WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Thu, 15 Nov 2018 10:34:04 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Gavin Bieber on the first part of his recently completed tour, <a href="">Australia: Queensland and New South Wales</a></p> 2018-11-14 10:34:42 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We kicked off with a fantastic week around Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands, the region which hosts the highest diversity of species in the country, including many of the continent&rsquo;s signature birds.&nbsp; We had wonderful experiences with many of these this year.&nbsp; Just a sampling of our favorite sightings would includ a family group of Southern Cassowaries lounging in the afternoon sun, displaying Australian Bustard strutting on a lek site, glaring Metallic Starlings at a nesting colony, jewel-like Spotted Pardalotes attending a nest, multiple male Victoria&rsquo;s Riflebirds gorging themselves on fruit on our first morning above the lodge carpark and a stunning Azure Kingfisher along the scenic Daintree River. Tours to Australia are never solely about the birds; this year around Cairns we found multiple Boyd&rsquo;s Forest Dragons, incredibly tame and impossibly cute Mareeba Rock Wallabies and even a couple of the enigmatic Lumholtz&rsquo;s Tree Kangaroos!&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Southern Cassowary <small>Image: Kent Anderson</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Australian Bustard <small>Image: Kent Anderson</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Metallic Starling</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Spotted Pardalote</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Azure Kingfisher</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Boyds Forest Dragon <small>Image: Kent Anderson</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Mareeba Rock Wallaby <small>Image: Kent Anderson</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo <small>Image: Kent Anderson</small></em></p> <p>Luke Seitz on his and Fabrice Schmitt's ongoing tour, <a href="">Chile: Tierra del Fuego to the Atacama Desert</a></p> 2018-11-12 11:09:56 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Fabrice and I are just over halfway finished with our Chile tour, and we&rsquo;re having a great time. Birding started out hot on our first afternoon in Punta Arenas when this male Magellanic Woodpecker dazzled us with stunning views just along the roadside.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="991" /></p> <p>We then spent a couple days exploring the windswept Patagonian grasslands, seeing nearly all of our target birds in the process: Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Rufous-chested and Tawny-throated Dotterels, Magellanic Plover, and of course, the now-famous colony of King Penguins south of Porvenir. This unexpected Spectacled Duck was particularly photogenic&hellip;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="371" />&nbsp;</p> <p>&hellip;but we were also thrilled to find a trio of Patagonian Tinamous along a dirt road near Punta Arenas, one of which crouched down and allowed us to soak in its intricate pattern at leisure. This was the first time Fabrice had seen this species in Chile!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="356" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Flying north to Puerto Montt, we headed up into the rainy hills for some forest birding. Chile is well-known for its spectacular tapaculos (atypical of the family!), and our time searching for these skulky birds paid off. Chucao Tapaculo in particular performed brilliantly, zipping around nearly at our feet! Pardon the blurry photo, it&rsquo;s dark in the bamboo-choked forest&hellip;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="443" /><br /> Heading further north, we had two days to check various spots along the coast. Highlights including White-throated Tapaculo, Great Shrike-Tyrant, and close Inca Terns kept us busy, but today was arguably one of the best days of the entire tour. We boarded a boat and headed into the cool waters of the Humboldt Current, where we were treated to a spectacular show of dozens of albatross (among other seabirds), including the rare Chatham Albatross pictured here. Check out that big yellow bill! We&rsquo;re back in Santiago now, excited to head up into the Andes for more specialties in the coming days&hellip;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="364" /></p> <p>Gavin Bieber on the second part of his recently completed tour, <a href="">Australia: Queensland and New South Wales</a></p> 2018-11-07 16:39:13 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>The second half of our Eastern Australia set of tours kicked off on the idyllic Lady Elliot Island, on the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef.&nbsp; Here we marveled at nesting Black Noddies just feet from our lenses, as well as a host of other seabirds and a wide array of marine life.&nbsp; A little to the south around the famous O&rsquo;Reilly&rsquo;s Lodge where the birds are almost tame, with forest birds often coming to investigate your shoelaces.&nbsp; Wonga Pigeons and the gorgeous Regent and Satin Bowerbirds are common visitors around the lodge, where they look over (or from) your shoulder for any dropped tidbits.&nbsp; We had some rain occluding our visit here (though it didn&rsquo;t impact our bird list) which brought out an array of frogs including the colourful and impressively large Orange-eyed Treefrog.<span style="font-size: 1.2em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>After O&rsquo;Reilly&rsquo;s we flew down to Sydney where we spent some time in the stunning and large Royal National Park that lies just a little to the south of the city. This park provided a great and scenic backdrop for our final day and a half, with a family group of Powerful Owls on a day roost and very approachable Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.&nbsp; We finished the Eastern Tour with an impressive 300 species, and an amazing 436 species for the two tours combined.&nbsp; It is always with a touch of sadness that I board the plane to leave this amazing continent, and I very much look forward to next year&rsquo;s duo of tours!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Black Noddy</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>An O'Riellys scene</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Wonga Pigeon</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="640" /><br /><em>Regent Bowerbird</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Satin Bowerbird</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="385" /><br /><em>Orange-eyed Treefrog - <small>Image: Kent Anderson</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="640" /><br /><em>PowerfulOwl - <small>Image: Bob Pease</small></em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /><br /><em>Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - <small>Image: Kent Anderson</small></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Borneo - Sarawak Endemics 2018-10-31 15:08:01 Will Russell Recently updated tours Borneo is quite rightly regarded as one of the great storehouses of our planet&rsquo;s incredible biological diversity. Charles Darwin&rsquo;s famous description, &ldquo;one great, wild, untidy, luxuriant hothouse made by nature herself,&rdquo; although often said incorrectly to have been inspired by Borneo, is in fact perfect for Borneo. Sarawak, the legendary land of headhunters and hornbills, is Malaysia&lsquo;s largest state, occupying the northwestern portion of the great island of Borneo. Here, the ever-wet rainforests reach unparalleled diversity and are home to a dizzying array of tropical wildlife - a great portion of Borneo&rsquo;s 650 bird species have been recorded in the state. <p>Rich Hoyer on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Bolivia: Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Sadiri Lodge, and the Apolo Valley</a></p> 2018-10-30 11:18:42 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>You can&rsquo;t help but marvel at Bolivia&rsquo;s diversity when you experience the extreme variety of landscapes and habitats as we did on our just completed inaugural tour of&nbsp; the northern departments of La Paz and Beni. We started in the high Andes, visiting Lake Titicaca and the gradual pass of Pumasani on our way to and from the Apolo area &ndash; where we birded in the fog, snow, and sun, but happily without the usual annoying wind. Titicaca provided us with easy and delightful families of the flightless Titicaca Grebe, but it was a bold Plumbeous Rail that stole the show on our second morning there.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="420" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Plumbeous Rail <span style="font-size: xx-small;">Photo: David Fisher</span></p> <p>The high Andes had some exciting ground-tyrants, earthcreepers, miners, canasteros, and others. A frequent sight along the roadsides (and at our picnic sites as we departed) were beautiful Mountain Caracaras.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="361" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Picnic Lunch N of Charazani <span style="font-size: xx-small;">Photo by Rich Hoyer</span></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="449" /></p> <p>Mountain Caracara <span style="font-size: xx-small;">Photo:David Fisher</span></p> <p>We had some truly incredible experiences with world-class birds during our time in the Apolo-At&eacute;n areas. Finding a pair of the endemic &ldquo;Palkachupa&rdquo; subspecies of Swallow-tailed Cotinga at our breakfast location was a bit of a surprise, as we hadn&rsquo;t yet driven to the location where we were supposed to start looking for them.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="398" /></p> <p>Swallow-tailed Cotinga <span style="font-size: xx-small;">Photo: Rich Hoyer</span></p> <p>Another exciting moment came when we found a bird that few people have seen, as its precise distribution and migratory behavior have yet to be fully determined, and it doesn&rsquo;t even have a name yet. First discovered by Dan Lane and Gary Rosenberg while they were leading a WINGS tour in Peru in 2000, they saw it again in 2003, and that was the last time a birding group like ours had seen one until now. Rumor has that the final manuscript with the species description may be published within a year.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="456" />&nbsp;</p> <p>'San Pedro' Tanager <span style="font-size: xx-small;"> Photo: David Fisher</span></p> <p>Next came our time at the lovely Sadiri Lodge, with its wonderful food, delightfully hospitable staff, and super competent birding guides, where we experienced a mix of Amazonian and Andean foothill specialties. Band-bellied Owl, Sharpbill, and the scarce Yungas Tyrannulet were of&nbsp; among the species belonging to the former community, while a lucky encounter with a pair of Hairy-crested Antbirds, Yellow-shouldered Grosbeaks, and a pair of&nbsp; White-throated Woodpeckers in a flock near the lodge were some species with more Amazonian affinities.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="423" />&nbsp;</p> <p>White-throated Woodpecker <span style="font-size: xx-small;"> Photo: David Fisher</span></p> <p>Sadiri&rsquo;s tanager flocks didn&rsquo;t fail to delight us, and one particular mob assembled in a perfect display of riotous color.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="541" /></p> <p>Tanager Mob <span style="font-size: xx-small;"> Photo: Rich Hoyer</span></p> <p>Our group was the first such birding tour to visit the recently improved Barba Azul Nature Reserve. We saw our first Blue-throated Macaws the afternoon of our arrival, eventually seeing a flock of seven of these highly endangered birds.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="459" /></p> <p>Blue-throated Macaw <span style="font-size: xx-small;"> Photo: David Fisher</span></p> <p>The birding here was terrifically fun, especially along the marshes of the Omi River that runs through the property&nbsp;&ndash; complete with Long-winged Harrier, Least Bittern, and Ash-throated Crake.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="346" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Boat ride at Barba Azul <span style="font-size: xx-small;"> Photo: Rich Hoyer</span></p> <p>The ungrazed and unburned expanses of seasonally flooded savanna are home to some very scarce birds, such as Cock-tailed Tyrant, where we watched one do its astonishing flight display at a female.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="444" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Cock-tailed Tyrant <span style="font-size: xx-small;"> Photo: David Fisher</span></p> <p>This place is also home to a good variety of mammals, and we watched Black-and-gold Howler Monkeys grunt in the trees, a Six-banded Armadillo cross the airstrip, and a Giant Anteater gallop across a pasture.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="439" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Giant Anteater <span style="font-size: xx-small;"> Photo: David Fisher</span></p> <p>Rich Hoyer on his recent tour, <a href="">Bolivia: The Chaco, Valle Zone, and Central Andes</a></p> 2018-10-23 08:56:14 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>The first of our two back-to-back Bolivia tours was a breeze, thanks to wonderful support from our multi-talented driver Herman, our ground agent, a small group, and birds everywhere. Our first day in Santa Cruz wasn&rsquo;t just breezy, but downright windy, though we still started off with a big day list, amongst which was a pair of Green-barred Woodpeckers at a nest.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="423" /></p> <p>Our time in the Chaco was brilliant, with all of the expected species and more. Crested Gallito, Crested Hornero, and Lark-like Brushrunner showed well, leaving us to wonder why so many birds here have crests. Black-legged Seriema was perhaps the most iconic target, and they didn&rsquo;t disappoint, with several seen on our drive east from Boyuibe.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="371" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Another hoped-for species was Many-colored Chaco-Finch, and with effort we finally found a very cooperative individual of this lovely species.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="443" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Almost any little body of water was likely to hold wintering water birds, and we had marvelous views of Brazilian Teal and Ringed Teal on several occasions.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="377" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Exploring the habitats in the dry Valle Zone of the country&rsquo;s center was a rich experience.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="440" /><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>A close encounter with a Glittering-bellied Emerald here left an impression.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="435" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The most sought-after bird in this region is the rare endemic Red-fronted Macaw, and we had some great views of them.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="465" />&nbsp;</p> <p>We finished the tour in the central Andes, admiring the scenery and some special birds at elevations up to 14,400 feet. Here we saw Bright-rumped Yellow-Finches, Taczanowski&rsquo;s Ground-Tyrant, many White-winged Diuca-Finches, Cordilleran Canastero, and a speedy Aplomado Falcon.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="401" /></p> Peninsular Malaysia 2018-09-28 14:32:04 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; Cruise: Antarctic Peninsula and Around Cape Horn 2018-09-25 11:38:05 Will Russell Recently updated tours Have you dreamed of taking an extended pelagic trip around the southern tip of South America and cruising off the Antarctic Peninsula&mdash;traveling to such legendary places as Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel, the Strait of Magellan, and the Falkland Islands and seeing in the process 30 or more species of tubenoses, 8 species of albatross, 4 species of penguin, and 3 species of diving-petrels, among others? If so, you may not have imagined that this can be done brilliantly on a&nbsp;Princess cruise ship which is of course both comfortable and well-appointed and is also stable enough to permit telescope use even in these turbulent waters. We believe that this cruise&nbsp;offers the best access to a unique and memorable seabirding experience in South America and probably one of the best in the world.&nbsp; Nepal 2018-07-11 14:53:26 Will Russell Recently updated tours Cut off from the rest of the world for centuries, Nepal remains one of Asia&rsquo;s most fascinating destinations. It&rsquo;s a tiny, landlocked country dominated by the still-growing Himalayan mountain chain that separates the icy deserts of Tibet from the dusty, sun-baked plains of India but within its borders one finds a feast of spectacular scenery, cultural contrasts, and rich biological resources. Over 850 bird species have been recorded here, more than in any other region of comparable size in Asia, and this tour samples a variety of the country&rsquo;s richest natural habitats. These range from the moist, moss-covered oak-rhododendron forests surrounding the Kathmandu Valley to areas of riverine grassland, marsh, and scrub at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in the southeast, and on to the subtropical forests, grasslands, and wetlands in and around the world-renowned Chitwan National Park. 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>