Labor Day 2019 emailing

September 4th, 2019 by Field Guides· Add a Comment

Welcome, friends of Field Guides! We trust your summer has been a grand one, filled with family and friends, garden riches–and of course some great birds. We have a cornucopia of news this month, not to mention a lot of paperwork, thanks to the latest update of the Clements Checklist of Birds of the World! In this email, we are pleased to present our August 2019 Recent Photos Gallery with nifty birds and other creatures from Brazil to Borneo and Kenya to Arizona. Also below, a few notes on banded curlews, videos from Ecuador, as well as the latest on tour spaces available, recently released itineraries, and triplists. We hope you enjoy the show! If your dance card is not completely full for the rest of the year, why not join us for an autumn tour or a holiday tour listed below? Merriment is included! (Thanks to guide Willy Perez for the Rufous-throated Tanagers below from his recent Cloudforests of Ecuador tour.)

Give (yourself) the gift of birding: Holiday Tours

Keel-billed ToucanAutumn is in the air! And as we hear the first tzips of migrating warblers in the morning as we sip our coffee or tea, we look forward to cooler temperatures, the pageant of September and October migration, and, yes, to holiday birding–both before and after the Christmas Bird Counts. Holiday birding before the CBCs? You betcha! Thanksgiving is just as sweet, and far less fretful, when celebrated abroad. Many of our migrating birds select the Yucatan Peninsula as their wintering grounds, so we love joining them and giving thanks on our classic Yucatan & Cozumel tour (Nov 23-Dec 2, with Chris Benesh) and our new Thanksgiving in Belize tour (Nov 23-Dec 1, with Megan Edwards Crewe). On this pleasant peninsula, our migrants mix with resident Neotropical species galore (those incandescent tanagers, hummingbirds, toucans, trogons, and such), and we also explore archaeological wonders, including temples of the ancient Maya civilization.

For the December holidays, we have a few spaces left on Holiday Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista with Dan Lane, Panama’s Canopy Camp with John Coons, Arizona Winter Specialties with Chris Benesh, and Panama’s Canopy Lodge with Jesse Fagan. This wonderful array of guides and destinations will make the holidays bright: a New Year’s toast in the beautiful mountains of Arizona, or Panama, or Costa Rica would be a fantastic way to begin 2020! (A big thank-you to participant Danny Shelton for the sweet image of the Keel-billed Toucan from the Panama’s Canopy Tower tour!)

Santa Claus in Summer: The new Clements birds

Mount Victoria BabaxEvery year in summer, we find out about decisions that ornithologists have made regarding the taxonomic status of birds. While it is true that our tours seek out avian diversity, no matter what the birds’ status (we all love distinctive subspecies), we do use the Clements taxonomy for our in-house checklists and triplists, and so we keep close track of the splits, lumps, and rearrangements that happen every year. In recent years, the Clements list has grown, as new species are discovered and former subspecies become elevated to the level of species. This definitely keeps both our offices and our guides on their toes, updating databases, catalogue text, itineraries, and checklists! This year, Santa Claus (in this case, Cornell University, which now owns the Clements checklist) brought a sleigh full. For instance, just for our Brazil tours, Roraima Adventure will now seek out Pantepui Thrush and Tepui Elaenia, Northeast Brazil will look for Ceara Woodcreeper, Southeast Brazil will revel in Small-headed Elaenia, and the Great Rivers tour series will sort out Guianan, Inambari, Rio Negro, & Klages’s Gnatcatchers (fortunately, Bret has a head start….). And that’s just in Brazil! In Alaska, we’ll watch for Stejneger’s Scoter, in Myanmar for Mount Victoria Babax and Jerdon’s Minivet, and in Amazing Angola for the new Angola Waxbill. In looking over your past travels, you may find yourself already having an armchair “tick,” with an Iberian Green Woodpecker (if you saw Green Woodpecker in Spain or Portugal), or an Andean Ibis (in the Antisana area of Ecuador), or a Chattering Gnatwren (in Amazonian Peru). Of course, all of these birds were on our guides’ radars before the taxonomy was revised—and in some cases, our guides were the ones who published papers that resulted in these revisions. Thanks to guide Doug Gochfeld for his photo of the Mount Victoria Babax!

Keeping “tabs” on Bristle-thighed Curlews

Bristle-thighed CurlewWe are fortunate to spend lots of time in the field (hence the company name), and during tours we often come across a noteworthy bird or even see a banded bird. In North America, many bands are placed by scientists working under United States Geological Survey permits, and we report our observations to its Bird Banding Laboratory, in part to help the scientists with their work, in part because we’re curious to learn the story behind the bird and the research. On our Alaska and Hawaii tours, we see Bristle-thighed Curlews, one of the great shorebird migrants: after breeding in Alaska, they make a nonstop flight to tropical Pacific islands, even as far as Fiji. On recent Hawaii tours, we have seen a curlew that has leg-flag number 87. We learned from researchers that this bird was tagged in Hawaii (on Oahu) in 2013 and has made the 5000-km journey back to Alaska each spring, verified by a satellite tracking device. These curlews are very consistent in the timing of their flights to Alaska, where they spend the three-month nesting season. At age 10 weeks, the young birds make their first migration mostly unaccompanied by adults. Thanks to guide Chris Benesh (who sees curlews in both of their homes) for this cool information and for the image of Bristle-thighed Curlew #87!

Videos: Ecuador, ¡Mi amor!

I would love to see all the trogons and quetzals of the world” is a sentence that we have heard many times over the years. But how about all of the fruiteaters, or barbets, or toucans, or cotingas, or even waterfowl? Many species in all of these groups have richly colored plumages and wild mating rituals well worth seeing. On our recent Cloudforests of Ecuador: All the Best of the Wild Northwest tour guided by Willy Perez, participant Danny Shelton took some sweet video of displaying male Andean Cocks-of-the-rock, feeding Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, relaxing Toucan Barbets, and torrent-surfing Torrent Ducks. Is it any wonder we love Ecuador so much? It seems that every change in elevation brings a new trove of beautiful species. This welcoming country, in fact, has the greatest species richness per square mile of any on Earth! And in our humble opinion, our guides there—Willy Perez and Mitch Lysinger—are among the best guides on Earth to connect you with the wild beauty of Ecuador. Talented, gracious, witty, and knowledgeable about all things Ecuador, both Willy and Mitch have lived in country for many years and love sharing their knowledge with visitors. Thanks to Danny Shelton for bringing back memories of Field Guides’ first love, Ecuador! (And many thanks to Willy, guide Richard Webster, and participants Charlotte Byers and Gregg Recer for the images below.)

Toucan BarbetPlate-billed Mountain-ToucanTorrent DuckAndean Cock-of-the-rock

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.

“I’d always heard good things about Field Guides and was looking for a tour to the Pantanal at this time. It was excellent. Guides Marcelo Barreiros and Marcelo Padua were superb. Perfectly fitted for their positions. Always courteous. Extremely talented! I appreciated the detailed up-front information and the quick response from the office to all questions before the tour.” R.W., ALTA FLORESTA & THE NORTHERN PANTANAL 2019

Point Pelee is famous for spring migration, and we had never been there. We knew that a Field Guides-led trip would be a great experience. Take six compatible, fun, and capable birders, add a superior leader in Jay VanderGaast, factor in his local knowledge as a Canada resident and ‘linked-in’ bird finder, and you’ve got a winner. Jay is a wonderful, caring, thoughtful, smart guide who knows the birds. More importantly, he is a great person and includes everyone while seeing each bird. Your office service was excellent. It is a pleasure to work with Field Guides staff from arranging airline tickets to receiving materials to prepare for the trip.” J.R., POINT PELEE MIGRATION SPECTACLE 2019 

“This was a great experience, as expected. Guides Doug Gochfeld and Chris Benesh were great, adaptable, got everyone onto the birds they wanted to see, and encouraged us to watch bird behavior. They also had great senses of humor. The experience, knowledge, and personalities of our guides were second to none—I would go anywhere with them in a heartbeat. Your office service was super!” D.L., ALASKA 2019

An awesome experience. We had a great time and enjoyed having ‘quality time’ with the birds. The scenery was outstanding as well. We would love to go back. Guide Godfried Schreur did an outstanding job. He is a knowledgeable, enthusiastic, warm-hearted individual with a good supply of patience. The Field Guides office was very helpful.” K.K., ICELAND 2019

“A wonderful tour. Birding with Mitch Lysinger is a blast. He is enthusiastic and energetic, plus he is an expert bird guide. Office service was excellent. Thank you for the pre-tour arrangements and the last-minute changes…” M.W., AMAZONIAN ECUADOR: SACHA LODGE 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 August Recent Photos Gallery for other great images.)

with Tom Johnson & Cory Gregory
with Tom Johnson & Cory Gregory
with Phil Gregory
with Dave Stejskal
with Godfried Schreur
with Godfried Schreur
with Eric Hynes & Mitch Lysinger
with Doug Gochfeld & Eran Banker

Meet Peg Wallace: Superhero!

Peg WallaceDo you ever marvel at the smooth efficiency of the Field Guides office? Our wonderful Peg Wallace is an answer to a prayer in that regard! Peg keeps track of all the moving parts of the paperwork, from payments to itineraries to triplists. After a few decades in the work force, Peg did something bold: she went back to college for her B.S. in Biology, then took an M.S. in Geography from the University of Texas. Peg has more than diplomas on the wall: she’s a bona fide birder-biologist, a veteran of three seasons (2007-2009) as official raptor counter at the Travis County Audubon Society’s Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory and also seasoned surveyor for Golden-cheeked Warbler territories. Can you imagine a person more qualified to generate maps for tour itineraries? Or pore through triplists to make sure that every detail is accurate? Peg’s quick mind, fantastic work, and easy laugh make her an official Field Guides Superhero, and we celebrate her five years as our amiable co-worker!

Tour openings: September through March

?Our tours from September 2019 through February 2020 listed below have spaces open. They include a great mix of short and longer tours, from the incredible north of Japan for sea-eagles and cranes to, closer to home, the Americas, where quick, energizing holiday tours to the Yucatan, Panama, and Costa Rica await. And for tours to your backyard, practically, don’t miss the Cape May, Arizona, and Texas opportunities here! Just contact our office to request space on any of the tours below.

Recently posted 2020 itineraries

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

Apr • Terry Stevenson & Lajos Nemeth-Boka


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