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February 2018 emailing

February 1st, 2018 by Field Guides· Add a Comment

What an exciting start to 2018! We’ve enjoyed multiple departures to Costa Rica, Texas, Guyana, and Ecuador, plus tours to Colombia, Kenya & Tanzania, and Thailand, and our late-January groups to Japan, Chile, Suriname, and Antarctica are on their way. Below, in two of more than 80 great images featured in our February Recent Photos Gallery, are guide Jay VanderGaast at right doing bellhop duty on his recent New Guinea & Australia tour, and guide Dave Stejskal and participant Jenny Golden enjoying some birding from a skiff in Vietnam. Scroll down to see 8 recently completed triplists, fully annotated and illustrated. You’ll also find 14 updated itineraries for summer and fall 2018 tours, as well as remaining spaces on our March-July tours and links to articles on fire-spreading birds of prey (!) and Turkey Vultures. Thanks for checking it all out — we’ll see you in the field!

Recent photos from FIELD GUIDES BIRDING TOURS


Raptors in northern Australia spreading wildfire

A recent article published in the Journal of Ethnobiology by an international group of researchers describes fascinating behavior by Black Kites (one pictured below in an image by guide Eric Hynes), Brown Falcons, and Whistling Kites across a wide swath of northern Australia. The article requires a subscription, but you can read a good summary here. These “fire-foraging” raptors pick up and relocate burning sticks with their feet or beak, thereby spreading wildfire and presumably enhancing their chances of flushing prey. Based on ancient artwork by Aboriginal people, this behavior has long been known to locals. A controlled study is planned in May to try to observe and film the behavior.

Black Kite by Eric Hynes


A May highlight: Uganda with Jesse Fagan

Pictured above are just two of many reasons to join our upcoming Uganda tour, May 19-Jun 8: Shoebill, aka “Whale-headed Stork” (here in a photo by participant Rachel Hopper), and guide Jesse Fagan, fondly known at Field Guides as our “Motmot.” The immense Shoebill is one of the most bizarre birds in the world, assigned to a family all its own, Balaenicipitidae. Jesse, of course, is pretty tall himself, but more important and in the words of a participant on a recent Peru tour, “Jesse is an outstanding leader and he made every single event memorable. Not only that, he is personable and engaging with all members of the group, the driver, and the local guide. He has an instant rapport with the service representatives at the hotels and venues that are used. He is truly an asset to Field Guides.” We couldn’t agree more!

Of course a bird tour to Uganda involves so much more than Shoebills. There are numerous Rift endemics and specialties, and in addition to all the fabulous birds, we’ll attempt to see Mountain Gorillas — one of the most unforgettable wildlife experiences on the planet. The wonderful photo below by guide Phil Gregory comes from a slideshow of past tour highlights. There are still two spaces left for Jesse’s small group of 9, so if you are interested in more details about our May departure check out the itinerary or contact our office.

Uganda with FIELD GUIDES BIRDING TOURS

Teddy’s presidential patch list

Wood Thrush by guide Eric HynesOur 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, was a champion of conservation and a well-known naturalist, but did you know he kept a bird list during his time at the White House from 1901 to 1909? When queried by an author working on a bird book of the region, Teddy produced an impressive list of 93 species. Now someone has entered that list into eBird. There’s a short blog post here, and the complete eBird list here. His notes referenced Wood Thrush as nesting on the property. Today, Teddy would probably be spearheading an effort to bring back this species from its long decline, explained here.

Triplists from recent tours

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

MADAGASCAR
with Phil Gregory & Doug Gochfeld

PERU: TAMBOPATA RAINFORESTS
with Dave Stejskal

BRAZIL’S REMOTE RIO TAPAJOS
with Bret Whitney

ECUADOR’S SHIRIPUNO LODGE
with Mitch Lysinger

NAMIBIA & BOTSWANA
with Terry Stevenson

NEW GUINEA & AUSTRALIA II
with Jay VanderGaast

NEW GUINEA & AUSTRALIA I
with Jay VanderGaast

AUSTRALIA PART ONE
with Chris Benesh & Jesse Fagan


Private tours: plan your own for 6 or more

Want to organize your own tour with a group of special birding friends and one of our staff guides? We regularly put together private departures for groups of 6 or more (recent examples include Panama, Guyana, Colombia, and Namibia/Botswana), and they are invariably a big hit. Here’s an example of an illustrated triplist from one such 2017 tour, a wonderful Thailand survey with guides Dave Stejskal and John Rowlett. You can start planning your group’s next great birding trip — just contact our office.


Tour openings: March through July

Eleuthera Island, Bahamas, by Jesse Fagan

January has been a blast, and we have more birding fun ahead over the next few months. The gorgeous setting above is Eleuthera Island, photographed by Jesse Fagan on a previous Bahamas: Endemics & Kirtland’s Warbler tour. Jesse notes:

“The Bahamas were largely spared the wrath of several large hurricanes that passed through the Caribbean this past season. I’ve been in touch with one hotel owner, Floyd, who told me that Eleuthera received little impact: ‘We lost a few shingles.’ So, if you are looking for a fun, short spring tour, then there isn’t a better trip. We visit three of the most interesting islands (and least populated) in the Bahamas: Abaco, Andros, and Eleuthera. Targets include five Bahamian endemics, a few regional endemics, and, yes, Kirtland’s Warbler on its wintering grounds! Short and sweet. I hope to see you there.”

So you can still join Jesse Mar 31-Apr 4 for a spring break from winter. If that doesn’t work for your schedule, we have a host of other tours in the upcoming months, with more than 20 still open, listed below. If you’re interested, contact our office.


The nose knows: Turkey Vulture discovery

Turkey Vultures probably show up on more Field Guides checklists than any other bird in the Western Hemisphere. This is the world’s most widespread vulture, and the latest research puts some hard data behind how TVs manage to be more successful than other vultures in some habitats. It has long been accepted that TVs are scent-guided foragers, and we see this when they are soaring lower than other vulture species and circling an area. They also manage to discover carcasses in closed-canopy environments. Their brains have enlarged olfactory bulbs, four times larger than those of the sympatric Black Vulture, and relative to brain size larger than those of any other bird. This latest research discovered that the number of mitral cells (responsible for transmitting scent signals to the brain) is much higher, too. For a creature with no “nose,” a TV sure can smell!

Turkey Vulture by guide Eric Hynes


Recently posted 2018 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2018 tours. Lots of info in these and some great images as well!

BRAZIL: JAGUAR SPOTTING I & II
with Marcelo Padua & John Coons (I) or Marcelo Barreiros & Jesse Fagan (II)

RIO NEGRO PARADISE, BRAZIL I & II
with Bret Whitney & Marcelo Barreiros

SLICE OF CALIFORNIA I
with Chris Benesh

SLICE OF CALIFORNIA II
with Tom Johnson

ECUADOR’S SHIRIPUNO LODGE
with Mitch Lysinger

NEW ZEALAND
with Dan Lane & local guide

ETHIOPIA
with Terry Stevenson

BRAZIL’S MOUTH OF THE AMAZON
with Marcelo Padua & Jay VanderGaast

NORTHWESTERN ARGENTINA
with Willy Perez

SAFARI BRAZIL: THE PANTANAL & MORE
with Marcelo Barreiros & Dave Stejskal

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