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    Richard Webster and Rose Ann Rowlett live between tours in a refurbished home in Portal, Arizona, where they reside at the sufferance of the true masters of the place, the ...Read complete biography

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Our April Recent Photos gallery is up!

April 12th, 2016 by Field Guides

We’ve just posted a fresh gallery of 85 images contributed by our guides and participants from 8 of our recent Field Guides tours, from Namibia & Botswana to Costa Rica, Cambodia, Brazil, Jamaica, and more. Have a look for some great armchair birding! Click on this link or the sample image below.


April 2016 e-mailing

April 12th, 2016 by Field Guides

Hello, all! Spring at last, and our guides and groups are off to the Texas Coast, Big Bend, Bhutan, Colorado, Ghana, Lesser Antilles, and Hungary & Romania, among others. For a small and fun taste of spring, watch guide Tom Johnson’s unexpected recent video of a Greater Prairie-Chicken (check the background about half way through) — very cool! Lots more below, of course: an added September France II departure, many fresh itineraries and triplists out, a beautiful assortment of trip photos in our April Recent Photos gallery (85 new images from 8 tours; that’s a Wire-crested Thorntail from “Ecuador’s Wildsumaco Lodge” by guide Willy Perez as a sample below — and there’s still space on Willy’s June Southwestern Ecuador Specialties tour).


2016 schedule addition: France II with Jay

One of our in-house Francophones, guide Jay VanderGaast, has added a France: Camargue & Pyrenees II tour for Sep 3-13, 2016 (our first tour is full). It’s the famed wetlands and nearby steppes of the Camargue contrasting with the glorious mountainscapes of the Pyrenees on the border with Spain, with everything from avocets and choughs to flamingos and the walled city of Carcassonne along the way.

Might we mention, too, as a bonus, some fabulous French food and wine when we are not out birding? Check out the itinerary and in particular Jay and Eric’s lovely 2015 triplist (that’s a White-throated Dipper as a sample at right). À bientôt!

Need to renew your U.S. passport in 2016-2018?

Here’s some useful traveler info: Word from the U.S. State Department is that demand for new passports is higher than usual for several reasons, and it’s expected to remain so through 2018. So you may need to allow some extra time for a new passport or a renewal. Have a look at the State Department’s news release as well as this additional informative piece. If you plan ahead, this could help keep your birding travel moving along without a hitch!

Cool bird news: parrots, cockatoos & more

With more than 300 species around the world, parrots and their kin are important features of our birding adventures, from Hyacinth Macaws in Brazil to pygmy-parrots in New Guinea. If they catch your fancy as they do ours, check out this recent New York Times article on parrots that touches on everything from tool use and clay licks to vocal abilities.

Fresh slideshows from recent tours

We’ve put together some slideshows of highlight images from participants and guides on three of our recent tours for you to enjoy (click the full-screen arrows for best effect):


So many beautiful places to see on our birding adventures! Here’s the scene at historic Castillo San Cristobal in Puerto Rico by participant Larry Wright from our recent tour.

Fresh triplists from recent tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our April Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)


Tour openings: May to October


Guide Terry Stevenson has two great Africa tours coming up this summer — his East Africa Highlights tour covering Kenya and Tanzania in July, and Kenya Safari Spectacular in late August and September. Each is a chance for some fantastic birding under the expert guidance of the guy who wrote the book! Participant Don Fallon brought home from one of our 2015 Kenya tours the image of a Secretary-bird above.


We have two spaces still open on guide Megan Edwards Crewe’s Sri Lanka tour this fall. Check out her entertaining and well-illustrated triplist from our 2014 tour for a review of all the possibilities, including the endemic Yellow-fronted Barbet above.

2016 & 2017 itineraries recently released

The itineraries for these 2016 & 2017 tours have recently been posted to our website:

March 2016 e-mailing

March 15th, 2016 by Field Guides

Hi, birding friends! Another month gone by, with various fun tours completed, many fresh itineraries out, and an amazing assortment of fresh photos to share. In this e-mailing: added departures for May Point Pelee and October Cape May, two short new Colombia itineraries for 2017, fresh details of our Rio Negro Paradise (Brazil) tour, two cool video clips, bird news, and our March Recent Photos gallery of 118 fresh images from 14 tours (that’s a photo of Hooded and White-naped cranes from “Winter Japan” by guide Phil Gregory as a teaser below). Also, of course, some upcoming tour spaces and recently posted triplists and 2016 itineraries. And if you’ve got a hankering to get away in May, we have just a few spaces still open on three small-group tours: that added Point Pelee plus Morocco and Spain (for great birds, wine, and landscapes with guide Marcelo Padua and local expert Godfried Schreuer!). Enjoy reading, and good birding to all.

Winter Japan cranes

2016 schedule additions: Point Pelee & Cape May II

Blackburnian Warbler by participant Sue arrGuide Jay VanderGaast has added a Point Pelee Migration Spectacle tour for May 9-16, 2016 for a great diversity of beautiful warblers (that’s a Blackburnian by participant Sue Carr at right) and other spring migrants. Note that our fee is $250 lower than in 2015 due to the favorable exchange rate! Check out the itinerary and 2015 triplist. The tour is limited to just 7.

Guide Megan Edwards Crewe‘s first Cape May Megan’s Way departure is full at 7, so to accommodate interest she’s added a second one for Oct 2-8, 2016Contact our office to hold space on either of these two great migration tours!

Bolivia: a stealth birding treasure

Bolivia should be on every birder’s radar, and guide Dan Lane has put together a nice post on our News page to explain why (spoiler alert: there are 100 or so specialty birds!). Add some spectacular landscapes (that’s famous Lake Titicaca in Dan’s photo below) and, well, why not visit this jewel? We’ve been going for decades, and Dan will be guiding our 2016 Bolivia’s Avian Riches group Sep 3-19.

Lake-Titicaca on Field Guides Bolivia tour

Two new short Colombia tours for 2017!

Our short tours to tropical destinations are very popular, and guide Richard Webster has just developed two more 10-day choices for you: Colombia: Cali Escape and Colombia: Medellin Escape. Just hop on a flight from Miami to Baranquilla and you’re there! His Medellin Escape in February 2017 spans Colombia’s rich forests from foothills to treeline and some of the country’s best private reserves, for many Colombian endemics plus a rich dose of Andean birds.The Cali Escape over Thanksgiving 2017 features cloudforests of two Colombian cordilleras and their rich assortment of hummingbirds, tanagers, and more.

Rio Negro Paradise, Brazil: great boat, great birding

It’s no accident that our tour to Manaus, Brazil is titled Rio Negro Paradise…we’re indeed based on the river itself on our fantastic boat, and the birding is terrific. Guides Marcelo Padua (heading to our boat on the Rio Negro, below) and Dave Stejskal are joining forces for our earliest 2016 tour, Sep 3-17, a two-week getaway easily reached via a five-hour flight from Miami on American Airlines. We’ve swapped the 3 nights in hammocks from previous years to a new, air-conditioned pousada (lodge) in the forest where there is a Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock lek! And we’ve added a day to the boat trip, so it’s now 8 days in live-aboard luxury. If your interest is piqued, check out the fun, 4-minute video of Bret Whitney doing a walk-through of our boat (there’s one spot still open on his Sep 11-25 departure, too). And for a rundown of the great birding possible, our triplists from 2015 (first tour & second tour) should do the trick, with lots of great media! (Check out the cool Rufous Potoo clip linked below, too.)

Rio Negro on Field Guides Manaus, Brazil tour

Cool recent videos: Lear’s Macaw & Rufous Potoo

Two recent video clips from Brazil by guide Bret Whitney you’ll want to see:

Visiting the spectacular nesting cliffs of Lear’s Macaws on the Nowhere but Northeast Brazil tour

Watching a Rufous Potoo rock its entire body when the wind starts to rustle nearby vegetation — crazy camouflage on our Rio Negro Paradise: Manaus, Brazil tour!

Birding books: world bird families

Any birding traveler will likely find this new book of interest: Bird Families of the World, co-published by Lynx Edicions and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. As the description notes, “Here in one volume is a synopsis of the diversity of all birds.” There are family-by-familly accounts as well as a review of recent ideas about family relationships. The book is pricey — $99.95 — but could provide some fun and interesting background reading for your world travels.

Fresh triplists from recent tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our March Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)











Tour openings: May to September

Alaska means great birds like the Tufted Puffin above and much more, and guide Dave Stejskal can’t wait to get back (after 25 years of AK tours, Dave detoured to our Borneo trip the past few Junes!). Our “Roadrunner” needs an Alaska fix, as does guide Tom Johnson, who’ll join Dave for our visit to the Pribilof Islands and Denali on their Alaska II (Part One) trip, Jun 2-10, which still has a few spaces open (our three other Alaska sections are full, so this is it!). Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

2016 itineraries recently released

The itineraries for these upcoming 2016 tours have recently been posted to our website:

Bolivia: a stealth birding treasure

March 7th, 2016 by Dan Lane

South America is universally known as the “bird continent,” and rightly so: nearly half of the world’s birds are found there alone! Five of the birdiest countries (the countries with the biggest bird lists) in the world are in South America: Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Bolivia, you ask? Who ever thinks about birding Bolivia? Well, we do! Field Guides has been leading tours to Bolivia for decades, providing our participants with great experiences in one of the world’s great unsung birding destinations. Bolivia is not yet famous for its ecotourism, but it should be–there are fabulous birds and landscapes, we can stay in comfortable lodgings in the main cities, and there are even some ecotourism-geared lodges closer to our birding destinations.

Wedge-tailed Hillstar and Black-hooded Sunbeam by guide Dan Lane

Special hummingbirds? Yes, Bolivia has a bunch, including the Wedge-tailed Hillstar at left above, and the fabulous aqua-rump-flashing Black-hooded Sunbeam at right! Photo by guide Dan Lane.


Hooded Mountain­Toucan is a large and attractive species of the humid mid­-elevation forests. Photo by participant Keith Betton.


Bolivia has some fantastic mountains! Here’s an aerial view looking west across the impressive Cordillera Real (on the north side of La Paz city), with Lake Titicaca in the background.

Bolivia is replete with incredible scenery: from the open plains within sight of the “bend in the Andes” near Santa Cruz city, to the striking arid landscapes of the intermontane valleys at the border of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba departments, to the (quite literally!) breathtaking beauty of the high Andes of Cochabamba and La Paz. Those with cameras and a good eye will have their hands full if they want scenics! These settings are a fine backdrop for the amazing biogeography that has generated the country’s avian wealth. Bolivia, near the very center of the South American continent, is also at the nexus of many of the continent’s characteristic habitats, from the Altiplano and high, snow-capped peaks of the Andes, and the humid cloudforests on the Amazonian-facing slopes, to the arid rainshadow valleys that harbor many of the country’s true endemics, to the mixture of Amazonian and semi-deciduous forests at the foot of the Andes and out into the open grasslands in the lowlands of Santa Cruz and Beni departments.

Scribble-tailed Canastero by participant Terry Baltimore

The interestingly named Scribble-tailed Canastero lives a solitary lifestyle in the high-elevation open country. Photo by participant Terry Baltimore.

La Cumbre breakfast by participant David and Judy Smith

One of our groups stops for a picnic breakfast in the stark landscape of La Cumbre above the city of La Paz. Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.


But Bolivia is not just the high Andes. As we head down the eastern slope of the mountains we’ll move through humid temperate and subtropical forests, eventually reaching the eastern palm­studded lowlands, shown here from our extension to the Beni. Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.

These habitats provide Bolivia with an extraordinarily rich avifauna that compares well to any of its better-known neighbors as a birding destination…only its lack of a coast prevents it from climbing the list into the top-most tier! “Endemism” is a term known to many world birders, and though Bolivia has not fared well “officially” in the endemism game (fewer than 20 species that are true endemics), the fact is many near-endemic species just barely spill over political borders into neighboring countries, and in many cases these species are far easier to find within Bolivia than in the remote mountains of Peru or the border regions of Brazil or Argentina. Taking such species into account, the number of specialties in Bolivia suddenly jumps up to about 100 or so — essentially stealth endemics. Plus, there are still distinct forms within Bolivia that may be separated as species and may cause the Bolivian specialties list to swell yet more.


Barred Fruiteater is another attractive species,. It is found with mid­-elevation flocks in montane forest. Photo by guide Dan Lane.


Famous Lake Titicaca, straddling the border between Bolivia and Peru and by volume the largest lake in South America. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

Gray-breasted Seedsnipe by guide Dan Lane

After we’d seen Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, one of our sharp-eyed group members spotted this pair of Gray-breasted Seedsnipe from the same viewpoint! Photo by guide Dan Lane.

The birdlife of Bolivia features some real stars that will captivate your imagination with their beauty and charm: from the mind-blowing aqua rump of the Black-hooded Sunbeam to the stealth of the Rusty-faced Antpitta, from the garrulous flocks of Bolivian Blackbirds to the solitary lifestyle of the Scribble-tailed Canastero. Bolivian birds are also quite varied in their coloration. In the dusty, semi-arid habitats such as in the intermontane valleys, humble brown and gray birds abound, such as the Bolivian Earthcreeper or Gray-crested Finch, but when you enter more humid forests, eye candy such as Hooded Mountain-Toucan and Orange-browed Hemispingus brighten up the list. Hummingbirds are well-represented, too, such as the fantastic Red-tailed Comet and the impressive Wedge-tailed Hillstar. And of course, we can’t leave out parrots, such as the endemic Red-fronted Macaw and the endemic intermontane forms of Monk Parakeet and Blue-crowned Parakeet, both of which are likely distinct enough that they will be split once research has exposed their differences from other populations of those species!


The impressive Cream-­backed Woodpecker is one of more than twenty species of woodpeckers possible on our tour. Photo by guide Dan Lane.


The habitat in the dry intermontane valleys around Comarapa features complex stands of cacti. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

White-collared Jay by guide Dan Lane

The nominate form of the lovely White­-collared Jay is nearly endemic to Bolivia, occurring only in neighboring Peru. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

We’ve revamped our Bolivia tour with visits to a few more foothill localities that should increase our chances at finding rare specialties such as Bolivian Recurvebill and Ashy Antwren, at the same time getting us out of the bustling cities and closer to our birding sites. We still offer an extension to the Beni, a region of incredible diversity with habitats similar to the llanos or Pantanal, but with birds all its own such as Blue-throated Macaw, Unicolored Thrush, and endemic forms of Plain Softtail and Velvet-fronted Grackle, as well as a huge potential list of other open country and gallery forest species!

Why not join us to discover Bolivia’s bird bounty? Our tour this year is scheduled for September 3-19, with the optional pre-tour to the Beni beginning on Aug 29. There are still a few spaces left to join me!

Read more about Dan and his upcoming schedule on his bio page.

Point Pelee tour added for May 2016!

February 15th, 2016 by Field Guides

Just in from the lemons-to-lemonade department: Guide Jay Vandergaast was hoping to spend the month of May in China, and sadly that didn’t work out — so instead he will offer a departure of our ever-popular Point Pelee Migration Spectacle tour. We were able to secure rooms for this migration hotspot and, to make the lemonade even sweeter, the price has gone down from the 2015 fee by $250 due to the favorable exchange rate! The tour is limited to just 7 participants and the dates are May 9-16, 2016. Check out the itinerary and Jay’s 2015 triplist, and contact us if you would like to hold a space.

Blackburnian Warbler by participant Sue Carr

A Blackburnian Warbler from our Point Pelee tour by participant Sue Carr

February 2016 e-mailing

February 4th, 2016 by Field Guides

Greetings, birding friends! Is it really February already? In this month’s e-mailing, an added second Arizona/Grand Canyon departure with John Coons, a cool migration animation, planning for Antarctica with Tom Johnson, our February Recent Photos gallery of 70 fresh images from 11 tours (that’s a lovely Black-backed Forktail in China by guide Dave Stejskal as a teaser below), some upcoming tour spaces, and recently posted triplists and 2016 itineraries. And if you’ve got a hankering to get away birding pronto, we have just a few spaces still open on three March tours (including Santa Marta)…a birding escape awaits! Enjoy reading, and good birding to all.

Black-backed Forktail by guide Dave Stejskal

2016 schedule update: Grand Canyon II added

Grand Canyon by participant Joyce MillerGuide John Coons has added a second departure of his very popular Northern Arizona’s Canyons & Condor tour for Jun 10-15, 2016. His original tour is full, and now the added second departure is nearly full from the waitlist on the first — but there is still one space open as of this writing! You can see the itinerary at this link.

Contact our office if you’d like to join John for some great birding, not to mention a simply jaw-dropping backdrop for it. At right is just a glimpse of that fabulous canyon from 2015 participant Joyce Miller.

March escape to Santa Marta: one late opening

One space has just opened up on our Colombia: Santa Marta Escape tour with guide Richard Webster, just a month away, Mar 5-14. We have availability for either a single (female or male) or for a female participant who would like to share (we have your roommate). This should be a delightful week-plus of birding in the northernmost part of the country for numerous endemics (like the wonderfully named Blossomcrown below by participant Bill Maynard) — just hop on a flight from Miami to Baranquilla and you’re there!

Blossomcrown by participant Bill Maynard

Breaking the ice on 2018: Antarctica!

Antarctica is making a return to our tour schedule with an exciting departure in early 2018. Yes, we know that’s still a long way off, but a special trip like this takes advance planning! Join Field Guides leader Tom Johnson and Oceanwide Expeditions on the stately, 293-foot-long m/v Plancius for the oceanic trip of a lifetime through the rich waters of the Southern Ocean. During the journey, we will make landings at the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Orkneys, and the Antarctic Peninsula, absorbing the beautiful and rugged terrestrial ecosystems of the sub-Antarctic islands as well as the Antarctic continent itself. Those times when we leave the ship will allow us to get up close and personal with penguins, skuas, and albatrosses, and to really connect with the places we visit. While traveling at sea in between ports of call, we will have the amazing opportunity to watch seabirds and marine mammals all around us from the comfortable, sturdy platform of the Plancius. Are you interested in seeing a King Penguin (or thousands!) or a Wandering Albatross? You don’t have to answer – we KNOW you are interested. Visit our tour page for more info, and contact our office to hold a space or two.

Cool bird mapping: 118 species on the move!

Here’s a fun bit of animation to watch, either directly on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website or in a recent NY Times article. The animation shows the movements of 118 species of birds and their 12-month migration patterns. Beware, it’s kind of mesmerizing…and fun, too, since the species aren’t labeled and you get to guess a little about the moving dots (like what is that one going from Cape Breton to Newfoundland to Baffin Island? or the other that only gets as far north as central Chile in June? or yet another that circles from northwesternmost Brazil to the Yucatan and back?). Enjoy!

Fresh triplists from recent tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our February Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

Colombia tour with Field Guides

New Guinea & Australia tour with Field Guides

Madagascar tour with Field Guides

Mysteries of Southern Peru tour with Field Guides

Cape May Megan's Way tour with Field Guides

Panama's Canopy Camp tour with Field Guides

Tour openings: March to June

Slaty Brush-Finch by guide Willy Perez

We have space still open on the following tours through June. Guide Willy Perez’s image of the elegant Slaty Brush-Finch above gives a taste of what’s coming up on his Ecuador’s Wildsumaco Lodge tour Mar 13-23 — rich birding on the east slope of the Andes at a couple of exciting venues!

2016 itineraries recently released

The itineraries for these upcoming 2016 tours have recently been posted to our website:

January 2016 e-mailing

January 14th, 2016 by Field Guides

Greetings, birding friends, and all the best for a great 2016! We’re off and running in the new year with tours just wrapped up in Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad, Ecuador, Colombia, and Arizona, and various other tours underway! In this month’s e-mailing,an unusual spring finch forecast, a couple of fun recent video clips, some guide migrations, our January Recent Photos gallery of 80 fresh images (a particularly nice selection, we think, including Brown Sicklebills from New Guinea by participant Conny Palm in the banner below), upcoming tour spaces, and of course recently posted 2015 triplists (as one example, check out clips in the Great Rivers list linked below — cool) and 2016 itineraries. Enjoy reading, and good birding to all!


Jay inaugurates a spring finch forecast…

Przevalskis-Rosefinch-Dave-StejskalBirders living in the northern US and eastern Canada are used to hearing winter finch forecasts, from crossbills to redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks to siskins. But how about a spring finch forecast for snowfinches and rosefinches? Now, that’s a new twist.

Guide Jay VanderGaast has just the thing to get us looking past winter to a whole slew of fabulous finches (including the Przevalski’s Rosefinch at right) this April and May…on his China tour, Apr 26-May 17!

Check out his Spring Finch Forecast in the online version of our January 2016 newsletter issue. If you’re on our mailing list and the print version hasn’t reached your mailbox yet, it should soon… (And in the same issue: John Coons on Spitsbergen, Tom Johnson on Australia, Willy Perez on Ecuador, and much more.)

Some fun recent tour clips

Check out these short video clips that guide Tom Johnson posted from a couple of our recent tours:
  • Slow-motion hummers in Costa Rica — click the full-screen button at lower right of window and be sure to watch in HD if you can! The interactions and movements are cool. (And the slow-motion sound adds a bit of a science-fiction feel…)
  • Curious rosellas in Australia — also great full-screen; watching these birds giving it their best effort at the table gave us a good chuckle!

A migrating Motmot, an African Sicklebill?

What, you say, motmots don’t migrate and there are no sicklebills in Africa? Well, let us set you straight! Our own fondly nicknamed “Motmot,” the indefatigable Jesse Fagan, is covering quite a bit of territory in the next few months, ranging from Colombia and Central America through the Caribbean to north Africa! Among his seven tours in the first half of 2016, only two still have space open: Western Panama and Morocco! Jesse’s just posted a short piece on his new Western Panama itinerary to our News page. And as to Africa, well, our “Sicklebill” (the peripatetic Phil Gregory) will be setting up territory in Ghana in April and Uganda in May. Contact our office regarding any of these four tours if you’d like to do a bit of migrating with the Mot or discover new territory with the Sicklebill!
The cozy Lodge at Tranquilo Bay, nestled in some great habitat, on Jesse Fagan's new Western Panama: Chiriqui & Bocas del Toro tour (Photo courtesy of Tranquilo Lodge)

The cozy Lodge at Tranquilo Bay, nestled in some great habitat, on Jesse Fagan’s new Western Panama: Chiriqui & Bocas del Toro tour. (Photo courtesy of Tranquilo Lodge)

Brazil visas: a summer break

The Brazilian government announced a visa waiver from June 1 to September 18, 2016, for citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Japan. The purpose is to encourage travel to the country around the Rio Olympics (Aug 5-21). However, “it will not be required to prove the purchase of tickets to the Olympic Games in order to benefit from the visa waiver.” As an example, see the Washington D.C. Brazilian consulate’s news item for 11-01-2016 (Jan 11, 2016, in their date format). It just so happens we’ll be birding Brazil on five tours during that period, and we have one with a few spaces still open!

Fresh triplists from 2015 tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our January Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)











Tour openings: February to May


We have space still open on the following tours in early 2016. Participant Ed LeGrand’s graceful array of Eurasian Spoonbills above gives a taste of what’s to be seen (along with spectacular landscapes and cultural stops) on guide Marcelo Padua’s upcoming Spain: La Mancha, Coto Donana & Extremadura tour May 14-26 — see a bunch of great birds and come tilt at a few windmills with Marcelo!

2016 itineraries recently released

The itineraries for these upcoming 2016 tours have recently been posted to our website:

January 2016 newsletter

January 12th, 2016 by Jan Pierson

Our January 2016 newsletter is making its way to the mailboxes of all of you on our mailing list. It features articles on our Spitsbergen, China, and Australia tours, a Southwestern Ecuador Specialties feature page, 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.

Enjoy the new issue!

January 2016 Field Guides newsletter

Surf and Turf: A New, Spicy Western Panama Tour in March

January 7th, 2016 by Jesse Fagan

There is still space on our exciting new itinerary to Western Panama. The tour runs from March 20-29, 2016, and visits two important birding sites, one located in the Caribbean lowlands (surf) and the other in the Chiriqui Highlands (turf).

Boating at Tranquilo Bay phf16 scouting Jesse Fagan

A boat ride is our transportation to some birding sites around Tranquilo Bay. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)

The first site, Tranquilo Bay, is based in the tropical lowlands on the island of Bastimentos with views of the Caribbean from the dock or on their 100-foot-tall birding tower. It’s ideally set with spacious cabins located amidst the lush forest teaming with birds, monkeys, and sloths. Exploration of the surrounding areas will be on foot and by boat with plenty of time for siestas in the hammock, a swim off the dock, or lounging by the bar (surely holding some fruity drink with a small umbrella).

tranquilo bay main building by Tranquilo Bay

The Lodge at Tranquilo Bay (Photo courtesy of Tranquilo Bay Lodge)

The second site is in altogether different habitat and climate, a welcome and striking contrast to the lowlands: Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve. The lodge is located in the Chiriqui Highlands, a region famous for bird endemism, including species from small (Silvery-fronted Tapaculo) to large (Black Guan), and other special birds, like Three-wattled Bellbird and Resplendent Quetzal. The lodge is part of an old shaded coffee plantation built in the highlands with surrounding primary montane forest and cloud-forest. The trail system is excellent and camera traps have documented healthy populations of Puma and tapir. And the home cooking at both lodges is reason enough to take this tour.

Click to visit our web page for this tour…

bellbird lodge 1 by Bellbird Lodge

The Bellbird Lodge at Mount Totumas is nestled into lush cloud forest with some great birds! (Photo courtesy of Bellbird Lodge)

So, still need convincing that this is just the right tour for you? Think about this: it’s a short (9-day) trip to tropical Panama (with direct flights from the US) that visits just two sites, which means less unpacking and more time birding or relaxing. However, even in comfort, this tour offers some of the best birding in Central America.

Resplendent Quetzal phf16 scouting Jesse Fagan

Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve is an excellent place to see Resplendent Quetzal, as evidenced by this fabulous male. (Photo by guide Jesse Fagan)

Not mentioned above (but noted here for emphasis!) are two days along the Fortuna Road, the famous birding road that crosses the Continental Divide from the province of Bocas del Toro to Chiriqui. Here we’ll have chances for a number of high quality birds too numerous to mention but including Orange-bellied Trogon, Prong-billed Barbet, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Black-thighed Grosbeak, and Black-and-yellow Tanager. Lastly, if you feel so inclined, you can arrange to take on an extra day or three to explore the Canal Zone or visit the Canopy Lodge or Tower for very productive Canal Zone birding!

It’s easy enough to request an itinerary from our office, and I hope you’ll join me for what will be a thoroughly fun and birdy time!

All the best for your birding in 2016,
Jesse Fagan (aka Motmot)

Green-crowned Brilliant phf16 scouting Jesse Fagan

This male Green-crowned Brilliant allowed guide Jesse Fagan an easy photo. This species is a common visitor to hummingbird feeders at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Reserve.

bellbird lodge 3 by Bellbird Lodge

Bellbird Lodge offers a great birding perch and some fabulous views! (Photo courtesy of Bellbird Lodge)

December 2015 e-mailing

December 8th, 2015 by Field Guides

Greetings, birding friends! We’re closing out a great year of tours with 9 holiday trips and just 5 spaces left (a single on Trinidad & Tobago with Tom Johnson and 4 on Iquitos, Peru with Dan Lane), and we’re looking forward to 2016! In this month’s e-mailing, a cool migration phenomenon along the Peru coast (and a Texas connection), a sneak peek at new tours just announced for 2017, our November Recent Photos gallery (just a few of 70+ in the banner below — can you identify the two birds?), spaces on upcoming tours, and of course recently posted 2015 triplists and 2016 itineraries. Enjoy reading and good birding to all!


New tours planned for 2017

Each fall our scheduling committee gathers in Austin to look two years ahead, having solicited input from our guides around the globe. And each year those guides suggest some great new tour ideas for our schedule! This fall was no different, and now on our docket for 2017 are the following exciting new trips with tentative dates below (some tour pages have a description already, others will have one available soon). Contact our office to hold space if you are interested…we think these will fill quickly.

Cerulean Warbler by Tom Johnson

Cerulean Warbler, photographed by guide Tom Johnson — seeing this species will be one of many highlights of Tom’s new “Pennsylvania’s Warblers & More” tour for 2017.

Franklin’s Gull flurries

Guide Jesse Fagan recently posted on our Facebook page a series of three impressive photos from the coast of Lima, Peru (where he and group were for the start of his inaugural Mysteries of Southern Peru tour). The photos show part of a huge flock of migrant Franklin’s Gulls — so many, in fact, that Jesse thought at first it might be snowing outside in Lima! Well, the images generated thousands of views, but the followup was pretty cool, too…we learned through a Texas friend, Cliff Shackleford, that his buddy Beau Hardegree and another observer watched a flock of Franklin’s Gulls they estimated at 200,000 migrating southward along Mustang Island on the Texas Coast in late October. So the two events were about 24 days and 3000 miles apart…and may well have involved many of the same birds!

Franklin's Gulls by Jesse Fagan

Fresh triplists from 2015 tours

Click on any image below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our November Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

Manaus, Brazil tour with Field Guides

Shiripuno, Ecuador tour with Field Guides

Brazil: Jaguar Spotting tour with Field Guides

Arizona birding tour with Field Guides

Barrow, Alaska birding tour with Field Guides

Iquitos, Peru birding tour with Field Guides

Cape May birding tour with Field Guides

Kenya birding tour with Field Guides

SW Ecuador birding tour with Field Guides

South Africa birding tour with Field Guides

Louisiana birding tour with Field Guides

California birding tour with Field Guides

Tour openings: January to April

Flame-faced Tanager by Willy Perez

We have space still open on the following tours in early 2016. Guide Willy Perez’s brilliant Flame-faced Tanager above gives just a tiny hint of the dozens of tanagers and other appealing species to be seen on his upcoming Ecuador: Rainforest & Andes tour departing February 28 — it hits both slopes of the Andes as well as the Amazonian lowlands.

2016 itineraries recently released

The itineraries for these upcoming 2016 tours have recently been posted to our website:

  • Fun, professionally guided birdwatching trips to 100 destinations worldwide. Providing the best tour experience is the continuing goal of our friendly, top-notch guides and staff
  • Guide Spotlight
    Do you have time for a little video fun? See Jesse in action during the December 2013 World Birding Rally Challenge in Peru in this entertaining episode of host James ...Read complete biography

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