• 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
    John Coons combines birding excellence with a natural ability as a tour guide. He has been leading tours since 1985. Since then his great group skills, attention to detail, easy ...Read complete biography

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  • NEWS ARCHIVES


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!

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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.)

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Tour openings: February to May

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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.

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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)

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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!

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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:


October 2015 e-mailing

October 28th, 2015 by Field Guides

Greetings, birding friends! We have lots to bring you in this month’s e-mailing, from extra Oaxaca & Guyana departures to fascinating birds & birding news (hummers & hawks, an amazing big day, the avian tree of life), new China and Iceland slideshows, our October Recent Photos gallery (just a few of 70+ in the banner below — can you identify them?), spaces on upcoming tours, and of course recently posted 2015 triplists and 2016 itineraries. Enjoy reading and good birding to all!

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Extra departures: Oaxaca (Jan) & Guyana (Apr)

With our original 2016 departures of these tours fully booked, we’re offering you additional options. Guide Dan Lane has added another Mexico: Oaxaca departure Jan 16-23 for a slew of great endemics from Beautiful Hummingbird and Red Warbler (that’s Dan below being admired by one to his right!) to Dwarf Jay and Oaxaca Sparrow. And Bret Whitney will be heading to northeastern South America at the helm of our additional Guyana: Wilderness Paradise departure, Apr 3-14, with Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Capuchinbird, Rufous Crab-Hawk, perhaps Crimson Fruitcrow (to the left of Bret below) and Harpy Eagle, plus much more on tap. Contact our office to hold a space with either Dan or Bret.

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Dan Lane and a Red Warbler

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Bret Whitney and a Crimson Fruitcrow


Cool bird news: Hummers, a really BIG day, and more

If you’re as fascinated by all things avian as we are, check out the following recent articles: a cool finding about how hummers nest near hawk nests to gain protection from predators; an update on the avian tree of life, which is almost complete (check out the bit about cardinal ancestors — no wonder it hurts when you take one out of a mistnet!); and the truly amazing results from a recent Ecuadorian big day where guide Mitch Lysinger was part of the team…wow! (Scroll down on that link page to read the report.) Lastly, not exactly avian but to do with birding travel: read about what info that paper boarding pass contains (we use our phones!).


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Fresh slideshows: China (above) & Iceland (below)

China and Iceland are about as different as destinations come, and two fresh slideshows will give you some great insights into each one. Take a visual tour of China from the northeastern part of the country westward toward its geographic center, with lots of great birds along the way (including the lovely endemic Przevalski’s Rosefinch above by Dave Stejskal), to get a feel for our China: Manchuria & Tibetan Plateau tour, which runs Apr 26-May 17, 2016, with guides Jay VanderGaast & local expert Jesper Hornskov. If Iceland is on your travel radar instead, check out the new slideshow guide Eric Hynes has prepared in advance of our return there Jun 21-30, 2016. It’s peppered with lovely high-Arctic landscapes (like Breidavik below by Eric) and some equally delightful nesting shorebirds, seabirds, and more.

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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 October Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

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Tour openings: Holidays to March

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We have space still open on the following tours for the Holidays and early 2016. Participant Terry Parrinello’s lovely Lilac-breasted Roller above has us thinking of Africa birding. You too? Guide Terry Stevenson’s East Africa Highlights: Kenya & Tanzania in January has one space still open!


2016 itineraries recently released

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


Fresh slideshow: China & the Tibetan Plateau

October 14th, 2015 by Field Guides

Take a visual tour with us on our China & the Tibetan Plateau itinerary in a fresh slideshow assembled by Dave Stejskal in advance of our 2016 tour with Jay VanderGaast, scheduled for Apr 26-May 17, 2016.

Click here or on the image of White-browed Rosefinch below to go to the gallery, and once there just click on the “SLIDESHOW” button to get started on your tour!

If the show has you dreaming of a spring tour, just check out our tour page for more info!

...this colorful Chinese White-browed Rosefinch... (Photo by guide Dave Stejskal)


September 2015 e-mailing

September 28th, 2015 by Field Guides

Hello, birding friends! In this month’s e-mailing we have a fresh Morocco slideshow, a couple of interesting video clips pondering the evolution of avian beauty, our September Recent Photos gallery (a few examples of the fresh images from recent tours in the banner below…can you identify them?), spaces on upcoming tours, and of course recently posted 2015 triplists and 2016 itineraries. Enjoy reading, and good birding to all!

Recent photos from Field Guides tours


New Morocco Slideshow

Northern Bald Ibis by guide Jesse FaganGuide Jesse Fagan has created an annotated slideshow for his Morocco tour as a fun preview of what this great destination offers birders, including the Northern Bald Ibis pictured here. The slideshow includes everything from great birds to the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara to famous mosques and scenes in Marrakesh.

Jesse returns to Morocco May 21-June 7, 2016 — there is still space if you’d like to join him!

You can also see more about this trip on our tour page.


Cool bird news: The evolution of beauty in birds?

Guide Bret Whitney attended the 2015 Neotropical Ornithological Congress in Manaus, Brazil — a gathering of 600 ornithologists from around the globe! — and particularly enjoyed a talk by Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum sharing his thesis on the evolution of beauty. Rick sent us links to earlier versions of his talk, including an 18-minute TEDx clip and a longer clip at St. Olaf College (Rick speaks from 4 minutes to 60 minutes in). It’s a stimulating topic (and not uncontroversial, as Rick will note) — enjoy!


Boreal Birds Need Half

Gray Jay by guide Eric HynesYou’ll find Field Guides among the endorsing organizations for the Boreal Birds Need Half campaign.

The numerous other supporters of the campaign include Ducks Unlimited, the American Bird Conservancy, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

What is it? A conservation initiative to help protect at least half of the boreal forest region — which provides critical breeding grounds for billions of birds and so many of the migrants we see on our North American tours and breeders (like this Gray Jay by guide Eric Hynes) on our trips from Maine and Newfoundland to Alaska!

Find out more (and become part of the intiative yourself, if you’d like) at the BBNH website.


Fresh Triplists From 2015 Tours

Click on any image to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist for recent tours from Arctic Norway and New Guinea to Brazil, Borneo, Alaska, and more. (And be sure also to see our September Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

Polar Bear by guide John Coons

Papuan Lorikeet by participant Greg Griffith

Jaguar by guide Marcelo Padua

Black-and-yellow Broadbill by guide Dave Stejskal

Spectacled Eider by guide Tom Johnson

Harpy Eagle by guide Bret Whitney

Montezuma Quail by participant Scott Horvell

Bearded Reedling by guide Chris Benesh

Lioness by participant Steve Madison

Northern Hawk Owl by guide Chris Benesh

Pacific Loon by participant Linda Rudolph

Long-whiskered Owlet by participant Ben Loehnen

Field Guides group at Machu Picchu

Atlantic Puffin by guide Chris Benesh


November to February tour openings

Araripe Manakin by participant Kathy BrownWe have space still open on the following tours through February, for great experiences such as the fabulous Araripe Manakin shown here from participant Kathy Brown on our 2015 Nowhere but Northeast Brazil tour. Contact our office to hold a space.


2016 itineraries recently released

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


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)

83. To end the slideshow we should show one of the oddest birds in the world, Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita), which is critically endangered. This is one of our target birds south of Agadir. We will need a little luck and a good effort to find this bird. Photograph by guide Jesse Fagan.

The critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis, photographed by guide Jesse Fagan


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!

Spitsbergen with John Coons

Alaska with Chris Benesh & Tom Johnson

Polar Bear by guide John Coons

Polar Bear by guide John Coons


  • 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
    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

    Meet our guides

  • NEWS ARCHIVES


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