Box 9021, Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
Phone: Toll-free in USA 1-888-721-3555
With people, places,
birds and other nature during Focus On Nature Tours in:
THE FOCUS ON NATURE TOURS ARCHIVES
To the Focus On Nature Tour Archives Gallery 2
In Gallery #2: some of our tours in Arizona, Brazil, Hungary (and Romania & Slovakia), Mexico, Sweden
To the Focus On Nature Tour Archives Gallery 3
In Gallery #3: some of our tours in Alaska, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan, Texas. Venezuela
To the Focus On Nature Tour Archives Gallery 4
In Gallery #4: some of our tours in Argentina, Brazil, Dominica, Jamaica, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, and those with solar eclipses in Bolivia, Costa Rica, & Turkey
Highlights from Previous FONT Tours, by year & location
Narratives & Photo Galleries from Previous FONT Tours
Information about Upcoming FONT Tours:
by month in: 2012 2013 or: by geographic locations worldwide
Participants on the first of all FONT tours in Chile in November 1990:
In the upper row, from left to right: Armas Hill, Harry Franzen, Bill Murphy,
Jim Danzenbaker, Naomi Murphy, Jean Fuschillo, Ed Manners.
In the lower row, from left to right: Liz Brady, Alan Brady, Erica Brendel.
All of these people traveled with FONT again over the years.
The 3 photographs below were all taken by Alan Brady during our November 1990 Chile Tour.
1) Andean Condor, 2) Torrent Ducks, 3) Black-browed Albatross.
The FONT Tour in Chile in November 2011:
As we were in a
Magellanic Coigue Forest on Chiloe Island,
we stopped for a moment to see how what we had just seen in life
was depicted in the book.
It was a Chilean bird book, owned by the man
who made us welcome in his wonderful forest.
The bird we had just seen was a hummingbird,
the Green-backed Firecrown,
the southernmost of all hummingbird species.
Elsewhere on Chiloe Island, we driven on a cart to board a boat
to get close to small rocky, offshore islands
with various birds and a mammal
known as the Marine Otter.
Among the birds were two species of penguins,
the Magellanic and the Humboldt.
In the second photo below, one of the penguins
that we saw from the boat.
The FONT Tour in Guatemala in December 2006 & January 2007:
This tour was in
the highlands & lowlands of the country.
As you can see, one region is not far from the other.
Notice the Guatemalan volcano in the background.
The two excerpts
below are from an article in a Washington DC newspaper, following this, our
annual "Holiday Tour". The article was entitled "Travel:
Guatemala - an Adventure by a First-time Visitor"", by Thomas Grahme,
one of our tour participants.
Let the Adventure begin:
Our group was led by Armas Hill,
founder of Focus On Nature Tours. He’s a veteran of about three dozen
trips to Central America, about one-third of them in Guatemala. We arrived in
Guatemala City in early evening and took a van to the more charming
Antigua. The rooms of our old hotel surrounding a courtyard garden
open to the sky, festooned with flowering plants hanging from the second story;
much of Antigua’s intimate beauty is in such places.
Armas of the Jungle:
People who hadn't been to the tropics --
like me -- have no idea how important ants are to the ecosystem, as
providers of food, directly or indirectly. Tens of bird species, for example,
have names which begin with "ant" -- ant tanagers, antpittas,
antbirds, antthrushes, antwrens. Now I understand why....
When the ants erupted from the ground, climbing every bush and tree in large numbers, about 15 species of birds we would normally not see suddenly appeared. Birds scrambled around to feed, and we jumped around to follow the action, pinpointing new birds as they arrived. Armas was transformed from laid-back guide to commander, barking out the names and directions of birds instant to instant.
Most of the birds seemed to eat ants directly, although some birds prefer larger insects which the ants drive from the forest litter. One bird species -- the Tawny-winged Woodcreeper -- specialized in a particular type of 1 & 1/2 inch spider, which no other bird seemed to have taken.
Click here to read the entire article "Travel Guatemala: an Adventure by a First-time Visitor"
The Tawny-winged Woodcreeper
Among the "TOP BIRDS" as voted by the participants at the end of our December 2006 / January 2007 Guatemala Tour, the following:
* the 3 species of Hawk-Eagles during 1 morning
* the Orange-breasted Falcon
* an ant swarm with a frenzy of birds including: various woodcreepers, Gray-headed Tanager, Gray-throated Chat, and others, including the Kentucky Warbler
* the Pink-headed Warbler
* the Blue-throated Sapphire (a nice hummingbird in the forest; during the tour there were over 15 species of hummingbirds)
* the Prevost's Ground Sparrow (a truly dapper bird!)
* the Chestnut-colored Woodpecker (we saw it so well; it was so nice to see)
* Hooded Warblers (even though they're in our North American woodlands in the summer, they're always nice to see! - as were the many Wood Thrushes we saw at Tikal)
* Wood Storks in a large kettle of a hundred or more
* the Vermilion Flycatcher. In a Spanish-speaking country, I like to call the brilliantly-red male the "brazito de fuego", "that little ball of fire".
Also in terms of color, it's deserves mentioning that we saw 7 bright species of orioles during the tour.
Very colorful were the costume masks
worn in Guatemala during the holiday season
interesting aspect of the tour was birding at the Mayan ruins at Tikal.
Here, two of our tour participants climbed atop a temple to get a better look
- maybe at the Orange-breasted Falcons!
Instead of looking down from a temple,
here, looking up in the forest.
From right to left: Tom Grahame, who wrote the above newspaper article,
Armas Hill, who guided the tour,
and Josue de Leon, our local guide.
During our next FONT Guatemala tour in July 2007,
Josue took the photo below of the very rare Horned Guan.
Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Guatemala
A List & Photo Gallery of Central America Birds, in 4 parts
Guatemala Birds, noting those during FONT tours
The FONT Tour in Puerto Rico in February 1996:
during our February 15-19, 1996 Tour
in Puerto Rico
The following were the "TOP
BIRDS" as voted by the participants at the end of our February 15-19,
1996 Puerto Rico Tour:
1 - Troupial (an introduced species)
2 - Puerto Rican Tody
3 - Red-footed Booby
4 - Antillean Euphonia
5 - Green-throated Carib
6 - Puerto Rican Woodpecker
7 - Mangrove Cuckoo
8 - Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo
9 - Puerto Rican Spindalis
(was called, in 1996, the Stripe-headed Tanager)
10 - White-cheeked Pintail
11 - Puerto Rican Screech Owl
12 - Bananaquit
13 - Plain Pigeon
14 - Orange-fronted Parakeet (an introduced species)
15 - Red-legged Thrush
16 - Pearly-eyed Thrasher
17 - Adelaide's Warbler
18 - Yellow-shouldered Blackbird
19 - Audubon's Shearwater
20 - Antilllean Crested Hummingbird
21 - Brown Booby
22 - Puerto Rican Emerald
23 - Nutmeg Mannikin (an introduced species)
Number 16 in
the above list,
a Pearly-eyed Thrasher photographed during
our Feb 15-19, 1996 Puerto Rico Tour
Not a bird, but a
highlight of the tour was a 60-foot Whale Shark that was next to the boat
during our pelagic trip off the west coast of Puerto Rico. Below, a photo:
In all, there have been 27 FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Puerto Rico since 1991.
FONT Tours, over the years, in Puerto Rico
Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in the West Indies
List & Photo Gallery of Caribbean Birds, in 2 parts:
Part #1: Guineafowl to Hummingbirds
Part #2: Trogons to Buntings
Rare Birds in the Caribbean Today, and Those that have gone Extinct
The FONT Tour in Costa Rica in March 1999
During that Costa Rica Tour, at the home of the renowned naturalist and author, Alexander Skutch, a place called "Los Cosingos", Armas Hill met with him, and his wife Priscilla, for the last time (in the photo below). Five years later, in 2004, Mr. Skutch died, at nearly 100 years of age.
Alexander Skutch wrote almost innumerable books and articles about birds, nature, and some other unrelated topics. A summary of his writings can be found in the link below.
A Special Feature about Alexander Skutch, with a directory of his writings, and a Photo Gallery of Neotopical Birds,
Armas had the good fortune to visit "Los Cosingos" and to meet with Alexander Skutch many times, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s.
In all, as of 2011, there have been 30 FONT birding & nature tours in Costa Rica. Nearly all of them have been led by Armas Hill, who made his first birding trip there in 1978, and has visited nearly every part of the country.
In the lower photo, "Los Cosingos", a local Costa Rican name for the bird known as the Fiery-billed Aracari.
Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Central America
A List & Photo Gallery of Central American Birds, in 4 Parts
The FONT Tour in Costa Rica in February 2004
During that tour
mostly in southern Costa Rica, we went mostly to rather remote places reached
only on back roads.
Below, some of our February 2004 Costa Rica tour participants are along such a back road during a late afternoon.
Our February 2004 Costa Rica Tour
was an especially good one for hummingbirds.
About 25 species of them were seen, including an attractive male White-necked Jacobin as it hovered over a stream. A Beryl-crowned Hummingbird did the same.
The wonderful White-tipped Sicklebill was seen very well.
And on the Osa Peninsula, there were others. One that we saw, unique to coastal mangroves and thus called the Mangrove Hummingbird, is one of the only 4 species of birds endemic to Costa Rica.
Even smaller was the very nice White-crested Coquette that was seen. Another name for that little bird is the Adorable Coquette.
Another name for the Beryl-crowned Hummingbird is the Charming Hummingbird.
It's not without good reason that such hummingbirds are described as adorable and charming.
High in the mountains, at nearly
10,000 feet above sea-level, the
spectacular Fiery-throated Hummingbird was seen very well.
Also at that elevation was the Volcano Hummingbird. The name Volcano is ascribed to that hummer as the gorget of the male appears like flowing lava.
Elsewhere in the mountains, our looks could not have been better of hummingbirds as large as the Magnificent and as small as the Scintillent.
In between, were Green Violet-ears and the Gray-tailed Mountain-Gem (the latter is another of the 4 Costa Rican endemic birds).
On the Osa Peninsula, we
encountered hummingbirds in another, rather exciting way. We saw them at
their nests. Usually these small hummingbird-haunts are under large, hanging
leaves. On their nests, we saw females of the Bronzy Hermit, Band-tailed
Barbthroat, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Blue-throated Goldentail, and Beryl-crowned
Never during a neotropical tour do I recall so many hummingbird species at their nests. Which was wonderful, as in the lowlands, hummingbirds do not visit feeders as readily as they do in the highlands.
In addition to seeing hummingbirds at their nests in the Osa, we saw others attracted to various tropical plants, including the Crowned Woodnymph and a hummingbird known for years as the Long-tailed Hermit, but now called the Long-billed Hermit (even though its tail is just as long as it ever was).
Bird-names, especially those of hummingbirds, are really quite something. It's too bad they can't all be named "adorable" and "charming".
In the two photos below, a White-tipped Sicklebill (above) and a male White-necked Jacobin (below).
Below, some of our February 2004 Costa Rica group in the remote Osa Peninsula, near where hummingbirds were seen at their nests and cotingas were seen in treetops.
The following were the ""TOP
BIRDS"" as voted by the participants at the end of our February 2004
Costa Rica Tour:
1 - Resplendent Quetzal
2 - Scarlet Macaw
3 - Collared Redstart (or now Whitestart)
4 - Orange-collared Manakin
5 - White-tipped Sicklebill
6 - Blue-crowned Motmot
7 - Fiery-throated Hummingbird
8 - Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (now Black-mandibled Toucan)
9 - Fiery-billed Aracari
10 - Bay-headed Tanager
11 - Pearl Kite
12 - Red-breasted Blackbird
13 - Laughing Falcon
14 - Blue-headed Parrot
15 - Swallow-tailed Kite
16 - Northern Jacana
17 - Striped Owl
18 - Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher
19 - White Hawk
20 - Turquoise Cotinga
21 - Black-faced Solitaire
22 - Boat-billed Heron
23 - Flame-throated Warbler
24 - Rufous-winged Woodpecker
25 - Fork-tailed Flycatcher
26 - Riverside Wren
27 - Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager (a Costa Rican endemic that's not a hummingbird)
28 - Orange-billed Sparrow
29 - Baird's Trogon
30 - Magnificent Hummingbird
31 - King Vulture
32 - Squirrel Cuckoo
33 - Golden-naped Woodpecker
FONT Tours in Japan
Below, a newspaper
article and photo relating to the first birding tour ever by visitors from
outside Japan, on the remote southern Japanese island of Amami. It was our FONT
tour in 1995.
years, FONT birding tours in Japan continued to make the papers. The
following are two other Japanese newspaper articles with photos of our groups,
and describing, of course in Japanese, our birding activities.
If you can read Japanese, and can translate, we'd be glad to hear from you.
Our e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the following two photographs, participants on the December 2007 FONT Tour in Japan. In the lower photo, some of those participants are ready for a fine Japanese meal.
Below are some
photos of Japanese people that we've met during our many FONT tours to that
country. In all, as of 2011, there have been 30 FONT Birding & Nature Tours
in Japan. Armas Hill has led all of those tours.
The photographs below were taken during the January 2008 FONT Tour in Japan.
January 2008 Japan tour, we had a good group,
of tour participants from California USA & Australia,
and during that tour we met again, as we had in the past,
some nice local people along the way.
One such person is the man (in the photo above)
who feeds the Red-crowned Cranes in Hokkaido (in the photo below).
Another such person is the man (at left, in the photo below)
who operates a restaurant in Kyushu
where the cranes are there (in the bottom photo).
FONT tour leader, Armas Hill (at right, in the photo below)
has been to that restaurant numerous times.
A group of the White-naped Cranes on Kyushu.
Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Japan
A Photo Gallery of Culture & Scenery during a FONT Japan Tour
A List & Photo Gallery of Japan Birds, in 2 Parts
FONT Tours in Iceland
Below, the FONT Iceland Tour Group in June 2002:
Below, some of the people in the FONT Iceland Tour Group in October 2002:
You might notice in
the above photos that in June when we were having dinner it was light outside,
while in October it was dark.
Outside during the day, during our October 2002 Iceland Tour, we encountered this group of sheep along an Icelandic road.
The following series of photos are of the FONT Iceland Tour Group in June 2009, with participants from the Wimberly Bird Club in Texas:
Below, our group on a boat looking at Puffins.
Below, the Puffins.
One of the
tour participants, Carolyn,
also known as the "Arctic Tern Magnet"
In all, there have
been 17 FONT tours in Iceland since 1994.
More about the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2009
A Photo Gallery of Icelandic Nature & Culture (from our June 2009 tour)
A List & Photo Gallery of European Birds, in 2 parts:
Part #1: Grouse to Puffin
Part #2: Sandgrouse to Buntings
Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Europe
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