RECENT INFORMATION ABOUT TOURS AND BIRDS AND BIRDERS
Here I provide tidbits about tours and birding in general.
February 11, 2024
We are in El Paso for the start of our sixth West Texas/New Mexico. There are numerous rarities scattered throughout El Paso and some in New Mexico. There has been a massive invasion of Juniper Titmouse into El Paso along with many Townsend's Solitaire and Red Crossbill, In smaller invasion numbers are Evening Grosbeaks. The long staying Texas megararity, Pacific Wren is being seen sporadically. While a Black-legged Kittiwake is being seen in New Mexico, but not Texas.
January 22, 2024
I was able to spend a little time birding Laccasine NWR in Louisiana building my state list a bit and doing some scouting for a possible LA tour in the future.
January 4-8, 2023
We had a wonderful foursome join us on the Rio Grande Valley tour where we encountered many of the Valley specialties while missing a few Valley specialties and a few rarities. The wind was a bit bothersome, but we managed just fine finding 135 species and we are ready to go again in February of 2024.
January 1, 2023
With the "meltdown" of Southwest we were scrambling to get Brandon from CO to the Valley for our Rio Grande Valley tour January 4-8, 2024. Instead of flying into Harlingen on 2 January, he flew into Houston on United 1 January and he and I drove to the Valley. We spent three days scouting, then lead the tour.
This was a very busy month for All Vegas Experience, casino company I work for, allowing little time to bird. With COVID no longer in the forefront people wanted Christmas parties and we delivered, having our best year in 15 years of business, aside from 2019.
November 15, 2022
After three mornings of birding, I had to be back at the hotel by noon as others were waking up, I have ended up with 124 species. The most satisfying species are Cinnamon Teal and Crissal Thrasher, both birds I missed in September of 2021. It was cold, windy, and snowy on Mt. Charleston resulting in very few mountain birds. Our visit to Lake Mead was really for sightseeing by I did manage a few species while the other three enjoyed the non bird sights. There is an incredible number of birds in and around Las Vegas in the winter. I think a tour is needed in the future.
November 13, 2022
Brandon begins his four state odyssey, visiting CO, KS, OK, and TX adding state birds to his OK list, including Black-billed Magpie. This is a bird that has eluded him in OK for many years. On Thursday Brandon found a Bohemian Waxwing in the very SE Corner if OK, a very good bird that might be a harbinger of things to come. He returns to Pueblo West Friday in advance of same rather cold weather.
November 12, 2022
I am off to Las Vegas with wife and another couple, but not really for gambling. I am trying to get my Nevada list over 100. It is presently at 86.
November 6-9, 2022
This flight goes off without a hitch and I finally arrive in CT, cutting my visit short by one day. Columbia Lake, Andover Lake, and Coventry Lake yield some good birds like Long-tailed Duck and Horned Grebe. My trip to the coast and into RI never develops as there is too much work to do and limited transportation, but that's fine.
November 5, 2022
I am off to IAH for my 5:30am flight to CT for some state listing, wait, I mean visiting family. However at 3pm I finally decide to go home and catch a morning flight the next day. My flight never Houston, though each hour there were promises of the part arriving from Atlanta. I was flying Delta.
October 24, 2022
I met a longtime Houston area birder at our local library and spend two hours going over some of the basic features of ebird. If you would like to meet somewhere in the Houston area I am willing to sit and assist you in learning the basics of ebird. I am just "paying it forward" from the several folks that helped me in the past year, Gregg in particular.
October 23, 2022
I make the 4.5 hours drive to Grapevine Lake to see the long-staying Parasitic Jaeger. This is a bird I have wanted to see in Texas for over 20 years and it finally happened.
October 17, 2022
I make the two hour drive to Sabine Woods, pay the entrance fee noting that others do not pay their entrance fee, and find a gathering of about six people that have not seen the bird. After about thirty minutes of tense waiting the group has increased in size to about twelve people, and the Red-legged Honeycreeper is finally spotted and seen well. This gives me 590 species in Texas.
October 15, 2022
A Red-legged Honeycreeper is reported from Sabine Woods in Jefferson County Texas, a mere two hour drive for me. This would be not only a state bird, but an ABA bird.
October 15, 2022
I make a quick trip to Louisiana to get my state list over 100 species. I now of sixteen states with over 100 species and plan to make it seventeen in November after a trip to Las Vegas.
October 14, 2022
A Parasitic Jaeger is reported being seen at Lake near Dallas, my most wanted bird in Texas.
I don't find out about it until the 15th. But hope to get up there soon.
October 3, 2022
After three days of nature and birds we are back in Rapid City for flights home. Andrea and I are ready to return to SD in 2023.
September 29, 2022
We are off for my first Relaxed Nature Tour to South Dakota. We arrived in Rapid City and quickly made the drive to Crazy Horse and a stroll up by his face and out onto his arm that is presently being carved.
September 26, 2022
Brandon ticks Colorado State bird number 488, a Thick-billed Kingbird. A bird that has a rather restricted range in US, SE Arizona.
July 27, 2022
I made the two hour drive to Lake Somerville to see a Snail Kite in Texas, my 589rd bird in the state. This required about a two mile round trip hike to reach the northern portion of the lake. The hike in was fine, but the hike out was rather hot with temps in the mid 90s.
Interestingly, Brandon chalked up his 485 Colorado state bird today, several Yellow Rails calling within the Monte Vista NWR.
June 13, 2022 - June 18, 2022
We had a very nice four person tour to Idaho allowing us to see numerous birds and scope views of the Cassia Crossbill at Diamondfield Jack Campground. The tour followed the same itinerary as the the past two tours, though one day we did eat our lunch in Jackpot, Nevada adding species to everyone's Nevada list. Next year I have altered the itinerary by adding and extra day to the tour thus allowing to spend a night furtherer north in Idaho. We will also be going in August to catch fall migration. To see our ebird trip report please visit this link.
May 7, 2022 - May 14, 2022
We had a pleasant four person tour throughout SE Arizona, visiting three of the four main "sky islands" allowing us the opportunity to see numerous birds. This was a shorten tour that I really liked and think the participants liked as well. This is a tour I plan to repeat in late April of 2024. We enjoyed numerous Red-faced Warblers on Mt. Lemmon and plenty of hummingbirds at Miller and Ash Canyon, including Lucifer's and White-eared. Finally, after a thirteen year drought, we saw male and female White-eared Hummingbirds at the Beatty's Bed and Breakfast. To see our ebird trip report please visit this link.
May 7, 2022
The SE Arizona Spring Tour begins in Tucson. The three participants that arrived early, plus Brandon and myself, visit Desert Meadows Park and Santa Rita Lodge enjoying many birds.
May 2, 2022
Brandon leaves Pueblo West, CO heading to New Mexico with his Uncle to bird for a day or two then on to SE Arizona to bird and scout for the upcoming Spring tour to SE Arizona. We have not been in SE AZ in the spring in quite some time. So we both are looking forward to this trip.
April 26, 2022
Brandon meets up with long time tour participant Joelle Finley and Ken Harris to be shown around her home state a bit. When all is said and done, he has racked up 170 birds in Louisiana and added four state birds in Texas. A super trip I am told.
April 23, 2022
Brandon arrives in Houston to spend a week birding in Texas and Louisiana.
April 14, 2022
We cross from Kansas into Oklahoma and celebrate Linda's 50th state.
April 12/13, 2022
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken tour begins and we deal with wind but see good birds right in the parking lot before departure. Our first stop in Kansas produces a pair of Trumpeter Swans, ok, we knew they were there already. The Swansons join us at the lek to view both Lesser and Greater Prairie-Chickens within 30 feet of us.
April 10, 2022
I hop in the rental SUV and start the drive from Houston to Denver for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken tour. Rental vans in Denver are outrageous so I went with this option. A bit of a drive I'll admit, but quite a savings.
March 2, 2002
Gregg, from CO., introduced me to a new for me ebird feature that I want to pass along to you. Once logged into to ebird, go to MY EBIRD, then click on TRIP REPORTS, then click on CREATE TRIP REPORT. From there you can plug in the appropriate start and end days and times. At the end of your trip, be it one day, one week, or longer, you will have a lovely display of locations visited and birds seen. This is a fantastic feature that allows you to produce a summary of your trip. And then, once you have created the report there is a NARRATIVE section where you can write a brief summary of the trip or provide details beyond just birds and locations. Here is a link to the Lesser Prairie-Chicken report. Have a look.
February 27, 2022
I am working on a tour to Michigan for 2023 to view Kirtland's Warbler and probably 20 other species of warblers in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Brandon and I have led tours to Michigan in 2006 and 2007 and figured it was time to return for Kirtland's and other birds.
February 27, 2022
The two Harlequin Ducks were refound Thursday and I decided to make the four hour drive to Port Aransas to have a look. I left the house Friday morning at 2:45am and arrived at the jetty at 7am to wind and cold. I walked with three other birders out to the very end of the jetty looking for the ducks, but no luck. I decided to walk back more slowly this time scanning close to the jetty when we heard they were being seen halfway back toward the beach. I found them in the surf right at the water/rock interface diving and actively feeding. After about ten minutes of viewing it was time to warm up and drive back to Houston.
February 25, 2022
Two long time tour participants have signed up for the Big Bend/Colima Warbler tour in 2023 leaving only two spots on that tour.
February 24, 2022
I have been spending time inputting some ebird reports from past Alaska tours and read the written summaries to help with this task. I was reminded of the "celebrity" that joined us on our boat trip out of Seward through Resurrection Bay and on to the Chiswell Islands in 1998. For this tour I charted a boat just for our group, the Mariah. The locale guide I hired, Bill Shuster, asked me if he could bring along a friend of his that was doing a big year. I said yes and that person that joined us was Brad Harris, the real life person that was portrayed by Jack Black in the movie The Big Year that was released in 2011.
February 19, 2022
Two Harlequin Ducks are found by Tripp Davenport while birding from the Port Aransas Jetty Saturday 19 January. The birds remained throughout the day Sunday and where not relocated Monday. I missed the one that showed up in late January of 1990 so was excited when these two showed up, however, I was not able to go chase them. Pity.
February 16, 2022
Brandon and I had an enjoyable tour to West Texas and New Mexico. There were three clients and plenty of birds seen. Amazingly, this year the three rosy-finches were not as regular as in the past twenty years. We lucked, or was it skilled, into a flock of Black Rosy-Finches and a lone Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. The weather was beautiful.
Bosque del Apache did not hold any rarities as in the past, like Long-tailed Duck, Trumpeter Swan, or Golden-crowned Sparrow. But it did prove to be the favorite location of the trip for some folks.
I drove to the Valley last weekend and saw the long staying Bat Falcon and had nice looks at the even longer staying Golden-crowned Warbler. I had poor lifer views of the warbler on January 16, 1988, so it was very pleasing to have nice looks just over 33 years later.
Brandon and I are looking forward to the upcoming Lesser Prairie Chicken tour in April. This is a new tour for us that includes birding stops in Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.