WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Fri, 17 Aug 2018 23:50:18 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Susan Myers and Greg Greene on their recent scouting trip to Peninsular Malaysa</p> 2018-08-15 20:24:27 Wings Staff Field Reports <p class="p1"><span class="s1">We just wrapped up an informative scouting trip to Peninsular Malaysia and are excited about next year&rsquo;s tour. While Borneo seems to draw most of the attention from regional birders (for good reason), Peninsular Malaysia is a gem by itself and should be considered one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Some of the highlights from our trip, and what you may see on next year&rsquo;s tour, include Malaysian Rail-babbler, Malaysian and Mountain Peacock-pheasant, as well as seven species of pitta, 12 barbets, and nine hornbills. One shouldn&rsquo;t forget the large diversity of kingfishers and woodpeckers, which are arguably some of the most spectacular in the world. With its system of well-protected nature reserves, modern infrastructure, and great food, Peninsular Malaysia should be on your list for the next birding adventure! To learn more about joining us in 2019, visit our website: <span class="s2"><a href=""></a>&nbsp;. A selection of images from our recent trip follows.</span></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><span class="s2"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span></span><br /><em>Rufous-collared Kingfisher</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="481" /><br /><em>Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="576" /><br /><em>Dusky Leaf-monkey</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="389" /><br /><em>Fire-tufted Barbet</em></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="441" /></span><br /><em>Ferruginous Partridge</em></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></span><br /><em>Garnet Pitta</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="456" /><br /><em>Silver-eared Mesia</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p class="p1"><em>Mountain Peacock Pheasant</em></p> <p class="p1"><em><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="389" /><br /><em>Water monitor</em></em></p> Peninsular Malaysia 2018-07-11 14:54:05 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; <p>Gavin Bieber on his and Jake Mohlmann's recently completed tour, <a href="">Alaska Majesty</a></p> 2018-07-10 16:10:47 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our Alaska Majesty tour found everywhere below average temperatures and a lingering sense of a wintery spring. Despite the chill, or perhaps because of it, the trip was wonderfully mosquito free, and we experienced sunny conditions nearly throughout.&nbsp; This year we started around Nome which was, as ever, amazing.&nbsp; Here we enjoyed point blank views of birds like Rock Ptarmigan, American Golden-Plover, Arctic Warbler, and the dazzling Bluethroat (still in its active song flight courtship stage) as well as a surprise in the form of a nesting pair of White Wagtails out on the Teller Road.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="389" /><br /><em>Rock Ptarmigan -&nbsp;<small>Image: P.Baum</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="431" /><br /><em>American Golden-Plover -&nbsp;<small>Image: J. Hopkins</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="463" /><br /><em>Arctic Warbler -&nbsp;<small>Image: J. Hopkins</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Bluethroat -&nbsp;<small>Image: G. Bieber</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="430" /><br /><em>White Wagtail -&nbsp;<small>Image: J. Mohlmann</small></em></p> <p>We then moved inland, traveling through the extraordinarily scenic Alaska range and the Denali region.&nbsp; Here we found Smith&rsquo;s Longspurs on territory, a nesting pair of Northern Hawk Owls perched atop some roadside spruce trees and a strutting Spruce Grouse that scuttled off the road at our approach.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>View from the Denali Highway -&nbsp;<small>Image: G. Bieber</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="506" /><br /><em>Smith's Longspur -&nbsp;<small>Image: J. Mohlmann</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="500" /><br /><em>Northern Hawk-Owl -&nbsp;<small>Image: P. Baum</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="400" /><br /><em>Spruce Grouse -&nbsp;<small>Image: J. Mohlmann</small></em></p> <p>Our final area for the main tour was Seward, where we found the beautiful Resurrection Bay under full sun, with Humpback and Fin Whales, Orca and tame Bald Eagles really putting on a show. The towering forests here were filled with the song of Townsend&rsquo;s Warblers, here at nearly the northern limit of their range.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="600" height="428" /><br /><em>Townsend's Warbler -&nbsp;<small>Image: J. Mohlmann</small></em></p> <p>Our tour extensions were both incredible. Although we had to negotiate some transportation complications for the Pribilofs we managed to fly in and out on the appropriate days, and enjoyed a spell of reasonable weather while on the island.&nbsp; The local breeders like Red-legged Kittiwake, Red-faced Cormorant, Rock Sandpiper and Crested Auklet all posed nicely for our cameras this year. &nbsp;And in addition to these expected species, and a fine assortment of mammals including Northern Fur Seal and Arctic Fox we tracked down some nice rarities such as Terek Sandpiper, Oriental Cuckoo and Tufted Duck.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="391" /><br /><em>Crested Auklet -&nbsp;<small>Image: G. Bieber</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="410" /><br /><em>Terek Sandpiper -&nbsp;<small>Image: P. Baum</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="432" /><br /><em>Oriental Cuckoo -&nbsp;<small>Image: P. Baum</small></em>.</p> <p>On our post tour extension to Barrow we arrived to find much of the tundra still firmly locked in winter, although with temperatures in the low 50&rsquo;s and bright sun our whole visit the snowbanks were melting rapidly.&nbsp; This year&rsquo;s trip was perhaps our best ever, as over parts of three days we reveled in close up views of the expected birds here including Snowy Owl, Steller&rsquo;s and Spectacled Eiders and a host of shorebirds on their breeding grounds.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="368" /><br /><em>Snowy Owl -&nbsp;<small>Image: G Bieber</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Steller's Eider -&nbsp;<small>Image: Steve Howell</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="374" /><br /><em>Spectacled Eider -&nbsp;<small>Image: G Bieber</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="521" /><br /><em>Pectoral Sandpiper -&nbsp;<small>Image: G Bieber</small></em></p> <p>Here too were elegant Sabine&rsquo;s Gulls courting, a vagrant Gray-tailed Tattler that allowed us close approach, and perhaps the birds of the trip; a trio of blushing pink Ross&rsquo;s Gulls that showed well for us on both days of our visit, marking the first time in 15 years that we have recorded this amazing species on our Alaska Majesty tour.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="414" /><br /><em>Sabine's Gull -&nbsp;<small>Image: J Mohlmann</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="533" /><br /><em>Gray-tailed Tattler -&nbsp;<small>Image: P. Baum</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="406" /><br /><em>Ross's Gull -&nbsp;<small>Image: J Hopkins</small></em></p> <p>In all we tallied about 170 species on the main tour, and 192 including the extensions to Saint Paul Island and Barrow. The variety and abundance of birdlife, the great wildlife, and the extraordinary natural beauty make Alaska Majesty one of the best birding tours anywhere.</p> <p>Luke Seitz on his recently completed tour to <a href="">Guatemala</a></p> 2018-06-26 14:43:47 Wings Staff Field Reports <p class="p1">Our first Guatemala tour in a number of years had wonderful experiences with a number of regional specialties alongside abundant Neotropical migrants. The trip started off with a bang, finding beautiful Pink-headed Warblers on just day two &ndash; like a strawberry dusted with snow, dipped in a fine Pinot Noir&hellip;</p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="467" height="285" /></p> <p class="p2">From the edge of the mixed pine-oak forests where the Pink-headeds reside, along with a long list of other fine birds including Blue-throated Motmot, Hooded Grosbeak, and Blue-and-white Mockingbird&hellip;</p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="468" height="351" /></p> <p class="p1">&hellip;we journeyed to the high volcanic peaks around Lake Atitl&aacute;n, where a difficult hike provided Horned Guan for some, and outstanding views of Lesser Roadrunner.</p> <p class="p2"><img src="" alt="" width="467" height="281" /></p> <p class="p2">The main tour ended with eye-melting views of the dazzling Garnet-throated Hummingbird; we soaked up at least ten individuals feeding unconcernedly in front of us for over an hour...</p> <p class="p2"><img src="" alt="" width="468" height="294" />&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> lush cloud forest, home to not only the Garnet-throateds but also Unicolored Jays, and many others!</p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="351" height="468" /></p> <p class="p1">The Tikal extension was excellent. Ocellated Turkeys such as this displaying male were easy to see around the entrance, and we were treated as well to stunning views of Royal Flycatcher with its crest fully raised (!!!), a hulking Black-and-white Owl, Orange-breasted Falcon, Black-throated Shrike-Tanager, and tons more&hellip;</p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="468" height="357" /></p> <p class="p2">&hellip;all set in a backdrop of incredible Mayan temples. Needless to say, this small Central American country has a lot to offer the birder &ndash;already looking forward to returning next year!</p> <p class="p2"><img src="" alt="" width="468" height="351" /></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> Bolivia: Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Sadiri Lodge, and the Apolo Valley 2018-06-18 16:25:58 Will Russell Recently updated tours Bolivia is a large country with many ecoregions, and we&rsquo;ve long wanted to offer this new tour as a companion to our classic Bolivia tour in order to see even more of it and the wonderful birds that call it home. We&rsquo;ll visit four regions of radically different ecosystems, all farther north than our other tour. Starting with the Lake Titicaca area, we&rsquo;ll cross the northern Andes and descend through the cloud forests on our way to the dry interior valley of Apolo, which has a whole host of special birds. We&rsquo;ll then return to La Paz to take a short flight to the Amazonian lowlands where we&rsquo;ll spend some time at one of Bolivia&rsquo;s few ecolodges, located on the outermost ridge of the Andes&mdash;low enough to have some classic Amazonian species yet high enough to offer some respite from the tropical heat. Finally, we&rsquo;ll take a private air taxi to Barba Azul Nature Reserve, a remote station located in the Llanos de Moxos, a region of seasonally flooded tropical savanna and gallery forest. After two days at bird-filled Barba Azul, famous for its conservation importance for the Blue-throated Macaw, we&rsquo;ll finish with a day in Trinidad and a short internal flight to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Idaho: Cassia Crossbill and Southern Idaho 2018-06-14 08:45:06 Will Russell Recently updated tours In 2017 the AOS Checklist Committee concluded that the endemic subspecies of Red Crossbill from Cassia County, Idaho, was a full species, the Cassia Crossbill (Loxia sinesciurus). The translation of the specific epithet&nbsp;sinesciurus&nbsp;literally means &ldquo;without squirrels,&rdquo; and indeed Red Squirrels are absent from the two ranges in Cassia County that this species occurs. The cones there have evolved in the absence of squirrels, and so have the crossbills. Our tour will spend two full days in the heart of the Cassia Crossbill&rsquo;s range in the South Hills, and we should have an excellent chance of both seeing and hearing this species (their calls differ from other Red Crossbill populations). There is, of course, much more to see in the South Hills, including a wide variety of montane species, and a full array of hummingbirds should be at peak numbers in mid-August. In addition we&rsquo;ll visit the Boise National Forest northeast of Boise with hopefully a fine variety of woodpeckers, and the sagebrush areas and grasslands around &nbsp;Pocatello with Ferruginous Hawks, Burrowing Owls, and with good luck Sharp-tailed Grouse. Finally we&rsquo;ll explore the famous Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge with up to 20,000 nesting Franklin&rsquo;s Gulls and the world&rsquo;s largest Sandhill Crane population. Our tour will coincide with the peak of fall shorebird migration, and we&rsquo;ll have numerous opportunities to study their concentrations in wetland areas. Idaho is lightly populated, and, with the numerous mountain ranges and valleys, the scenery will be spectacular. <p>Gavin Bieber on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Arizona: Owls and Warblers</a></p> 2018-06-04 09:12:06 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our trip coincided with the first hot week of the year, with temperatures hovering a few degrees above average and many migrant birds quickly heading north for more pleasant climes and their respective nesting territories.&nbsp; Despite the low numbers of migrants it was a fine week, tallying an impressive 211 species. &nbsp;Our avian highlights were many: residents such as an inquisitive Whiskered Screech Owl peering down from its roost site in a roadside sycamore, a Five-striped Sparrow lurking in California Gulch, or the incomparable Montezuma Quails spotted in Ash Canyon were just some examples.<span style="font-size: 1.2em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="392" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="455" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="443" /></p> <p>Summer breeders such as dazzling Red-faced Warblers and handsome Blue-throated Hummingbirds were busy setting up their territories, and not all the wintering birds had departed as we were treated to views of a lingering Lewis&rsquo;s Woodpecker, and a female Williamson&rsquo;s Sapsucker, and several wandering Red Crossbills.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="377" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="436" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="410" /></p> <p>This was an excellent year for 'Mexican' species, and we found nesting Rose-throated Becards and bathing Rufous-backed Robins along the Santa Cruz River, and a very cooperative Slate-throated Redstart in the beautifully scenic Chiricahua Mountains.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="429" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>When you can combine a wide array of spectacular birds with a nice supporting cast of mammals and butterflies, all in wonderful desertscapes, it's hard not to have a truly excellent tour!</p> <p>Gavin Bieber on his and Evan Obercian's recently completed tour, <a href="">Florida: The South, the Keys and the Dry Tortugas</a></p> 2018-05-08 09:42:57 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We just wrapped up a fun week exploring south Florida from Fort Myers to Key West. We started with a day in the dry pine forests and upland scrub of the central peninsula with fantastic views of an inquisitive Barred Owl, and a cooperative Florida Scrub Jay.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="427" height="640" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>A day trip out to the unique Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas was sunny and hot but still produced the usual cloud of nesting seabirds, 16 species of warblers and a much appreciated Black Noddy.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="417" /></p> <p>Some of Florida&rsquo;s most sought-after birds, like Mangrove Cuckoo and Limpkin, posed for us nicely and we even lucked into front row seating for a mating pair of Purple Gallinules in a marsh near Sarasota.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="640" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="483" /></p> <p>As always, Florida isn&rsquo;t all about the birds, and this year we had excellent views of a beautiful Sherman Fox Squirrel and a host of reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and even fish!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="427" height="640" /></p> New ‘Birds of Chile’ book from WINGS leaders Steve Howell and Fabrice Schmitt just released! 2018-03-19 15:13:23 Will Russell Miscellany <p>After a few years collaboration, thousands of pictures, and uncountable hours in the field, Steve Howell and Fabrice Schmitt just published their photographic field guide &lsquo;Birds of Chile&rsquo;. With its pocket size, short texts focused on identification marks, and numerous pictures showing the birds in their habitat, their new book is the perfect tool to identify birds of this part of the world.</p> <p>Participants of the ongoing cruise &lsquo;Buenos Aires to Santiago&rsquo; have been able to test the very first copies of the new book, and it works!</p> <p>If you too want to use this new field guide with their authors, you can join them on one of their forthcoming <a href="">Chile</a> tour or <a href="">cruises</a>!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="479" /></p> Colombia: The Chocó 2017-12-07 07:55:45 Will Russell Recently updated tours The Choc&oacute; area of western Colombia and Ecuador encompasses the Pacific slope of both the Colombian West Andes and the main Andes. Most of the habitat here is characterized by wet forest, and with up to 630 inches of rain per year in some places, mostly falling from April to June and from October to December, it is perhaps the wettest place on earth. The Choc&oacute; has one of the world&rsquo;s richest lowland biotas, with exceptional endemism in a wide range of taxa, including plants, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and of course birds. For example, 10% of the 80,000 to 90,000 plant species recorded in the Neotropics have been found in the Choc&oacute;, and 25% of these are endemic to this narrow band of land. The Choc&oacute; also supports the largest number of restricted-range bird species of any area in the Americas, with more than 60 endemics.&nbsp;