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February 2015 newsletter

February 20th, 2015 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

Our February newsletter is making its way to mailboxes of all of you on our mailing list. It features an article on our Galapagos tours, an Alaska feature page, reports on the latest from 8 of our stellar guides, 6 pages of exciting photos from recent tours in our Fresh From the Field section, plus the latest on our Upcoming Tours. You may also now see it online at this link.

And if you are intrigued by all those lovely Borneo photos on the back page, you can view them in larger format, along with their IDs, on our fieldguides.com/borneophotos page.

Enjoy the new issue!

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February e-mailing & fresh photos

February 18th, 2015 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

Our February 2015 e-mailing is online and includes birding news about Snowy Owls and flock cooperation, our 2017 schedule added to our website, last North American tour spots through June, a note on our 2015 Central Peru trip, 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!

February 2015 E-mailing

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Central Peru’s High Andes: Adventure Awaits!

February 6th, 2015 by Dan Lane · Add a Comment

Did you know our Central Peruvian Endemics: The High Andes tour will run this summer (Jun 5-21) and then not again until 2018? Guide Dan Lane takes us through the highlights below with some great images. Check out our tour page for more info and contact our office to hold a space.


 

Peru is a magical place. It combines so many climatic extremes into a remarkably small area. It has (as most Peruvians will proudly inform you) three main regions: the Coast, the Mountains, and the Rainforest.

Huascaran National Park

The spectacular Andean scenery of Huascaran National Park (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

This actually over-simplifies the variety of habitats, climates, and elevations you can find within the country. It is a place where, to understand it well as a birder, you will need to visit more than once—happily, we offer just such opportunities here at Field Guides!

White-cheeked Cotinga by Ken Havard

The endemic White-cheeked Cotinga (Photo by participant Ken Havard)

Peru is home to a remarkable 100 (approximately) endemic species, many of which are located either on isolated ridges in the high Andes or in intermontane valleys separated from others by those ridges. More than a third of these endemics (and a few “waiting to happen”) are found in the area of Central Peru covered by our tour. What’s more, Peru is ranked in the top three countries worldwide for overall number of bird species!

White-bellied Cinclodes by Dan Lane

The lovely White-bellied Cinclodes, another high-elevation Peruvian endemic (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

With a little challenge to our hemoglobin count will come the rewards of high-elevation sites where fabulous birds such as White-cheeked Cotinga, Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch, and Striated Earthcreeper occur, not to mention the incredible panoramas of the valley at Huascaran National Park and its beautiful Polylepis forests where jewels such as Tit-like Dacnis and Giant Conebill play, or the windswept puna where White-bellied Cinclodes, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, and Olivaceous Thornbill eke out a living under challenging conditions.

Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager by Dan Lane

The spectacular Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager, an endemic with a small range in central Peru. (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

To get the most out of our quest for the areas fabulous birds, our itinerary includes two nights of outfitted camping under the stars and the hunched mass of Unchog peak. It will be here that we’ll have an opportunity to encounter the legendary endemics of the region such as Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager, Bay-vented Cotinga, Pardusco, Large-footed Tapaculo, and several others.

Bosque Unchog by Dan lane

Our camp at Unchog with the namesake rock formation in the background — a beautiful spot to wake up to! (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

Huascaran scenery by Dan Lane

Not a bad spot for a picnic lunch, right? (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

 

Huascaran peaks by Dan Lane

Sunrise with Huascaran (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

 

Giant Conebill by Dan Lane

Giant Conebill, a specialist of the Polylepis groves (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

At lower elevations, we’ll be looking for antpittas, tyrannulets, tanagers, hummingbirds, and other Andean gems on the Carpish Tunnel and Paty trails of the Carpish mountains, and even enjoy the oxygen cocktail at sealevel at coastal wetlands around Lima, where seabirds and shorebirds abound, and the unusual lomas habitats in the hills not far from the city, where endemics such as Thick-billed and Peruvian miners, and Cactus Canastero mingle with the likes of Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Mountain Parakeet, Burrowing Owl, the glowing Vermilion Flycatcher, the rude Croaking Ground-Dove, Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-bellied Dotterel, and others, forming a rather unlikely avifauna.

Black-breasted Hillstar by Dan Lane

A male Black-breasted Hillstar shows off his fine emerald gorget. (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

Junin and Slivery grebes by Dan Lane

A group of three Junin Grebes with a smaller Silvery Grebe (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

Lake Junin by Ken Havard

Sunrise at Lake Junin (Photo by participant Ken Havard)

Flame-faced Tanager by Dan Lane

Flame-faced Tanager (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

The birding on this tour offers many rewards as you can see! So, if you feel up to the high-elevation birding and a couple nights of outfitted camping to reap the benefits, contact our friendly Field Guides office and reserve your space on our tour for this year. The next opportunity isn’t scheduled until 2018… that’s a long time to wait to see these fabulous birds.

I look forward to seeing you there! –Dan

January e-mailing & fresh photos

January 14th, 2015 by Jan Pierson · Add a Comment

Our January e-mailing is online and includes an added Guyana II departure for March 2015 with Dave Stejskal, birding news about some cool evolutionary insights, 2016 guide schedules, January to June tour openings, 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!

January 2015 E-mailing

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The potoo sextet

December 3rd, 2014 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

It’s been fun looking through recent tour reports and photos and realizing we have the full South American potoo sextet illustrated. We know there are a lot of nightbird fans out there, so we thought you might like to look through the images, too. Such fantastic birds — amazingly camouflaged, appearing like stumps on their dayroosts, with large eyes for great nocturnal vision (potoos hunt flying insects), and a huge gape that extends well past the eye so virtually the whole head opens wide during an insect capture. On top of it all, they have a great diversity of very cool vocalizations, each species very different from the next.

The Andean and Great potoos below are from our Mountains of Manu, Peru tour; the Common Potoo is from our Jaguar Spotting tour in Brazil; the Rufous and White-winged potoos are from our Rio Negro Paradise: Manaus, Brazil tour; and the Long-tailed Potoo is from our Peruvian Rainforests of the Tambopata tour.

Long-tailed Potoo

Long-tailed Potoo from our Peruvian Rainforests of the Tambopata tour by guide Pepe Rojas: this is a long, slim potoo that is most often seen on staked-out dayroosts at various lodges rather than at night.

Andean Potoo

This one is really looking like a stump, right? Andean Potoo from our Mountains of Manu tour in Peru by guide Dan Lane. As the name suggests, this is a species of higher elevations than the others.

Rufous Potoo

Rufous Potoo is the most colorful of all the potoos, and it also has that very distinctive “keyhole” mark in its eye. This was photographed on our Rio Negro Paradise: Manaus tour in Brazil by participant Cliff Hensel

White-winged Potoo

White-winged Potoo was virtually unknown in the wild 20 years ago, but we’ve got its number! This one was photographed by guide Bret Whitney on our Rio Negro Paradise: Manaus tour in Brazil.

Great Potoo

Largest of them all is the Great Potoo, seen here in a photo by participant Steve Wakeham from our Mountains of Manu, Peru tour. It gives quite the blood-curdling scream/roar at night, too!

Common Potoo

And last, but not least, is the Common Potoo — indeed usually the most commonly seen one on various tours, both on night outings and on dayroosts. This one was photographed by participant Cliff Hensel on our Jaguar Spotting (Brazil) tour.

NEW TRIPLISTS: Kenya, Machu Picchu & Abra Malaga I

October 28th, 2014 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

We have two new illustrated triplists for these recent tours with guides Terry Stevenson and Dan Lane, respectively. Check them out at the links below, and enjoy!

Kenya Safari Spectacular 2014

Machu Picchu & Abra Malaga I 2014 (Peru)

At left, a male Hartlaub's Bustard from Kenya, and at right a Blue-naped Chlorophonia from Peru. (Photos by guides Terry Stevenson & Dan Lane)

At left, a male Hartlaub’s Bustard from Kenya, and at right a Blue-naped Chlorophonia from Peru. (Photos by guides Terry Stevenson & Dan Lane)

October e-mailing & fresh photos

October 20th, 2014 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

Our October e-mailing is online and includes an added Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista departure for early December 2014, birding news about California Condors, the latest Clements world checklist update, November to February tour openings, 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!

October 2014 E-mailing

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NEW TRIPLISTS: Ecuador, France, Brazil & Alaska

October 17th, 2014 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

We have four new illustrated triplists for these recent tours with guides Rose Ann Rowlett, Megan Edwards Crewe & Jay VanderGaast, John Rowlett, and Eric Hynes & Tom Reed, respectively. Check them out at the links below, and enjoy!

Ecuador: Rainforest & Andes II 2014

France: Camargue & Pyrenees 2014

Serra dos Tucanos 2014

Barrow, Alaska: Search for Ross’s Gull 2014

Some images from these triplists: Black-bellied Cuckoo from Ecuador by guide Rose Ann Rowlett, Our France group in the Pyrenees by participant Donna Bray, White-eared Puffbird from Brazil by guide John Rowlett, and Ross's Gull from Alaska by guide Eric Hynes.

Some images from these triplists: Black-bellied Cuckoo from Ecuador by participant Marshall Dahl, our France group in the Pyrenees by participant Donna Bray, White-eared Puffbird from Brazil by guide John Rowlett, and Ross’s Gull from Alaska by guide Eric Hynes.

NEW TRIPLISTS: China, Montane Ecuador, Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

October 3rd, 2014 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

Our 2014 triplists, replete with photos and some video clips, are out for these three tours by guides Dave Stejskal & Jesper Hornskov, Mitch Lysinger, and Chris Benesh, respectively. Check them out at the links below, and enjoy!

China: Manchuria & the Tibetan Plateau 2014

Montane Ecuador: Cloudforests of the Andes 2014

Newfoundland & Nova Scotia 2014

Left to right: a White-browed Tit-Warbler from our China tour, Toucan Barbet from Montane Ecuador, and sparring Northern Gannets from Newfoundland & Nova Scotia (Photos by guide Dave Stejskal, participant C. V. Vick, and guide Chris Benesh)

Left to right: a White-browed Tit-Warbler from our China tour, Toucan Barbet from Montane Ecuador, and sparring Northern Gannets from Newfoundland & Nova Scotia (Photos by guide Dave Stejskal, participant C. V. Vick, and guide Chris Benesh)

EXTRA TOUR: Costa Rica/Rancho Naturalista III added with Jay VanderGaast (Dec 13-21)

September 24th, 2014 by Jay VanderGaast · Add a Comment

One of the joys of being a guide is the chance to get to revisit some of the places we love again and again, becoming intimately familiar with the area’s bird life, and making friends with the local staff at our lodgings. It gets to the point where it’s a bit like coming home at some places. For me, no place fits this picture better than Rancho Naturalista in Costa Rica, and for good reason: back in the 1990s, Rancho was truly my home!

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Chestnut-headed Oropendola, one of the frequent visitors to the fruit feeders at Rancho Naturalista (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)

Yes, from 1993 to 1999 I was the resident guide at Rancho. For 6 years, my days started before dawn, as I filled the feeders, then grabbed a cup of coffee and stepped out onto the porch to greet the day with my feathered friends. Hummingbirds buzzed around the nectar feeders to get the day kick-started with their equivalent of my morning coffee. Showy White-necked Jacobins, twitchy Green Hermits, pugnacious Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, and the rather stoic Green-crowned Brilliants would all jostle for position at the feeders, with me and the lodge guests enjoying our café con leches just a few feet away. Down below, at the flowering verbena hedges, Green Thorntails, Snowcaps (the lodge’s flagship bird), and the occasional Black-crested Coquette would be doing a similar thing in a more natural setting.

Meanwhile on the fruit feeders, raucous Gray-headed Chachalacas and Montezuma Oropendolas would be hoovering up many of the bananas placed for their enjoyment, while a wonderful mix of smaller birds were left to clean up their table scraps. Velvety-black Passerini’s Tanagers, with their brilliant red rumps, Blue-gray Tanagers in their lovely soft shades of blue, Black-headed Saltators, looking and sounding angry, with their glowering brows and harsh voices, were among the parade of birds we could look forward to seeing each morning from our lofty perch. Away from the feeders, Keel-billed Toucans, White-crowned Parrots, Golden-Olive Woodpeckers, and Gartered Trogons were just some of the many other species that we might add to our morning lists before the 7:00 a.m. breakfast bell would ring. And when it did ring, it wasn’t unusual for us to have already seen 50+ different species of birds!

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Watching birds from the balcony at Rancho Naturalista — part of the daily morning ritual (Photo by participant Tom Ludes)

This was a morning ritual I never tired of, and still miss on occasion, so I am thrilled to get the chance to relive it once again on my just-added Holiday Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista III tour, running from Dec 13-21, 2014. If a relaxed-pace, one stop holiday tour sounds good to you, and you relish the idea of waking up to an abundance of beautiful tropical birds just outside your door (not to mention all the other species awaiting us in the forest, and at the other sites we’ll visit), then call or email our office and come join me on my tour to this home away from home for me. With Rancho’s comfortable rooms, excellent service, and scrumptious meals, no doubt you’ll soon feel right at home too!