WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Sat, 23 Jan 2021 17:07:01 -0700 en daily 1 <p>Susan Myers shares some amaing images from her time at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico</p> 2021-01-14 21:23:07 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>If you&rsquo;re a WINGS leader the birding never stops! There isn&rsquo;t a single day where I&rsquo;m not&nbsp;birding in one way or another. I won&rsquo;t lie-I&rsquo;ve been missing so many aspects of my leading&nbsp;life, not least showing our guests the amazing birds and placeswhereI lead, as well as my&nbsp;friends(human and avian) in Asia and Australia. But I&rsquo;m making the most of my time here&nbsp;and really getting to know the birds of America. Last December I enjoyed a very special&nbsp;week in New Mexico as guests of my&nbsp;good&nbsp;friends Liz and&nbsp;Maurice Southworth. Our aim was&nbsp;to photograph the Sandhill Cranes at the legendary Bosque del Apache reserve south of&nbsp;Albuquerque.&nbsp;While isolating in our bubble (of course), we visited the reserve daily.&nbsp;Unfortunately for everyone, cranes included, New Mexico has been experiencing a drought&nbsp;for the last couple of years so the usual photography point where one can get close to these&nbsp;beautiful birds was as dry as a chip. So, no joy there, photography wise... Nevertheless,&nbsp;there were still thousands of cranes, as well as Snow Geese, Ross&rsquo;s Geese, Northern Pintails,&nbsp;and others. What an incredible sight as the cranes daily flew in and out of their feeding and&nbsp;roosting sites. And the soundscape was also remarkable. Anyone who has experienced&nbsp;cranes en masse must surely count their honking as one of their favourite sounds. It&nbsp;reminded me very much of my winter tours to Japan where we visit Arasaki in the south to&nbsp;see the massive congregations of White-naped and Hooded Cranes. In fact, we see Sandhill&nbsp;Cranes there every year, too. But only three or four of them. This was something else!So here are some images I managed to capture of these most iconic of birds. I hope you&nbsp;enjoy them.&nbsp;By the way, if you&rsquo;d like to see some more, I&rsquo;m on Instagram&nbsp;@wildwomanphotos.&nbsp;And thanks again Liz and Maurice...</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="480" height="320" /></p> <p>Steve Howell finishes up his 2020 Bigfoot Year</p> 2021-01-11 14:00:51 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Steve Howell concludes the saga of his COVID-enforced 2020 Bigfoot Year in his California home town (see previous FTH posts) with a summary of December, one of the highlights of which was this Christmas dawn, accurately foretelling some much needed rain.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;</p> <p>As any birder knows, diminishing returns is a rule of birding, and after many, many days afield in town I didn&rsquo;t find a single new species in December for my Bigfoot Year. But it&rsquo;s always nice to watch the regular&nbsp;local birds, including this dark Merlin in the neighborhood.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>And the wintering young Ferruginous Hawk, which finally flew over my yard.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Bird of the year in town, however, was found by a friend on December 7th, and I was called in to help with the ID. Common Poorwill is the only &ldquo;likely&rdquo; nightjar here at any season, but this bird was mooted as perhaps a whip-poor-will. Imagine my surprise on seeing it&mdash;what the Chuck?!&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>After sleeping in the sun, this one-day-wonder immature Chuck-will&rsquo;s-widow yawned at dusk, preened its breast a little, and flew off, never to be seen again. Only the fourth California record, and two of the others were also in December&ndash;January, hinting at an interesting, but as-yet-unexplained, pattern.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>One more oddball at the year&rsquo;s end was this handsome male hybrid wigeon, a &ldquo;new bird&rdquo; for the walking year, even though I&rsquo;d seen both parent species. So, the Bigfoot Year ended at 230 species, plus one hybrid, plus one species not found myself.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>This sunlit Merlin on January 1st was a nice way to ring in the New Year, and let&rsquo;s hope 2021 allows a little more travel. Wishing a Happy New Year to all WINGS participants, and I hope to see some of you in the field later this year? And now we sit back and wait...&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p>Steve Howell continues his Big Foot Big Year into October and November</p> 2020-12-14 16:18:27 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>Steve Howell continues the saga of his COVID-enforced Bigfoot Year in Bolinas, California, with a summary of the record-breaking (oops, giveaway...) late fall months, October and November. Whether it was daily birding or simply that October was above average, I found a steady trickle of new species, including predictable Broad-winged Hawks in the first few days, this adult with a full crop,</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>And an unpredictable Acorn Woodpecker (not annual in town, but breeds nearby), this immature male.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p><span>Vagrants included a couple of Tennessee Warblers, always a treat in bright fall plumage.</span><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /></p> <p><span>Plus the third Gray Catbird for my yard in 5 years, remarkably on the same date as the first bird (same bird?) back in 2016!</span></p> <p><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Flocks of Cackling Geese headed south in mid-month.</span><img style="font-size: 1.2em;" src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" /><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Other notables included another (!) Painted Bunting, even drabber than the September bird&mdash;what color exactly is that?</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A distant fly-over White-faced Ibis (I&rsquo;ll assume it wasn&rsquo;t a Glossy!) was tie-maker for the 2018 total of 218 species, and the tie-breaker was this unexpected young female Vermilion Flycatcher bathed in sunset light at the sewage ponds, very much a county rarity! Gone the next day, sadly.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>October 28th produced Horned Lark and Cassin&rsquo;s Finch from my yard (both local rarities), plus this loudly calling (thanks, or I&rsquo;d never have seen it!) Swamp Sparrow a few blocks away, making 222 for the year&mdash;the old record well and truly shattered.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A few waterbirds in late month rounded out October at 225 species, and new birds inevitably dropped off in early November, although Varied Thrush finally (!) appeared, calling from a distant tree top one early morning.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>For those who say, &ldquo;Oh it was too far away to get a (documentary) photo,&rdquo; that&rsquo;s rarely true&mdash;if you can see and ID it with your binoculars, then the camera usually does a better job&mdash;here&rsquo;s the same Varied Thrush image cropped, not a cover photo, but certainly diagnostic. Try it some time.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The &ldquo;local&rdquo; Black Vulture (a mega-rarity in California, but it&rsquo;s been wandering the state for years) made an appearance one afternoon, number 227, and then a couple of Marbled Murrelets plus this vagrant Eastern Phoebe (here posing with a local Black Phoebe&mdash;look at the different wing and tail lengths) all on November 21st suddenly made 230 species go from unlikely to quite possible. What a difference a day makes!</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I spent the rest of the month&nbsp;appreciating the local common birds, such as sparrows and this stunning Steller&rsquo;s Jay (imagine this as a rare vagrant, it would blow your socks off!), and then literally out of the blue a fly-over Evening Grosbeak on November 28th brought my 2020 Bigfoot Year total to 230 species. Hmm, could anything new appear in December, and if so, what? I am now basically out of expected and evenly vaguely possible species, but as we know, who knows with birding&hellip;&nbsp;Stay tuned for the final episode, coming soon.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="512" />&nbsp;</p> Zambia 2020-11-19 12:33:30 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. Global Birding Event 2020-11-18 16:36:51 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p>The Global Birding Event held on 17 October proved to be an amazing success. 32,790 people took part around the world and between them recorded an incredible 7111 species through The combined number of species seen by the WINGS/Sunbird team was 595 and the event as a whole raised in excess of $30,000 for Birdlife International. But perhaps its greatest achievment was pulling together all those birders around the world and it was wonderful to be part of something so big - we are already looking forward to next year&rsquo;s event. You can read all about the big day and see all the statistics at&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p><br />If you would like to contribute to Birdlife&rsquo;s continued work trying to end the senseless trade in wild birds, donations can be made direct to Birdlife International by clicking&nbsp;<a href=";_gac=1.263092478.1605609806.Cj0KCQiAhs79BRD0ARIsAC6XpaWdmnCHNWNrgH8DrANdTglJf2eWDxGmaF1GerJ8B_aerYSre8OBpsYaAntrEALw_wcB"><strong>here</strong></a>.</p> India: The North 2020-04-06 16:39:40 Will Russell Recently updated tours India is a mystical and exotic country that for many people epitomizes foreign travel. It is an extraordinarily varied land, and long after you have returned home images will remain to enrich and liven your daily round: the cool marble splendor of the Taj Mahal; the snows of the Himalayas, flamingo-pink at dawn; and the lush green jungles. And above all the birds: the thrill of your first Siberian Rubythroat, a Red-flanked Bluetail or Altai Accentor beside a mountain stream a Sarus Crane striding majestically through the cornfields an Orange-headed Thrush lighting up the undergrowth or minivets streaming through the emerald canopy. With so many birds on the potential list, the examples can only be arbitrary, and the total for the tour should be between 380 and 400 species. Portugal in Spring 2020-04-02 15:41:14 Will Russell Recently updated tours Portugal possesses a fine diversity of habitats and birds in a relatively small area.&nbsp; Within 30 minutes drive from Lisbon city center and its International Airport we find the Tagus Estuary and the Sado Estuary Nature Reserves, two protected wetland areas with extensive bird lists including Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Squacco and Purple Herons, Black-shouldered Kite, Little Bustard, Iberian Grey Shrike and Spotless Starling, and an excellent selection of ducks, waders, gulls and terns. Scotland 2020-02-06 10:39:20 Will Russell Recently updated tours The Scottish Highlands are one of the last truly wild places to be found in the United Kingdom. Ideally placed to explore the region, the imposing Grant Arms Hotel is home to The Birdwatching and Wildlife Club which provides its own Club room with a wildlife information centre, a bookshop and a natural history library. It also has a large lecture theatre which hosts evening talks from a range of guest speakers. 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.