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March 2019 emailing

March 28th, 2019 by Field Guides· Add a Comment

Greetings, friends of Field Guides! If you’re currently north of the tropics, as most of us Field Guides folks are, you’re eagerly anticipating spring migration. Though it can be difficult to leave the home turf as the warblers return, the months of April, May, and June hold magic around the globe, and what better way to appreciate the Big Picture of bird movements than to travel to another corner of the continent—or another continent entirely? Migration meccas such as Point Pelee, Cape May, and Alaska await (each tour has 1-2 spaces available), and for a touch of spring farther afield, our tours to Spain, Hungary & Romania, and Northeast India also are options. If these seem too far flung, why not get to know the birds of beautiful, green Pennsylvania intimately, through the eyes of native son Tom Johnson? We have a lot to share in this emailing, including new departures, bird news, video clips from Brazil, an Emperor Penguins cruise cabin discount, and a March Recent Photos Gallery with 102 fresh images (a sample is the stunning Steller’s Sea-Eagle above, photographed on our Winter Japan tour by participant Becky Hansen). Also linked: 14 recent triplists and 10 recently posted itineraries for 2019 tours, as well as remaining spaces on our April-July tours. If you have questions about any of our tours or guides, feel free to contact our office any time. We look forward to seeing you in the field!

Click the magnificent Steller’s Sea-Eagle below to see our March Recent Photos…


The Allure of the North

Spring is the time to plan for the dog days of summer! Our Newfoundland & Nova Scotia tour with Chris Benesh is a perennial favorite, beloved for the captivating scenery as well as the fine mix of boreal birds and mammals—and this year’s small-group tour still has a few open spaces. Alaska, a peerless place to beat the heat, promises visitors both throngs of migrants and dapper nesting birds. Our Alaska II tour also still has space: Part One (Jun 6-14) visits the Pribilofs and Denali; Part Two (Jun 13-23) visits Nome, Seward, and Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow). Tom Johnson and Cory Gregory will be delighted to guide you through the wonders of the 49th state. We expect mild temperatures on our Iceland II departure as well; now in its twentieth year, this tour gets glowing reviews for the seabird spectacles, excellent cuisine, and wildflower show. Godfried Schreur will guide there again this year. Barely in the northern hemisphere, but often pleasantly cool in the mountains, northern Ecuador makes a fascinating alternative to high-latitude summer getaways. Our July Cloudforests of Ecuador tour with Willy Perez will search for hummers, tanagers, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, and Spectacled Bear. Come cool off (and bird) with us!


Birds news: Bristlefront(s) and more

These articles caught our eye recently:

  • Stresemann’s Bristlefront is among the world’s rarest birds. Colleagues at the Alliance for Zero Extinction report that just one bird, a female, has been found on recent surveys in Bahia, Brazil, where drought and fires have damaged the species’ stronghold, the Reserva Mata do Passarinho. There are also rumors of possible sightings from a nearby refuge, which we certainly hope turn out to be accurate.
  • Friend of Field Guides Ella Sorensen has received well-deserved recognition for her long-time work in management of the Gillmor Sanctuary, critical wetland habitat on the Great Salt Lake, where she monitors bird populations and works to restore habitats negatively affected by population growth and rising demands for water. Our hats are off to Ella for decades of grassroots good work!
  • Many of us were amazed when a vagrant Great Black Hawk, normally a bird of the New World tropics, took up residence in Portland, Maine (near Field Guides’ own Jan Pierson) after a brief appearance in coastal Texas in April 2018. This bird survived well into the winter on a diet of squirrels but eventually succumbed to the cold weather. Why more and more tropical birds are turning up far north of their usual range is a question that merits investigation.
  • The highest levels of avian endemism are found on islands, as we know. But what are the mechanisms by which such rich biodiversity comes to be? Most of us know about Darwin’s finches, but our biology teachers might not have touched on Madagascar’s vangas or Hawaii’s honeycreepers, whose relationships have come to be understood much better in the age of biochemical study of birds. Cornell University’s Irby Lovette provides a useful overview in a recent article.
  • Good news for Whooping Cranes and other species that sometimes collide with power lines: American Bird Conservancy reports that Kansas power companies have joined forces to make power lines more visible to birds by marking them with devices designed specifically for birds. Kudos to those involved!

New tour: Roraima in October 2019

This October, Micah Riegner and Tom Johnson will team up for a new tour, Brazil: Roraima Adventure. Rarely visited by birders, Brazil’s northernmost state, bordering Venezuela and Guyana, is among the most biogeographically rich regions in the Neotropics, incorporating Amazonian lowlands, cloudforest-cloaked tepuis, Mauritia Palm swamps, savannas, gallery forests, vast marshlands, and isolated campinas. This tour, building on our 2018 explorations here (see the triplist for a great taste of the tour), will concentrate on the areas of greatest endemism: the Guianan, the Imeri (west of the Rio Branco), and the Pantepui. Among the range-restricted species we’ll seek are Crestless Curassow, Sun Parakeet (endangered), Hoary-throated Spinetail, Rio Branco Antbird (check the antbirds video in the triplist), Yapacana Antbird, Tepui Swift (art lovers click Micah’s painting below for proper appreciation), Caica Parrot, Crested Doradito, Sooty-capped Hermit, and Green-bellied Hummingbird. We will of course watch for more widespread species such as Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Capuchinbird, Gray-winged Trumpeter, Willis’s Antbird, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Sharp-tailed Ibis, and the enigmatic Dolospingus, White-naped Seedeater. And the mammals should be equally impressive: Giant Anteater, monkeys such as Guianan Bearded Saki and Golden-handed Tamarin, and those unforgettable Pink River Dolphins, which we may see well from our day on a live-aboard river boat on the Rio Branco. If you’d like to join Micah and Tom, be sure to contact our office; we expect this, like so many of our new offerings, to be popular.


Added 2019 Departures: Uganda with Megan and Arizona with John

“I’d go to Timbuktu or anywhere on earth with Megan Edwards Crewe,” so many of our Field Guides regulars say. Well, how about to Uganda, the pearl of Africa, where Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Great Blue Turaco, and the awe-inspiring Shoebill await? Check out Megan’s itinerary for Essential Short Uganda, running Nov 16-29, and contact our office to get a spot on this new offering. Megan was recently scouting in Uganda and reports that the wildlife experiences were “superb–beyond bucket list!” This two-week offering (one week shorter than our big tour here) provides a chance to see the “megastars” of the Albertine Rift in a comparative jiffy!

Closer to home, but still truly jaw dropping, are the vistas on the Northern Arizona’s Canyons & Condor tour, for which we have added a second departure, Jun 8-14. In addition to the regal, endangered California Condor (oh, and the Grand Canyon!), we should see many birds typical of the Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, and southern Arizona deserts: Zone-tailed Hawk, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Gray and Cordilleran flycatchers, Mountain Bluebird, Green-tailed Towhee, and Black-chinned Sparrow. John Coons and Micah Riegner will guide this second departure as well.


Videos: From Brazil, with love

Our four-decades-old love affair with the birds of Brazil continues, with more guides and destinations than ever before. Below, the fetching Rhopornis ardesiacus, Slender Antbird, is the sole member of its genus. Guide Bret Whitney writes (and the video reveals) that our group had lovely looks at this endangered endemic bird, found only in mata-de-cipo (vine forest), on the recent Southern Bahia Extension. Also below, and in Brazil’s new Boa Nova National Park, this Giant Snipe of subspecies gigantea, the largest snipe in the world, put in a rare appearance, to the enjoyment of all. Click on each of the images below to see videos of these two great birds in action on the extension to our recent Nowhere but Northeast Brazil! tours. (And stay tuned for a new itinerary to Bahia to be guided by Bret and Marcelo Barreiros…)

Click the image for the Slender Antbird video.
Click the image for the Giant Snipe video.

Fall Emperor Penguins cruise cabin discount

First, check out guide Tom Johnson’s update on our Emperor Penguins in the Weddell Sea tour page noting that the company operating the cruise, Oceanwide Expeditions, made successful visits to the Snow Hill Island Emperor Penguin colony in the Weddell Sea in both 2017 and 2018. We are hopeful that conditions will allow for this again in 2019. Tom, one of our seabird experts, is really jazzed about this dream tour.

Second, Oceanwide has let us know that it is offering the twin porthole cabins at the quadruple cabin rates for this cruise. The regular price for a twin porthole cabin is $12,950 per person, and the new rate is $11,350 per person. So for a twin porthole cabin there is a $1600 fee reduction. We also have a share available for a female participant looking for a roommate. Contact our office for more information.


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 was my 7th tour with Field Guides. I like everything about the company and its trips. Panama has long been on my list of places to visit, and I was ready for a shorter flight than my last trip, which was to Borneo! It was a great experience. Guide John Coons and the local guides were amazing, and John made certain that everyone saw each bird. We had special visits to the Panama Canal and the local market in El Valle. Your office service was great as usual.” S.M., PANAMA’S CANOPY TOWER 2019

“This was a beautiful, fun, and productive tour. Jesse Fagan is a great guide and we had a good group. Beautiful scenery and good birds. What’s not to like? I have had many enjoyable tours with your organization, and Field Guides is my go-to birding group. Office staff service was great.” P.H., GUATEMALA: SHADE-GROWN BIRDING 2019

“I chose this winter tour as it featured the target birds I wanted to see. And Field Guides has a good reputation in the birding community. It was one of the best tours that I have taken…small group size, fantastic guides with great birding skills and pleasant personalities, relaxed pace during day to find species, comfortable lodging. Both Jay VanderGaast and Dan Arndt worked hard to find target bird species. The group dynamic was very pleasant.” C.E., OWLBERTA: ALBERTA’S OWLS & 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 March Recent Photos gallery for other great images.)


New slideshows: Pennsylvania and Cape May

Enjoy some fine images for two tours that are coming up soon: first, a slideshow from our Pennsylvania Warblers & More, which is scheduled for May 21-26, 2019, with Tom Johnson guiding; and Spring in Cape May, which is scheduled for May 12-18, 2019, also with Tom. Have a look at Tom’s remarkable photography!

Click the image above for the Pennsylvania’s Warblers & More slideshow.
Click the image above for the Spring in Cape May slideshow.

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.

A recent example was our private Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista getaway for frequent Field Guides traveler Bruce Sorrie and his organization’s group, for which Megan Edwards Crewe was all too happy to serve as a guide. A whole lot of great birds (like the Lesson’s Motmot by Bruce below) seen with friends…sounds like fun! Let us know if you would like to create a custom group experience with one of our guides.

Tour openings: mid-April through July

Our tours from mid-April through July 2019 listed below have a few spaces still open. They span from Old World departures in Kenya, India, and Mongolia to the New World tropics. Contact our office to request open space or information on any of these tours.

Recently posted 2019 itineraries

Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following 2019 tours. Lots of info in these, and some great images as well!


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