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July 2019 emailing

July 23rd, 2019 by Field Guides· Add a Comment

Summertime…and the birding is easy? If it’s as hot where you are as it is in Austin right now, maybe you’re taking a sensible birding break! Our field guides are currently finishing up tours in Kenya, Borneo, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, and on the home front, many “off-duty” guides are checking local shorebird spots for that rara avis that will light up social media and galvanize fellow birders, whether a Little Stint in Maryland or an Oriental Plover on the Cairns Esplanade in Australia. But even our most gung-ho guides confess to doing some “virtual” birding indoors during the heat. In that spirit, we invite you to peruse our July Recent Photos Gallery with a great group of images from Spitsbergen and the Galapagos to the Andes, Israel, Japan, Brazil, Alaska, and France. Also in this emailing are two stunning Antarctica videos that are sure to cool you off (or fire you up?), a blurb about open spaces on a special one-day California pelagic trip, bird news from offshore projects, a note about a small-group tour opportunity, and the latest triplists, itineraries, and spaces available on upcoming tours. Stay cool, drink water, and we hope to see you all soon! (Guide Doug Gochfeld supplied our lead image below, a rascally Galah from the Australia tour.)


Fun 1-day California Pelagic: Space Available!

We’ve again chartered a boat departing Half Moon Bay, California for a pelagic birding trip on September 12 this year, and we have 9 spaces available! Tom Johnson and Micah Riegner will team up with Alvaro Jaramillo for this outing to lead this one-day event, part of our annual Slice of California: Seabirds to Sierra tour. We’ll be looking for Sooty, Pink-footed, and Buller’s shearwaters, Black-footed Albatross, Ashy Storm-Petrel, South Polar Skua, all three jaegers, Sabine’s Gull, Tufted Puffin, Rhinoceros Auklet, and many marine mammals, often including Blue Whale. The pelagic environment is incredibly dynamic, and seabird abundance and species diversity vary year to year. Scarce birds we might encounter include Black-vented and Flesh-footed shearwaters, Laysan Albatross, Black and Fork-tailed storm-petrels, Brown Booby, and Scripps’s Murrelet. The fee is $175 per person and includes just the pelagic trip. If you are interested, contact our office and request more details or a space from tour manager Caroline Lewis. (Tom Johnson’s Laysan Albatross glides above.)

Private Tours: Great Group Getaways

We run many private tours per year in addition to our advertised Field Guides tours. These are groups of six or more people who have decided they’d like to travel together to one of our many regular destinations around the world with one of our guides. We also have relationships with bird clubs, Audubon societies, and natural history groups that organize an annual tour and supply a club field trip leader, to accompany the group along with one of our own field guides. Friend of Field Guides Becky Hansen took this portrait of a Hyacinth Macaw on a recent private tour to Brazil based on our Jaguar Spotting: The Pantanal & the Garden of the Amazon itinerary. If a private tour sounds appealing, just contact our office for the details of how to get started.

What’s the Next Best Thing to a Private Tour?

On our upcoming schedule, that would be the south of France with Jay VanderGaast. How so? It’s rare for us to have a tour 6 weeks out that’s not yet quite a “go” — in fact, only 3 of our 10 other September departures have any space at all. But therein lies the opportunity. We have two folks booked with Jay for France: Camargue & Pyrenees IISep 4-14 (our third France tour of the year), and we need just two more to lock it in. Could that be vous for an optimal guide-to-participant ratio? Well, why not? Birds, fun, and la belle vie await, from the pink flamingos and white horses of the Camargue to Lammergeiers hanging above alpine peaks, with a great diversity of migrants (and gastronomie) in between. Contact our office — we can help with plans and flights.

Bird News: Satellite Tracking of Seabirds

We often wonder: where do these seabirds spend their lives, when they only return to land for nesting? A team of researchers partnered with the venerable pelagic trip company Seabirding to find out not just where the birds go at sea but also where they nest. In May, they captured ten Black-capped Petrels of two different types off Hatteras, North Carolina–one type with a dark mask, the other with a mostly white face (like the one shown here)–and fitted them with satellite tags. On the island of Hispaniola, the birds studied are the dark-masked types. But how about the white-faced birds? Do they nest in Cuba? Or Dominica? The satellite tags should continue working through November, when some Black-capped Petrels return to their breeding areas. Hopefully, a mystery will be solved by the end of the year! To track these endangered petrels, check out this interactive map that shows where they are in real time! A relative of the Black-capped, the Cahow or Bermuda Petrel is likewise the subject of renewed research: Portuguese biologists will be tracking them using new GPS devices. And last fall in Hawaii, researchers fitted nine endangered Newell’s Shearwaters with similar tracking devices, hoping to learn where they forage. (Thanks to Brian L. Sullivan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the dreamy Black-capped Petrel.)

Videos: Breathtaking Antarctica


Antarctica–the word evokes different images and emotions for everyone. Whatever those images are, they are but a shadow of what it is like to be physically present in Earth’s icy, vibrant, deep south.” So writes guide Doug Gochfeld of our recent Antarctica tour. Every day, he writes, “I was in awe, transfixed–by the light, the ice, the sea, the islands, the mountains.” Fortunately, for those of us still trying to imagine what it’s like to be there, Doug did yeoman’s work in documenting not just the landscapes and seascapes but the uncountable creatures our group was privileged to observe: whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, petrels, albatrosses, and skuas. (And some very memorable landbirds in Patagonia and the Falkland Islands, too.) Please enjoy Doug’s videos by clicking each of his photos above, and take a moment to read through his thoughtful Antarctica triplist, too. Field Guides has been blessed with many fine writers, and Doug Gochfeld is one of them. (And his triplist has four more videos embedded, so if you’d like to keep going….) We’d like to claim that watching the videos is almost as good as going there, but Doug would point out our error. Next year, Dave Stejskal will be leading the tour (Nov 30-Dec 21), and in 2021 we’ll have a special cruise into the Weddell Sea, in search of the magnificent Emperor Penguin (12-25 Nov). What a thrill!

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.

“A person whom I met on local bird walks and who has used Field Guides repeatedly recommended your company. This was an excellent tour. It could not have been better! The guides were superior and all the arrangements were so carefully made that the travel was easy and efficient and there was very little time spent not birding. I’d absolutely travel with Chris Benesh or Doug Gochfeld or both of them! They are a dynamic team, both very knowledgeable, skilled, personable, and willing to go out of their way to offer the group the fullest experience possible and to make sure that everyone sees the birds. I was impressed that your company could make this tour just as personal an experience for me as the trips I do with guides and clients whom I already know.” D.M., ALASKA 2019

“The tour was wonderful. I’d been very impressed with the Manaus, Brazil tour and guide Dan Lane in 2015. Machu Picchu has been on my travel list, and when I saw this tour with Dan, I decided it was a must-do. I enjoyed the birding and culture tremendously. Without hesitation, I would recommend it to anyone interested. Your office service was timely, friendly, and comprehensive. This was a better experience than other tour companies/guides I have used in the past.” J.A., MACHU PICCHU & ABRA MALAGA, PERU 2019

“Because I have taken so many great trips with Field Guides, and I knew guide Marcelo Padua from the Chile/Argentina trip, I knew this would be good — and it was. And what a delight to meet Megan Edwards Crewe, who is an extraordinary woman, a guide with whom I’d travel any time. Megan and Marcelo are seasoned professionals—great personalities, tons of patience, and fun to be with. It was a grand experience. So nice to have a relaxing trip and enjoy the sumptuous food, excellent wines, and—oh yes—the birding! The visits to the chateaux were outstanding.” D.S., FRANCE’S LOIRE VALLEY: BIRDS, CHATEAUX & WINE 2019

“As always with Field Guides, this was a great experience. Bret Whitney and Marcelo Barreiros are excellent guides, always making sure we see the birds well. They are incredibly patient about this, in fact! Office service was very helpful and timely, as always. In this regard, Field Guides buries the competition! A Field Guides trip is the gold standard for me. I have traveled with other good companies, but you are the best. Best guides, best support. The birds will show up for any good guide, but Field Guides makes it a great experience.” P.P., BRAZIL: MINAS GERAIS & TOCANTINS—BLUE-EYED GROUND-DOVE & MORE 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 July Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)

Meet our awesome Accounting Manager

Say hello to the one & only Flammulated Owl!

Tiara Westcott, known to her Field Guides family as “Flamm” (short for the owl), has been on deck with the company since 2011. She might be a familiar voice if you’ve called the Austin office, where both her sense of detail and her sense of humor are godsends every day of the week. Tiara began as Administrative Assistant and by 2014 had transitioned into the position of Tour Manager. She then began training with Peggy Watson (our Puffin!) to take on the role of Accounting & HR Manager in 2016. As you might imagine, she knows the workings of the company like the back of her hand now! Like everyone at Field Guides, Tiara is a traveler, and she and her husband, John, have a cool scrapbook of past adventures, with a full bucket list that includes Eastern Europe, Bhutan, and East Africa. She and John love to garden, make pottery, hike and ride bikes around the great Austin trails, and cruise the Texas coast during spring and fall migration. The smile in this photo says it all – our Flamm is a bringer of joy and a joy to work with!

Tour openings: August through February

Our tours from August 2019 through February 2020 listed below have spaces open. They include departures that take in autumn migration in the United States and Europe, Thanksgivings To Remember in Belize, Chile, Jamaica, and the Yucatan Peninsula, Happy Holiday tours in Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Arizona, Panama, and Ecuador, and two-dozen more winter getaways. For fans of a little wintery weather, we have tours to Alberta and Japan in search of owls, cranes, and sea-eagles, so come on! Above, meet our terrific guide Mitch Lysinger with his friend, and our local guide for the Galapagos, Jairo Gusqui. Contact our office to request space on any of the tours below.

Recently posted 2019 & 2020 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2019 & 2020 tours. All of these itineraries are packed with information (and have a few photos as well).





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