WingsBirds Updates Updates from WingsBirds Sun, 01 Oct 2023 09:05:51 -0700 en daily 1 Mongolia: The Eastern Steppes 2023-09-27 16:47:52 Will Russell Recently updated tours We offer a unique itinerary to the far east of Mongolia, a land of the endless sea of grass, of golden steppes as far as you can see, where the only signs of humans are the tracks we drive on and the occasional nomad&rsquo;s ger. Out here, there are ornithological discoveries still to be made. The avian influence is Manchurian in origin, and our main targets will be Jankowski&rsquo;s Bunting, Baer&rsquo;s Pochard, Siberian Crane, Mongolian Short-toed Lark, Ochre-rumped Bunting,&nbsp;polivanovi&nbsp;Reed Parrotbill and Marsh Grassbird. It&rsquo;s also just possible that Swinhoe&rsquo;s Rail can be found here&hellip; We&rsquo;ll be travelling light and camping &ndash; there&rsquo;s no other option &ndash; and&nbsp;&nbsp;covering huge distances by in 4x4s, the majority of it on dirt tracks. However, the vehicles we use are comfortable (in 2023 and, hopefully in 2024 as well Toyota Land Cruisers), our drivers are marvelously proficient, and the tracks are usually smooth going.&nbsp; <p>Rich Hoyer reports from the recent <a href="">Oregon in Late Summer</a> tour</p> 2023-09-21 11:37:55 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>&nbsp;A single morning of rain &ndash; the first here in western Oregon since early June &ndash; was actually quite the welcome change from the otherwise stunningly gorgeous weather with ideal temperatures the entire rest of this year&rsquo;s Oregon in Late Summer tour.&nbsp; A family of Mountain Quail feeding on the shoulder of the Marys Peak Road was one of the more memorable highlights, but with nearly 240 species of birds seen in such varied habitats, it was hard to choose favorites. There was the Barred Owl that flew off the side of the road fully two miles before we got to our predetermined owling location (where we also heard Northern Saw-whet Owl). Snowy Plovers blended so peacefully with their sand dune habitat at the coast, allowing us to approach quite closely and identify one of the color-banded individuals, a three-year-old male. A stop in a lovely patch of old-growth Big Sagebrush produced a subtly beautiful Sagebrush Sparrow. And the Common Poorwill that came in so quickly and landed so close to us was quite the surprise, providing perhaps the shortest night birding foray we&rsquo;ve ever done. We made productive stops for butterflies, many dragonflies and damselflies, mammals such as Bighorn Sheep and Pronghorn, and to top them all, a gorgeous Rubber Boa stretched across a remote forest service road.</p> <p>We connected with all the hoped-for &ldquo;rockpeckers&rdquo; on the coast, including this family of Black Oystercatchers.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="416" /></p> <p>This American Pipit was one of the first fall migrants of its species to grace the Oregon coast this year.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="464" /></p> <p>Notably and eerily absent from the pine forests of eastern Oregon, these Clark's Nutcrackers were a rare showing in western Oregon on top of Marys Peak.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="411" /></p> <p>We glimpsed many Sage Thrashers, but just this one, our first one near Fort Rock, allowed such close approach.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="414" /></p> <p>We worked hard for our lone White-headed Woodpecker in the mixed conifer forests north of Burns, only to have this confiding individual at our last morning&rsquo;s picnic breakfast stop far out of habitat.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="465" /></p> <p>One of the tour highlights was finding this charming Rubber Boa stretched out across a remote forest road.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="542" /></p> Alaska: The Pribilofs and Utqiagvik (Barrow) in Fall 2023-09-21 09:30:41 Will Russell Recently updated tours Alaska&rsquo;s Pribilof Islands lie in the Bering Sea some 300 miles southwest of the nearest bit of Alaska&rsquo;s mainland. We&rsquo;ve scheduled an extended stay on the rocky island of St. Paul at a good time for Asian and other vagrants. Even though the breeding season is over, the sea cliffs and surrounding waters will still have hundreds alcids and good numbers of the near-endemic Red-legged Kittiwake, and the Northern Fur Seal colony will be overflowing with young seal pups. Colombia: Central 2023-09-18 16:17:02 Will Russell Recently updated tours Hummingbirds galore plus sparkling tanagers, elusive antpittas and even Mountain-Toucan, all while enjoying a cup of Colombian coffee! <p>Jake Mohlmann reports on the recent <a href="">Arizona & Utah</a> tour:</p> 2023-09-18 13:39:07 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>We just finished covering 1,986 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. 193 species of birds were encountered over 13 days filled with perfect weather, endless landscapes, and a big sky easy to get lost in.</p> <p>Our group in the unreal Antelope Canyon.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="480" height="640" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Grand Canyon was an endless maze of gorges all combined to create a spectacle that has to be seen to believe. Our sunrise here was unforgettable.</p> <p>The sun creeps up Grand Canyon&rsquo;s walls at sunrise.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="374" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the highlights of the trip was getting to witness 4 wild California Condors fly through Marble Canyon just under our feet. While overlooking the Colorado River condor L4 was directly below. The peregrine fund states she was hatched in the wild on May 27<sup>th</sup>, 2011.</p> <p>12 year old condor L4 was very close.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="419" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Canyon Wrens are an emblematic species for this rugged terrain. Deep canyons allow their song to echo down below, and we were lucky enough to experience them multiple days. One particularly confiding bird was posted up on top of the entrance of Boyce Thompson Arboretum.</p> <p>Canyon Wren overlooking its domain.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="468" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zion National Park protects an amazing diversity of habitats across southern Utah. Not only was Zion Canyon breathtakingly beautiful, but also provided a very close encounter with a bird that calls these areas home. On the rocky banks of the Virgin River we had an American Dipper comfortable enough to approach us to within a few feet. We couldn&rsquo;t believe our luck as we got to watch it hunt for, catch, and consume a tadpole.</p> <p>American Dipper hunted for food within feet.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At Canyon de Chelly the soaked skies wrung out in a deluge of rain. So much rain fell that various waterfalls began forming, and pouring down from the towering 1,000 foot cliffs to the valley bottom below. The timing has to be just right to witness something like this so we all felt lucky to have seen this spectacle.</p> <p>Waterfalls toppled over the Canyon de Chelly cliffs.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="427" height="640" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Monument Valley is world famous and the setting for countless western movies. This year the conditions were perfect for seeing the west mitten cast its shadow across the face of the east mitten. A great way to end our day!</p> <p>The mittens of Monument Valley at sunset.<br /><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>Rich Hoyer reports from the <a href="">Oregon: Birds & Theater</a> tour</p> 2023-09-14 16:57:06 Wings Staff Field Reports <p>For such a short, compact tour, we packed it in &ndash; great birding in with gorgeous scenery, terrific restaurants with delicious variety, and of course some top-notch performances by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival all combined to make this a memorable tour. Though evenings were usually very smoky from distant forest fires in California, our birding up in the mountains was in fresher air, and the side trip to the Klamath Basin and Crater Lake National Park was simply perfect. Owls and woodpeckers were a recurring theme, with Barn Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Acorn Woodpecker, and White-headed Woodpecker among the top five favorite birds. We were surprised by two Ruffed Grouse in the road one morning, which also received multiple votes. Because of the smoke, we missed the two performances in the outdoor Elizabethan theater, but the three we saw indoors were outstanding, with Where We Belong on its opening night a favorite for most of us&nbsp;&ndash; even though the only Common Grackle we would see during the tour was on its promotional poster.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This pair of Barn Owls in the welded tuff formation known as the Petroglyph Cliffs was a tour highlight for many.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="401" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Rogue Valley is home to many Acorn Woodpeckers, and at TouVelle park we enjoyed watching them at one of the best-known examples of a granary tree.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="479" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On our first morning we spent some time calling in this Northern Pygmy-Owl, which came out of hiding not far above eye level.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="441" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though migration for some is well underway, many birds were still on territory, such as this MacGillivray's Warbler.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="442" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We enjoyed several picnics in beautiful settings.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="463" /></p> Bulgaria in Spring 2023-08-01 11:43:53 Will Russell Recently updated tours Located on the Black Sea, Bulgaria sits on one of Europe&rsquo;s key bird migration flyways. Its varied habitats offer great variety - we can expect 150-200 species including Wallcreeper - as well as a rich overall natural history. We&rsquo;ll also visit sites of history, mysticism, and legend, most revolving around one of the world&rsquo;s most ancient civilisations, the Thracians. We&rsquo;ll include three UNESCO world heritage sites. Poland in Spring 2023-08-01 11:34:14 Will Russell Recently updated tours Birding in Eastern Poland in late May is magical. Every mile of road has at least one pair of White Storks nesting on top of a roadside telegraph pole, the incessant crex crex call of Corncrakes can, as dusk sets in, be almost deafening, and Common Cuckoos seem to be in every patch of woodland or reed. The general area hosts a range of habitats, from the extensive Biebrza Marshes &ndash;&nbsp;home to a significant proportion of the world&rsquo;s breeding Aquatic Warblers &ndash;&nbsp;to the primeval Bialowieza Forest. Accordingly, a wide variety of species can be encountered, many in numbers seldom found elsewhere in Europe. Remembering David Fisher 2023-05-18 12:43:48 Matt Brooks Miscellany <p style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 19px;"><span style="color: #292929;"><img src="" alt="" width="470" height="576" /></span></p> <p style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 19px;"><span style="color: #292929;">It&rsquo;s been almost two years since we lost David Fisher, world birder, co-owner of Sunbird, and tour leader known to many WINGS participants.&nbsp; David was also the Chairman of the Neotropical Bird Club, working tirelessly in that role for years. Such was his contribution to the NBC that the club has created a Memorial Lecture in David&rsquo;s name.&nbsp; The very first David Fisher Memorial Lecture has just taken place and has been recorded for posterity on YouTube.&nbsp; The lecture is given by Dr. Alex Lees on the subject of bird migration through the Neotropical region and you can view it </span><a href="" data-cke-saved-href="" data-emb-href-display=""><span style="color: #0775e3;">via this link</span></a><span style="color: #292929;"> - it&rsquo;s a fascinating talk and well worth watching.<br /></span></p> <p style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 19px;"><span style="color: #292929;"><img src="" alt="" width="938" height="525" /></span></p> <p style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 19px;"><span style="color: #292929;"><span style="color: #292929;">David left his estate to be divided between Birdlife International, WWF, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), to whom he also donated his extensive collection of books on ornithology. The RSPB holds one of the largest libraries of bird books in the UK and had reached a point where the collection needed to rehoused in a more modern and accessible facility. Part of David&rsquo;s legacy to the Society has been used in the building of the new library, which opened last year in the new Avocet building at the Society&rsquo;s headquarters in Bedfordshire, England, where a plaque has been placed by the entrance acknowledging David&rsquo;s contribution. Both the plaque and the biannual lecture will be a lasting reminder of someone who was so well-liked and who is so greatly missed.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -- Steve Rooke</span>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; <br /></span></p> <p style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 19px;"><span style="color: #292929;"><img src="" alt="" width="2000" height="1126" /><img src="" alt="" width="2000" height="1126" /><br /></span></p>