Posts

January Utah Custom Day Tour Recap

Image
January 21, 2020 - From Salt Lake City, Utah I don’t lead very many domestic tours in the winter. Typically after September and before May, I might lead 2-3 torus each year in northern Utah. Generally, these are 1/2 day or day trips where a client happens to be in Utah for something else and wants to maximize their time. I don’t really advertise much in the way of winter tours as there hasn’t been as much interest in the past—but I likely am missing out on some opportunities (Rosy-finches, gulls, and raptors come to mind). In any event, this past week I led what will likely be the only winter tour I do this year due to the pandemic, and it turned out to be a pretty good day. My client, from Minnesota, was looking for a chance to pick up a few lifers while in town helping family during an adoption. With a small target list including some difficult to find birds, I recommended an itinerary that I thought could maximize our time, and also shared some self-guided information to help t

2020 Flammulated Owling Season Recap

Image
May 11 - August 18, 2020 - From Salt Lake City, Utah If there was one thing about the summer of 2020 that was normal—it was the reliability of Flammulated Owls in the mountains just outside of Salt Lake City. While we had a big summer full of tours planned, I ultimately pulled the plug on almost everything except the Flammy tours. The reason was simple—I could meet my clients in the field, distance, and wear a mask, while still sharing these incredible creatures with the world. There were some caveats though. I didn’t have any large groups. I think the biggest was a family of 5 that came with me in May. Other than that most of my parties were parties of 2 friends or family or individuals. It made the tours simple but meant I still ended up doing a fair amount of owling tours.  Flammulated Owl from a May tour in southwest Utah Let’s start with the basics. In all, I led 18 Flammulated Owling Tours this summer. Several were part of private tours booked as part of bigger itinerari

2020 Mini Most Wanted Tour Recap

Image
August 7-10, 2020 - From Salt Lake City, Utah After all the cancellations due to Covid-19, I managed to put together one last tour in early August—the goal was to basically cover the Most Wanted species, with the exception of the desert species typically covered at the beginning of the most wanted tour. For this trip, I picked up a client in SLC then drove north to Twin Falls (backward from my normal route) and met up with the other 2 joining our party for the rest of the tour. The first task was tracking down Cassia Crossbill , which only took about 10 minutes. We found a few birds moving around the treetops and calling near Diamonfield Jack and with everyone satisfied with the views, we deiced to check a few other areas—but didn’t get any better looks, so we moved on towards Brockman’s Feeding Station. En route we picked up our obligatory Lewis’s Woodpeckers , and also the first Olive-sided Flycatcher we’ve recorded in Idaho on this tour.  Cassia Crossbill in the treetops At t

2020 Most Wanted Tour Recap

Image
July 27 - August 1, 2020 - From Salt Lake City, Utah In early summer as we realized covid-19 wouldn’t allow us to proceed with our group tours as usual, we canceled all our summer group itineraries. It was pretty disappointing, but the right thing to do, and really the only thing to do. As luck would have it one cent wanted to do a private tour with the most wanted as the base and an additional few days on the tail end. With a target list, we planned out a tour in place of what would have been the 2nd most wanted tour of the summer My clients arrived on July 27th and we did an earlier than usual pickup with some of the usual birding around the airport. Kicking things off we snagged a few Neotropic Cormorant and most of the usual breeders in the wetlands here. What we did next was head into the mountains for some birding not usually included on the tour—but what might now be a big part given the luck we had. Right off the bat, we found a cooperative Cordilleran Flycatcher —follow

2020 Cassia Crossbills and More Tour Recap

Image
July 10, 2020 - From Salt Lake City, Utah With my June Crossbill tour canceled due to Covid-19, I had the opportunity to put together a one-day Crossbill Chase to southern Idaho in early July. This tour is typically a 2-night 3-day adventure that includes looking for Flammulated Owl, Black Swift, and all the juniper and sage species in Utah before heading to Idaho for all the southern Idaho specialists. This tour is designed for people who’ve already seen Himalayan Snowcock—or have no interest in that species. But with a. Handful of clients reaching out about crossbill, I worked with 3 groups to meet in the South Hills and show them Cassia Crossbills! On July 10th I left Salt Lake City early in the morning for the 3.5 hour trek to the South Hills. I arrived int eh area a little early so did some birding on the way into the “hills”. This includes a stop in a riparian habitat I like to bird where a Northern Harrier was hunting over a nearby field. The adult male bird was a nice con

2020 Flammulated Owling Kickoff

Image
Our first Flammy on a tour this year on May 18th. On May 11th the State of Utah opened the highway into our favorite early season owling location, so I decided to get out and see what the habitat looked like and how active the birds were.  I left Salt Lake on the 40-minute drive so that I would arrive just as it was dark enough to start owling.  I drove to the furthest point in the canyon where I typically find owls and stepped out into the cool night's air. American Robins and Hermit Thrushes rang out form the aspen covered hillsides—but more importantly, 3 FLAMMULATED OWLS were calling simultaneously from various directions.  The birds were back and extremely active! It was still a little lighter than I like to start, the mountain tops to the west highlighted by the distant last rays of daylight faded.  I decided to give it a try and started calling.  A bird bee-lined it past me--the first Flammy of the year.  Continuing to talk the bird made its way back and I spotted it come

2019 Bali and The Lesser Sundas Tour Recap

Image
After 18 months planning, an advanced scouting trip in 2018, and our local guides running a version of our Lesser Sundas Tour with another client in October 2018, we were excited to touch down in Bali for 18 days of birding on the Indonesian Archipelago. As with any long tour, in a remote part of the world, things didn’t always go as planned, but overall things went rather smoothly and the tour was quite successful. Sumba Hornbill at its nest cavity During our time in the country, we tallied 292 species of birds on the current Clements list. Additionally, we encountered at least 19 other subspecies and or undescribed forms not currently recognized by Clements that will likely be split at some point in the near future (Rote and Timor Boobook, Mutis Parrotfinch, Timor Nightjar, Timor, Flores, and Sumba Flowerpecker, etc.). But the juiciest tidbit and the entire reason for going to the Lesser Sundas is for the endemics--and endemic-wise, this tour was a success! On the Les

Popular posts from this blog

2019 Bali and The Lesser Sundas Tour Recap

Birding Indonesia Part 4: West Bali National Park

2020 Flammulated Owling Kickoff