Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Costa Rica March/April 2017?

Just thought I'd stick a quick post out about Costa Rica. For those that know me you'll know that Costa Rica has a big place in my heart. It was here that I got properly started in bird guiding and I've spent over two-years of my life there showing people the countries fabulous birds.

I may go on about Asia and Australia a lot, but it's undeniable that Costa Rica is one of THE top birding destinations in the world. It is a small country with a range of habitats, elevations and two coastlines, a good road network, good accommodation (managed specifically for birds and birders) and very friendly people. All of this means a lot of very cool birds in a relatively small area.

Birding Ecotours has got a GUARANTEED DEPARTURE going to Costa Rica next March! This is a special tour, not only will you have some amazing birds and wildlife during the tour, but by joining it you will be supporting the Neotropical Bird Club because the tour is an NBC Conservation Tour. The tour is going to be guided by Kevin Easley, one of the best local guides in the country. So why not join me an him there!

Tour information can be found here: Complete Costa Rica Tour. This tour involves two-legs. You can do both legs (c4 weeks), or you can just do either one of them (c2 weeks each). Both have been designed to connect with Costa Rica's finest and most-sought species, For any information about this tour please email: info@birdingecotours.co.za (or drop me a line!).

Some highlight birds are likely to include: Resplendent Quetzal (arguably the best-looking bird on the planet), Three-wattled Bellbird, Great Green Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Snowy Cotinga, Lovely Cotinga, Turquoise Cotinga, Snowcap, Lesser Ground Cuckoo, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, Coppery-headed Emerald, Baird's Trogon and a plethora of Hummingbirds, Furnarids, Flycatchers, Tanagers etc... A large trip list full of national and regional (Chiriqui) endemics can be expected.

Some target bird photos to whet your appetite!

Resplendent Quetzal (Kevin Easley via Birding Ecotours)

Snowcap (via Birding Ecotours)

Three-wattled Bellbird (Kevin Easley via Birding Ecotours)

Coppery-headed Emerald (via Birding Ecotours)

Unspotted Saw-whet Owl (via Birding Ecotours)

Wrenthrush (via Birding Ecotours)

Rufous-tailed Jacamar (via Birding Ecotours)

Blue-diademed Motmot (via Birding Ecotours)

Broab-billed Motmot (via Birding Ecotours)

Collared Trogon (via Birding Ecotours)

Lesser Ground-Cuckoo (via Birding Ecotours)

Red-capped Manakin (via Birding Ecotours)

Emerald Tanager (via Birding Ecotours)

Silver-throated Tanager (via Birding Ecotours)

Speckled Tanager (via Birding Ecotours)   

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Thailand Trip Report

This winter between late-January and early-March I was in Thailand for some personal birding sandwiched between a couple of stints leading tours for Birding Ecotours.

My first tour was three-weeks and visited Laem Pak Bia/Pak Thale Area, Kaeng Krachan NP, Khao Yai NP, Doi Inthanon NP, Mae Ping NP, Doi Chiang Dao NP,  Doi Pha Hom Pok (Doi Lang) NP, and Chiang Saen Lake. We saw some amazing birds: Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann's Greenshank, Long-billed Dowitcher (rarity), Baer's Pochard, Mrs Hume's Pheasant, Great Hornbill, Rusty-naped, Eared and Blue Pittas, Himalayan Cutia, Siberian Rubythroat, and so much more! Asian Elephant and White-handed Gibbons were also rather pleasing. Trip Report here: http://birdingecotours.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Thailand-Custom-Tour-Trip-Report-February-2016.pdf

My second tour was a one-week photography tour and visited Laem Pak Bia/Pak Thale Area, Nong Pla Lai, and Kaeng Krachan and again connected with some amazing birds: 6 Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann's Greenshank, Red-headed and Orange-breasted Trogons, Great Hornbill, Red-bearded and Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, Great Slaty Woodpecker, and many Broadbills! Here we also had one of the craziest 20 minutes of wildlife viewing I've ever had - Indian Rock Python, Asian Elephant, Indochinese (Black) Leopard, and Sunbear!!! Trip Report here: http://birdingecotours.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Thailand-Custom-Tour-Trip-Report-Feb-Mar-2016.pdf

A more detailed summary of my tours can be found here: http://birdingecotours.com/birding-thailand/ with some photos and information on some of the key species seen.

During my free time I got to see some great birds, including Firethroat and Spotted Bush-Warbler, a couple of really rare Thai birds. I also got to visit a banding station where I got to release a stunning male Siberian Rubythroat (photo below!)....

If any of this interests you please check out the 2017 itinerary here, and come and join me there with Birding Ecotours!

Some highlights below...

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - 1 of at least 7 birds seen while I was there. A post on this bird here.

Drake Baer's Pochard (IPhone-scoped)

Rusty-naped Pitta (one of a pair seen at close-range)

Firethroat - the returning bird, Thailand's second record (first was this bird last year!)

Great Hornbill - simply stunning! 

Green Magpie - a bit of a looker,

Himalayan Cutia (IPhone-scoped)

Long-billed Dowitcher (IPhone-scoped) - a rarity we found on the tour

Mrs Hume's Pheasant - a real beauty

Siberian Rubythroat

Getting to release a Siberian Rubythroat! 

Friday, 22 April 2016

India Trip Report

This January I was lucky enough to lead a Birding Ecotours trip to Northern India. The trip was stacked full of incredible birds, such as Indian Skimmer, Indian Courser, Koklass and Cheer Pheasants, Painted Spurfowl, Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier), Collared Falconet, Sarus Crane, Ibisbill, Painted Sandgrouse, Pallid Scops Owl, Tawny and Brown Fish Owls, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Great Hornbill, Sirkeer Malkoha, Long-billed Thrush, Spotted, Slaty-backed, and Little Forktails, Golden Bush Robin, Himalayan Bluetail, White-tailed (Himalayan) and Siberian Rubythroats, Wallcreeper, Rufous-breasted and Altai Accentors, and White-capped Bunting.

We saw Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard, Jungle Cat, Asian Elephant, Gharial, Marsh Mugger and numerous other cool wildlife. If this wasn't enough we visited the Taj Mahal and had incredible views of the stunning Himalayas - oh and ate some beautiful food!

I've written a summary of the trip, with a few photos here: http://birdingecotours.com/birding-asia/

The trip report can be found here: http://birdingecotours.com/trip-reports/india (word only view document, or download it as a PDF).

If you're interested in the 2017 tour, please get in touch!

Tiger!

Black-headed Jay

Brown Fish Owl

Cheer Pheasant

Citrine Wagtail

Collared Falconet

Crested Kingfisher

Greater Painted-snipe

Grey-headed Woodpecker - Black-naped Woodpecker a split if you follow HBW taxonomy.

Himalayan Bluethroat

Ibisbill

Indian Courser

Indian Peafowl - National Bird of India

Indian Skimmer

Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier)

Little Forktail

Long-billed Thrush

Orange-headed Thrush - seen very well the week before the tour but I couldn't re-find it during the tour! Gutted as it was a cracker! 

Painted Sandgrouse

Painted Spurfowl

Pallid Scops Owl - the first record for Okhla Bird Sanctuary and the Delhi area - found on the first day of the tour! What a way to start! It was present until at least mid-March.

Sarus Cranes

Scaly-bellied Woodpecker

Siberian Rubythroat

Sirkeer Malkoha

Spotted Forktail

Streak-throated Woodpecker

Striated Laughingthrush

Tawny Fish Owl

Wallcreeper

White-tailed (Himalayan) Rubythroat

White-tailed Stonechat

Asian Elephant

Gharial

Indian Leopard

Indian Rock Python

Marsh Mugger

Orange Pansy

Sambar Deer

3-way fight between Spotted Deer

The Himalayas - simply breathtaking

Sunrise at Corbett NP

Sunset at Corbett NP

Corbett Safari

Group enjoying the Himalayan views

Group at the Taj Mahal