October 2019 emailing
October 9th, 2019 by Field Guides· Add a Comment
Hello, Field Guides friends and family! We have been busy behind the scenes, getting our 2020-2021 catalog and fall newsletter prepared, and these will appear in your mailboxes soon. We hope you enjoy them and that they help in planning your next adventure. (Big thanks to participant Myles McNally for his portrait of the Guianan Toucanet that graces the catalog cover, and thanks to all of you who contributed photos in the past year, many of which appear in the catalog!) Not on our mailing list yet? Contact our office to request a catalog, full of good planning (and daydreaming) material!
This emailing includes our September 2019 Recent Photos Gallery, as well as timely news on our 2019 and early 2020 tours that still have spaces available, a feature on our newest Tour Manager, some fun pics from our August annual meeting, news and notes from bird research, and a host of newly released itineraries and triplists from all over the world. We hope to see you all in the New Year, if not sooner. From everyone at Field Guides, thank you for being part of our family, and happy fall migration and festivals!
South America: Winter Escapes
At Field Guides, we pride ourselves on the quality and the diversity of our South American tour offerings, which have grown over the decades like a beloved arboretum. We are especially proud of our guides, whose knowledge of and dedication to the avifauna of the bird continent are deep indeed. True, a handful of South American species have yet to be recorded on our tours, but the list is short–and shorter each year! This winter, we still have a few spaces open on two of our most popular Brazil tours: Nowhere but Northeast Brazil with Bret Whitney and Marcelo Barreiros, Jan 21-Feb 7, and Brazil Nutshell: Intervales, Iguazu Falls, & the Pantanal with Marcelo Padua, Mar 7-21. Full of endemics, beautiful landscapes, and delicious Brazilian food and drink, these tours also promise fine photographic opportunities (as the little Hooded Visorbearer by guide Marcelo Barreiros below suggests). On the western side of South America, Ecuador tours that boast lists burgeoning with handsome Andean birds include Southeast Ecuador: Orange-throated Tanager & Foothill Specialties with Mitch Lysinger, Feb 22-Mar 2, and Southwestern Ecuador Specialties: Jocotoco Foundation Reserves with Willy Perez, Mar 1-15. And to the south, The Heart of Chile with Marcelo Padua, Jan 25-Feb 8, will provide a panoply of endemics and banish thoughts of winter. Like Brazil Nutshell, our Heart of Chile tour is perfect for those with limited time but a great desire to see the big highlights of this peaceful country. Join our friendly guides on getaways you’ll long recall with pleasure!
Antarctic Swan Song: Voyage with Dave Stejskal
Say it ain’t so! After guiding more than 300 Field Guides tours, our amazing Roadrunner, Dave Stejskal, will be hanging up his mitt and cleats to enjoy a well-deserved retirement at the end of 2020. Those who know him will not be surprised that Dave has planned his final tour to be one with real style: a cruise to Antarctica with plenty of appreciative friends (who also happen to be clients!), Nov 30-Dec 21, 2020. We still have five cabins reserved for this special event, and if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of Dave’s gentle wit and warmth, not to mention his eagle eye and encyclopedic intellect, this dream cruise would be a golden opportunity to check off the Roadrunner on your Field Guides life list!
Highlights: Field Guides 2019 Annual Meeting
Each year in August, everyone (or nearly everyone) at Field Guides gets together for the annual business meeting, usually in Arizona or Texas. As a company owned by employees, with no majority shareholder, we discuss every aspect of the business in great detail–and particularly our clients’ suggestions for improvements, to which all of us are devoted. We talk about these things not just in meetings but in the field, at the dinner table, during a baseball game (this year, we watched the Arizona Diamondbacks trounce the Colorado Rockies!), or while throwing a baseball around after lunch. But what else goes on at these meetings? Click the photo below or this link to see a slide show of a few highlights of our 2019 get-together!
For Those Who Love Winter Birding
Remember the old ads for Thermawear that invited you to “Laugh at the cold!”? Well, some in the birding tribe do just that, suiting up sensibly to enjoy birding in lovely snowy places where special birds abound. Our winter Owlberta tour (Feb 15-21), which seeks out the northern owls, winter finches, and other boreal specialties in Alberta, offers a great opportunity to laugh at the cold, with Canadian Jay VanderGaast as guide and winter birding guru. Our popular Winter Japan: Dancing Cranes & Spectacular Sea-Eagles tour with Phil Gregory (Jan 17-Feb 1) also has one space open as of this writing. In Alberta, beauties like Great Gray, Snowy, Northern Hawk, and Boreal owls are all real possibilities, while in Japan, the world’s largest owl, Blakiston’s Fish-Owl, will be among the birds we seek, along with Steller’s Sea-Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Hooded, White-naped, and Red-crowned cranes, myriad waterfowl including Falcated Duck, Baikal Teal, and Smew, Spectacled Guillemot, gemlike winter finches and thrushes, and famous hot-springs-loving Snow Monkeys. Yes, many love to escape from winter, but why not escape to winter and some amazing destinations?
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 an exciting tour—we motored in flat-bottomed boats up the Tambopata River through masses of trees lodged in the river and over rapids. The lodges along the Tambopata River were first-rate and beautiful. The food at the lodges was always good. Then, of course, the birding was spectacular and in a spectacular setting. Jesse Fagan is a first-rate guide, combining a great ear and eyes with a congenial personality. He manages the group well while being fun to be with. His organizational skills matched his birding skills. We are already signed up for another tour with Jesse in 2021. The tour manager and staff were great. Field Guides is always the best.” C.B., PERUVIAN RAINFORESTS OF THE TAMBOPATA 2019
“This was a wonderful tour. The itinerary provided much diversity in birds and scenery. The fellow travelers were considerate and compatible. Cory Gregory is a wonderful guide. He is very skilled and knowledgable and manages to be calm and patient as he responds to all our questions. He had obviously given such careful thought to building the itinerary and making the tour of Oregon as complete as possible.” D.M., OREGON: FROM THE COAST TO THE CASCADES 2019
“Papua New Guinea had long been on my list of countries to visit. It is also a difficult country to visit on your own for numerous reasons. Field Guides offered a good itinerary at a good time. Jay VanderGaast is a fantastic guide: very personable, very competent, well familiar with the terrain and local sensibilities, and a fine traveling companion. The birds were superb. The rest of our traveling group was great to be with.” J.T., PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2019
“I had been on a previous Field Guides trip and was impressed with the quality of the guide and the smoothness with which everything flowed. I anticipated a similar experience on the Borneo expedition and was not disappointed. It was excellent! It has been such a pleasure to participate on Field Guides tours. Dave Stejskal’s low-key demeanor and humorous anecdotes kept the group in good spirits, and his ability to identify, locate, and predict the behavior/movements of birds enhanced the experience for all of us. Companies are judged by the people that make them up, and Field Guides has some of the best. Everyone in your office was helpful and supportive. Thank you for a wonderful experience in a special corner of the world.” W.G., BORNEO 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 September Recent Photos Gallery for other great images.)
SPOTLIGHT: Southeast Asia
When pondering the next international trip, does Cambodia call your name? If not, perhaps it should! One of the planet’s great wonders, Angkor Wat, is here, the largest religious monument ever built (and a fine birding location). Our tour enjoys a professional tour of Angkor temples and importantly also works with local bird guides with direct ties to grassroots conservation projects that support critically endangered Southeast Asian birds. Thanks to visiting groups like ours, the extremely rare Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis, Bengal Florican, Milky Stork, and three rare vultures–Red-headed, White-rumped, and Slender-billed–maintain populations here. One of the joys of this tour is that we see our positive effects on bird conservation and local communities directly. Add to this avian A-list an array of beautiful woodpeckers, owls, raptors, barbets, and mammals (including the rare Irawaddy Dolphin), and this tour ranks as one of our most well-rounded for cultural and wildlife experiences. The ever-upbeat Doug Gochfeld writes: “Hey everyone! We have space for two more couples (or four singles) on this fantastic tour Feb 12-27! Come see why good-hearted Cambodia is one of our favorite countries on earth!”
Meet The Tour Manager: Tina Rose!
Don’t you love the name “Tina Rose”? Sounds like a country or blues singer from the good old days. Well, in fact, Field Guides’ newest Tour Manager is indeed an accomplished blues singer, a real-live musician from the thriving Austin scene! After taking her college degree in Environmental Studies, Tina worked in the fields of fundraising, event planning, music production, customer service, and most recently in the coffee business. A lifelong animal lover, she is passionate about volunteer work as a veterinary technician at Austin-area shelters and always has a few rescue animals in her life. After recently selling her coffee business, Tina was casting around for a new venture that involved work with like-minded, committed, positive people when she heard about the opening with Field Guides. Her interview went so splendidly that it was an immediate Yes on both sides! Tina says of the job: “I love working in a company whose mission I can believe in. I love providing great customer service and learning more and more about birds and wildlife. And I definitely feel like I hit the jackpot with Field Guides!” And the feeling is definitely mutual. So if you’re joining the Oregon, Oaxaca, Trinidad & Tobago, Louisiana, Guyana, or Alberta tours, you’ll have the great pleasure of working with Tina, too!
Tour openings: October through April
Our tours from late October 2019 through March 2020 listed below have spaces open. They include a great mix of short and longer tours, some near home, others to farther-flung, wondrous places like Chile, Guyana, India, Brazil, Myanmar, and Cambodia. We still have space available on getaways this fall to Brazil, Louisiana, and Colombia, and merry holiday tours to the Panama, Costa Rica, and Arizona also have room! Contact our office to request space on any of the tours below.
- Brazil: Roraima Adventure, Oct 23-Nov 3, with Micah Riegner & Tom Johnson (3 spaces)
- Louisiana: Yellow Rails & Crawfish Tails, Nov 7-11 with Cory Gregory & Chris Benesh (spaces open)
- Chile: The Classic Tour, Nov 10-30, with Willy Perez (spaces open)
- Brazil—Paradise Revisited: Birding the Remote Upper Rio Negro, Dec 17-27, with Bret Whitney (1 space)
- Holiday Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista I, Dec 21-29, with Dan Lane & local guide (spaces open)
- Panama’s Canopy Camp: Lowland Darien, Dec 27-Jan 4, with John Coons & local guide (2 spaces)
- Arizona Winter Specialties, Dec 28-Jan 3, with Chris Benesh (1 space)
- Panama’s Canopy Lodge: El Valle de Anton, Dec 28-Jan 4, with Jesse Fagan (4 spaces)
- Holiday Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista II, Dec 28-Jan 5, with Megan Edwards Crewe & local guide (1 space)
- Northern India: Birds, Tiger & the Taj Mahal, Jan 11-31, with Terry Stevenson & Tom Johnson (1 space)
- Winter Japan: Dancing Cranes & Spectacular Sea-Eagles, Jan 17-Feb 1, with Phil Gregory (1 space)
- New Mexico: Birding the Land of Enchantment, Jan 18-25, with Doug Gochfeld (1 space)
- Nowhere but Northeast Brazil! Jan 21-Feb 7, with Bret Whitney & Marcelo Barreiros (spaces open)
- The Heart of Chile, Jan 25-Feb 8, with Marcelo Padua & local guide (spaces open)
- Panama’s Canopy Tower, Feb 2-8, with John Coons (4 spaces)
- Trinidad & Tobago, Feb 8-17, with Tom Johnson (1 space)
- Cambodia: Angkor Temples & Vanishing Birds, Feb 12-27, with Doug Gochfeld & local guide (4 spaces)
- Owlberta: Alberta’s Owls & More, Feb 15-21, with Jay VanderGaast (spaces open)
- Southeast Ecuador: Orange-throated Tanager & Foothill Specialties, Feb 22-Mar 2, with Mitch Lysinger (4 spaces)
- Colombia: Santa Marta Escape, Feb 22-Mar 1, with Cory Gregory (1 space)
- Jamaica, Feb 23-29, with Eric Hynes (1 space)
- Myanmar: Birding Burma, Feb 27-Mar 13, with Doug Gochfeld & local guide (2 spaces)
- Southwestern Ecuador Specialties: Jocotoco Foundation Reserves, Mar 1-15, with Willy Perez (spaces open)
- Jamaica, Mar 1-7, with Eric Hynes (1 space)
- Spring in South Texas, Mar 7-15, with Chris Benesh (4 spaces)
- Brazil Nutshell: Intervales, Iguazu Falls, & the Pantanal, Mar 7-21, with Marcelo Padua (4 spaces)
- Classic Costa Rica, Mar 10-25, with Jay VanderGaast & local guide (spaces open)
- Puerto Rico, Mar 15-21, with Tom Johnson & Cory Gregory (spaces open)
- Mexico: Oaxaca, Mar 26-Apr 2, with Doug Gochfeld & local guide (1 space)
- Belize: Tropical Birding, Short and Sweet, Mar 28-Apr 4, with Jesse Fagan & local guide (1 space)
- Guyana: Wilderness Paradise II, Mar 28-Apr 8, with Marcelo Barreiros & local guide (spaces open)
Bird News & Notes
Chestnut-crowned Babblers are highly social, vociferous birds that inhabit arid parts of eastern Australia. Just this past month, a team of researchers from universities in Zurich, Exeter, Warwick, Macquarie, and New South Wales revealed that they have documented “meaning-generating building blocks of a non-human communication system”–that is, the basic components of language–in the vocalizations of this species. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this breakthrough paper may shed light on how humans’ more elaborate combinatorial sound system evolved into language. Thrilling!
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!).