WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Sat, 21 Sep 2019 06:36:00 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Susan Myers on her recently completed tour, <a href="">Borneo: Sabah</a></p> 2019-09-17 10:34:25 Wings Staff Field Reports <p><span>As we&rsquo;ve come to expect over many years, our Borneo experience was full of fabulous bird sightings, as well as amazing mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants. In this incredibly biodiverse part of the world it&rsquo;s very difficult to choose highlights - there are just too many to list here. What a great problem to have! We divided our time on this fourth largest island between four main sites: the montane forests of Mount Kinabalu, the lowland swamp and riparian forests of the Kinabatangan River and lastly in the hill forests of Tabin and the Danum Valley.</span></p> <p>On Mount Kinabalu we sort of managed the Whitehead&rsquo;s hat trick, although one of them, the spiderhunter, was a brief flyover. But the Whitehead&rsquo;s Trogon and Broadbill more than made up for that minor disappointment!<br /><img src="" alt="" width="593" height="480" /><br /><span>Whitehead&rsquo;s Trogon</span></p> <p>We encountered most of the montane endemics as well. Birds with evocative names such as Golden-naped Barbet, Bornean Stubtail, Mountain Wren-Babbler and Crimson-headed Partridge, to name but a few.<br /><span>Moving on to our next site on the Kinabatangan, we made a detour to check out the three species of swiftlet nesting in the Gomantong Caves. We waited until dusk to see the incredible spectacle of thousands and thousands of bats exiting the caves for their nocturnal forays only to be preyed upon by the waiting Bat Hawks.</span><br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Bat Hawk</span></p> <p>During our two days on the river, we birded by boat and found healthy numbers of the extraordinary Proboscis Monkeys, endemic to the swamp forests of Borneo. <br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Proboscis Monkey</span></p> <p>Of course, there were many birds, too and standout amongst them were the crazy-looking White-crowned Hornbills, a very lovely Hooded Pitta and gem-like Blue-eared Kingfishers.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br />Hooded Pitta<br /> <img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br />Blue-eared Kingfisher</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="962" /><br /><span>White-crowned Hornbill</span></p> <p>On top of that, and <span>for the first time in a few years,&nbsp;</span>we had fantastic views of a Bornean Pygmy Elephant as she fed and then swam across the river. A very memorable experience indeed!<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Bornean Pygmy Elephant</span></p> <p>In the Tabin Wildlife Reserve we spent two days exploring the excellent forest and found much excitement in the form of Red-naped Trogon, Blue-headed Pitta and multiple species of spiderhunter - Thick-billed, Long-billed, Yellow-eared and Spectacled.<br /><span>[<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span><br /><span>Red-naped Trogon</span></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Blue-headed Pitta</span></p> <p>A big highlight was this stunning beauty, a female Bornean Keeled Pit Viper.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Bornean Keeled Pit Viper.</span></p> <p>Our last destination was the incomparable Danum Valley, where we enjoyed a number of night drives the highlight of which was a Sunda Frogmouth, surely one of the world&rsquo;s weirdest group of birds.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="959" /><br /><span>Sunda Frogmouth</span></p> <p>During our day time birding, we had pheasants, pittas, wren-babblers, barbets, woodpeckers and so much more. And that&rsquo;s just the birds - we also had an array of frogs, reptiles, insects (especially butterflies) and mammals. So much excitement. This area is surely one of the best places to be a naturalist anywhere - I wish I could spend a year here!<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Striped Wren-Babbler</span><br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="959" /><br /><span>Bornean Crested Fireback (Pheasant)</span></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Diard&rsquo;s Trogon</span></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Harlequin Flying Frog</span></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Twin-barred Tree Snake eating a Yoshii&rsquo;s Bent-toed Gecko</span></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><span>Triangle Keelback</span></p> <p>Borneo is an unforgettable experience and there is literally never a dull moment. There really are very few places in the world that can match the extraordinary biodiversity of this amazing island!</p> <p>Derek Lovitch on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Maine and New Hampshire</a></p> 2019-08-11 09:18:11 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Covering over 1300 miles in eight full days of birding (all in Maine except for about 20 hours in New Hampshire), we tallied 158 species of birds. While this was a few species below our long-term average &ndash; mostly due to an afternoon limited by high winds and a morning lost to heavy rain &ndash; none of our priorities were missed. Twenty-three species of warblers (including Mourning and Bay-breasted), 13 sparrows (including Nelson&rsquo;s and Saltmarsh), seven thrushes (yes, including Bicknell&rsquo;s), six flycatchers, five terns (including lots of Roseate and Arctic), five vireos, and four alcids were recorded.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="384" /><br /><em>Palm Warbler</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>A mix of Alcids on Machias Seal Island</em></p> <p>All of the major resident boreal species (e.g. Black-backed Woodpecker, Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, and Canada Jay) were exceptionally well-seen.&nbsp; We caught up with a Little Egret &ndash; a species (perhaps an individual) that has become a fixture in summer in southern Maine for the last five years.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;<br /><em>A female Black-backed Woodpecker peering from a nest hole</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Canada Jay</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="853" /><em><br />Little Egret</em></p> <p>With many species reaching the northern limits of their breeding range in southern Maine, and many species reaching the southern or southeastern limits of their breeding range in Western and Eastern Maine, we covered a remarkable diversity of habitats in order to record as many of them as possible. We started in the saltmarshes and dunes of Maine&rsquo;s southwestern Coast, surrounded by Saltmarsh and Nelson&rsquo;s Sparrows (and hybrids thereof), Roseate Terns, Piping Plovers, and a variety of wading birds at the absolute northernmost limit of their breeding range.&nbsp; By the end of the second day, we are almost 6000 feet higher, being serenaded by Bicknell&rsquo;s Thrushes and Blackpoll Warblers near the top of Mount Washington on an exclusive after-hours tour.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;<br /><em>The White Mountains of New Hampshire</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>One of more than 60 lighthouses, most of them active, on the Maine coast</em></p> <p>Then, we worked our way across the state &ndash; through boreal forests and lowland lakes and marshes &ndash; to arrive &ldquo;Downeast&rdquo; where we saw Spruce Grouse and Bay-breasted Warblers and visited an offshore island to get up close and personal with the region&rsquo;s famous breeding seabirds.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Atlantic Puffin</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>A Razorbill and Common Murres.</em></p> <p>Oh, and plenty of lobster was consumed!</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="853" /><br /><em>Yum...</em></p> <p>Gavin Bieber and Jake Mohlmann on the main section of their recent tour, <a href="">Alaska: Majesty of the North</a></p> 2019-07-29 09:15:24 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our Alaska Majesty Tour found above average temperatures and a very advanced spring throughout the state, with remarkably nice weather for the entire trip.&nbsp; We started around Nome, which was, as ever, amazing; an excellent wildflower show, point blank views of birds like Rock Ptarmigan, Harlequin Duck, Gyrfalcon, Aleutian Tern, and the dazzling Bluethroat (still in its active song flight courtship stage) as well as a good showing by a pair of Bristle-thighed Curlews on the Kougarok Road.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Wildflowers in Nome</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="423" /><br /><em>Rock Ptarmigan </em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="353" /><br /><em>Harlequin Duck</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="361" /><br /><em>Aleutian Tern</em></p> <p>We then moved inland, traveling through the amazingly scenic Alaska range and the Denali region.&nbsp; Here we found Smith&rsquo;s Longspurs on territory, a cooperative (with quite a bit of searching) Northern Hawk Owl perched atop a roadside spruce tree and both Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers lurking in a recent burn.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="639" height="302" /><br /><em>An Alaska scene</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="608" height="481" /><br /><em>Smith's Longspur</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="615" height="480" /><br /><em>Northern Hawk Owl</em></p> <p>Our final area for the main tour was Seward, where we found the beautiful Resurrection Bay under full sun, with flying Humpback Whales, many close Orca, and an amazing 10 species of alcids including more than a dozen Kittlitz&rsquo;s Murrelets.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="237" /><br /><em>Resurrection Bay</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="639" height="325" /><br /><em>Hump-backed Whale</em></p> <p>In all we tallied about 166 species on the main tour, and 189 including the extensions to Saint Paul Island and Barrow. &nbsp;The variety and abundance of birdlife and wildlands on this tour is staggering, and make it arguably the most exhilarating birding and natural history tour available in North America if not the world.</p> <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>