WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Mon, 17 Feb 2020 06:54:17 -0700 en daily 1 Zambia 2020-02-14 14:18:48 Will Russell Recently updated tours Zambia is a wonderfully scenic country in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa with numerous parks and safari areas.&nbsp; It is also unusually diverse biologically, and&mdash;although under birded&mdash;has one of the largest bird lists in Africa, surpassing 750 species.&nbsp; We&rsquo;ll visit a range of habitats, each with its own set of species, beginning in the extreme northwest corner on the border of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This remote area, rarely visited by tourists, offers a chance to see many Congo Basin species normally inaccessible to birders. From here we&rsquo;ll travel south towards Kafue National Park, one of the largest parks in Africa, with its extensive Miombo woodlands interspersed with grassy depressions called &ldquo;Dambos.&rdquo;&nbsp; Here we may see the highly localized Black-cheeked Lovebird and very likely some of Africa&rsquo;s iconic mammals. Continuing south we&rsquo;ll stop near Choma for the endemic Chaplin&rsquo;s Barbet, before spending the last couple nights in the Lower Zambezi Valley where we&rsquo;ll target the iconic African Pitta, one of Africa&rsquo;s most sought-after birds. <p>Steve Howell and Luke Seitz on their just-completed cruise, <a href="">Antarctic Peninsula and around Cape Horn</a></p> 2020-02-11 11:40:59 Wings Staff Field Reports <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Steve Howell and Luke Seitz report on the inaugural WINGS tour on a Princess cruise ship to Antarctica and around Cape Horn, which definitely exceeded expectations&mdash;from Snow Petrel and Emperor Penguin to Magellanic Woodpecker and Andean Condor; from intense blue icebergs dotted with penguins to tens of whales feeding all around the ship amid icy scenic grandeur; and switching oceans from Atlantic Petrel and Yellow-nosed Albatross in the South Atlantic to Juan Fernandez Petrel and Buller&rsquo;s Albatrosses in the Humboldt Current. Such a trip is impossible to convey in words or even in a few images. But we&rsquo;ll try...</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Just another Antarctic vista as we scanned for penguins and whales.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Seeing 12 of the world&rsquo;s 24 albatross species on the trip was notable, from the almost daily but always handsome Black-browed...</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"> the huge Wandering Albatrosses, at times almost sailing past at arm&rsquo;s length and allowing great comparisons of the various taxa&mdash;here a (presumed) Snowy Wandering...</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">... and here, within the same minute, a distinctive Antipodes Wanderer.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Penguins of course are synonymous with this region, whether Adelie Penguins on icebergs...</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">...the up-close-and-personal colony of King Penguins at the Falklands...</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">...or Chinstrap Penguins porpoising in their marine element.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="470" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Some Humpback Whales feeding amid scenery. &copy; Luke Seitz</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Snowy Sheathbills flew out to visit the ship a few times... &copy; Luke Seitz</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">...distracting us from the infinite shapes and shades of glaciers and icebergs.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">It wasn&rsquo;t all seabirds, and here the group enjoyed an obliging male Magellanic Woodpecker</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">This young Burrowing Owl in Uruguay was another non-seabird highlight.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">And lastly, the tour coincided with the first Patagonian Wetlands Birding Festival in Punta Arenas, where we added an international flavor to the event, held on International Wetlands Day.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">&nbsp;</span></p> Uganda: Shoebills to Gorillas 2020-02-06 11:41:51 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 can simply drip 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. <p>Jake Mohlman on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Arizona: A Winter Week in the Southeast</a></p> 2020-02-04 16:56:50 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our winter week in Southeastern Arizona covered just over 1,000 miles of mostly paved, scenic roads while searched for any wildlife that would allow viewing. Some highlights of the 143 species of birds seen included a very cooperative male Hepatic Tanager in Madera Canyon, a petite Western Screech-Owl catching the first rays of sun in its roost hole, and a family group of Mexican Chickadees at 8,000 feet in the stunning Chiricahua Mountains.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="342" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A male Hepatic Tanager showed nicely.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="439" /></p> <p>This Western Screech-Owl blended in perfectly.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="386" /></p> <p>Mexican Chickadee was the target on our day in Portal.</p> <p>We always round out the trip with a run through the parks in and around Tucson where there are usually a few rare birds to be seen. This year a wintering Greater Pewee was found at Reid Park, and not too far away a Plumbeous Vireo came in for close looks.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="429" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Greater Pewee was a rare winter treat.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="332" /></p> <p>A Plumbeous Vireo came in for inspection.</p> <p>Although temperatures weren&rsquo;t too cold this year, birds were huddled close in the early mornings at our very comfortable Bed &amp; Breakfast. Inca Doves sat two abreast in order to ward off the chill, and the emblematic Cactus Wren greeted us daily before we headed out on our adventures.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="355" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A pair of Inca Doves couldn&rsquo;t get closer.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="381" /></p> <p>Cactus Wrens were seen daily.</p> <p>There were many ID challenges that we worked on throughout the week. One such case is differentiating the Curve-billed and Bendire&rsquo;s Thrashers. After looking at about a dozen Curve-billed, and much to our delight, we finally tracked down a much rarer Bendire&rsquo;s. In this same valley we experienced the unbelievable experience of watching as many as 8,000 Sandhill Cranes come in to loaf mid-day in the famed Sulphur Springs Valley.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Curve-billed Thrasher, not to be confused with the much rarer...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="323" />&nbsp;</p> <p>&hellip;and harder to find Bendire&rsquo;s Thrasher.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Just a few of the thousands of Sandhill Cranes seen in one day.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="470" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Our group excited to visit Cave Creek Canyon waiting in the distance.</p> South Africa: Marion Island Cruise - Land extensions 2020-01-24 13:50:48 Will Russell Recently updated tours South Africa is world-renowned for its incredible birding and unparalleled mammal watching while offshore offers some of the best pelagic birding on the planet. For those wanting a mix of land and sea, this opportunity should not be missed. &nbsp; <p>Jared Clarke on his recently concluded winter tour in <a href="">Newfoundland</a></p> 2020-01-19 16:46:18 Wings Staff Field Reports <p><span>Our popular &ldquo;Newfoundland in Winter&rdquo; tour has drawn to a close for yet another year, with five intrepid birders braving&nbsp;</span><span>the</span><span>&nbsp;elements to score some wonderful winter birds. Participants came&nbsp;</span><span>from&nbsp;</span><span>throughout the United States to enjoy&nbsp;</span><span>the</span><span>&nbsp;diversity of northern species that call this island home &ndash; and&nbsp;</span><span>the</span><span>y were not disappointed. Early surprises came in the form of rare visitors from very different directions &ndash; a Pink-footed Goose from Europe and a Hermit Warbler from western North America! Always a highlight, Dovekies (aka &ldquo;bullbirds&rdquo;</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>to local Newfoundlanders) put in an excellent showing and even allowed some very (very!) close encounters. After a couple early misses, we also connected with two flocks of Purple Sandpipers &ndash; a special moment for several of our guests. Local celebrities such as Great Cormorants, Eurasian Wigeon and several dozen Tufted Ducks were of course on full display. Extra time spent exploring the sub-arctic tundra were rewarded with great views of some of the world&rsquo;s southernmost caribou foraging in the snow. A beautiful encounter with two Willow Ptarmigan on our last afternoon rounded off a fantastic week of winter birding in&nbsp;</span><span>the</span><span>&nbsp;North Atlantic!</span></p> <p><span><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></span><br /><em>Pink-footed Goose</em></p> <p><span><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="461" />&nbsp;</span><br /><em>Dovekie</em></p> <p><span><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="296" /></span><br /><em>Purple Sandpiper</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="317" /><br /><em>Caribou</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="438" /><br /><em>Willow Ptarmigan</em></p> <p><em><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /><br /><em>Winter birding in Newfoundland is a wonderful experience</em></em></p> <p>Steve Howell on his recently completed Mexican tour to <a href="">San Blas</a></p> 2020-01-16 14:23:48 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>As always, the birds kept us busy, but in a relaxed way based at a very comfortable hotel with excellent food and hospitality. From colorful trogons and warblers to cryptic potoos and feisty pygmy-owls; from flashy endemic jays and impressive Military Macaws to elegant Elegant Quail and dapper Black-capped Vireos; from poetry and a sunset beers to large crocodiles and colorful butterflies in tropical green forest, it was a very special week and a great group to be with. A few images capture some of the story.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>After unseasonal cold weather the first few days our last day turned out hot and we enjoyed a shady scenic picnic overlooking the Pacific.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p>Northern Potoo is always a highlight, and this bird showed wonderfully.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p>Wading birds were well represented as usual, including this Roseate Spoonbill amid nesting Wood Storks.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p>The typically elusive Blue Mockingbird showed well one afternoon...</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p>And a point-blank Ivory-billed Woodcreeper was another highlight.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p>After a little searching, Colima Pygmy-Owl (which was being mobbed by Happy and Sinaloa Wrens!) put on a fine show.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>The group celebrating &lsquo;just another great day in the field&rsquo; before another fine dinner.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gavin Bieber on his recently completed tour, <a href="">Australia: Queensland and New South Wales</a></p> 2020-01-07 15:36:07 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Our Eastern Australia Tour kicked off with a fantastic week around Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands.&nbsp; This region hosts the highest biological diversity in the country, including a number of the continent&rsquo;s signature species, and this year we had incredible experiences with many of them. Just a sampling of our favorite sightings included...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>a family group of Southern Cassowaries walking around near a stunning white-sand tropical beach...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="530" /></p> <p>White-browed Crakes in the open in a small roadside marsh...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="451" /></p> <p>Azure Kingfishers sitting along a mangrove laden creek...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Brown Cuckoo-Doves scarfing fruit in the rainforest...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="471" /></p> <p>and a pair of Noisy Pittas just a few feet away from our sumptuous breakfast at Kingfisher Park.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="438" /></p> <p>Our views of feeding Spangled Drongo...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Squatter Pigeon...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>and Laughing Kookaburra in the drier forest to the west of the tablelands were excellent.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="376" /></p> <p>As always, tours to Australia are never solely about the birds;and in particular our lengthy views of Platypus near Yungaburra (one of an impressive 25 species of mammals for the tour) were a real highlight for many.</p> <p>The second week kicked off on the idyllic Lady Elliot Island, on the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Here we marveled at nesting Black Noddies...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>and Red-tailed Tropicbirds just feet from our lenses, as well as a host of other seabirds and a wide array of marine life, including an impressive 9-foot wide stingray.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>A stop in at Inskip Point a bit to the south of Lady Elliot revealed some very cooperative Beach Thick-Knees...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>a couple of large Lace Monitors...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="502" /></p> <p>and a family group of Variegated Fairywren (amazingly the 10<sup>th</sup> species of these charismatic birds we found over the 2019 tours; a clean sweep of the Australian group).&nbsp;</p> <p>A little to the south around the famous O&rsquo;Reilly&rsquo;s Lodge the birds are almost tame, and forest birds often come to investigate your shoelaces.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>Normally shy Eastern Whipbirds...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="427" height="640" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="427" />&nbsp;</p> <p>...and gorgeous Regent and Satin Bowerbirds are common visitors around the lodge, where they look over (or from) your shoulder for any dropped tidbits.&nbsp;</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</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="515" /></p> <p>and a nice array of waterbirds including our first Chestnut Teal.&nbsp;</p> <p>A pelagic trip out of Sydney harbor proved bucolic, with nearly flat seas and great viewing conditions.&nbsp; Hundreds of dolphins danced around the boat at times,</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>and we enjoyed repeated views of Campbell Albatross and Providence Petrels.</p> <p>We finished the Eastern Tour with 299 species, and an amazing 451 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> Lesser Antilles 2019-12-18 19:03:39 Will Russell Recently updated tours These 10 stunningly beautiful Caribbean islands form the eastern border between the placid Caribbean Sea and the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Each tropical island gem is separated by turquoise seas and boasts rich wetlands, vast open grasslands, dynamic coastlines and lush tropical rainforests. These diverse habitats are home to a lengthy list of highly threatened single-island endemics and near endemics along with a host of indigenous regional specialties. Oregon: Birds & Theater 2019-09-12 10:35:38 Will Russell Recently updated tours The Oregon Shakespeare Festival began as a three-day event featuring two Shakespeare plays, but that was 85 years ago. In short, it&rsquo;s no longer just a festival and it&rsquo;s far more than just Shakespeare. Away from the Pacific Northwest it seems to be a closely-guarded secret, but it has evolved to be one of North America&rsquo;s premier acting companies. Each year, over 800 performances during their eight-month season are viewed by 400,000 attendees. Offering up to eleven different plays over the season and occupying three stages twice a day for much of that time, the Tony Award-winning OSF doesn&rsquo;t have trouble selling out performances, especially during the summer, when nearly perfect weather occurs with almost alarming predictability.