds as bizarre Hoatzins, sublime Agami Heron, six species of puffbird, five species of trogon, the local Cocha Antshrike, some manakins, and woodcreepers, and many more. Everyday was an adventure, some planned and some unplanned, but all part of the experience.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="1024" height="768" /></p> <p>One of our many canoe-rides through the varzea forest around the lodge.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="1024" height="682" /></p> <p>This adult Hoatzin somehow fit this nearly-grown juvenile Hoatzin into its breast feathers to keep it even warmer.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="1826" height="1216" /></p> <p>Many-banded Aracari was one of six species of toucan we saw, mostly from the lodge&rsquo;s canopy tower.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="1024" height="768" /></p> <p>When raining or really sunny or pretty much any other time, the canopies parts of the lodge overlooking the lagoon were an easy place to watch birds, bats, caiman, turtles, butterflies, and whatever else happened to be hanging around.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="1127" height="752" /></p> <p>This orange-bellied (hyperchromatic?) Tropical Kingbird was a regular patron of some sticks just off the lodge porch. We got to study this fascinating weirdo just about every day.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="768" height="1024" /></p> <p>Well camouflaged by the greenery of the forest, this stick insect was a lot easier to see when it wandered onto a hat. The fauna of the Amazon is more than just birds, and we always stopped for the interesting crawlies.</p> <p>Rich Hoyer reports from the Mato Grosso region of Brazil</p> 2022-08-12 13:47:02 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>The first of my two Mato Grosso tours this past month was an amazing explosion of birds, mammals, reptiles, and all things natural history. In the Cerrado ecoregion of Chapada dos Guimar&atilde;es, a field with over 40 Greater Rheas was followed by a close sighting of the always spectacular Red-legged Seriemas was a favorite of the tour.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>Our four full days in the Amazonian rainforest at the incomparable Cristalino Jungle lodge was far too short to experience the full diversity, but we fared very well, seeing a rare Crested Eagle from one of the two canopy towers.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="425" />&nbsp;</p> <p>We also were treated to an afternoon bathing party of normally hard-to-find forest understory birds, such as the regional endemic Bare-eyed Antbird.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="441" />&nbsp;</p> <p>We then moved to the Pantanal, an ecoregion of woods, fields, lakes, rivers, and marshes that was packed full of wildlife. We had views of five jaguars our first morning, one being the well-known female Medrosa, who was still roaming around with her cubs from the previous year.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="415" />&nbsp;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to imagine a birds more stunning than the many Sunbitterns, Hyacinth Macaws, and Yellow-billed Cardinals we saw in the Pantanal, but a Scarlet-headed Blackbird right next to the road was hard to beat.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="488" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Our fourth utterly different ecosystem was the Atlantic Rainforest of the Iguaz&uacute; area just across the border into Argentina. It had been a few weeks since a cold front had come through, and butterflies were at their peak in numbers, with stunning puddle parties diverting our attention from the birds again and again.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="466" />&nbsp;</p> <p>We certainly saw the spectacular falls (amongst throngs of mostly Argentinian tourists) but some birds still took center stage, such as Black-fronted Piping-Guan, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Plush-crested Jays, and an intently feeding Robust Woodpecker in the forest understory.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="422" /></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. 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.