Tours & Destinations
PRIVATE & CUSTOM TOURS -- We can conduct any of our tours privately, and at almost any time of the year. We can also prepare custom itineraries. Simply send us your wish list of birds, other animals, and destinations or habitats. We will gladly construct an itinerary just for you! Please click here to contact us.
. . . . . 2017 TOUR SCHEDULE . . . . .
SOUTH TEXAS HAWK MIGRATION
Raptors, Songbirds & Specialties of the Lower Rio Grande Valley23 March 2017 - 30 March 2017, 8 days & 7 nights
Some of the finest spring hawk migration in North America occurs in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, as raptors move north out of Central America and Mexico. We will spend eight days in the Valley, dividing our time between the well-established hawk watches at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Additional birders and volunteers will be present as we all work together to identify most of the birds that pass by, not just birds of prey. We are likely to see good numbers of raptors on a daily basis, including kettles of Broad-winged Hawks and Mississippi Kites. A nice variety of hawks will move through in smaller numbers, with hopefully a rarity or two. When we are not hawk watching, we will search for many of the other Valley specialties at some of the best birding locales in South Texas. We ran this tour very successfully in the same time period of 2011. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled leader.
CAMERON PARISH, SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA
NEOTROPICAL MIGRANTS, AQUATIC SPECIES & RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER7 April 2017 - 14 April 2017, 8 days & 7 nights
This is the Louisiana counterpart of High Island Texas, minus the crowds of people. We'll spend a good part of our time in Cameron Parish, the state's premier birding locale. It is positioned in the extreme southwest corner of Louisiana on the Texas border, and has vast marshlands and beautiful, bird-filled beaches. It is famous for its migrants and rarities. Ancient wooded ridges known as cheniers can abound with migrant songbirds. Because of its location in the very center of the Mississippi flyway, nearly half of eastern North America's migratory songbirds pass through Louisiana each spring. To help round out the week, we'll also visit Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, Holly Beach, Old River Wildlife Management Area, Kisatchie National Forest, and Louisiana's famous rice fields for shorebirds, waterfowl, long-legged waders, and rails. We will drive into Texas one day for a visit to Sabine Woods and Sea Rim State Park. Expect to see 175 or more species on this incredible tour. Our focus will be migrant songbirds and the abundant aquatic species, with a host of specialty birds. There will be LOTS of birds, everywhere we go. You will save $200 if you participate in both the Louisiana Tour AND the Dauphin Island, Alabama Tour. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled leader of both tours. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
DAUPHIN ISLAND, ALABAMA & Nearby Coastal Hot Spots
First & Finest Trans-Gulf Migration Stop15 April 2017 - 22 April 2017, 8 days & 7 nights
We'll spend each night in the same beach house on Dauphin Island. Our house will give us a friendly family atmosphere, with a homemade breakfast each morning. This area of the Gulf Coast is where migrants get their first view of land after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Coast is a great staging area for travel weary migrants. Dauphin Island is famous for the Shell Mound and Goat Tree migrant traps. Birding daily in and around these locations will almost certainly provide some entirely new birds every day. Nearby areas including Bon Secour and the National Seashore will provide a diverse group of shorebirds, rails, and long-legged waders. Some of the aquatic birds that may show us a bit of southern hospitality include Magnificent Frigatebird (TWO on the 2016 tour!), Least Bittern, Black, Sandwich, and Gull-billed Terns, Marbled Godwit, and both Clapper Rail and Sora. Raptors should include the elegant Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites. Song birding is likely to yield Brown-headed Nuthatch, Swainson’s Thrush, Yellow-throated Vireo, Prothonotary, Worm-eating, Yellow-throated, Kentucky, and Hooded Warblers, Northern Parula, Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, and Painted Bunting. It will be a wonderful week on the Gulf of Mexico. Bob Schutsky is scheduled to lead this tour. You will receive a $200 discount if you participate in both this tour and the Southwest Louisiana Tour that immediately precedes our Alabama adventure (see separate Southwest Louisiana Tour itinerary). People that have previously taken advantage of this offer have achieved incredible results, with two full weeks on the Gulf Coast! We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
SOUTH FLORIDA, EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK,
Dry Tortugas & the Florida Keys22 April 2017 - 30 April 2017, 9 days & 8 nights
South Florida is the only truly tropical region in all of mainland United States. It has mangroves, manatees, bromeliads, and crocodiles. But most of all it has birds, some of them found nowhere else in the country. Near Fort Lauderdale we'll look for the locally nesting Burrowing Owls. Okeechobee and adjacent areas are great for Snail Kite, Sandhill Crane, Crested Caracara, Short-tailed Hawk (rare), Red-headed Woodpecker, and Florida Scrub-Jay. Further west, Babcock-Webb WMA is prime habitat for Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman's Sparrow, and Northern Bobwhite. We'll look for Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, and American White Pelican at Ding-Darling Wildlife refuge on the Gulf Coast. We frequently find Barred Owl and Painted Bunting at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Big Cypress and the Everglades are famous for Limpkin, Swallow-tailed Kite, Snail Kite, Gray Kingbird, and White-crowned Pigeon. We may even see Greater Flamingo and Shiny Cowbird, as we have in the past. Our last major destination is the Florida Keys to look for Magnificent Frigatebird, Mangrove Cuckoo, Black-whiskered Vireo, Antillean Nighthawk, and hopefully large numbers of Neotropic migrants. We'll also search for Common Ground-Dove, Painted Bunting, and migrant Dickcissels and Blue Grosbeaks. Our day on Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas will be nothing short of spectacular, from the Sooty Tern and Brown Noddy breeding colony, to Northern Gannets, and a host of migrant warblers, buntings, and other songbirds. And a West Indian vagrant, perhaps a Key West Quail-Dove or La Sagra's Flycatcher, can always be around the next bend in the trail. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled tour leader. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
TEXAS HILL COUNTRY on the EDWARDS PLATEAU
Home of two VERY RARE SONGBIRDS!26 April 2017 - 30 April 2017, 5 days & 4 nights
Two songbirds make this trip an exceedingly exciting adventure: Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Both can be found at Lost Maples State Park and Kerr Wildlife Management Area, along with Green Kingfisher and the scenic beauty that this area has to offer. Then we include four nights at Neal's/Buchanan Lodges, where we have previously watched nesting Black-capped Vireos through our spotting scope and from our porch! One of our evenings will be occupied with a visit to the Frio Bat Cave, a nursery roost for 10-12 million Mexican Freetail Bats. They put on quite a late day show. Add a few Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Canyon Wrens, Zone-tailed Hawks, Dickcissels, and a Painted Bunting or two, all in beautiful habitats and full breeding plumage, and we have an incredible five days on the Edwards Plateau, with lots of birding and very little driving. The scheduled tour leader is Bob Schutsky. Please inquire about a $200 discount for combining the Texas Hill Country with the Big Bend Tour that follows immediately (see separate Big bend itinerary). We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TEXAS
The ONLY place in the United States to see COLIMA WARBLER!30 April 2017 - 8 May 2017, 9 days & 8 nights
Big Bend is the only location in the United States where Colima Warbler can be found. We'll be there at prime time to make the hike into the Chisos Mountains to search for this rare and local species. Also in Big Bend we are likely to see Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Elf Owl, Gray Hawk, Crissal Thrasher, Hooded Oriole, and Varied Bunting. Places that we'll visit within Big Bend include Rio Grande Village, Hot Springs, Panther Junction, Sam Nail Ranch, and of course Boot Spring for the Colima Warbler and lots of additional great birding. The Davis Mountains may yield Montezuma Quail, Common Black-Hawk, Common Poorwill, and many other nice birds. The drive to Alpine is almost certain to produce Pronghorns. The El Paso region has desert scrub birds including Greater Roadrunner, Verdin, and Burrowing Owl, while Lake Balmorhea adds shorebirds, waterfowl, and long-legged waders to the list. Bobcat, Javelina, Armadillo, and Blacktail Jackrabbits can all be reasonably expected, and even a Mountain Lion is well within the realm of possibility. One year we found fresh tracks! The scheduled tour leader is Bob Schutsky. There is a $200 discount if you combine this tour with the Texas Hill Country Tour that immediately precedes it. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
SOUTHEASTERN ARIZONA in SPRING!
Trogons, Hummingbirds, Owls & Northbound Migrants6 May 2017 - 15 May 2017, 10 days & 9 nights
We will spend ten glorious days amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in North America. We go from the Green Valley Inn near Madera Canyon to Portal Peak Lodge in Cave Creek Canyon, with visits to California Gulch, Patagonia, Ramsey Canyon, Rustler Park, and the San Pedro River Valley. Local specialties include Elegant Trogon, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Mexican Chickadee, Tropical Kingbird, Olive and Red-faced Warblers, and Gray Hawk. May is an excellent time for nightjars and owls; we will try to find as many as possible including the elusive Flammulated Owl and, the smallest owl in the world, Elf Owl. Migrant warblers are likely to include Hermit and MacGillivray's, while Lazuli Bunting and a variety of shorebirds and waterfowl can also be expected. We have an incredibly good record of finding Montezuma Quail and Five-striped Sparrow, and hopefully the Buff-collared Nightjars will return to one of their favorite haunts--they have been fairly reliable for the past several years. Ten or more species of hummingbirds are likely now that White-eared has become regular in the Huachucas. And the Twin Lakes at Willcox will round out our tour with a fine variety of shorebirds, waterfowl, and other aquatic species. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled tour leader. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
Montauk Point & Jamaica Bay, Long Island, New York
Seabirds, Shorebirds, Songbird Migrants & Quiet Parts of Long Island8 May 2017 - 13 May 2017, 6 days & 5 nights
The South Shore of Long Island, from Jamaica Bay to Montauk, is rich in bird life and scenic habitat. Lots of scanning and scoping at Montauk Point and other coastal areas may produce all three scoters, Northern Gannets, Common and Red-throated Loons, plus give us excellent opportunities for additional seabirds. There may be a few unusual gulls and terns in the area. Shorebirds will be present in good numbers. There is a good chance of finding either a Ruff or Curlew Sandpiper, and hopefully Piping Plovers. Migrant and breeding songbirds will be common in the woodlands, hedgerows, and marshes. On our way to and from Montauk we will visit many additional locations such as Jamaica Bay, Shinnecock Inlet, Point Lookout, Jones Beach, and Sagaponack Pond. Here we may add some leftover ducks, the elusive marshland sparrows, and Clapper Rail. Our first and last nights are on the west end of the island, near Jamaica Bay. We stay in Montauk for three nights, with great dinners at the Shagwong and O'Murphy's Pub. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled leader. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
ADAK ISLAND, ALASKA
for Horned & Tufted Puffins & Asian Strays!14 May 2017 - 21 May 2017, 8 days & 7 nights
Located in the Aleutian Islands 1200 miles southwest of Anchorage and only 400 miles east of Attu is Adak, a 280-square mile island. It is the westernmost outpost in the Aleutians in the entire ABA area that is accessible by commercial flights. Until recently, Adak was the site of a naval base, and access was restricted. The Navy has left the island, opening it to birders and leaving behind an infrastructure and modern facilities not found at other western Alaska birding hot spots. We'll stay in comfortable townhouses that formerly were housing for naval officers when the base was active. The houses are all furnished, well-equipped, and comfortable. We'll travel in vans or trucks for some of the most comfortable birding that you can experience in the Aleutians. Birding coverage of Adak has been sparse through the years due to the former restricted access, so its birding potential is still being discovered. But based upon recent reports from other islands in the Bering Sea region and our own Adak trips, we know that Adak gets its share of Asian vagrants. A great bird that we certainly hope to see is Whiskered Auklet, a species that you cannot see at Gambell or St. Paul. There's a chance for a view from shore, along with other alcids, Laysan Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwater, and other seabirds. We cannot make any predictions about what vagrants we'll see, though we'll have an excellent chance for Wood Sandpiper and maybe Lesser Sand-Plover, Gray-tailed Tattler, Olive-backed Pipit, Siberian Rubythroat, Hawfinch, and additional Asian species. Past spring tours have also yielded Eyebrowed Thrush, Long-billed Murrelet, Common Greenshank, Brambling, and Eastern Yellow Wagtail. Some of the regular birds that we expect to find include Red-faced Cormorant, Eurasian Green-winged Teal, Common Eider, Harlequin Duck, Gyrfalcon, Rock Ptarmigan, Black Oystercatcher, Rock Sandpiper, Parasitic Jaeger, Glaucous-winged Gull, Aleutian Tern, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled, Kittlitz's, and Ancient Murrelets, Parakeet Auklet, Horned and Tufted Puffins, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, Pacific Wren, and the Aleutian races of Song Sparrow and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. The Adak birding adventures are scheduled to be led by Bob Schutsky. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
DELAWARE BAY OF NEW JERSEY & DELAWARE
CAPE MAY POINT & BOMBAY HOOK NWR21 May 2017 - 26 May 2017, 6 days & 5 nights
Cape May Point State Park, Forsythe (Brigantine) NWR, Bombay Hook NWR, Cape Henlopen State Park, and many great locations along both sides of the Delaware Bay - - we will visit all of these locations and several more on this pre-Memorial Day Tour. The focus will be the Delaware Bay, where Horseshoe Crabs gather each spring to lay their eggs. Just as reliably, thousands of shorebirds and other aquatic species stop during their northbound migration to feed on the bountiful food supply. Expect Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and many additional species. We'll also look for migrant and breeding songbirds at Higbee Beach that may include Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, and Yellow-breasted Chat. We've included a crossing on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry to search for a few pelagic species, perhaps Wilson's Storm-Petrel and Parasitic Jaeger. This will be a great tour with many excellent birds in south Jersey and central Delaware, and a few rarities almost to be expected. The tour leader has yet to be selected. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
Churchill & Southern Manitoba
Willow Ptarmigan, Harris's Sparrow & many Boreal Birds3 June 2017 - 13 June 2017, 11 days & 10 nights
Churchill lies on the southwestern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, strategically situated in the transition zone between boreal forest and extensive tundra habitat. It was formerly best known to birders as the most reliable locale to find the exceedingly rare Ross's Gull. Even though it no longer nests there, we have a good track record for finding this beautiful gull along the Churchill River. Fifteen species of shorebirds nest in the area and they are extremely tame and approachable, a delight for birders and photographers. You can count on close views of Red-necked Phalarope, Hudsonian Godwit, and American Golden-Plover, among many others. Additional birds that we are likely to see include Harris's Sparrow, Common and perhaps Hoary Redpolls, Pine Grosbeak, Bohemian Waxwing, Little Gull, Parasitic Jaeger, Spruce Grouse, and Willow Ptarmigan. Arctic Hare is likely, and Beluga Whales are possible near the mouth of the Churchill River. In southern Manitoba we visit a variety of habitats at places such as Oak Hammock Marsh, Riding Mountain National Park, Douglas Marsh, and Whitewater Lake. These areas will complement the birds of Churchill nicely, adding species such as Le Conte's Sparrow, Sedge Wren, Upland Sandpiper, Gray Partridge, Red-necked Grebe, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Great Gray Owl, and Black Tern. We'll hope to witness the mating ritual of the Western Grebe, and we'll make every attempt for a peek at the elusive, diminutive Yellow Rail. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants. This tour will be led by Bob Schutsky.
COASTAL MAINE - - BY LAND & SEA
ATLANTIC PUFFINS, BOREAL NESTERS & WHALES!22 June 2017 - 28 June 2017, 7 days & 6 nights
Coastal Maine is a fantastic destination. In addition to the abundance of breeding bird species, it has a rugged shoreline with beautiful views of the ocean, scenic lakes and cliffs, and seemingly endless spruce and fir forests. The food is great, and the accommodations quite comfortable. After meeting in Bangor, we will head for the coast. Our destination is Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park. Some of our first raptors should include Osprey, Bald Eagle, and possibly a Peregrine Falcon. A few of the songbirds that we will search for are
Pileated Woodpecker, Alder and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, and numerous warblers including Nashville, Chestnut-sided, and Magnolia. Scanning the near shore waters can yield nice looks at Common Loon, Great Cormorant, and Black Guillemot. On our boat trip out of Bar Harbor we could see several species of whales, with Humpback being the most likely. Our first major stop as we head north in Moosehorn NWR, near the Canadian border. New species here may include American Bittern, Sora, Bay-breasted and Cape May Warblers, and perhaps a Moose, Black Bear, or Porcupine. The second boat trip of our tour takes us to Machias Seal Island, where Atlantic Puffins are the star of the show. There are also Razorbills, Common Murres, Arctic Terns, and additional pelagic species. Gray Seals are likely, while Harbor Seals are common, and a few more whales are quite possible. Quoddy Head State Park and other spots near Machias will round out our tour, which ends back in Bangor. This will complete a fine week of enjoying the natural riches for which Coastal Maine is famous. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled tour leader. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
GASPÉ PENINSULA OF QUEBEC
Thousands of Northern Gannets & a nice Variety of Whales9 July 2017 - 16 July 2017, 8 days and 7 nights
Bonaventure Island is the nesting site of more than 100,000 seabirds, including 50,000 pairs of Northern Gannets, plus Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Murres, and Razorbills. Our visit is timed for the hatching of the gannet eggs, which adds anticipation and excitement to the spectacle. During our full day on and near Bonaventure we may also see Finback, Humpback, and Minke Whales. We'll search mainland forests for boreal nesters: Evening Grosbeak, Black-backed Woodpecker, Spruce Grouse, and Boreal Chickadee, to name a few. The York River marshes may hold American Bittern, Sora, American Woodcock, and Wilson's Snipe. Additional localities could yield Harlequin Duck, Sooty Shearwater, Northern Goshawk, Pine Grosbeak, and White-winged Crossbill. Mammals that we will search for include Moose, Caribou, Black Bear, and Gray Seal. Our last two nights will be in the Chic-Choc Mountains, the northeastern terminus of the Appalachian Mountains. The food is great and the scenery simply breathtaking. Bob Schutsky is scheduled to lead the tour. Please join Bob in this wonderful adventure into New Brunswick and Quebec! We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
Hummingbirds, Trogons, Mexican Strays & Scenic Wonders19 July 2017 - 30 July 2017, 12 days & 11 nights
We will spend twelve glorious days amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in all of North America. We go from Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon to Portal Peak Lodge in Cave Creek Canyon, with visits to Patagonia, Ramsey Canyon, Rustler Park, and the San Pedro Riparian Area. Local specialties include Elegant Trogon, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Mexican Chickadee, Tropical Kingbird, Red-faced Warbler, and Botteri's Sparrow. Late July gives us excellent opportunities for rare hummingbirds, singing sparrows, and Mexican strays. A few of the rarities found on past late-July/early-August tours include Aztec Thrush, Rufous-capped Warbler, Flame-colored Tanager, Yellow Grosbeak, Berylline Hummingbird, Plain-capped Starthroat, Buff-collared Nightjar, Elegant Tern, Purple Gallinule, Western Gull, Reddish Egret, Brown Pelican, and Roseate Spoonbill - - WOW! Twelve species of hummingbirds are likely; we have found FOURTEEN species on many of our July tours. Southeast Arizona can be quite warm in July, but by late in the month there are afternoon showers that cool temperatures to a comfortable level. If it is hot in the desert and flatlands, we head for the canyons and mountains where daytime highs are in the 80s, nights are deliciously cool, and the birding is nothing short of spectacular! This 12-day tour gives us plenty of time to explore a few new areas, search for Virginia's Warbler and Mountain Chickadee, and chase down a rarity or two. And, we can search for even more good birds on the five-day extension (see separate itinerary). There is a $150 DISCOUNT if you register for both this tour and the extension. Bob Schutsky is your scheduled tour leader. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
SOUTHEAST ARIZONA EXTENSION
More Good Locations & Great Birds30 July 2017 - 3 August 2017, 5 days & 4 nights
During the course of our normal 12-day tour that immediately precedes this extension, we often hear about rare birds that we simply do not have time to pursue. This five-day post-tour extension is designed to do just that, go after the rarities. Next in line after the rarities are any unusual species that we missed on the 12-day tour. We may have had trouble with Montezuma Quail, Green Kingfisher, or one of the more elusive warblers or sparrows. And finally, there are some species that are just a bit outside of the normal geographic area that we cover in the 12-day tour. Species such as Le Conte’s Thrasher, Ruddy Ground-Dove, and Common Black-Hawk come to mind. If all else fails, we can always bird some really good areas (there are many), and find our own interesting Southeast Arizona birds. There is a $150 discount if you register for both the 12-day tour and this extension. Bob Schutsky is your scheduled tour leader. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants. You may take this 5-day tour alone, or in conjunction with the regular 12-day tour.
WASHINGTON'S PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Mount Rainier, Dungeness Spit & a Great Pelagic Trip8 August 2017 - 17 August 2017, 10 days & 9 nights
This exciting tour of the Pacific Coast and Puget Sound region includes an incredible diversity of birds, wildlife, habitats, experiences, and scenic wonders. We'll spend three nights at each of our three major locations. On Mount Rainier, the highest point in Washington, we will look for White-tailed Ptarmigan, Sooty Grouse, Clark's Nutcracker, and American Dipper. Lower habitats are good for MacGillivray's Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Varied Thrush. On our day at sea with Westport Pelagics we should see literally thousands of pelagic birds including Black-footed Albatross, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Rhinoceros Auklet, Long-tailed Jaeger, and Pink-footed Shearwater. One of our past tours produced a Red-legged Kittiwake, an incredible rarity anywhere outside of Alaska. Tokeland is a good spot to look for Bar-tailed Godwit, while Ocean Shores may yield Pacific Golden-Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and several species of loon. We'll look for Mountain Quail near Belfair State Park, then spend time at Hurricane Ridge for Townsend's Solitaire and a nice variety of raptors. Dungeness Spit is great for aquatic species: in past years we've found Yellow-billed Loon and Horned Puffin among scores of more common species. We are likely to find dozens of Harlequin Ducks at Ediz Hook, plus Black Oystercatchers, Marbled Murrelets, and a Peregrine Falcon or two. Either Bob Schutsky or John Puschock will lead this tour. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Sky Lark & the San Juan Islands17 August 2017 - 21 August 2017, 5 days & 4 nights
We have separated this part of the tour from the mainland Washington segment to allow time to explore Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands. Our first destination is Vancouver Island to search for the highly localized Eurasian Skylark. Barbara Begg keeps a vigilant eye on these birds and she may assist us in our quest. We will spend time at Cattle Point, the Seawall, and other coastal locations looking for songbirds, seabirds, and shorebirds. Likely species are Anna's Hummingbird, California Quail, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Bushtit. During our ferry ride through the San Juan Islands we'll see pelagic species including Marbled Murrelet and Harbor Porpoise. We'll go ashore on some of the islands to explore their varied bird life and spend time watching for Orcas at one of the best locations in all of Puget Sound. We'll search for Mountain Quail near Belfair State Park before ending our tour in Seattle. The scheduled leader is Bob Schutsky or John Puschock. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
NORTH CAROLINA OUTER BANKS
Coastal Migrants & a Superb Pelagic Trip6 September 2017 - 11 September 2017, 6 days & 5 nights
Late summer on the Outer Banks: the weather is mild and the diversity of birds is phenomenal. A full day pelagic trip to the Gulf Stream is likely to produce Black-capped Petrel, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Sooty and Bridled Terns, several species of shearwaters and jaegers, and often a rarity or two. Woodlands, thickets, marshes, mudflats, and sandy beaches retain many resident species and hold early migrants for extended periods. Areas that we will visit include Pea Island NWR, Oregon Inlet, Coquina Beach, Hatteras Point, and Bodie Island. We'll take the ferry across Hatteras Inlet and spend a day on Ocracoke Island. Some of the more unusual species that we may encounter include American Bittern, White Ibis, Merlin, King Rail, Piping Plover, American Avocet, and Marbled Godwit. One year we found a Roseate Spoonbill at Pea Island; another year there was a Long-billed Curlew! Among the many songbirds may be Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Towhee, a variety of warblers, and perhaps a Lark Sparrow or Dickcissel. The tour leader has yet to be announced. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
From the Mountains to the Ocean to the Desert8 September 2017 - 21 September 2017, 14 days & 13 nights
California conjures up visions of sun-drenched landscapes, scenic mountain vistas, the blue Pacific, and expansive deserts. The birds are no less spectacular, with everything from Black-footed Albatross to Lawrence's Goldfinch. We'll start in the San Francisco Bay area and journey to Bodega Bay for a day of shorebirds and migrants. Some of the specialties of this rich area include Surfbird, Black Turnstone, Wandering Tattler, and Black Oystercatcher. Our song bird searches may yield views of Townsend's Warbler, California Towhee, Wrentit, and Cassin's Vireo. Our first pelagic destination is the Cordell Bank, where we will search for Black-footed Albatross, Buller's and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Cassin's Auklet, Long-tailed, Pomarine, and Parasitic Jaegers, South Polar Skua, Sabine's Gull, and Arctic Tern. Blue and Humpback Whales are a distinct possibility. Next on our route are the Sierras to look for Swainson's Hawk, Acorn Woodpecker, and the endemic Yellow-billed Magpie. Sooty Grouse, Mountain Quail, Great Gray Owl, Black-backed and White-headed Woodpeckers, Williamson's and Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Pine Grosbeak, and Hermit Warbler are just a few of the species that we will seek in Yosemite National Park. The Mono Lake region may yield Greater Sage-Grouse, Sage Thrasher, Gray Flycatcher, American Dipper, Pinyon Jay, Lewis's Woodpecker, and Mountain Bluebird. We will look for Greater Roadrunner, Lawrence's Goldfinch, and California Thrasher in the arid lands near Monterey. Our next adventure will be the SECOND pelagic trip of the tour, a trip into world-famous Monterey Bay that is bisected by a huge submarine canyon twice the size of the Grand Canyon. We will cruise the bay and the adjacent offshore waters in search of shearwaters and Ashy and Black Storm-Petrels. We will hope for a rarity such as Tufted Puffin or Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, then scan the coastline for Marbled Murrelet. Our continued journey south will put us in California Condor country, and we will spend time looking for this spectacular species brought back from the brink of extinction. Our targets near Los Angeles will be California Gnatcatcher, Allen's Hummingbird, and Black-vented Shearwater. We'll take a boat trip to Santa Cruz Island for the endemic Island Scrub-Jay and the Santa Cruz Island races of Bewick's Wren, Allen's Hummingbird, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Black-vented Shearwater is again possible on the boat trip to the island. Turning our sights inland, we'll search the deserts for Le Conte's Thrasher and other residents. The tour begins in San Jose and concludes in Los Angeles. The leader has yet to be selected. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants. See the separate itinerary for full details about the Salton Sea Extension. If you care to go on to the Salton Sea, there is a $150 discount for continuing your tour.
ADAK ISLAND, ALASKA
Alcids, Asian Strays & Best Time for MARSH SANDPIPER!10 September 2017 - 17 September 2017, 8 days & 7 nights
Located in the Aleutian Islands 1200 miles southwest of Anchorage and only 400 miles east of Attu is Adak, a 280-square mile island. It is the westernmost outpost in all of North America that is accessible by commercial jet airline. Until recently, Adak was the site of a naval base and access was restricted. Now the Navy has left the island, opening it to birders and leaving behind an infrastructure and modern facilities not found at other western Alaska birding hot spots. We'll stay in comfortable accommodations that formerly were housing for naval officers when the base was active. They are all well-equipped and furnished. We'll travel in vans for some of the most comfortable birding that you can experience in the Aleutians. Our previous fall tours to Adak have yielded some incredible birds: FOUR Marsh Sandpipers, a flock of at least 23 Fork-tailed Swifts, Eurasian Kestrel, Little, Red-necked, and Temminck’s Stints, Gray Wagtail, Oriental Greenfinch, Garganey and Baikal Teal, several Lesser Sand-Plovers, a Common Tern of the east Asian race (a potential split), multiple Gray-tailed Tattlers and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, several Common Snipe, Eyebrowed Thrush, Brambling, Siberian Rubythroat, several Olive-backed Pipits, and Gray-streaked Flycatcher. Some of the regular species that we expect to see include Red-faced Cormorant, "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal, Common Eider, Harlequin Duck, Gyrfalcon, Rock Ptarmigan, Black Oystercatcher, Rock Sandpiper, Parasitic Jaeger, Glaucous-winged Gull, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled and Ancient Murrelets, Horned and Tufted Puffins, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, and the Aleutian races of Pacific Wren, Song Sparrow, and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. Bob Schutsky will lead this exciting tour! We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
GRAND MANAN, NEW BRUNSWICK
Migrants, Vagrants, Seabirds & Whales20 September 2017 - 24 September 2017, 5 days & 4 nights
Grand Manan lies at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, a 90-minute ferry ride from mainland New Brunswick. It is a migrant and vagrant trap, similar to Monhegan Island that is described below. However, Grand Manan is much larger than Monhegan, so instead of walking the entire time, we will drive to various locations around the island for our daily outings. We'll search for warblers, sparrows, wrens, and thrushes, a fine selection of eastern North American migrants. Among these we'll watch for the occasional western, southern, or even Eurasian visitors, such as the Ruff and Dickcissel we found in 2003, Black Skimmer in 2010, and numerous South Polar Skuas in 2012. On one of our days we'll go by boat on a pelagic birding trip into the rich offshore waters. Here we are likely to find seabirds and cetaceans, possibly in very large numbers. Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Pomarine Jaeger, and Manx, Great, and Sooty Shearwaters can all be expected, and many additional species including Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Northern Fulmar, and perhaps Great or South Polar Skua are possible. As many as seven species of cetaceans inhabit these waters in autumn, including the extremely rare Northern Right Whale. You can take just this tour, or continue on to Monhegan Island, Maine, described separately. Go on both the Grand Manan and Monhegan Tours, and the room and meals on the day between the two tours are FREE! Bob Schutsky is the scheduled tour leader. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
Bolsa Chica & the Salton Sea21 September 2017 - 25 September 2017, 5 days & 4 nights
After searching the Los Angeles and San Diego areas for some coastal specialties, we'll head inland to the Salton Sea to look for Yellow-footed Gull, along with Wilson's Phalarope, thousands of Red-necked Phalaropes, and a multitude of other migrating shorebirds. Black-chinned Hummingbird, Verdin, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Black-throated Sparrow, and Abert's Towhee frequent the brush around the southern edge of the Salton Sea. We will make early morning efforts to see these species. Blue-footed Booby is found here occasionally. There is a $150 discount if you combine this Extension with the preceding Complete California Tour. The tour leader will be selected at a later date. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
MONHEGAN ISLAND, MAINE
One of the Best Vagrant & Migrant Traps on the East Coast!!25 September 2017 - 29 September 2017, 5 days & 4 nights
Monhegan is a small, picturesque island of 1.5 square-miles that lies ten miles off the coast of central Maine. It is a prime stopover for southbound migrants and vagrants blown offshore, especially with the passage of a high-pressure system and the ensuing northwest winds. It can be expected to produce an excellent sampling of eastern North American migrants, with a fair chance for a few western and southern vagrants. Previous excellent finds include Magnificent Frigatebird (!), Red-headed Woodpecker, Eastern & Western Kingbirds, Say's Phoebe (!!), Golden-winged Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Clay-colored and Lark Sparrows, and Red and White-winged Crossbills. We found a Black Skimmer on the 2010 tour. We'll watch for warblers and thrushes, finches and sparrows, and falcons and accipiters as we walk the island's 17 miles of trails and check favored locations such as the Ice Pond, Lobster Cove, and Burnt Head. Seabirds including jaegers, shearwaters, and Northern Gannet are possible as we scan from the rocky headlands and during our one-hour boat ride from the mainland. All four nights are in the same lodge on Monhegan. Go on both the Grand Manan (New Brunswick) and the Monhegan Tour, and the room and meals on the day between the two tours are FREE! The Grand Manan Tour is described separately, under New Brunswick. Bob Schutsky will be your tour leader. On both tours we will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
COASTAL OREGON & KLAMATH BASIN
Superb Pacific Coast Birding & a Full-Day Pelagic Trip5 October 2017 - 14 October 2017, 10 days & 9 nights
Our Oregon adventure begins on the coast at Tillamook Bay, one of the prime birding areas in the entire Pacific Northwest. Tillamook and nearby Bayocean Spit will yield an incredible variety of seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and related species. A full-day pelagic trip with Tim Shelmerdine and Oregon Pelagic Tours will take us into the Pacific in search of tubenoses: Black-footed Albatross, Pink-footed Shearwater, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, and many others. This trip has produced some incredible rarities including the Short-tailed and Laysan Albatrosses that we found on a previous tour. After another day of coastal birding, we move inland to Crater Lake, the Klamath Basin, Tule Lake (in northern California), and a total change of pace. Now we'll be looking at dozens of Bald Eagles, thousands upon thousands of ducks and geese, and large flocks of Sandhill Cranes. There should be Ferruginous Hawks and and hopefully a Short-eared Owl. Great Gray Owl is resident here, and we will make every effort to find one, as we have in the past. A few of the more intriguing songbirds we will seek include Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Wrentit, Townsend's Solitaire, Tricolored Blackbird, and American Dipper. Woodpeckers include American Three-toed, Black-backed, Lewis's, and White-headed. Our final stops are Ankeny NWR and Sauvie Island near Portland. These are excellent songbird areas and great spots for scoping more waterfowl, raptors, and Sandhill Cranes. The tour leader has yet to be announced. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants. See the separate itinerary for the very bird-filled Oregon Extension!
to Clatsop Spit & the Columbia River Mouth14 October 2017 - 17 October 2017, 4 days & 3 nights
Clatsop Spit and the extreme northwestern portion of Oregon lie at the mouth of the Columbia River. Birding areas include Coffenbury Lake for migrant songbirds and Wrentit, a local specialty. The South Jetty of the Columbia River has produced some of the most remarkable records in the state, including Yellow-billed Loon, Lesser Sand-Plover, Spotted Redshank, Long-toed Stint, and McKay's Bunting. This is THE best spot in Oregon to look for Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Ruff. Isolated brushy areas create a haven for migrant songbirds. Rarities have included Ash-throated Flycatcher, Mountain Bluebird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and a number of eastern North American warblers. We will make short jaunts along the coast to look for new pelagic species and seek out any newly reported rarities. The extension will begin immediately following the regular tour and end mid-day on 14 October. We will stay all three nights at the same motel in Astoria. The tour leader will be selected at a later date. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
CHINCOTEAGUE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (NWR), VIRGINIA
Fantastic Atlantic Coast Migration, & Chincoteague Ponies20 October 2017 - 23 October 2017, 4 days & 3 nights
This will be a wonderful tour of memorable birding at beautiful locations. The tour will include two days at Chincoteague NWR, plus visits to Bombay Hook NWR and Ocean City. We'll travel the length of the Delmarva Peninsula to Kiptopeke State Park and the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR. There will be migrant warblers, shorebirds, waterfowl, and local specialties such as Brown-headed Nuthatch and American Oystercatcher. Rarities that we have found at this time of year include American White Pelican, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Dickcissel, and Snow Bunting. The Chincoteague Ponies are always a big favorite, as are the flocks of waterfowl and shorebirds that may contain a nice rarity. This will be a great weekend at a comfortable pace. Evening dining will offer seafood fare for which Chincoteague's restaurants are famous. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled tour leader. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
LONG ISLAND, MONTAUK POINT & JAMAICA BAY, NY
SEABIRDS, SONGBIRDS & VAGRANTS2 November 2017 - 7 November 2017, 6 days & 5 nights
Lots of good birding at Montauk Point will produce eiders, all three scoters, gannets, loons, and grebes, plus give us excellent opportunities for alcids, kittiwakes, jaegers, and even a few shearwaters. On a past tour we had FOUR Parasitic Jaegers in less than an hour. Hope for an east wind! There are typically some unusual gulls in the area, and vagrant sparrows, warblers, and flycatchers can sometimes be found. On our way to and from Montauk we will visit many additional Long Island locations such as Jamaica Bay, Shinnecock Inlet, Point Lookout, Jones Beach, and Sagaponack Pond. Here we may add Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Harlequin Duck, American Bittern, Snowy Owl, and Northern Shrike. Rarities from past tours have included Northern Lapwing, Yellow-billed Loon, Sandhill Crane, Varied Thrush, Dickcissel, Lark Sparrow, Pink-footed Goose, and Tufted Duck. We stay in Montauk for three of our five nights, with great dinners at the Shagwong Inn and O'Murphy's Pub. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled leader.
NEW MEXICO & BOSQUE DEL APACHE
SANDHILL CRANES & MASSES of WATERFOWL11 November 2017 - 19 November 2017, 9 days & 8 nights
Bosque del Apache is without a doubt the most popular birding destination in all of New Mexico, and for good reasons. It is the winter home of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, plus a multitude of waterfowl, a fine variety of raptors, and many additional species. The name is Spanish for 'Woods of the Apache' and refers to the once extensive stands of cottonwoods along the Rio Grande that were used as refuge by native Americans. Many of the cottonwoods remain, and the birds are still found in abundance. Just a few of the species that we are likely to see there include Crissal Thrasher, Pyrrhuloxia, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Loggerhead Shrike, and Gambel's Quail. Large flocks of sparrows may contain Vesper, Lark, Brewer's, Cassin's, Black-throated, and others. It is a great location for Neotropic Cormorant, Virginia Rail, Sora, Marsh Wren, and Western and Clark's Grebes. Other areas that we will visit are Water Canyon, the Sandia Mountains (hopefully for all three species of ROSY-FINCHES!), and Elephant Butte Reservoir, an excellent spot for aquatic species. The Rio Grande Nature Center and State Park in Albuquerque is reliable for Western Screech-Owl and many additional birds. Lots of good birding without the crowds, plus beautiful scenery: those are the attractions of being in New Mexico. The leader of the New Mexico - Bosque del Apache Tour will be selected at a later date. Your leader will know the area very well and show you a great time in this wonderful portion of our American Southwest. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
AMAZING AMAZON CRUISES
2017 Year Round Departures!
Our most popular cruise explores some of the most untouched rainforest in all of Amazonia. On an eight-cabin expedition vessel, travelers venture far up some of the least inhabited rivers in the Amazon Basin for a full seven days and explore areas rarely visited, seeking out the mysterious life in the heart of the Amazon. This is the most thorough, detailed, and sophisticated trip offered in the entire Amazon and comes with rave reviews from past participants. Guides are accomplished local naturalists. This is a trip of a lifetime, easy for seniors and families! Full itinerary available upon request. Conducted by Connecticut Audubon Society EcoTravel.
Fee starts at $3795 per person. Iguacu Falls, Machu Picchu, Pantanal, Galapagos, and Ecuadorian Highlands extensions available.
GALAPAGOS: ISLANDS OF DISCOVERY
Galapagos, a remote archipelago where life goes on much as it has for millions of years, is the world’s greatest living laboratory for study and observation of nature. Here the animals have no fear of humans, and you can be at one with nature as nowhere else on Earth. Over centuries, animal and plant life reached the islands and gradually evolved into new life forms. Opportunities for photography are unparalleled, with Sea Lions, Iguanas, Blue-footed Boobies, and Penguins in arm’s reach. Don’t miss out on this tremendous learning experience in the “Enchanted Islands.” Conducted in conjunction with Connecticut Audubon Society EcoTravel. Contact Bird Treks for more details.
Cabins available on the boat from $4500 per person. Ecuadorian Highland, Machu Picchu, and Quito extensions are available.
And there is a newly commissioned yacht available, the M/V Origin. Click here for full details and specifications. Cabin price is $7,500 per person, based on double occupancy.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SPECIALTIES
California Gnatcatcher & Le Conte’s Thrasher2 December 2017 - 10 December 2017, 9 days & 8 nights
From the coast to the mountains and desert, the habitats of southern California are home to many of the Pacific Coast specialties. We'll begin in San Diego in search of species such as Heerman's Gull, Wandering Tattler, and Black Turnstone. Then, moving inland to the foothills and mountains, our targets will be species with California in their name: California Quail, California Gnatcatcher, California Thrasher, and California Towhee. We'll also be on the lookout for Nuttall's Woodpecker, Wrentit, Oak Titmouse, Bell's Sparrow, Lawrence's Goldfinch, and Tricolored Blackbird. Continuing on to the desert and the Salton Sea, other birds that we'll be searching for include the elusive Le Conte's Thrasher, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Burrowing Owl, Costa's Hummingbird, Abert's Towhee, and hopefully, Yellow-footed Gull. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants. The tour will be announced at a future date.
CHINCOTEAGUE & THE DELMARVA PENINSULA, DE-MD-VA
Winter Birds of the Atlantic Coast26 December 2017 - 31 December 2017, 6 days & 5 nights
The Delmarva Peninsula provides excellent birding in early winter. We will visit Virginia Beach, Fort Story, Kiptopeke State Park, Ocean City, and spend a full day at Chincoteague NWR, where we will see Wild Ponies and many great birds. Scoping along the coast is likely to produce a nice variety of seabirds, Purple Sandpiper, other shorebirds, and perhaps a vagrant or two. Good numbers of waterfowl are expected, including Harlequin Duck, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, and Canvasback. Unusual gulls found on previous tours include Glaucous, Little, Black-headed, and a Black-legged Kittiwake - - the kittiwake was perched ten feet away! We should also see American Woodcock, Brown Pelican, Bald Eagle, Marbled Godwit, Great Cormorant, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. There may be a hummingbird or two, such as Rufous, Calliope, or another western vagrant. We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled tour leader.
. . . . . 2018 TOUR SCHEDULE . . . . .
WINTER BIRDS of SOUTH TEXAS
WHOOPING CRANES & the LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY19 January 2018 - 24 January 2018, 6 days & 5 nights
A boat ride on Aransas Bay will play a key roll in this tour. It is our ticket to the magnificent, rare and endangered Whooping Crane, whose population is growing annually. We'll see a wealth of additional aquatic species such as Eared Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Roseate Spoonbill, and perhaps an American Bittern. Santa Ana is reliable for Ringed and Green Kingfishers, while Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and Estero Llano Grande State Park are known for their Mexican rarities and wintering songbirds, such as Clay-colored Thrush, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and Tropical Parula. One year we found a Roadside Hawk at Bentsen, which at that time was the fourth ABA record! Another tour produced Green-breasted Mango and Blue Bunting. We'll travel to South Padre Island and visit the Convention Center wetlands and mudflats. Piping Plover, Marbled Godwit, American Avocet, Common Loon, Sora, and Clapper Rail are likely to be found. There will be many additional shorebird and tern species to sort through and compare. We will search for Aplomado Falcon on the nearby mainland. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled tour leader.
SOUTH TEXAS, the LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY, and the extreme SOUTH TEXAS GULF COAST
with a good chance for FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL9 February 2018 - 18 February 2018, 10 days & 9 nights
We'll see a wealth of aquatic species along the extreme southern Gulf Coast. These may include Snowy and Piping Plovers, Roseate Spoonbill, and perhaps a Northern Gannet and Sandwich Tern. Our visit to the King Ranch will hopefully yield a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, along with fine looks at White-tailed Hawk, Harris's Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Sprague's Pipit, Olive Sparrow, and a host of other scrub-thorn species. Santa Ana is reliable for Ringed and Green Kingfishers, while Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park, Estero Llano Grande State Park, and Anzalduas County Park are known for their Mexican rarities and wintering songbirds, such as Clay-colored Thrush, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and Tropical Parula. One year we found a Roadside Hawk at Bentsen, which at that time was the fourth ABA record! Another previous tour produced Green-breasted Mango and Blue Bunting. And recently we found a Crimson-collared Grosbeak. Great birds! We'll travel as far upriver as San Ygnacio in search of Audubon's and Altamira Orioles, Hook-billed Kite, and White-collared Seedeater. This tour focuses on the Lower Rio Grande Valley, from the Gulf Coast to San Ignacio. The tour is limited to 7 participants, or on rare occasions to 10 participants, in which case we will have a second tour leader and van. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled leader.