WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:30:44 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Frank Nicoletti on his just completed tour, <a href="">Minnesota in Winter</a></p> 2018-02-15 13:21:47 Wings Staff Field Reports <p><span>The expansive bog lands, boreal forests, and Lake Superior shorelines of Duluth, MN, and environs offer a uniquely accessible opportunity to see specialty birds of the northern climes in winter.&nbsp;</span><span>Our group bundled up appropriately for the weather, and we enjoyed memorable encounters with many of the birds that make winter in the north so enticing to birders. Black-backed Woodpecker and Three-toed Woodpecker were found among the branches. We were able to study the plumages an</span><span class="text_exposed_show">d calls of Pine Grosbeak and Evening Grosbeak while watching them through the spotting scope in their natural habitat; always a treat! The spectacle of Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owls hunting voles was exciting and we spent quite a bit of time watching them hunt and eat. A Boreal Owl was found warming up in the sun, and a Snowy Owl spotted with a freshly caught muskrat. A few Sharp-tailed Grouse were spotted, too! In all, we encountered 45 species of birds and 6 species of mammals on our travels through Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin.</span></p> <p><span class="text_exposed_show"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span><br />Our bundled group</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="360" /><br /><em>Black-backed Woodpecker</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="853" /><br /><em>American Three-toed Woodpecker</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="360" /><br /><em>A Great Gray Owl hoping to catch a ride to Duluth</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Even Boreal Owls will take advantage of the sun on cold winter days</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Snowy Owl</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Sharp-tailed Grouse</em></p> <p>Rich Hoyer on his just-completed tour, <a href="">Peru: The Cloud Forests of the Rio Mayo and Abra Patricia</a></p> 2018-02-14 14:23:35 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Birding for ten days in Northern Peru during the rainy season was delightful &ndash; and it barely rained. Walking through tunnels of moss-, lichen-, fern-, and orchid-laden trees in a stunning landscape of forest-covered ridges elicited wonder during our birding outings even when we weren&rsquo;t busy looking for one amazing bird after the next. We finally had a few hours of morning showers on our next-to-last day, but other than that we had to force ourselves to take time off from trail birding to sit and watch the hummingbird feeders. We saw and heard nearly 400 species of birds, over 11% of which were hummingbirds.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="434" /><br /> No one ever tired of seeing the delightful Booted Racket-tails.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="448" /><br /> Never a guarantee on the tour, the drop-dead gorgeous Royal Sunangel was surprisingly common at the Fundo Alto Nieva feeders this year.</p> <p>Among the birds voted favorite were many wrens, and this is perhaps the best place to hear an amazing variety of some of the most beautiful songs in the family. Gray-breasted and Bar-winged Wood-Wrens, Chestnut-breasted, and Sharpe&rsquo;s Wrens serenaded us nearly every day, while on our last morning a Scaly-breasted Wren topped the list. You can listen to the songs of Chestnut-breasted and Sharpe's Wrens <a href="">here</a> and <a href="">here</a>. and Also making the short list of favorites were a Fiery-throated Fruiteater on our last morning and a pair of rare (but increasing) Southern Lapwings, hidden in a flock of Comb Ducks and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks &nbsp;on our very last birding stop.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="407" /><br /> Other birds voted favorites included this Spectacled Redstart which made the rounds by all our rooms at the Owlet Lodge every day, singing his accelerating song and fighting his reflection in our bedroom windows just inches away.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="403" /><br /> One of the most range-limited and charismatic birds of the tour is the Johnson's Tody-Tyrant, never failing to make it to the list of favorites.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="461" /><br /> Nightbirds seen during the day were especially memorable. A quick stop at a gas station in the middle of a small town resulted in the surprising discovery of a roost of Sand-colored Nighthawks a good half mile from the river islands where they would have been more expected.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="425" /><br /> A Long-tailed Potoo on a day roost was a great find by Hilder at the Koepcke&rsquo;s Hermit feeding station. It has about four favorite roosts, but this morning he found it in a new place, surprisingly difficult to see.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="419" /><br /> On the night we finally connected with a Long-whiskered Owlet, we were surprised by this Common Potoo on a feeding perch right next to the trail &ndash; at the uppermost limit of its elevational range, having us wishfully thinking Andean Potoo at first.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="473" /><br /> The mammals, insects, and plants were also outstanding, an unexpected highlight for some. One request to see a Starry Night Cracker was fulfilled before lunch on our first day.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="379" />&nbsp;<br /> The most amazing butterfly, if not fanciest or the most colorful, was the enigmatic <em>Styx infernalis</em>, placed its very own tribe and very rarely seen, this one for the first time on any WINGS tour.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="471" /><br /> The moths at the Owlet Lodge got better each evening, the diversity of species, forms, and shapes mind-boggling, and some quite lovely. This <em>Pityeja histrionaria</em> caught everyone&rsquo;s eye.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="471" />&nbsp;<br />Other insects made the tour very memorable, such as the truly enormous elephant beetle <em>Megasoma actaeon</em> that flew into the lamps at one early morning breakfast and landed with a huge whack in the middle of the table.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="316" />&nbsp;<br />This mossy stick insect exemplifies the amazing adaption so many insects have to the cool, mossy forests of the higher elevations.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="437" /><br />We were incredibly lucky to stumble into a small troop of the highly endangered Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey on one afternoon hike, and we spent many minutes watching them eat leaves, fruits, and lap up copious amounts of nectar from a showy blooming tree with chalice-like flowers.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="438" /><br /> The orchids weren&rsquo;t as abundant as in some years, perhaps because of the drier weather, but this <em>Sobralia caloglossa</em> hanging over the road (where we had just seen a pair of soaring Black-and-chestnut Eagles) was a show-stopper.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="467" /><br /> We kept adding very special birds up to the last minute. At Waqanki we saw the rare Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, followed by pair of this Mishana Tyrannulet right by the hummingbird feeders.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="468" />&nbsp;<br /> Finally, at our last stop, we paused on our way to the Tarapoto airport to admire this gorgeous Oriole Blackbird.</p> <p>Jon Feenstra on his just-completed tour, <a href="">Ecuador: Mindo and the Northwest Andes</a></p> 2018-02-11 11:34:51 Wings Staff Field Reports <p class="p1"><span class="s1">We just finished a week of wet season birding on the Pacific slope of the Andes around Mindo. We didn&rsquo;t have a lot of blue skies, but we did see a lot of blue birds&hellip; and yellow ones, and red ones, and green ones, and various combinations of those colors and more. We found nearly three hundred species including 35 species of hummingbirds and 33 species with &ldquo;tanager&rdquo; in their names. Pretty orchids, colorful lizards, and great big beetles all added to the good time.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span> <br /><em>The insanely proportioned Sword-billed Hummingbird was one of the regular<span class="s1">s at the high elevation reserve of Yanacocha. It perches with its bill held vertical perhaps to avoid tipping over.</span></em></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></span><br /><em> This rhinoceros beetle was bigger than many of the birds we saw.</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em> With new highways, the old and disused mountain roads made getting into the thick forest hardly a problem.</em></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" /></span><br /><em> We saw multiple multi-colored Plate-billed Mountain-Toucans in the expansive cloud forest reserves around Mindo.</em></p> <p>Jake Mohlmann on his recently completed tour, <a href=":"">Arizona: A Winter Week in the Southeast</a></p> 2018-02-06 11:46:44 Wings Staff Field Reports <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="340" /><br /><em>Our group at the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon</em></p> <p>We just wrapped up another Winter Week in Arizona tour filled with beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. This year 156 species of birds were encountered, as well as 10 mammal species. Every day of our tour explored a unique area of southeast Arizona, each worthy of day&rsquo;s exploration. The Santa Cruz River Valley with its lush riparian zone and flowing surface water yielded Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Red-naped Sapsuckers and perhaps most surprising of all a very rare Sinaloa Wren.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>The graceful, lovely Mountain Bluebird</em></p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>A Sinaloa Wren was the great surprise</em></p> <p>The vast grasslands of Las Cienegas National Conservation area produced several highly sought after specialties such as Baird&rsquo;s Sparrow, dozens of Chestnut-collared Longspurs and even a rare McCown&rsquo;s Longspur.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>The sought after Baird's Sparrow</em></p> <p>Over 12,000 Sandhill Cranes were seen as they came in to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Management Area in waves. Several other species of interest were in the wetlands here including Swamp Sparrow, Marsh Wren, and an initially reluctant Virginia&rsquo;s Rail. The bushy side roads of this region also hosted Sagebrush Sparrow for some, and the regional Bendire&rsquo;s Thrasher for all. The Sulphur Springs Valley&rsquo;s raptor show did not disappoint and we were excited to find both Ferruginous and Harris&rsquo;s Hawks in close succession.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="335" /><br /><em>Thousands of Sandhill Cranes roost in the Sulphur Springs Valley</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="352" /></p> <p><em>A curious Bendire's Thrasher perched up nicely</em></p> <p>Portal is a must-see for anyone visiting this region of Arizona and can be quite productive any time of year. This year scope views of Crissal Thrasher and Woodhouse&rsquo;s Scrub-Jay were relished. The hummingbird show was top notch and we got to enjoy both male and female Rivoli&rsquo;s and Blue-throated Hummingbirds coming to feeders. Cassin&rsquo;s Finches were present in higher numbers than usual. In the upper reaches of the Chiricahua Mountains we were successful in tracking down a few Mexican Chickadees, this being he only location to see them north of the Mexican border!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>The tough Magnificent Hummingbird winters in small numbers at feeders in the the cold canyons</em></p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="389" /><br /><em>It was a good winter for Cassin's Finches, here with a Pine Siskin escort</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Susan Myers on her recently completed tour, <a href=""">Japan in Winter</a></p> 2018-01-30 09:13:35 Wings Staff Field Reports <p class="p1"><span class="s1">We started off with a quick trip to a small park near Narita where we found a lovely gathering of the incomparable Mandarin Duck - a truly remarkable bird and a great way to kick off our birding.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span></p> <p>We then moved on to the forests of the Japan Alps where we took a brief break from our birding to visit the so-called 'Snow Monkeys,' aka Japanese Macaque, which love to take to the thermal hot springs of the Jigokudani area. Jigokudani translates to Hell Valley thanks to the many steaming volcanic vents dotted throughout the area.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Continuing our journey over the Alps to the Japan Sea we next visited the Katano area south of Kanazawa where our main target, the increasingly rare Baikal Teal loves to spend the winter. This area is particularly rich in avian life and we found many great birds including a fabulous Green Pheasant, Grey-headed Lapwings, Japanese Cormorant and many others.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span><br /><em> Green Pheasant</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Grey-headed Lapwing</em></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Flying south, we next spent a couple of days in the Arasaki/Izumi area to take in the amazing spectacle of over 14,000 cranes of four species, although the numbers are very much dominated by White-naped and Hooded Cranes. We picked out a single Sandhill and three Common Cranes from the many thousands of others, which was quite fun! We had a great day exploring the whole area with two particularly outstanding sightings, amongst many, being a collection of the very rare Black-faced Spoonbills and a small flock of the often elusive and cute Chinese Penduline-Tit.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span><br /><em> White-naped Crane</em></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Black-faced Spoonbill</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br />Chinese Penduline Tit</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Despite some inclement weather on the coast, our birding in Hokkaido was fun and productive - even if a little on the cold side. Spectacled Guillemots, with their startling red legs, showed well but the rough seas ruled out a photograph. However, the Big Three; Steller&rsquo;s Sea-Eagle, Red-crowned Crane and Blakiston&rsquo;s Fish Owl were, well, stellar! Without doubt the Northern Island is the highlight of this journey around Japan and not only did the birds not disappoint, but the scenery, food and friendly people made for some great memories.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="640" /><br /><em>The imposing Blakiston's Fish Owl - <small>Image: Steve Hayashi</small></em></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span><br /><em>Red-crowned Crane</em></p> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="282" /><br /><em>Hokkaido scene with Steller's Sea-Eagle...</em></p> <p class="p1"><em><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>...whose extraordinary character is more apparent on close view</em></em></p> Birds of Chile: A Photo Guide soon to be released 2018-01-03 12:52:38 Sara Pike Miscellany <p>Steve Howell and Fabrice Schmitt, both well admired WINGS leaders, have a new publication due to be released in May, 2018. Chile is an increasingly popular destination for both birders and naturalists, and this book provides clear photos and brief species accounts that highlight what to look for when identifying species.&nbsp; This book can also be a good resource for birding nearby Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru.&nbsp; &nbsp;Congratulations to Steve and Fabrice!&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Birds of Chile: A Photo Guide</em> can be <a href="">pre-ordered online</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can tour with Steve Howell on our upcoming tours to: &nbsp;<a href="">Ecuador: The Amazon Lowland</a>s in July 2018, <a href="">Mexico: The Yucatan and Cozumel</a> in December 2018, or in <a href="">Chile: Tierra del Fuego to the Atacama Desert</a> in November 2019.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can tour with Fabrice Schmitt on our upcoming tours to: <a href="">Chile: Tierra del Fuego to the Atacama Desert</a>, October-November 2018, <a href="">Brazil: Minas Gerais</a>, November 2018, or in <a href="">Colombia: The Choc&oacute;</a>, July-August 2019.</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; Bolivia: Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Sadiri Lodge, and the Apolo Valley 2017-12-06 16:05:34 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. Uganda: Shoebills to Gorillas 2017-09-19 11:16:57 Will Russell Recently updated tours Uganda is the jewel in the crown of East Africa, generally recognized as having some of the best remaining forest in Africa and with it some truly remarkable birdwatching. Our first taste will be a search for the enigmatic Shoebill at the edge of Lake Victoria. We&rsquo;ll continue our journey to the papyrus-fringed lakeshore of Lake Mburo National Park, renowned for its mammals and birds, including White-backed Night-heron. The wonderful Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a magical place of mists, hanging mosses, and luxuriant vegetation, and it is also where we&rsquo;ll see some of the rarest and most exotic birds of the trip. However, it will probably be a mammal that is uppermost in people&rsquo;s minds here. Over half the world&rsquo;s population of Mountain Gorillas can be found in this forest, and during our stay there will be the option to take part in a guided trek to search for a group of these magnificent animals. In Queen Elizabeth National Park we&rsquo;ll encounter a variety of habitats more typical of East Africa along with an equally varied array of birds and mammals. In Kibale Forest we&rsquo;ll be surrounded by birds as well as some of the eleven species of primate, including Chimpanzee, and in the rainforest at Budongo Forest Reserve we&rsquo;ll explore the famous Royal Mile, a wide pathway through the forest that simply drips with birds. We&rsquo;ll conclude at Murchison Falls National Park, where we&rsquo;ll take to the water, not only to visit the spectacular Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile but with another chance to appreciate the unique Shoebill in its papyrus home. Guyana 2018 price reduced 2017-07-12 14:08:26 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>Our tour to <a href=""><strong>Guyana</strong></a> in 2018 has experienced a price reduction. There has never been a better time to go to this little-explored country tucked away in northern South America. A few spaces still remain on this tour. We'd love for you to join us!</p>