PO Box 9021, Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
E-mail: font@focusonnature.com
Phone: Toll-free in USA, Canada, & Puerto Rico 1-800-721-9986
 or 302/529-1876; Fax: 302/529-1085




(2 tours), the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GUATEMALA, ICELAND, JAPAN, the LESSER ANTILLES (on the island of DOMINICA), MEXICO (3 tours: 2 in the Yucatan, with 1 on Cozumel Island and 1 tour in Sonora), NEW JERSEY (Cape May), and PARAGUAY. 

Red-crowned Cranes, as seen during 
the FONT January 2008 Japan Tour in Hokkaido.


The tour summaries here are given with the most-recent tours first. 
For some tours there are links below for longer NARRATIVES.
Also there are links to UPCOMING TOUR ITINERARIES, and LISTS relating to BIRDS, MAMMALS, & OTHER NATURE.

Links to Tours:

GUATEMALA  (December 2008/January 2009)

MEXICO (mostly in the Yucatan)  (November 2008)

ICELAND  (September/October 2008)

NEW JERSEY, USA (mostly Cape May)  (September 2008)

southern ARIZONA, USA & northern MEXICO (Sonora)  (August/September 2008)

BRAZIL (Southeast & Mato Grosso do Sul) & adjacent ARGENTINA & PARAGUAY  (July/August 2008)

MEXICO (mostly in the Yucatan; also Cozumel Island)  (June 2008)

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC  (March/April 2008)

BRAZIL (Southeast, Minas Gerais, & Mato Grosso do Sul)  (March 2008) 

JAPAN  (Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu)  (January 2008)

LESSER ANTILLES  (Dominca)  (January 2008)

Guatemala - December 2008/January 2009

During this tour, our 15th in Guatemala, as many as 317 species of birds were found throughout a country with a variety of  habitats and some most spectacular scenery. Highlights among the birds included: Pheasant Cuckoos, Orange-breasted Falcons, and Ocellated Turkeys near the Mayan ruins at Tikal, 5 species of kingfishers during one river-boat ride in the Peten in addition to Sungrebe and Boat-billed Herons, while in the mountains our birds included: looks at both Ferruginous and Mountain Pygmy-Owls, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, Black-throated and Bushy-crested Jays, Hooded Grosbeak, Pink-headed Warbler, and the dapper Prevost's Ground Sparrow.

Prevost's Ground Sparrow

And there were more than birds, as would normally be the case during a tour in the Neotropics. But what was not expected was to be another tour with ANOTHER JAGUAR, following our previous tour a couple months earlier just to the north in southern Mexico when that large, wild cat was also encountered. During the Dec 08/Jan 09 Guatemala tour, the Jaguar was at Tikal at night, where it roamed just outside our rooms. The roar of the animal was heard 3 times there during one of the nights of our stay.
Other animals during the tour included: both Yucatan Howler and Central American Spider Monkeys, White-nosed Coatis, Central American Agoutis, and White-tailed Deer. We saw all of them during the day not far from where the roaring Jaguar wandered about at night.
In the mountains, in darkness before dawn, a sound that we heard was that of the animal called the Cacomistle (a raccoon-like creature).
In darkness, after one fine day of our tour, we saw in the distance the red glow in the sky and the red flow on the slope of a high Guatemalan volcano - another notable experience during our week-plus "festive, holiday tour".   

The Ruddy Woodcreeper was one of over 300 species of birds
during our FONT Guatemala tour in Dec '08/Jan '09.
Photos of some others seen during the tour follow.
(above photo by Marie Gardner)


Lists of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Guatemala Tour in December 2008 / January 2009

Cumulative List of Birds during FONT tours in Guatemala

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Central America

The following set of photos are just a few of the 317 species of birds that were found during the FONT Holiday tour in Guatemala in Dec/Jan 2008-09. (These photos by Dick Tipton.)    

Plain Chachalaca

Ocellated Turkey

Boat-billed Heron

Squirrel Cuckoo

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

White-fronted Amazon 

Mexico (in mostly the Yucatan) - November 2008

This was a tour in Mexico with two "J"s - and with both of them during the same day: a Jabiru & a Jaguar
That morning, we saw closely a single Jabiru (it's a rare bird in Mexico). 
Later that day, at dusk, we saw a Jaguar. It too was close, during our 5 minutes of observing it ahead of us on the road in the forest, becoming even more so, as the big cat walked, with its steady pace, to be immediately in front of our vehicle. There it was seen at every angle as it turned to cross the road, and then walked away a short bit before disappearing into the trees. 
Another highlight of the tour was a beautiful Rufescent (or Thicket) Tinamou that walked, with its determined pace, right by us, as we were on the lower steps of a Mayan temple. 
And yet another highlight was by yet another remote Mayan temple in the forest - an Orange-breasted Falcon
At the opposite (or northern) end of the Yucatan Peninsula, during one day we saw thousands of birds. Over  20,000 of them were American Flamingos. Others, in the multitude that day included thousands more of other kinds, with the assortment consisting of waterbirds, shorebirds, and some landbirds too. Notable among the last of these groups was a single hummingbird, known as the Mexican Sheartail - a rare bird with a very restricted range that's actually only about a kilometer wide.
Among the waterbirds, there were hundreds of American White Pelicans, with many feeding in unison on the water of the bay. The number of shorebirds were more than imaginable. In swarms, all around us, most were Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, other peeps, and Sanderlings. But there were others too, including a variety of Plovers: Snowy, Piping, Wilson's, Semipalmated, and Black-bellied
In the central Yucatan, a fascinating experience for us was in the "other nature" category. Underground, in a pool of clear water in a cave, we saw, with our flashlights, some Yucatanian endemic creatures that could never see us. In that dark world, there were all-white: a fish, an eel, and a shrimp, that do not have eyes!

On this sign at the Calakmul ruins in southern Mexico,
5 of the 6 species of wild cats that occur in Mexico are noted.
We saw the largest of these, the Jaguar,
along the road as we were going to the ruins. 
(Photo by Peter Mooney during the FONT Nov 2008 Yucatan, Mexico tour)  


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Mexico Tour - November 2008

List of Birds of the Yucatan Region of Mexico  (with photos) 

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Mexico & Central America


American Flamingo
During our November 2008 Mexico Tour in the Yucatan,
we saw thousands of these beautiful creatures. 

A fine scene along the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
But the odd thing is that when we were there 
we were seeing birds all the time,
and in this photo somehow there are none!  
(Photo by Peter Mooney during our Nov 2008 Yucatan, Mexico tour)  

A Blue-crowned Motmot,
as seen by Mayan ruins during our November '08 Mexico Tour. 

Iceland - September/October 2008


The Snow Bunting was one of the landbirds
we saw in Iceland in the Fall of '08 


During our week in Iceland, Sep 28 - Oct 6, 2008, there was so much diversity in the nature that was around us. 
Part of the country was still green, with moss on volcanic rocks. There were rainbows and waterfalls. And geysers and glaciers
In the north, there was an early snowfall. Above snow on the slopes of the hills, after dark, there were beautiful displays in the sky of Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights
As white as the snow, was an Arctic Fox, close to us. Its nose and the tips of its ears were black. 
We saw at least 3 adult Gyrfalcons. One flew completely around us as we were in our vehicle. A couple minutes later, it was chasing another Gyrfalcon
The Ptarmigans that we saw were turning white. 
Among other birds that were highlights were flocks of Barnacle Geese, Harlequin Ducks, and Barrow's Goldeneyes
This birding & nature tour was the 15th for FONT in Iceland. 
During it, 5 new species of birds were added our cumulative list during tours in that country (bringing it up to 101 species): 
(or American) Pipit (an Icelandic rarity), American Black Duck, American Wigeon, Common Blackbird (not at all common in Iceland), and Red Crossbill
One morning, we had an enjoyable time watching about 20 of the last of these, the crossbills, along with about a dozen Eurasian Siskins, and many Redpolls
There was a good crop of cones in the spruce trees. And, now, with more such trees in Iceland, there are more birds there such as the crossbills and siskins
Continue reading, if you would, about more of what we saw and experienced in Iceland during our 2008 fall tour in that wonderful country for nature. 


The waterfall known as "Godafoss", one of a number that we saw in Iceland
during our Sep/Oct 2008 tour.


More about the FONT Iceland Tour in Sep/Oct 2008

Birds during previous FONT Iceland Tours (with photos)

Complete Iceland Bird-List
(over 350 species, including vagrants from mainland Europe, Asia, & North America)

Birds during previous FONT tours in Europe (with photos)

An Iceland Photo Gallery

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Iceland


New Jersey, USA (mostly at Cape May)  - September 2008

During late September, when we were there, Sep 26 & 27, Cape May, New Jersey is one of the best places in eastern North America to be to see birds. 
Cape May is located at the southern tip of New Jersey, on the north side of where the wide Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. And, so, with a good mix of habitats, a variety of birds can be seen funneling through during their southbound migration, sometimes in large numbers. That variety includes: raptors, waterbirds of various kinds, landbirds of numerous kinds, shorebirds, and even, when conditions are right, seabirds.
The most common of the raptors during our stay was the Osprey. We saw many. Actually, nearly all of the birds of the various sorts, that were seen during our time in far-southern New Jersey, were common, except for one - a Northern Wheatear, that was seen quickly in the open on the ground, and then flew away over bushes, not to be seen again.

When we continued after New Jersey, however, to our week-long tour in Iceland, we did see Northern Wheatears again - but only during the first 3 days there. In Iceland, they were by the coast, ready to migrate southeast, mostly to Spain. A few Wheatears were found there, at one time, by a rock jetty, where they were feeding on a swarm of small flying insects. In Iceland, as in Cape May, the Wheatears would quickly fly away from us - but over rocks, instead of over bushes.
In addition to Northern Wheatear, we found just a few other birds during our time in both New Jersey & Iceland. Those, at both places, were: Mallard, Merlin, Grey (or Black-bellied) Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Herring Gull, and Great Black-backed Gull, in addition to Common Starling and Feral Pigeon
Even though many birds do "funnel through" Cape May on their southbound migration, chances are about nil that any of those just mentioned, as seen in Iceland, would. From Iceland, most birds that migrate, go to mainland Europe.
Almost as unlikely, it might well be said, were our chances of finding a European birder in Iceland who had just been experiencing the bird migration in Cape May when we were, but we did!
Having said that, both birds & birders do get around!                                    

Southern Arizona, USA & Northern Mexico
(in Sonora) - August/September 2008

During the first part of this tour, in ARIZONA, a bird, normally of Mexico, was seen and heard. That bird, a first for the United States, was the Sinaloa Wren (formerly known as the Bar-vented Wren). Its new name is that of a Mexican state, located south of the more-northerly Mexican state of Sonora, which borders on Arizona.

During the second part of this tour, we were, during 3 days, in SONORA, MEXICO, where, at a remote ranch, we birded and explored in some of the most pristine countryside imaginable. Among our "Mexican" bird species there, in addition to another Sinaloa Wren, there was, in the riparian plants at the base of a magnificent canyon, the Rufous-capped Warbler

During the ARIZONA portion of the tour, as usual as during our previous tours, we enjoyed a wonderful assortment of Hummingbirds, including a couple species that are more common in Mexico, the White-eared, the Violet-crowned, and the Lucifer.
In addition to birds, during this tour, there was a fine assortment of butterflies, mammals, and reptiles.        

White-eared Hummingbird


More about the FONT Southern Arizona & Northern Mexico Tour in Aug/Sep 2008

Birds & Other Wildlife during our southern Arizona & northern Mexico Tour in Aug/Sep 2008

Birds of Arizona, Part 1: Quails to Becard  (with some photos)  

Birds of Arizona, Part 2: Flycatchers to Buntings  (with some photos) 

Birds of Mexico, Part 1: Tinamous to Shorebirds (with some photos)  

Birds of Mexico, Part 2: Jaegers to Woodpeckers  (with some photos)

Birds of Mexico, Part 3: Manakins to Buntings  (with some photos)

Mammals of Arizona  (with some photos)

Mammals of Mexico  (with some photos)

Amphibians & Reptiles of Arizona  (with some photos)

Amphibians & Reptiles of Mexico  (with some photos)

Butterflies and Dragonflies & Damselflies of Arizona  (with some photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Arizona

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Mexico


It was in the building on the hill with the red roof
where we stayed during our days & nights 
in remote eastern Sonora in northern Mexico
during our tour in September 2008.
Birds in the area included:
Montezuma and Elegant Quails, 
Zone-tailed Hawk, Rose-throated Becard, 
Sinaloa Wren, Rufous-capped Warbler, 
Mexican Yellow Grosbeak, Five-striped Sparrow, 

and both
Rufous-winged & Rufous-crowned Sparrows.
Pumas are said to be common in the area as are
White-nosed Coatis & Collared Peccaries.
We saw a number of
Coue's White-tailed Deer,
Antelope Jackrabbits, and various bats.
Early in the mornings,
Coyotes howled close to where we stayed,
actually just outside our windows.
At dusk,
Common Poorwills called, even though it was early September. 
After dark, in the completely-clear sky, there was a superb show 
stars & planets, with a brilliant Milky Way 
that stretched from nearly horizon to horizon.
A couple very bright
"falling stars" were also in the cast of celestial characters.
This was as some
Elf Owls called, even though, again,
it was September.

Below is another view from elsewhere on the property
where we stayed in Sonora, Mexico in September '08. 

(Southeast & Mato Grosso do Sul) & adjacent Argentina & Paraguay - July/August 2008

Again, during this FONT tour in Brazil, our 43rd, a nice assortment of birds & animals were seen. Also, particularly in the area of Iguazu Falls, there was a tremendous variety of butterflies.
Among the mammals during the tour, highlights included: a wonderful look at a Brazilian Tapir, as many as 7 Giant Anteaters in one day (including a mother with a young animal on its back), a fine look at an Ocelot, and two Giant Otters seen very well.
Nearly 300 species of birds were found. 
Among the last of them, on August 18th, on the grass at the airport in Campo Grande, there was, in addition to Red-winged Tinamous, an Upland Sandpiper, having just flown in from North America. 
On a nearby wire, that day, there were 3 Purple Martins, also having just come from North America. 

Iguacu Falls
(photo by Trevor Sims,
 during the FONT Tour in Brazil in August 2008)


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour - July/August '08

Cumulative List of Birds during FONT Brazil Tours:
Part 1: Tinamous to Flycatchers
Part 2: Antshrikes to Grosbeaks

Birds in Mato Grosso do Sul (with photos)

Birds in Southeast Brazil (with photos) 

Rare Birds during FONT Tours in Brazil (with photos)

Mammals & Other Wildlife during FONT Brazil Tours (with photos) 

Butterflies of Brazil & Argentina, including those at Iguazu Falls (with photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil

(mostly the Yucatan: also Cozumel Island) - June 2008

This tour, as noted, was mostly on the Yucatan Peninsula, and also on Cozumel Island, 12 miles offshore. We say "mostly on the Yucatan Peninsula" as we also went further south, into remote areas, quite wild, close to the Mexican borders with Guatemala and Belize. Most notable of those areas was Calakmul. Not only a remote, not often visited, site of Mayan ruins, comparable to Tikal in Guatemala, Calakmul is vast reserve known as a biosphere. Standing atop the highest temple there one sees as far as the horizon in all directions only a sea of green foliage of forest. Calakmul was one of 4 biospheres that we visited during our tour, during which we found over 200 species of birds.
And there could have been more as the Yucatan is a bird-rich area. Not only is it with many different birds (about 540 species cumulatively recorded in 75 families - that's about half of the 100 or species that occur in Mexico), but the Yucatan has a number of interesting species and subspecies as the isolated region has evolved, due to a number of factors, to have its own distinctive flora and fauna. Thus, it has 14 endemic species of birds, and almost 100 endemic subspecies.
And the bird-life on Cozumel Island is interesting too, as it has 3 endemic species and about 15 endemic subspecies.
To read about these interesting birds of the Yucatan and Cozumel, click the link above.
Among our favorite birds of this tour were the endemic Yucatan Wren (the last of the Yucatan species to be described, in 1934), and the nearly-endemic Mexican Sheartail. That hummingbird has a very interesting range. Like the Yucatan, or Black-throated, Bobwhite, it is restricted to the Yucatan all but for a small isolated population elsewhere. But on the Yucatan, it only occurs in the north, near the coast, where its range has only the width of just over a kilometer!  
All of the endemics & those nearly-endemics notwithstanding, the bird that we liked the most during our tour was one with an extensive range in Central & South America. But we saw it so well! And it stayed - just a few feet from us. It was the little and brightly-colored American Pygmy Kingfisher, by a small marsh in the forest in that wild area of Calakmul

The Mayans called it "TOH".
We know it as the 
We saw many during our June '08 Mexico Tour.  



More about the FONT Mexico Tour in June 2008

List of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Mexico Tour - June 2008

List of Birds of the Yucatan Region of Mexico  (with photos) 

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Mexico & Central America


Dominican Republic - March/April 2008             

During this, the 17th FONT birding & nature tour on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, we had the best look we've ever had of the Western Chat-Tanager - a wonderful look of a bird that's normally a skulker, very hard to see. Another nice sight for us a line of about a dozen Hispaniolan Crossbills, drinking at the edge of a pool of water in a pine forest. These 2 rare species were among about 120 different birds that we saw during our tour. Many of them were interesting in not only being rarities, but also as either endemic species or subspecies found nowhere else in the world other than on that single Caribbean island. Our travel, and our quest for birds, on the island took us from the sea coast, and a desert even below sea level, to an elevation as high as 7,000 feet up in the mountains, including the area in the pines where we watched the crossbills

The "Top Birds" of our March/April 2008 Dominican Republic Tour, as voted for by the participants after the tour, were:

  1 - Western Chat-Tanager
  2 - Broad-billed Tody
  3 - White-tailed Tropicbird
  4 - Hispaniolan Trogon
  5 - Golden Swallow
  6 - Hispaniolan Crossbill
  7 - American Flamingo
  8 - Northern Potoo
  9 - Antillean Piculet
10 - Least Poorwill
11 - Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo      


List of Birds during our Dominican Republic Tour - March/April 2008

Cumulative List of Birds during our Dominican Republic Tours

Birds during previous FONT Tours in the Caribbean (with photos)

Rare Birds of the Caribbean 

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in the Caribbean


(Southeast, Minas Gerais, & Mato Grosso do Sul) - March 2008

During this, the 42nd FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil, again, as during our tours there in the past, wonderful birds and animals were seen.
Such tours in Brazil usually bring to mind notable birds as the Hyacinth Macaw and the Jabiru. These we saw, but also there were so many other birds, and among them highlights including the very rare Brazilian Merganser, a pair of Crowned Solitary Eagles, the Cock-tailed Tyrant, and the tiny & very localized Buff-throated Purpletuft
This was the 6th FONT tour with the Brazilian Merganser, one of the rarest birds in the world. (That's 6 times out of 7 tries for that bird.)
Among the mammals during the tour, an Ocelot was seen so nicely as it walked backed & forth on a dirt road ahead of us, and a Maned Three-toed Sloth was seen, in an area where not expected - in lowland Atlantic Forest near the Brazilian Seacoast. But see it we did, and so very well, as it so very slowly, made its way down a tree in front of us.     
Other animals that we saw included: Six-banded Armadillo, Tapiti (or Forest Rabbit), Paca, Capybara, the cat known as the Jaguarundi, Crab-eating and Hoary Foxes, Crab-eating Raccoon, Neotropical River Otter, and 3 species of deer
Back again to the Maned Three-toed Sloth, it's a rare and endangered mammal, and was a "new one" for FONT in Brazil, being the 69th species of mammal for us in that country (excluding bats - and we saw a few of them too).      
Also during our March '08 Brazil tour, a nice assortment of butterflies was seen.  


More about the FONT Brazil Tour in March 2008

List of Birds during our Brazil Tour - March 2008 

A Photographic Sampling of Nature & Scenery from the FONT March 2008 Brazil Tour

Cumulative List of Birds during FONT Tours in Brazil:
Part 1: Tinamous to Flycatchers
Part 2: Antshrikes to Grosbeaks

Birds in Minas Gerais (with photos)

Birds in Mato Grosso do Sul (with photos)

Birds in Southeast Brazil (with photos) 

Rare Birds during FONT Tours in Brazil  (with photos)

Mammals & Other Wildlife during FONT Brazil Tours (with photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil


The Crowned Solitary Eagle,
seen during our March 2008 Brazil Tour,
that was voted the "top bird" of the tour.
This is one of the pair of eagles we saw together.
(photo by Marie Gardner) 

Japan - January 2008

This was the 30th FONT birding & nature tour in Japan. Highlights, as usual, during our tours there in the winter, included: cranes and eagles and the Blakiston's Fish-Owl.
We saw both Steller's Sea Eagles and White-tailed Eagles on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. There were good numbers of each, and we saw both species well. We also saw a third species of eagle during the tour, a single Greater Spotted Eagle on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu.
5 of the 15 species of the world's cranes were seen during the tour. The Red-crowned, or Japanese, Cranes were seen in Hokkaido, while numerous Hooded and White-naped Cranes were seen in Kyushu, along with two stragglers there, the Common and the Sandhill Cranes
We had the very good good fortune, to see, one evening, two large and rare Blakiston's Fish-Owls, a pair that we watched close to us, and that we heard calling in duet! With this tour, we've now seen that special bird during ALL of our 19 late-fall or winter birding tours in Japan.
On Kyushu, in addition to thousands of cranes, we saw hundreds of Mandarin Ducks along one particular river. Where that river meets the sea, on a mudbar, we were treated to Spoonbills - both the rare Black-faced, and the Eurasian. Nearby, we encountered a rarity for Japan, a Pied Avocet. With it was a similar bird, also unusual for Kyushu, a Black-winged Stilt.
The Mandarin Ducks were not the only attractive waterfowl during the tour. We also enjoyed, on Hokkaido, the equally attractive Smews and Harlequin Ducks
Birds mentioned here were just some of those that we enjoyed during this, another fine Japanese tour. 


More about the FONT Japan Tour in January 2008  

List of Birds during our Japan Tour - January '08

Cumulative List of Birds during our Japan Tours (with photos)

Rare Birds during FONT Tours in Japan

Upcoming FONT Japan Birding & Nature Tours

Lesser Antilles (Dominica) - January 2008

During this tour, where the year for FONT began, there were both "Parrots & Pirates of the Caribbean". On the lush, green Caribbean island of Dominica, we saw endemic, rare Amazon parrots (2 species) as well as the filming locations of the 2nd & 3rd "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. 
In all, during this, our annual "holiday tour", which also included St. Lucia & St. Vincent in December '07, we saw 80 species of birds, most of which were Caribbean specialties, and many them were island-endemics, rarities, or birds that were just-plain nice to see.      


More about the FONT Lesser Antilles Tour in Dec '07/Jan '08

List of Birds during our Lesser Antilles Tour - Dec '07 / Jan '08

Cumulative List of Birds during FONT Lesser Antilles Tours

Cumulative List of Birds during FONT Caribbean Tours (with photos)

Upcoming FONT Caribbean Birding & Nature Tours