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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!

NEW: Jamaica with Eric Hynes

September 16th, 2014 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

Guide Eric Hynes is bringing an exciting fresh Jamaica itinerary back into our schedule with two upcoming departures, Dec 2-7, 2014 and Mar 3-8, 2015, each limited to 8 participants. We expect these to be popular, so if you would like to hold a space, be sure to call or email our office. Have a look at Eric’s new slideshow for the tour, too!

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Streamertail, Jamaican Woodpecker, Arrow-headed Warbler, and Jamaican Spindalis (Photos by guide Eric Hynes)

Sunrise view out from the pool area at Green Castle Estate (Photo by guide Eric Hynes)

Sunrise view out from the pool area at Green Castle Estate (Photo by guide Eric Hynes)

September e-mailing & fresh photos

September 15th, 2014 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

Our September e-mailing is online and includes two new Jamaica departures in the next few months, a New Year’s tour with Jesse, cool bird links, and several upcoming guide events. Also: October to January 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!

September 2014 E-mailing

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A Day Birding at Ecuador’s Shiripuno Lodge

September 9th, 2014 by Willy Perez · Add a Comment

At Shiripuno, a rustic lodge about fifty miles southeast of the town of Coca along the Shiripuno River in the remote lowland rainforest of the Waorani nation, our first day of birding sometimes begins in the evening, just after our arrival dinner when the chorus of nocturnal birds gets started. At other Ecuadorian sites I know, I’ve never heard such a combination of diverse species in one place, some of them rare: Bartlett’s and White throated tinamous lead the dusk concert, followed by Nocturnal Curassow and of course Great Potoo. With all these magnificent sounds around us, we find ourselves thinking that if this is night, what will tomorrow’s daylight birding bring?

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Birding from the boat en route to Shiripuno (Photo by participant Barbara Williams)

Early the next morning, we have our answer: in the courtyard of the lodge, Spix’s and Blue-throated piping-guans compete for the best fruits of the cecropia trees, while just behind the lodge, at the head of a mile-long loop trail, we see birds which elsewhere we’d have to take a long walk to find. The first to appear are the Yellow-browed and Lunulated antbirds, then Yellow-billed Jacamar, and with patience, even Brown Nunlet. Walking a little farther we spot Black Bushbird, Fiery Topaz, and a Rufous Potoo on its dayroost. We have our eyes out for the elusive Gray-winged Trumpeter, a regular possibility here, too, and there are many other species of birds to be seen such as trogons, toucans, parrots, and of course my favorites, the beautiful manakins, including three of the prettiest—Blue-crowned, White-crowned, and Golden-headed. Checking our watches, we find that our entire first morning has quickly passed, full of amazing sightings.

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White-banded Swallows along the river (Photo by participant Ken Havard)

Returning to the lodge for lunch, there’s more: with a cool drink in hand as reward for our morning’s efforts, we’re interrupted by kingfishers and barbets. After lunch, a canoe trip along the Shiripuno River is super productive as we spot Blue-and-yellow, Scarlet, and Red-and-green macaws, some flying in groups but others sitting in palms along the banks of the river. Our canoe ride continues with Olive and Casqued oropendolas crossing in front of us, and good views of both Lettered Aracari and Orange-cheeked Parrot. We keep our eyes open, too, for the rarely seen Salvin’s Curassow, which I’ve seen before along the river’s edge. At dusk, we put ourselves in place to try for Black-banded Owl, and then watch as a pair flies directly over our heads!

Our first 24 hours complete with the sightings of so many magnificent birds, we return to the lodge for dinner, and the dusk avian concert strikes up again. Once more my mind turns to tomorrow’s possibilities…perhaps Pearly Antshrike, Spotted Puffbird, Ash-throated Gnateater, and more. Fabulous stuff!

Willy’s next tour to Shiripuno Lodge: Heartland of the Waorani is scheduled for Sep 25-Oct 4, 2015. Check our web page for all the details, or contact our office to hold a space. And to see some fun clips from the lodge’s trap (trail) camera, check out their YouTube channel — here’s an example of trumpeters, and there are more fun clips in the right sidebar on that page.

Upcoming Galapagos talk by Megan on Sep. 23

September 7th, 2014 by Field Guides · Add a Comment

Guide Megan Edwards Crewe will give a talk titled “Galapagos: The Enchanted Islands” at the Nature Center of Cape May at 6 p.m. on Sep. 23. If you’re in the area, come on by to say hi and hear about Megan’s travels in the archipelago!

More information about the Nature Center’s calendar is available at this link.