WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Fri, 24 May 2019 11:15:47 -0700 en daily 1 <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> New Mexico in Winter 2019-05-15 12:41:42 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. 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; Angola 2019-05-13 12:45:26 Will Russell Recently updated tours Out of bounds for 30 years due to internal troubles, Angola began opening up to visitors in 2002 and birders now have an opportunity to sample its many unique avian delights. Until recently any birding tour there required camping but this tour is hotel-based throughout and still allows all the special birds to be seen. <p>Luke Seitz on his recent tour, <a href="">Mexico: Oaxaca and Western Chiapas</a></p> 2019-05-13 09:47:33 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our tour through the varied habitats of western Chiapas and Oaxaca was, as usual, packed with memorable bird sightings and excellent Mexican food but a fun group helped a lot too.. Starting in the bustling city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, one of many highlights was the magnificent Sumidero Canyon&hellip;&hellip;complete with views of the perky Belted Flycatcher.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="330" /><br /><em>Sumidero Canyon</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="413" /><br /><em>Belted Flytcatcher</em></p> <p>We then dropped down the Pacific slope, making sure to stop in the foothills above Arriaga to see the stunning and very range-restricted Rosita&rsquo;s (or Rose-bellied) Bunting&hellip;one of the top birds of the tour, for sure!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="395" /><br /><em>Rosita's Bunting</em></p> <p>We spent some time exploring the lowlands around Puerto Arista before heading west across the isthmus of Tehuantepec, where habitats and birds changed accordingly. One of the targets near Tehuantepec is Sumichrast&rsquo;s (or Cinnamon-tailed) Sparrow, which performed very well alongside Orange-breasted Buntings and Citreoline Trogons.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="400" /><br /><em>Sumichrast&rsquo;s Sparrow</em></p> <p>The tour finished in the beautiful Oaxaca Valley, which is home to a whole new suite of special birds (and tasty mole sauce and string cheese, among other food&hellip;yum). Our three days here sampled a variety of habitats, including cool pine-oak forest home to Red Warbler and Fulvous Owl (one of which nearly took our heads off &ndash; wow!) and scrubby oak woodlands with Slaty Vireo and Ocellated Thrasher. I don&rsquo;t have many bird photos from this part of the tour, but I made sure to document one of our picnic lunches, complete with fresh guacamole &ndash; this was right before a pair of Sclater&rsquo;s (Strong-billed) Woodcreepers came zooming in to the pine trees above our heads! It was an action-packed ten days, and suddenly the farewell dinner was upon us &ndash; I&rsquo;m already looking forward to next year!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="479" /><br /><em> A picnic lunch in the making...</em></p> <p>Gavin Bieber and Evan Obercian on their recent tour, <a href="">Florida: The South, the Keys and the Dry Tortugas</a></p> 2019-05-02 16:04:08 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We started with a day in the dry pine forests and upland scrub of the central peninsula with fantastic views of a perched Bachman&rsquo;s Sparrow, and a cooperative Florida Scrub Jay.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="460" /><br /><em> Bachman's Sparrow</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="413" /><br /><em>Florida Scrub Jay</em></p> <p>Day two found us successfully chasing some Caribbean strays, with excellent views of Bahama Mockingbird and Key West Quail-Dove.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="473" /><br /><em>Bahama Mockingbird</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="419" /><br /><em>Key West Quail-Dove</em></p> <p>A day trip out to the unique Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas was sunny and hot but still produced 17 species of warblers and good views of both Masked and Brown Boobies.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Black-throated Blue Warbler</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="373" /><br /><em>Masked Booby</em></p> <p>We ended the tour north of Miami with a wonderful visit to a large wetland providing close up views of a wide array of waterbirds, from glowing Roseate Spoonbills to the more sedately coloured Limpkin and lots of nesting species such as these Wood Storks.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="649" /><br /><em>Roseate Spoonbill</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="971" /><br /><em>Limpkin</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="908" /><br /><em>Wood Stork</em></p> <p>As always, Florida isn&rsquo;t all about the birds, and this year we enjoyed excellent views of lolling West Indian Manatees, and a wealth of reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and even fish! &nbsp;I look forward to this tour every year, as it combines great eastern migration birding with Florida's highlight breeding species and even the occasional stray rarities from the nearby Caribbean.</p> <p>Gavin Bieber on his recent tour, <a href="">Panama: Spring at the Canopy Tower</a></p> 2019-04-21 14:23:58 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>It is always a pleasure to return to the Canopy Tower and the Canopy Lodge, surrounded as they are by an excellent mix of habitats and a great diversity of birds. &nbsp;Some of the highlights this year around the tower included very confiding male Spot-crowned Ant-Vireo and Black-breasted Puffbird, a fantastic showing of the often reclusive Streak-chested Antpitta, displaying male Golden-collared Manakins, a dizzying array of hummingbirds including the superlative Crowned Woodnymph and even a group of Panamanian Night Monkeys peering out of their lofty roost cavity.&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks to David Fisher for all the images below except for Gavin's Night Monkeys.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="453" /><br /><em>Spot-crowned Antvireo</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="470" /><br /><em>Black-breasted Puffbird</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="595" /><br /><em>Streak-chested Antpitta</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="453" /><br /><em>Golden-collared Manakin</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="460" /><br /><em>Crowned Woodnymph</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="532" /><br /><em>Panamanian Night Monkey</em></p> <p>Around the more montane forests surrounding the lodge we added nearly 100 more species to the triplist, with a few of the highlights being lengthy views of a pair of Brown-billed Scythebills and daily encounters with gaudy Orange-billed Sparrows.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="445" /><br /><em>Brown-billed Scythebill</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="437" /><br /><em>Orange-billed Sparrow</em></p> <p>In all we tallied just shy of 370 species of birds, including an amazing 50 species of flycatchers, as well as 15 mammals and 16 species of reptiles and amphibians in 10 days in the field! This tour continues to impress me, as the diversity and richness of the region, paired with ease of access and the comforts of the lodge make for a truly wonderful experience.</p> Indonesia: West Papua 2019-04-12 09:30:05 Will Russell Recently updated tours The island of New Guinea is surely one of the most exciting birding destinations on earth. The array of monarchs, honeyeaters, fruit-doves, kingfishers, and parrots are thrilling in their own right, but the other worldly birds-of-paradise are without doubt the most superlative avian wonders to be found anywhere. Our tour of one of the world&rsquo;s most biodiverse regions is not luxurious, but conditions have greatly improved over the last few years. It&rsquo;s nothing like the uncomfortable challenge that it once was. Many local people have become involved in providing comfortable birding experiences to foreign visitors, and the revenue from our visit directly helps conservation efforts in these very important bird havens. Peterson Guide to Bird Identification—in 12 Steps 2019-02-14 15:46:59 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>Continuing his publishing streak, <strong>Steve Howell</strong> has teamed up with Brian Sullivan and has produced another must-have book titled "<strong>Peterson Guide to Bird Identification&mdash;in 12 Steps</strong>." Available now on Amazon or your local bookstore.</p>