A great new Morocco slideshow
August 27th, 2015 by Field Guides
Guide Jesse Fagan has just posted a fresh Morocco slideshow of about 80 images that will give you a wonderful feel for the birding, landscapes, and culture of this great destination — and the fun of doing the tour with Jesse. Have a look at the link below or click on the Bald Ibis photo — it’s just one of the many unusual things we expect to see on our upcoming May 2016 tour.
See the gallery (click on the “slideshow” button once there)
Recent tour reports to cool down with!
August 13th, 2015 by Field Guides
Been sweltering in the summer heat? Then you might enjoy looking through two of our recent tour reports from the high latitudes: guide John Coons’s trip to Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic, and guide Tom Johnson’s report on the Alaska tour he and Chris Benesh co-led to Nome and Barrow — lots of cool climes, landscapes, birds, and mammals!
July e-mailing & fresh photos
August 3rd, 2015 by Field Guides
Our July 2015 e-mailing is online and includes 2016 schedule additions for Panama and Ecuador, a fun article by a participant on one of our Northern Arizona: Canyons & Condor tours earlier this summer, a fresh collection of great images in our Recent Photos gallery, plus recently posted triplists and itineraries. Click below to see it all — and enjoy!
Mysteries of Southern Peru: a new slideshow
July 4th, 2015 by Field Guides
Check out guide Jesse Fagan’s fresh, annotated slideshow for his new tour, scheduled for Nov 21-Dec 5, 2015, when he’ll be joined by fellow Field Guide Chris Benesh. It will give you a nice sense of the tour and the special sights to be seen and sites to be visited. And did you know there are three as-yet undescribed species possible on the tour? Cool!
You can see the slideshow at this link.
For more information about the tour, visit our Mysteries of Southern Peru tour page.
June e-mailing & fresh photos
June 26th, 2015 by Field Guides
Our June 2015 e-mailing is online and includes birding news items about bird calls, sage-grouse, nests, and a photo ID app, an offer to join our September California pelagic, an update by Jesse Fagan on his new 2016 Western Panama tour, a fresh collection of great images in our Recent Photos gallery, plus recently posted triplists and itineraries. Click below to see it all — and enjoy!
New for 2016! Western Panama — Chiriqui & Bocas del Toro
June 22nd, 2015 by Jesse Fagan
Our new Western Panama: Chiriqui & Bocas del Toro tour scheduled for March 2016 with guide Jesse Fagan promises to be a real Panamanian adventure. Imagine yourself spending four nights on a Caribbean tropical island, surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, turquoise blue waters, a birding tower for viewing challenging canopy flocks, and a three-toed sloth lazily feeding on Cecropia fruits over your most comfortable cabin. Now you’re beginning to understand the essence of what is Tranquilo Bay. Then you cross the Continental Divide, take a short 4X4 journey, and climb into the primary cloud forest at the edge of La Amistad National Park, where another premier birding lodge awaits. Bellbird Lodge in the Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve will be our base for the final four nights of this fun new offering. Bellbirds and quetzals are not too far away!
Below is a selection of photos of the lodgings and from guide Jesse Fagan’s recent scouting trip. You can read more about the tour on our website’s tour page, and about Jesse’s upcoming schedule on his guide page.
May e-mailing & fresh photos
May 14th, 2015 by Field Guides
Our May 2015 e-mailing is online and includes birding news about migration and descriptions of 15 new Amazonian bird species, an update on the whereabouts of guides Pepe Rojas and Willy Perez, a fresh collection of great images in our Recent Photos gallery, plus recently posted triplists and itineraries. Click below to see it all — and enjoy!
April e-mailing & fresh photos
April 12th, 2015 by Field Guides
Our April 2015 e-mailing is online and includes schedule updates (Cape May II and Brazil’s Rio Roosevelt), birding news about fancy male birds and redpoll taxonomy, notes on our 2015 Holiday Southern Peru and Alaska tours, a fresh collection of great images in our Recent Photos gallery, plus recently posted triplists and itineraries. Click below to see it all — and enjoy!
Our new Holiday Southern Peru tour for November 2015: Big Country!
April 6th, 2015 by Jesse Fagan
Peru is Big Country (yes, I am hearing that popular 80’s song in my head right now), and like any big country (think Brazil, Mexico, or Australia) with lots of birds, it deserves complete coverage. I mean, Peru has more than 1850 species of birds, 139 or so endemics, and is twice the size of Texas. That equates to 20% of all bird species in the world (and second in total number), and it ranks fifth in number of endemics!
Why so much diversity? Isolation, topography (remember the Andes?), lots of different habitats and microclimates. Indeed, this is the very reason to visit Peru: variety. And we are not just talking about birds and landscapes, but also a rich indigenous culture (Inca and pre-Incan) and some of the best food in the world (where to get started?! aji de gallina, lomo saltado, ceviche, pisco sours,…).
Our new Holiday Southern Peru tour, schedule for Nov 21- Dec 3, is a comprehensive central Andes tour that visits most of the southern third of Peru. This includes many areas not reached on other tours, offering new birds and new sites. Several days around Lima will give us a chance at coastal specialties normally bypassed (Lima is usually a jumping off point, not a destination). The cold offshore currents are home to millions of seabirds including the lovely Inca Tern and playful, Humboldt Penguin. We will not ignore the coastal desert, however, and though low in diversity, it’s high in species endemism (most of them a sandy brown color!).
We’ll fly from Lima to Cusco and snake our way westerly up the Andes to Abancay. Here we will be after the “Apurimac” endemics including Apurimac Spinetail, a brush-finch, Vilcabamba Thistletail, and an undescribed tapaculo, “Apurimac” Tapaculo. It’s then on to Puno (but not before visiting impressive Sacsayhuaman), where the lake endemic Titicaca Grebe awaits.
South of Puno is the expansive Altiplano, the largest “high plain” or desert outside of Nepal. We will be attentive, scanning for Lesser Rhea or a sneedsnipe, while carefully searching bog edges for White-throated Sierra-Finch or a Puna Yellow-Finch. Around Arequipa we will have a night in the Colca Canyon, famous for close encounters with Andean Condor, but also a place to look for Diademed Sandpiper-Plover (and look we will). The La Mejia marsh site south of Arequipa is the only place in Peru to find Red-fronted Coot, which seems more like a gallinule.
Finally, we’ll drive north to Nazca, taking in the lunar-like landscape that is the spectacular Atacama Desert (now we are in the driest non-polar place in the world). Above Nazca we will find time to photograph the elegant Vicuña, the wild ancestor of the domestic llama, which will be around in good numbers. Other targets here will include Thick-billed Miner, “Dark-winged” Canastero, and Black-hooded Sierra-Finch (around the Polylepis). Then, of course, we will want to actually see the Nazca Lines. Strap in for the ride of your life!
Alaska: My first trip to the top of the world
March 5th, 2015 by Pepe Rojas
When I received my first full-time tour schedule for Field Guides in 2012, there was one trip that immediately jumped off the page and caught my attention: Alaska. As a kid growing up in Peru, the image I had of Alaska was one of epic snow-covered mountains, never-ending empty forests, and of course wildlife: Orcas, seals, Walrus, Polar and Grizzly bears, Bald Eagles, Moose, and Wolves — all roaming wild across vast areas of land, ice, and sea at the “top of the world.” I also knew that many of the waders I saw every year during the austral summer on the Peruvian coast migrated to breed in Alaska. Later, while reading Scott’s Weidensaul’s book Living on the Wind, I learned about Spectacled Eiders and the discovery of their wintering grounds in the middle of the Bering Sea. Needless to say, by the time my invitation to guide in Alaska arrived, I was more than intrigued to visit. Reading the tour itinerary got me even more excited, and I remember barely sleeping the night before I left!
Our first stop was St. Paul Island, part of the Pribilof Islands off the southwestern coast of Alaska. What an amazing place — it is hard to imagine a better spot in the world to see (and photograph) alcids. On average, we can expect to see eight species. During the most recent tour, we also had great looks at Ancient Murrelet in the harbor. St. Paul is also well known for unexpected vagrants. We had Wood Sandpiper, Common Snipe, and Common Cuckoo during the first leg of the 2014 tour I co-led with Chris Benesh.
Our next destination was Denali National Park. As I’d always imagined it, I had the chance to see my first Moose and Grizzly — such an amazing experience! In addition to the many interesting things I learned about the birds of this region, I have a very vivid image of Lesser Yellowlegs perched in trees and Long-tailed Jaegers sitting on the tundra, birds which, until then, I’d only seen wading or flying at sea, respectively!
The second part of our tour began with a visit to coastal Seward, south of Anchorage, and the unforgettable experience of seeing a wild pod of Orcas (I refuse to call them Killer Whales). It was an incredible moment in nature for everyone on the tour, one I will never forget. The landscape of the fjords is breathtaking in this region, and we were thrilled to take in sightings of Kittlitz’s Murrelets around Aialik Glacier.
Leaving Seward, we flew to Nome, just below the Arctic Circle and the absolute best place on the continent to look for Bristle-thighed Curlew. This fascinating species covers around 5000 miles in a single flight to reach its wintering grounds in the South Pacific — amazing! Seeing this curlew on the tundra was one of the great birding highlights of this tour. Other noteworthy species for me (and our group) here were my first Gyrfalcon, a bird that remains on the tundra in winter, and Blackpoll Warblers. I had previously seen these warblers wintering in the Peruvian Amazon, and I’m fascinated that they can cover so much distance on migration. On a similar note, I was so pleased to see Arctic Warblers for the first time here, and a special mention also went to the Kougarok road for its spectacular scenery.
The last leg of our tour took us to Barrow, quite literally the “top of the world.” My first trip north of the Arctic Circle was nothing short of remarkable. I could never have imagined seeing with my own eyes (from a safe distance, of course) a Polar Bear feeding on whale blubber. As a result of our explorations around the roads of Barrow, we came across Common, Steller’s, King, and Spectacled eiders. This last species was of particular interest to me since its wintering grounds were a total mystery until the mid 1990s, when GPS tracking showed that they winter in the Bering sea, feeding on mollusks and other invertebrates, and help to maintain areas of open water among the sea ice with their movement and body heat. Wow! To top things off, we scored great views of Snowy Owls and also a male Ruff displaying among Pectoral Sandpipers.
My first trip to Alaska was incredible and exceeded my imagination in a big way. It has quickly become one of my favorite destinations, and I am lucky enough to have returned two more times with Field Guides since then. My next trip is this June, co-leading with Megan Edwards Crewe, and I can already feel my blood pumping with excitement for what’s to come. I hope you will join us!
Visit our Alaska tour page for full information on our upcoming 2015 Alaska departures (two tours, each in two parts, with the first tour beginning May 29 and the second June 5).