April 2019 emailing
April 24th, 2019 by Field Guides· Add a Comment
Hello again, birding friends! Spring has sprung over most of the temperate zone, and we’ve been seeking out migrants, and Easter eggs, as trees and flowers change the palette of our surroundings daily. What an exhilarating time of year! Our spring migration tours are well underway, with only a few spare spots remaining on our Pennsylvania, Idaho, Point Pelee, and Spain tours (if you’d like to be a migrant too). This April emailing contains a cornucopia: videos of grand Ghanaian birds, a new Meet The Tour Manager feature, bird conservation news, and the April Recent Photos Gallery with 84 nifty images from recent trips. Linked below too are a fresh batch of 11 recent triplists and 10 recently posted itineraries for 2019 tours and a roster of remaining spaces on our May-early September tours, including some near-term ones to incomparable Alaska, the grand canyons and grand condors of Northern Arizona, and even Machu Picchu, Mongolia, and Iceland. Take a gander, or two. We look forward to seeing you all again soon!
Click on the image below to see the April Recent Photos gallery (that’s a Vermilion Cardinal from Colombia by guide Tom Johnson as a special bonus).
Alaska: Spring Through Fall
How many of you have never set foot in the forty-ninth state? Perhaps you’ve heard from friends how astonishing the landscapes, birds, and mammals are and thought: they must be exaggerating. Well, they aren’t! But don’t take our word for it. Come put Alaska to the test this year–on either our traditional May/June two-parted tours or for fantastic Ross’s Gulls in October. We can still fit a couple of you on Part I of our first Alaska tour (May 30), or either part (or both) of our second Alaska (June 6 and June 13). In autumn, when Asian vagrants are unpredictable but very likely, our Alaska Fall Goldmine (Part Two): Ross’s Gulls in Barrow still has two spaces available. It’s difficult to imagine seeing flocks of Ross’s Gulls, mostly bright pink, passing along Point Barrow, the northernmost point in the United States, but this tour offers an excellent opportunity to see this phenomenon, still witnessed by few people on earth. Think pink! And Asian strays. The adult Ross’s Gull at Barrow (a city now called by its Inupiat name, Utqiagvik) is by guide Tom Johnson.
Good News: Rediscovery & Expansions
These articles have buoyed our spirits this season:
- Rumored sightings of Antioquia Brushfinch, a bird described only in 2007, turn out to be true. Hooray! With only one recent (1971) specimen, the species was thought extinct until a small population was discovered a year ago in San Pedro de los Milagros, by a birder who was walking to Sunday mass. Since that time, three other sites have been found to hold this Critically Endangered species, whose known population is under 20 individuals. Perhaps one day we’ll see this species, as it is found just an hour north of Medellin, a city we visit on our popular Colombia: Medellin Escapetour. Thanks to Sergio Chaparro-Herrera for the image.
- Many recall the stunning Kirtland’s Warbler that visited Central Park in New York City last spring–but did you know that Jamaica also got its first record, just two months ago? The population of this species, as low as 167 singing males in 1987, has increased to 2300 pairs, most of which nest in Michigan and winter in the Bahamas, where additional protections have just been established. We anticipate the removal of this species from the Endangered list in 2019, so the news that it continues to increase, and is pioneering new locations (including Cuba), is good news indeed, particularly given forecasts of sea-level rise and loss of habitat in the Bahamas. Our Bahamas tour provides a great opportunity to see Kirtland’s on the wintering grounds, as our new Michigan: Great Lakes Grandeur trip does on the breeding grounds.
- The translocation of Cahow (Bermuda Petrel) chicks to Nonsuch Island, part of the long-term conservation strategy for this Endangered species, has met with outstanding success: the population has increased from 7 pairs in 1951 to 124 pairs in 2018. Similar projects are well underway for two Endangered seabirds on Kauai Island, Hawaii: Newell’s Shearwater and Hawaiian Petrel. While the Bermudan researchers use boats to translocate their charges, Hawaiians must use helicopters to reach nesting areas of their tubenoses (see videos linked above)! Our Hawaii tour includes a boat trip that gives us a shot to see these striking seabirds.
Rarities: Open Spaces on Brazil Tours!
Our Brazil tours (18 this year) remain very popular: the foods, the drinks, the lodgings (some that float!), the landscapes, the local people’s warmth all complement the fantastic birding perfectly. And our outstanding guides and ground crews are the coup de grâce! Although our tours to Brazil typically fill well over a year in advance, we sometimes have cancellations. For 2019, we now have a few spaces available on tours from July through December with guides Bret Whitney, Marcelo Padua, Marcelo Barreiros, Dan Lane, Micah Riegner, and Tom Johnson (four of them shown above alongside Amazonian boat master Junior Fortes). These include both classic and exploratory tours, something for everyone! Two spaces each remain on Rainforest & Savanna: Alta Floresta & the Northern Pantanal (Jul 3), on Parrots & Cotingas: The Mouth of the Mighty Amazon (Aug 2), and Safari Brazil: The Pantanal & More (Sep 21). Three spaces remain on the short Serra dos Tucanos tour (Oct 24), based at one lodge in the Atlantic Forest, a perfect tour for first-time Brazil birders. For the intrepid explorers, you birders who really dig it when the guide says “Holy cow!” (or something similar), we also have space on Paradise Revisited: Birding the remote Upper Rio Negro (Dec 17) and on Roraima Adventure (Oct 23). Check your calendar to see if you can sneak away for some of the most bracing birding on earth!
Videos: Ghanaian marvels
Western Africa has so many unforgettable birds. Our recent Ghana: Window into West African Birding tour was fortunate to spend time with many of them, including this inquisitive White-necked Rockfowl (one of two members of the incredible passerine family Picathartidae) and a displaying male Standard-winged Nightjar! Click on the rockfowl or the postage stamp below below to see these two great birds in action in these videos by participant Craig Caldwell and guide Phil Gregory. Spaces still remain on our March 2021 departure, with Phil Gregory guiding. (And thanks to Alex Martin Ros for the nice nightjar image!)
Comments from participants
We read carefully each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we may continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are a few representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.
“This tour was up to Field Guides’ high standards. Of course I was just thrilled to see thousands of Snow Geese rise from the water, swirling flocks of rosy-finches, beautiful sunrises. But our guides, Doug Gochfeld and Cory Gregory, were certainly among the best features of this trip. They are superb young men, passionate about what they do. Not just first-class birders but competent in the more mundane aspects of running a tour. And both are educators as well. Office service was excellent as usual. Field Guides is superior in all respects.” J.P., NEW MEXICO 2019
“An excellent trip: great birds, fine travel companions, superb guide, good to great accommodations. Guide Marcelo Padua was simply amazing. His knowledge of the birds was extraordinary. HIs was especially adept at getting ALL of us on to a bird: his patience was greatly appreciated by all. His demeanor with all of us was courteous and kind, and he drove us hard, while making the birding fun. I especially was impressed with the way he treated the local staff and the local guides. He is a gifted guide, and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to experience some of the birds of Brazil with him. The Field Guides office was most attentive to all of our requests and questions.” G.G., BRAZIL NUTSHELL 2019
“This tour was wonderful and unforgettable. Phil Gregory is a superb, patient, unflappable guide, with tremendous knowledge of Madagascar and a great sense of humor. I will never forget the marvelous flora, fauna, people, accommodations, and other exotic sights: all those lemurs and beautiful, exotic birds in families that I had never heard of: couas, vangas, ground-rollers, cuckoo-rollers, mesites, asities. Great guides and compatible fellow participants. Your office service was superb. Sharon Mackie worked so hard, and answered every question promptly.” E.C., MADAGASCAR 2019
“This was a wonderful tour. It met or exceeded all my expectations. I would definitely travel with guide Tom Johnson again — he did a fantastic job. He obviously has the birding skills to guide, but as importantly, he has very good people skills and was a pleasure to travel with. He communicated the plans for the day very well, made a point of explaining what we were going to be doing every day, worked hard to make sure everyone had a good experience, and made it a fun adventure generally. The office service was very good. They helped with getting me signed up, were prompt in returning any emails or calls I made with questions, and made it a smooth process to prepare for the trip.” G.J, PUERTO RICO 2019
Triplists from recent Field Guides tours
Click on any image or link below to see our annotated and illustrated online triplist. (And be sure also to see our April Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)
Say hello to a really Kuhl person
Meet the Tour Manager!
Ruth Kuhl might be a familiar voice on the telephone if you’ve called about tours to Brazil, Panama, France, Portugal, or Maine, for which she is the Tour Manager. Ruth is always ready to help with your tour planning and prep, of course, and in the past few months she’s also been working with Peggy Watson to become a central player on our Scheduling Committee. This committee is responsible for everything to do with planning our array of tours for the coming years (Ruth and Peggy, Dave, Megan, and Doug are currently focused on 2021 details). Ruth has been part of the FG family since 2015, and in her spare time, among other things, she loves traveling and working on her language skills, most recently her (rusty, she says!) Spanish in Ecuador.
Private tours for your group or organization
Want to organize your own tour with a group of special birding friends and one of our staff guides or for your local birding club? We regularly put together private departures for groups of 6 or more to many different destinations, and they are invariably a big hit. Just contact our office to start planning your group’s next great birding trip.
One example? Our Ecuador: Rainforest & Andes tour, for which group leader Denis Kania, a frequent Field Guides traveler, put together a private group and Mitch Lysinger guided in 2018. Participant Wally Levernier captured this image of a male Blue-crowned Trogon, a scarce species, along a small stream near Sani Lodge.
Another recent private tour was to the Mexican state of Oaxaca for Maine Audubon, guided by Cory Gregory and Maine Audubon’s Doug Hitchcox in March. Alongside birding, we enjoyed a traditional rug-weaving demonstration, a mezcal factory tour, a visit to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, and very fine local cuisines from the cultures that come together in the Valley of Oaxaca.
Tour openings: May through early September
Our tours from May through early September 2019 listed below have, for the most part, just a few spaces still open. They include departures from France (a country dear to us!), the wonderful North–Newfoundland, Iceland, and Alaska–as well as South America, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Borneo, and the American West. Could you guess that this group was looking at a perched Harpy Eagle with guide Megan Edwards Crewe on our recent Guyana II tour? In the tours below, there are Bearded Vultures, White-tailed Eagles, California Condors, Spanish Imperial Eagles, and Andean Condors. What big-time bird awaits your binocular? Contact our office to request space on any of the tours below.
- Spain, May 4-16 with Chris Benesh & Godfried Schreur (2 spaces)
- Point Pelee Migration Spectacle, May 11-18 with Jay VanderGaast (1 space)
- Idaho: Snake River to the Sawtooths, May 18-26 with Eric Hynes & Mitch Lysinger (1 space)
- Pennsylvania’s Warblers & More, May 21-26 with Tom Johnson (1 space)
- Alaska I (Part One), May 30-Jun 7 with Chris Benesh & Doug Gochfeld (2 spaces)
- Northern Arizona’s Canyons & Condor I, Jun 1-7 with John Coons & Micah Riegner (1 space)
- Alaska II (Part One), Jun 6-14 with Tom Johnson & Cory Gregory (spaces open)
- Machu Picchu & Abra Malaga, Peru I, Jun 7-16 with Dan Lane (4 spaces)
- Galapagos: An Intimate Look at Darwin’s Islands, Jun 8-18 with Mitch Lysinger (2 spaces)
- Mongolia: The Gobi Desert, Steppe & Taiga, Jun 8-26 with Phil Gregory (2 spaces)
- Northern Arizona’s Canyons & Condor II, Jun 8-14 with John Coons & Micah Riegner (spaces open)
- Alaska II (Part Two), Jun 13-23 with Tom Johnson & Cory Gregory (2 spaces)
- Iceland II, Jun 23-Jul 2 with Godfried Schreur (4 spaces open)
- Newfoundland & Nova Scotia, Jun 30-Jul 10 with Chris Benesh (spaces open)
- Papua New Guinea, Jul 2-20, with Jay VanderGaast (2 spaces)
- Rainforest & Savanna: Alta Floresta & the Northern Pantanal, Jul 3-18, with Marcelo Padua & Marcel Barreiros (2 spaces)
- Wild Kenya: A Tented Camp Safari, Jul 13-28, with Terry Stevenson (1 space)
- Cloudforests of Ecuador, Jul 15-25, with Willy Perez (4 spaces)
- Borneo II, Jul 16-Aug 2, with Dave Stejskal (2 spaces)
- Arizona’s Second Spring I, Jul 17-26, with John Coons (spaces open)
- Brazil: Parrots & Cotingas: The Mouth of the Mighty Amazon, Aug 2-15, with Marcelo Padua (2 spaces)
- Arizona’s Second Spring II, Aug 3-12, with Chris Benesh (1 space)
- France: Camargue & Pyrenees, Aug 31-Sep 10, with Megan Edwards Crewe & Marcelo Padua (1 space)
- France: Camargue & Pyrenees, Sep 4-14, with Jay VanderGaast & Willy Perez (spaces open)
- Oregon: from the Coast to the Cascades, Sep 4-14, with Cory Gregory & Doug Gochfeld (spaces open)
- Slice of California I, Sep 5-14, with Tom Johnson and Micah Riegner (1 space)
- Maine in Fall: Seabirds & Coastal Migrants, Sep 9-18, with Eric Hynes (1 space)
- Slice of California II, Sep 10-19, with Chris Benesh (spaces open)
Recently posted 2019 & 2020 itineraries
Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following late 2019 and 2020 tours. Lots of info in these, and some great images as well!