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




(3 tours), CANARY ISLANDS (Spain), CHILE, GUATEMALA (2 tours), ICELAND, JAPAN (2 tours), MEXICO (in Sonora, and in the Yucatan & its offshore Cozumel Island), SPAIN, & URUGUAY

Above: As many as 40 Hyacinth Macaws
were seen well at one place during our March 2009 tour in Brazil. 

Below: During another FONT tour in Brazil in 2009,
this White-eared Puffbird was photographed in Minas Gerais in October.



The tour summaries here are given with the most-recent tours first. 
For some tours there are links below for longer NARRATIVES. Also

Links to Tours:

CHILE  (November/December 2009)

BRAZIL (& adjacent URUGUAY)  (October 2009)

BRAZIL (southeast)  (August 2009)

Japan  (July 2009)  (with a Total Solar Eclipse)

The CANARY ISLANDS  (June 2009)

SPAIN  (June 2009)

ICELAND  (June 2009)


GUATEMALA  (April/May 2009)

COLORADO  (April 2009)

MEXICO  (March 2009)

MEXICO  (March 2009)  A Photographic Sampling from our March '09 tour in the Yucatan 

BRAZIL (& adjacent BOLIVIA)  (March 2009)  - during 1 tour: a Jaguar, a Harpy Eagle at its nest, about 40 Hyacinth Macaws, & nearly 400 Jabirus at one place

JAPAN, mostly HOKKAIDO  (January/February 2009)

Northern MEXICO (SONORA) & Southern ARIZONA  (January 2009)

GUATEMALA  (December 2008/January 2009)

Chile - November/December 2009

An extraordinary bird, the Diademed Plover
was seen well
during the FONT Nov/Dec 2009 Chile Tour.

The first Focus On Nature tour ever was in Chile in November 1990. 19 years later, in 2009, from November 22 to December 4, we were there again. Chile was a great destination for our first tour, and in 2009, it still was!

Our highlights in 2009 were many. 

Probably foremost among them was a very close and cooperative Diademed Plover. When we saw that bird back in 1990, its English name was then the Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. About 20 years later, in its preferred name, the "sandpiper" had been dropped. But whatever its common name, that absolutely striking bird of mostly the high Andes was as much of a thrill for us to see in 2009 as it was two decades earlier.

Our 2009 tour was the 18th for FONT in Chile. And, even so, we managed to enjoy a spectacle, and a bird species that we had never previously seen. 
Late one day, with a backdrop of Andean mountains, and purplish-blue twilight sky, we watched as about 500 Burrowing Parrots arrived at their roost for the night. Most flew into their burrows. Some perched on snags on the big cliff that was the dormitory for the birds. Rather like small macaws, the Burrowing Parrots were so raucously noisy that evening across the gorge from us on the large cliff. Our evening with them was another highlight of the tour.

And yet more tour highlights were had during our time on Chiloe Island in southern Chile. During a late-afternoon along the seacoast, when the weather was absolutely beautiful (it is not always that way on Chiloe Island), we enjoyed wonderful looks of both Humboldt and Magellanic Penguins, a family of Kelp Geese, pairs of Fuegian (or Flightless) Steamer Ducks, both Rock and Imperial Shags, a massive swarm of shearwaters and other seabirds, and a mammal never before seen during a FONT tour. That mammal is a counterpart in the Southern Hemisphere of the Sea Otter in the North Pacific. Smaller than the Sea Otter, it is called the Marine Otter, or locally, in Spanish, the "Nutria del Mar" ("of the sea"). It is a rare animal.

Late that afternoon as we were leaving that wonderful seaside-spot, we saw another animal that's rarely seen. A small and shy deer, called the Pudu, it was standing still on the right side of a dirt road in front of our vehicle.

The small, shy Chilean deer called the Pudu

The next morning, further south on Chiloe, we walked along the edge of a mudflat by a sheltered cove of the sea on the east side of the island. It was a nice place that's certainly found to be so by Hudsonian Godwits from North America. There were about 2,500 of them, by us, feeding tamely on the flats.

And yet another highlight of our tour occurred the next day on Chiloe Island. After we stopped our vehicle and got of it in the forest, there was a nearby loud call followed by loud tapping. At eye-level very near us, there were 2 female Magellanic Woodpeckers. We stood rather still, and we were rather quiet. Another loud call was given, a short while later, behind us, followed by a male Magellanic Woodpecker flying in, to also be closely in front of us, at eye-level, and brilliantly seen in the sunlight.

A female Magellanic Woodpecker
seen in the woods on Chiloe Island
during the November/December 2009 FONT Chile Tour>
This was 1 of 2 females along with a male
seen well at the same place. 
(photograph by Robert Hinz)

Above, in capsule form, have been some of the highlights of our 2009 FONT Chile Tour. You may read more about these birds and mammals, and others, in the narrative reached from the link below.


More about the FONT Chile Tour in November/December 2009 

List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Chile Tour - November/December 2009

A Complete List of the Birds of Chile  (with photos)

Mammals & Other Wildlife in Chile 
(with photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Chile

A Long-winged Harrier during the FONT October 2009 Brazil Tour
in Rio Grande do Sul   
(photo by Marie Gardner)

(& adjacent Uruguay) - October 2009

When it was fall to the north of the Equator, and spring to the south, we headed to where it was springtime with birds singing, displaying, ands in their breeding attire. 
We experienced our "second spring of 2009", from October 11 to 23, as we did our 46th FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil, and the first during which we ventured into Uruguay (where we saw 23 species of birds on the grounds of an old fort, not too far from the coast).
In Brazil, we were in the states of Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul. The second of these is the southernmost Brazilian state, with the character of nearby Argentina & Uruguay. And with birds more in tune with those more-southerly countries, such as: Coscoroba & Black-necked Swans, and waterbirds including 3 species of coots and ducks such as the Red Shoveler, and landbirds such as the Warbling Doradito and Spectacled Tyrant.

Some notable birds during our October '09 tour included the localized hummingbird known as the Hyacinth Visorbearer, the rare flycatcher named the Black-and-white Monjita, and the large raptor called the Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle.
We saw 8 species of terns in one area, with probably the best for us being the Snowy-crowned, or Trudeau's, Tern. Also in that one area, we saw 4 species of gulls, with the rarest being the Olrog's, formerly part of the Band-tailed, Gull.     

During our two-week dip into the South American spring, we enjoyed birds that ranged from a penguin to parrots. Also, a motmot & manakins and much more in the realm of birds (we found nearly 300 species), while other nature during the tour included monkeys & marmosets, and 2 nights with the Maned Wolf.

Two of the hummingbirds
during our October '09 tour in Brazil.
Above: a Planalto Hermit getting a breakfast of bugs
at a wall of an old monastery, and
Below: a Hyacinth Visorbearer with color
even on a rainy, cloudy morning. 


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Brazil Tour - October 2009

A Photographic Sampling from our October 2009 Brazil Tour

A Complete List of the Birds of Brazil  (with some photos):
Part #1: Tinamous to Doves
Part #2: Macaws to Flycatchers 
Part #3: Antshrikes to Grosbeaks

Birds during FONT tours in Minas Gerais 

Birds of Rio Grande do Sul & adjacent Uruguay

Rare Birds during FONT Tours in Brazil  (with some photos)

Mammals & Other Wildlife in Brazil  (with some photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil

Shells from the beach in Rio Grande do Sul,
in far-southern Brazil,
where during the FONT tour in October 2009,
there were 8 species of terns and Magellanic Penguin.  

Brazil (southeast) - August 2009

From August 16 to 24, 2009, we did our 45th FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil. 
It was in the southeastern part of the country, along the seacoast and in the mountains. Much of our birding in those areas, and in between, was in the Atlantic Forest - an arc of native forest mostly in Brazil, with a number of birds, animals, and plants, either endemic to southeastern Brazil or nearly so.

Birds, in those categories, that were particularly notable included tanagers and hummingbirds
Many of those birds and others during the tour were colorful indeed with various hues of blues, greens, yellows, and more. In addition to about 20 species of tanagers, other bright, colorful birds included euphonias, chlorophonia, dacnis, and honeycreeper.

The male of one of the tanagers was mostly bright red - the Brazilian Tanager, with the local name in Portuguese of "Sangue do Boi", which translated means "blood of the bull".
Just as red were the Scarlet Ibises that we saw at a coastal lagoon. What a bright flock they were as they fed in the shallow water by our boat!

Brazilian Tanager

Scarlet Ibis

Also among the colorful birds that we saw were toucans and toucanets. Even a change of an English still relates to colors: what has been called the Red-breasted Toucan is now known as the Green-billed Toucan. (And of course, red & green are not its only colors.)

Other notable birds included a couple species of Herons: the Capped and the Whistling. And a couple species of Hawks: the White-necked and the Mantled. Both of those raptors are restricted to southeast Brazil.

Whistling Heron

The Robust Woodpecker that we saw at its hole in a tree by the parking lot where we stayed is in the same genus as one formerly in North America - the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a bird no longer seen going in and out of any hole in a tree.

Among the woodcreepers we saw, one species was especially interesting. Some Plain-winged Woodcreepers were traveling in the forest with a group of monkeys - Black Tufted Capuchins. Something about those monkeys was attractive to the woodcreepers, as they went up & down the trees beneath them.

Two species of our flycatchers, during the tour, had long tails - one, aptly named the Long-tailed Tyrant, that we saw one place after another, and another that we saw only once, the Streamer-tailed Tyrant. The second of these has always been for us a wonderful bird to see, being an attractive bird, mostly gray with some burgundy.

But, as noted, it was the tanagers and hummingbirds that this time for us were the avian stars of the tour. Being so close to them and their frenzy of activity, at the places we visited with feeders, was, more than once, an experience to be savored - and it was!

Prior to this tour, our cumulative tally of birds in Southeast Brazil was 491 species. 5 "new ones" were added in August '09 to that list.
Maybe the best was Green-and-rufous Kingfisher that we saw closely and well as we were standing on a bridge. But also nice were the other 4: the Gray Hawk, Large-billed Tern, Nacunda Nighthawk, and Sooty-fronted Spinetail.
In all, 228 species of birds were found during our Southeast Brazil Tour in August 2009.



List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Brazil Tour - August 2009

A Complete List of the Birds of Brazil:
Part 1: Tinamous to Flycatchers
Part 2: Antshrikes to Grosbeaks

Birds in Southeast Brazil  (with some photos) 

Rare Birds during FONT Tours in Brazil  (with some photos)

Mammals & Other Wildlife in Brazil  (with some photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil

An " Eighty-eight Butterfly", Diaethria clymena,
photographed during the August 2009 FONT tour in southeast Brazil 
(this & the following 2 photos by Tom Ludes)

A Morpho Butterfly, having just feasted on a mango,
also photographed in southeast Brazil during the August 2009 FONT tour.   

A large moth, on a wooden fence,
during the day
This unusual creature was also photographed
during the August 2009 FONT Southeast Brazil tour.


Japan - July 2009

It took place during the Summer of 2009, specifically July 12-26. It was the 32nd FONT birding & nature tour in Japan, and the 8th FONT tour, since 1991, with an eclipse of the Sun. It was our 5th tour with a total solar eclipse.

Previous total solar eclipses during FONT tours were in:
Costa Rica in July 1991,
Bolivia in November 1994,
Venezuela in February 1998
and Turkey in August 1999.
We've seen annular solar eclipses during our tours in Iceland in May 2003 and in Spain in October 2005.
A partial solar eclipse took place during a FONT tour in Guatemala in April 2005

At the north end of the southern Japanese island of Amami, we experienced the total eclipse of the Sun on July 22, 2009. Our vantage point was at the tip of a cape by the Pacific Ocean. During the eclipse, some of the people in our group took a dip in the nearby ocean water, as overhead the disk of the Sun could be seen shrinking and the sky's light was fading.

The Sun, at the totality of the eclipse, was high in the sky. The nearly 4 minutes of totality, where we were, was at about 11:00am.

Unfortunately, also in the sky above us were clouds. There was a thin layer of them during most of the eclipse prior to totality, as well as during the nearly 4 minutes when darkness fell.

So, even though we could not see some of the features of a total eclipse that we would have if the sky were cloudless, there certainly was an experience to be had.
To the north of us, where totality was longer, we learned later that the clouds were thicker (so thick that the eclipse overhead in the sky could not be seen at all). Along the center line, to our north, totality was about 2 minutes longer, making it just over 6 minutes, and giving this eclipse the longest period of totality of any during the entire 21st Century.

During the nearly 4 minutes of darkness where we were, there was a fascinating pattern of clouds in our sky. Truly ominous they appeared. A short distance away, during the mid-day darkness, the beacon of a lighthouse on rocks above the sea shone as it would at night. 
The Pacific Swallows, by the Pacific Ocean, during dark totality stopped flying. They actively flew about us during most of the eclipse. A Pacific Reef Heron flew along the water's edge of the Pacific, also during the eclipse, as did some Roseate Terns.

Overall, birds that day at that cape at the north end of Amami Island were not plentiful, but people were. Nicely, though, it was not crowded where we were, at our good vantage point, but as we looked about, especially behind us, we could see that we were but a few of the many who had come to experience the event. Mostly, those who came were Japanese. 

It was the first total solar eclipse in Japan in many years, and so considerable publicity and anticipation preceded it. From the heavily populated Japanese islands to the north, many came to the relatively small, and usually not often visited, Amami Island, coming over a period of days by plane or by ferry. (We did the latter, from Okinawa.) 

They filled the few hotels on Amami, but many who came for the eclipse camped in tents at the north end of the island. We spent our nights on Amami in hotels (2 of them), but when we looked to our right, from our vantage point, we saw many of the tents in the dark shadow of the eclipse. Turning to our left, we saw the open water of the Pacific Ocean, while overhead there was, that morning, the sun, the moon in front of it, and the clouds.

During our minutes of totality, to the south there was a brighter sky toward the horizon, where a few miles away, in that direction, the shadow of totality did not occur. 
Just about 2 hours after the eclipse, as we were going south from the totality zone toward town (to Naze, the largest city, and actually the only city on Amami), rain poured down from the clouds that by then had thickened. Earlier that day, by comparison, we had been fortunate to have had the eclipse experience that we did.   

The Japanese island of Amami, with or without an eclipse, is a wonderful place. We've visited it many times, with over 15 FONT tours there. With mostly forested hills, it's a "green island" with some wildlife nearly all its own. There are birds endemic to the island or nearly so. 
During our July 2009 tour, birds in those categories that we were treated to included the colorful Lidth's Jay, the nocturnal Amami Woodcock, and the very rare Amami Thrush.
In all, 139 species of birds have cumulatively been found during FONT tours in Amami. In July '09, we added 5 to that list: Cinnamon Bittern, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Watercock, Black-winged Stilt, and Wood Sandpiper. They were all found during an enjoyable couple morning hours in an area of fields and rice paddies. 
The Black-necked Stilt is a rarity in Amami.            
The Watercock was not only new for us in Amami - it was a new bird for FONT tours in Japan, bringing the cumulative tally of birds in Japan during FONT tours to 390 species.

Other notable birds during our July 2009 Japan tour included the extremely rare Okinawa Woodpecker, the Okinawa Rail (that became known to science only as recently as 1982), Black-naped Terns, and a Terek Sandpiper
Our views of Ruddy Kingfishers were sometimes brief, but we always liked hearing their distinctive, rollicking calls, as we did frequently. 
In addition to the birds that we either heard or saw during our tour in Japan in July 2009, we also enjoyed a tremendous number and variety of butterflies and dragonflies
And there were some mammals too - including Wild Boar, Sika Deer, and a quick glimpse of the odd nocturnal creature known as the Amami Rabbit. It's endemic to that island. 
With the eclipse, the variety of nature, and the native culture and cuisine of that out-of-the-way part of Japan, our July '09 tour in Okinawa, Amami, Kyushu, and a bit of Honshu, was a memorable one. 


More about the FONT Japan Tour in July 2009

Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Japan Tour - July 2009

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

Rare Birds during FONT Tours in Japan 

Butterflies of Japan (with photos)

Upcoming FONT Japan Birding & Nature Tours

Solar Eclipses & Other Celestial Nature during FONT Tours  

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Canary Islands - June 2009

This tour, in the fascinating Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, off the northwest coast of Africa, followed our June 2009 tour in Spain. Although closer to Africa than Europe, the Canary Islands are actually part of Spain.
We visited 3 of the islands, each quite different than the others. Each has its own character. 
And on each we saw birds not found on the others.
The 3 islands, during the tour, were:
Lanzarote, truly fascinating, with the most remnants of volcanic activity, and mostly arid. At the north end of that island, we visited an area of tremendous cliffs by the sea, where seabirds nest and where the Eleonora's Falcon flies.
Fuerteventura, the closest of the Canary Islands to Africa, and where the terrain and some birds are those of that continent. Among those "African birds", the Cream-colored Courser was a favorite of ours. We had close looks at 2 adults and 2 of their nearly-grown young.
Tenerife, further west, and an island much more green, with coastline (of course), and forests, fields, hills, and a mountain as high as about 12,000 feet above sea-level. While the island is more "green", a favorite bird of ours on this island was "blue" - the beautiful blue of the endemic Blue Chaffinch.
During this tour in the Canaries, we saw all of the 2-dozen plus endemic and specialty birds that we sought, including such "goodies" as the Houbara Bustard, the Barbary Falcon, the rare & localized Canary Islands Bush Chat, and, yes, the Canary (the wild Canary indigenous to the Canaries).
Mammals, during the tour, included the Algerian Hedgehog and the Canary Shrew
Click the link above to read more, and to find a list, with notes, of the species found.   


More about the FONT Canary Islands Tour in June 2009

List of Birds & Other Nature during the FONT tour in the Canary Islands - June 2009

Cumulative Lists of Birds & Other Wildlife of the Canary Islands

Cumulative Lists of Birds & Other Wildlife during FONT Tours in Spain & the Canary Islands

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Europe

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Spain - June 2009

During this, the 25th FONT birding & nature tour in Spain, and our 52nd tour in Europe, we visited some wonderful places, where we saw some fine birds and animals.
As many as 215 species of birds were found during the FONT Spain Tours in June 2009. 28 of those species were only during the extension tour in the Canary Islands (a part of Spain) in the Atlantic Ocean. And thus, 187 species of birds were found during our nearly 2-week tour in mainland Spain. 
Outstanding among a nice number of mammals was a particularly nice large male Red Deer, and some Spanish Ibex high on rock cliffs above us in the mountains.   
Regions that we visited were mostly in central Spain, from Extremadura (near the Portuguese border) to the Ebro Delta (along the Mediterranean coast in Catalunya). In between, places included the Gredos Mountains and the wetland known as Las Tablas de Daimiel in Castilla-La Mancha.
Birds that we found ranged from as big as the Great Bustard to as small as the Little Bittern and Little Grebe, and smaller yet, to the Goldcrest (the littlest of European birds).
Among our larger birds, some were exceptionally notable, including the Cinereous Vulture, a rare bird with the largest wingspan of all European raptors (we saw over 20 during 1 afternoon!), the Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Eagle Owl (the largest European owl), and both Black Storks and White Storks (we saw thousands of the latter).
Among the colorful birds that we were treated to there were these: European Bee-eater (we saw many), European Roller, Common Kingfisher, and the Eurasian Golden Oriole. Not with coloring as bright, but certainly a bird great to see, each time that we saw it, was the Eurasian Hoopoe.               
Notable among the waterbirds that we saw were White-headed Duck (a couple dozen), and 3 species of Gulls, among others: the rare Audouin's, the attractive Slender-billed, and a very nice Mediterranean in full breeding plumage.
Always nice, either by castles, churches, city walls, and other old stone structures were the fore-mentioned White Storks, along with flying Lesser Kestrels, Common Swifts, Western Jackdaws, and Eurasian Crag Martins. Such birds and settings are truly the essence of Spain.     


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Spain Tour - June 2009

Cumulative List of Birds during our Spain Tours

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Europe

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Iceland - June 2009

During the second week of June in 2009, this was the 16th FONT tour on the island known as Iceland, the fourth largest island in the Atlantic Ocean and truly a wonderful place to see & experience a varied assortment of nature. Only on this island is the geological phenomenon called the Mid-Atlantic Rift to be seen, as we saw it, above the water of the ocean. 
Throughout the island, with its magnificent scenery, there's fascinating geology and topography with lava fields, volcanoes, waterfalls, glaciers, and a geyser or two. Whether it was when we were along the seacoast, or in the interior, the countryside was, for us on the tour, like being, simply put,  in "another world".
And in those varied places that we visited there were always birds. Our "favorite" was the Puffin. From the front of a boat, we were close enough to be nearly "eye to eye" with those "parrot-headed" little seabirds on the top of a small island, as they popped out of their burrows, shook their wings, and then looked just-plain "cute"! Everyone liked the Puffins! It could not have been otherwise. 
Other birds also were enjoyed during the tour, as we observed either from our vehicle, or walking about, or looking from a boat - birds such as: the Ptarmigan that we saw well, the 2 White-tailed Eagles (an adult and a juvenile), the greenish-hued Shags with their young (so very little!), the flocks of gaudy Harlequin Ducks, the bold Great Skuas, their cousin the Parasitic Jaeger, and the shorebirds (or waders) at their nesting sites, including : the brightly-colored Black-tailed Godwit, the European Golden Plover, with its plaintive call, the Whimbrels with their melodious song given in flight, and of course the master of these birds with a flight display, the Snipe.
We saw overall hundreds, probably a few thousand, Common Eider - a treat to see. But a special treat was a single male King Eider!
As participants wrote at the end of the June 2009 Iceland tour: In addition to the birds, we liked so much "the pastoral countryside, with picturesque farms and churches, along with Icelandic horses, sheep and lambs, white swans in green pastures, beautiful and delicate wildflowers, and so many configurations of lava". Just as we liked "our Icelandic dinner of leek soup, cod with sauce, and a rhubarb dessert" and our good times throughout the tour with "our gregarious and happy group".   


More about the FONT Iceland Tour in June 2009

List of Birds during our Iceland Tour - June 2009

Birds during previous FONT Iceland Tours (with photos)

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

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Iceland

These Atlantic Puffins were photographed 
during the FONT tour in Iceland in June 2009.
(photo courtesy of Gerin Hood)

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North Carolina - May 2009

During this tour, we found the birds that we sought. Among the over 100 species of birds, during this landbirding & nature tour in eastern North Carolina, those sought-species included:
the Swainson's Warbler and some others in that tribe, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, the Bachman's (or "Pinewoods") Sparrow, and the Painted Bunting.
Other notables included Wilson's Plover, Mississippi Kite, Chuck-will's-widow, Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Prothonotary Warbler, and Summer Tanager.
Unexpected birds that we saw included a Loggerhead Shrike, and a dozen or more Cliff Swallows to seemed about to nest on a ferry boat that crosses a river (continuously during the day) in south-central North Carolina, not far from the seacoast. According to most books, that species really is not to be expected there - during the breeding season.        
Birds that we saw along the seacoast that were particularly nice were flocks of White Ibises, and a single flock of Red Knots that stopped to feed during their long journey from far-southern South America to the tundra almost as far north as birds can go in far-northern North America.
Not going very far, from where we saw them, was some other wildlife that we saw during the tour: an Eastern Fox Squirrel with its white nose, and a Cottonmouth snake, with its white mouth wide-open.


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during our North Carolina Tour in May 2009

List of Birds during Previous North Carolina Tours

Lists of Mammals (Land & Sea) during Previous North Carolina Tours

Selected List of Butterflies, Dragonflies, & Damselflies in North Carolina

Selected List of North Carolina Reptiles & Amphibians

Upcoming North Carolina Tour Itineraries


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Guatemala - April/May 2009

During this, the 16th FONT tour in Guatemala, we visited both the highlands and lowlands of the country. We saw much, in that picturesque and interesting land, including 16 species of hummingbirds, and 280 species of birds in all. 
Among them there were motmots, and manakins, orioles and oropendolas, wrens and warblers, and tanagers, trogons, toucans, toucanets, thrushes, and tityras.  
Among the mammals, there were a couple beginning with the letter "t": a tapir and a tayra.
Maybe most notable among our birds was a pair of very rare Azure-rumped Tanagers. We saw them so very nicely! 
Two other bird species were seen with "Azure" in their names: both actually with the same adjective, the Azure-crowned Jay and the Azure-crowned Hummingbird.
Among our smaller hummingbirds were the Black-crested Coquette and the Emerald-chinned Hummingbird; among our larger ones, there were 3 species of Sabrewings: the Violet, Rufous, and Wedge-tailed.
Among our Woodcreepers, there was the Wedge-billed, while among our Woodpeckers, there was the Pale-billed (rather like the infamous, and now probably extinct, Ivory-billed Woodpecker of North America - it's in the same genus.)
Among our Warblers, a good one indeed was the Pink-headed. We viewed well that wonderful bird.
And among our many other birds also viewed well are 2 others deserving mention here: Long-tailed Manakins as they performed on a forest branch, and a Leaftosser doing just that, tossing leaves, on a forest floor, just a few feet from us!
As during our previous Guatemala tours, again we saw Orange-breasted Falcon by a Mayan temple. We've always enjoyed our tours in Guatemala, and in April/May 2009 we did so again. 


Lists of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Guatemala Tour in April-May 2009

Cumulative List of Birds during FONT tours in Guatemala

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Central America

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(& adjacent states) - April 2009

(the adjacent states were Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, & Wyoming)

This tour, during the second week of April in 2009, was a slightly abbreviated version, that ended a day or so early due to a large mid-spring snowstorm in the Rocky Mountains. (None of us wanted our trip home to be delayed.) 

But what we did of the tour, in Colorado and nearby Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, was wonderful! 
We particularly enjoyed an early-morning with about 50 Greater Prairie Chickens performing their displays and antics, close and all around us. The displaying Greater Sage Grouse were also a treat.
Other birds that were treats included Mountain Plover (seen well) and Sage Thrashers (singing atop bushes in brilliant late-afternoon sunlight).

A special treat was one morning (as the snowstorm was about to begin, but when the sun still shone through the clouds) when, at a place with bird feeders in the mountain forest, there were hundreds, and maybe a thousand or so, "northern finches". There were hundreds of Pine Siskins, including a swarm of them feeding on seeds on the ground. There were dozens of Pine Grosbeaks, including a number of them like ornaments in coniferous trees. And, along with the siskins and grosbeaks, there were also nice numbers of Cassin's Finches and Rosy Finches. Among the latter, most were the Brown-capped Rosy Finch (a Colorado near-endemic), but also there was the Black Rosy Finch (that does not breed in the state) .

A Black Rosy Finch photographed during the FONT tour in Colorado
in April 2009 

The Brown-capped Rosy Finch was one of birds sought
and nicely seen during the FONT April 2009 tour in Colorado. 

Nearly 20 species of mammals were seen ranging in size from the Least Chipmunk to the Moose. Among those in between, highlights included a Badger that ran in front of us, and an all-black Abert's (or Tassel-eared) Squirrel.

Colorado is a wonderful state in which to enjoy nature, but we also had good times in Oklahoma and Wyoming. 
In Oklahoma, we ventured one day as far west as one can, to the New Mexico border, in the narrow "no man's land", where still nearly no men (nor women) live. Among the birds for us there, a Golden Eagle flew closely by.
Actually, and oddly, the most western bird that we saw in Oklahoma was the Eastern Phoebe (a pair).
In Wyoming, our birds included another Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, and a plethora of ducks of various sorts.

Lastly, to be noted here, back in Colorado, 4 sorts of juncos were seen at 1 place, all Dark-eyed: the "Oregon", "Pink-sided", "Gray-headed", and "Slate-colored". Juncos, as you may know, are sometimes called "Snowbirds". As to that snow, about 2 feet occurred in parts of the Denver area, and as much as 6 feet fell in the high mountains.

In addition to the birds and animals just noted, the wonderful scenery and interesting history, along the way, as we traveled about, added to our overall experience, which was made all the better by the good comradeship of those on the tour.    
The dates for this tour in 2009 were April 10-16.


Birds & Other Wildlife during our Colorado Tour in April 2009

Birds & Other Wildlife during previous FONT Colorado Tours in April

Birds during FONT Tours in Colorado & nearby states  (with photos)  

A Feature - the Grouse of Colorado & Kansas 

Mammals during FONT tours in Colorado & nearby states  (with photos) 

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Colorado & nearby States 

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(mostly the Yucatan; also Cozumel Island) - March 2009

This was the third FONT tour in the Yucatan region of Mexico in less than a year. The previous two were in June & November of 2008.
Each of these tours were actually quite different, in terms of the seasons and the birds & other nature found. March was much drier than either June or November. There was less song, by the resident birds, in March than there had been in June. And, of course, both in November & March, the bird population was augmented by migrants that breed in North America. Those in our group, who wouldn't normally see many warblers in the summer where they live, were certainly treated to many of those colorful birds during the tour. One person tallied 50 during a very short roadside walk in mangrove and scrub habitat, with all at his eye-level or lower. Many were Northern Parulas, with not one of them giving the "warbler neck" a birder can often get when observing that small species high in a tree!
Some birds were seen during the March 2009 tour that were not found previously in June & November '08. Especially notable among them were Pinnated Bittern and King Vulture. Both were seen well, in a scope, by everyone in the group.
Two notable hummingbirds were seen during the tour: the beautiful Cozumel Emerald (endemic to the offshore island of Cozumel) and the Mexican Sheartail (a rare bird also with a limited range, in the Yucatan along the coast). During the month of March, as to the Sheartail, we were able to see not only the distinctive male, but also a female on the nest - as well as another nest in which there were some very tiny eggs.
In all, 245 species of birds, of a fine mix, were found during our March 2009 Mexico Tour. (Click the link above for the complete list.)
And the mammals & other wildlife, during the tour, were good too - actually more than good because once again, as during our November 2008 tour, A JAGUAR WAS SEEN - as it was on a road at night, in a forested area of southern Mexico!  

This odd creature was seen in the water of a coastal bay 
from the shoreline in the northern Yucatan,
after dark, during the FONT Mexico tour in March 2009.
In English, it's called the Atlantic Black Sea Hare. 
Its scientific name is Aplysia morio.
In Spanish, it's a "Tinta", so called because it ejects ink when disturbed.
The word "tinta" in Spanish means "ink".
The creature, 16 inches long, and 14 inches across, 
is in the Phylum Mollusca (the Molluscs),
and in the Class Bivalva (Bivalves) as are other things such as 
the Common Periwinkle, the Slipper Limpet, and the Green Ormer.   
The Sea Hare swims in the direction of its "two-pronged head",
in other words, toward the upper left of the photo.
(photo by Marie Gardner)    


Lists of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Mexico Tour in March 2009

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

A Photographic Sampling of Nature & Culture during our March '09 Tour in the Yucatan of Mexico

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Mexico & Central America

An adult King Vulture was one of the highlights of our March 2008 tour in southern Mexico.
When it was perched on a large tree branch, everyone observed it through a scope.
Later, at the end of the tour, when the 10 participants voted for their "top birds", it was Number #1.

At the end this 10-day tour, the participants voted for their "top 10 birds", and following below is the composite-list of that vote. 10 people voted, and 43 birds received votes, out of the 245 species found during the tour.

 2 - Mexican Sheartail
 3 - Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
 4 - Pinnated Bittern
 5 - American Pygmy Kingfisher
 6 - Yucatan Jay
 7 - Bat Falcon
 8 - American Flamingo
 9 - Red-crowned Ant Tanager
10 - Ocellated Turkey
11 - Yucatan (or Black-throated) Bobwhite
12 - Gartered (or "Violaceous") Trogon  
13 - Lesser Roadrunner 
14 - Black-headed Trogon
15 - Keel-billed Toucan
16 - Cozumel Vireo
17 - Squirrel Cuckoo
18 - Pale-billed Woodpecker
19 - Blue Bunting
20 - Painted Bunting
21 - Crane Hawk
22 - Laughing Falcon
23 - Gray-throated Chat
24 - White-tailed Kite
25 - Bare-throated Tiger Heron
26 - Wilson's Plover
27 - Cozumel Emerald
28 - Rufous-browed Peppershrike
29 - Red-throated Ant Tanager
30 - Eye-ringed Flatbill
31 - "Golden" Yellow Warbler
32 - Hooded Warbler
33 - American Redstart
34 - Black Catbird
35 - Crimson-collared Tanager
36 - Barred Antshrike
37 - Dusky Antbird
38 - Yucatan Wren
39 - Black-bellied Whistling Duck
40 - Black-cowled Oriole
41 - Orchard Oriole
42 - Great Black Hawk
43 - Ridgway's Rough-winged Swallow

The last of these was actually the last of the birds to be found during the tour. A pair, that appeared to be quite territorial, was found on a projecting ornament up near the ceiling INSIDE a shopping mall at Tulum, as we stopped for a snack and some gift and souvenir shopping on the way to the hotel by the airport! 

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(& adjacent Bolivia) - March 2009

This was the 44th FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil, during which there were some tremendous highlights, among them a Jaguar (1 of 3 species of wild cats during one night's excursion), a Harpy Eagle on a nest, as many as 40 Hyacinth Macaws seen closely, and nearly 400 Jabirus at one place - on an island in a river. Over 300 of the big, tall Jabirus were standing or walking about on short grass. The others were soaring about on thermals in the sky above. This tour also included a sojourn into neighboring Bolivia.      

When this Morpho Butterfly (Morpho achilles) opens its wings and flies, 
it is a most brilliant blue.
This photograph was taken during the FONT birding & nature tour 
in Mato Grosso, Brazil in March 2009.
(Photo by Patricia Yoder.)


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Brazil Tour - March 2009

A Complete List of the Birds of Brazil:
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 in Brazil  (with photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil


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(mostly Hokkaido & some Honshu) - January/February 2009

This was the 31st FONT birding & nature tour in Japan. It was an abbreviated version of what we've done over the years, with what would well be called "the best of Japan in the winter". The tour was mostly on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, with also some birding on the main Japanese island of Honshu.
Highlights of the tour, as they have been in the past, were: groups of Japanese, or Red-crowned Cranes, dancing and calling on snowy fields, and numbers of both White-tailed and Steller's Sea Eagles. And again, as always (for us), we saw the Blakiston's Fish Owl, said to be the largest and about the rarest owl in the world.   
The upcoming FONT Winter Tour in January 2010 will again be the longer tour, on the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, and Kyushu, with an optional extension to the more-southerly island of Amami for endemic & specialty birds.

This immature White-tailed Eagle was photographed in February 2009
during the annual FONT Winter Birding & Nature Tour in Japan.
Some other photos of birds during that tour are below.
(photos by Karl Frafjord)

The word in Japanese for the Crane is "Tancho". 


Birds & Other Wildlife during FONT Japan Tour in January-February 2009

Cumulative List of Birds during our Japan Tours

Rare Birds during FONT Tours in Japan

Upcoming FONT Japan Birding & Nature Tours

The following account was written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

Of course, during our winter tours in Japan, particularly in Hokkaido, birds that are highlights are those such as the dancing and calling Red-crowned, or Japanese, Cranes, the gatherings of Steller's and White-tailed Eagles, the flocks of Whooper Swans, and the large & rare Blakiston's  Fish Owl.
All of those we experienced again during our Jan/Feb 2009 Japan Tour in Hokkaido. In fact, that tour was the 20th FONT birding & nature tour in Japan during which we've seen the Blakiston's Fish Owl. (We've never missed!)

But, during the tour, there were other birds too - a number of them, including some not as well known outside Japan, such as the Brown-eared Bulbul and Olive-backed Pipit, in photographs below taken during the tour. The Brown-eared Bulbul is nearly endemic to Japan.  

Brown-eared Bulbul, photographed during the FONT 
January/February 2009 Tour in Japan

(photo by Karl Frafjord, of Norway)

Olive-backed Pipit, photographed during the FONT 
January/February 2009 Tour in Japan

(photo by Karl Frafjord, of Norway)

In February 2009, during our Japan tour, 
when we were near some cliffs
along the southern coast of Hokkaido, 
2 Peregrine Falcons were hunting in unison.
They were going in fast flight after a Dusky Thrush.
When one of the Peregrines flew by us quickly,
to our eyes its was but a blur.
But, as shown above, to the eye of the camera,
its image was clear. 
(photo by Karl Frafjord, of Norway)

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Northern Mexico
(in Sonora) & Southern Arizona - January 2009

The first part of this wonderful tour was in the Mexican state of Sonora, where we saw hundreds (actually thousands) of birds of various sorts along the coast of the Sea of Cortez (also called the Gulf of California), and where in the rugged hilly interior of the state, some of the "good birds" were 2 with the same adjective, the Elegant Quail and the Elegant Trogon, in addition to the Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Bendire's Thrasher, Streak-backed Oriole, and the largest of the subspecies of the Wild Turkey, known as the "Gould's Turkey".
During the second part of the tour, in southern Arizona, we saw thousands of Sandhill Cranes, and numerous Hawks of a variety of species, including the Ferruginous, Rough-legged, Harris's, and various morphs of the Red-tailed.
It was a great tour for January (the weather was superb!), and a first for us at that time of year.      

A hovering light-morph Rough-legged Hawk,
as seen during our Jan 2009 tour in Arizona. 
(photo by Howard Eskin) 

A Yellow-footed Gull.
We saw hundreds of these birds during 
our January 2009 FONT tour in Sonora, Mexico
along the coast of the Sea of Cortez.  
(photo by Abram Fleishman)


Birds & Other Wildlife during our southern Arizona & northern Mexico Tour in January 2009

Birds of Arizona  (part 1: Quails to Becard) (with photos) 

Birds of Arizona  (part 2: Flycatchers to Buntings) (with photos) 

Birds of Mexico  (part 1: Tinamous to Shorebirds) (with photos)

Birds of Mexico  (part 2: Jaegers to Woodpeckers) (with photos) 

Birds of Mexico (part 3: Manakins to Buntings) (with photos)

Mammals of Arizona  (with photos)

Mammals of Mexico  (with photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Arizona

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Mexico 


Above: The island called Alcatraz (or "Pelican") 
that we visited when we went to the Sea of Cortez
during our January 2009 tour in Sonora, Mexico.
Below: The race of the Brown Pelican that occurs
at that island is Pelecanus occidentalis californicus,
which has a bright red gular pouch in breeding plumage. 
(photos by Abram Fleishman)

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Guatemala - December 2008/January 2009

During this tour, our 15th in Guatemala, as many as 316 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
(photo by Marie Gardner)

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 a red glow in the sky and a red flow on the slope of a high volcano - another notable experience during our week-plus Guatemala "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


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