Having trouble seeing this email? View as Webpage
Welcome to our August emailing

There is no way to soften the heartbreaking news we have to share this month. As
many of you may already know, Tom Johnson, our “Albatross,” died of a sudden illness on July 23. Tom was deeply woven into Field Guides and the wider birding community, and his death has been a shock to everyone. We are especially saddened for his fiancée, Melissa Roach, whom Tom was to wed in September, and for his and Melissa’s families. Each of us feels the loss differently. At Field Guides, we have lost a wonderful friend, colleague, and partner. Those of you who have traveled with Tom on one or more of his Field Guides tours since 2014 were fortunate to share the joy that Tom brought to us in so many ways.

We have dealt with the grief of Tom’s loss with tears and the shock of realization,
and necessarily also with action. Tom had a busy schedule of Field Guides tours,
and many of you booked on the upcoming ones he was to lead have inquired,
with kindness and concern, what is to become of your plans. Our Scheduling
Committee has worked to sort through the possibilities with care, making guide
reassignments where possible and canceling a few 2024 departures where
needed. If you were booked on one of Tom’s tours, our office staff should already
have been in touch with you.

While much here is devoted to remembering Tom, regular readers will
find familiar sections on recent triplists, including several from Tom’s tours,
some recently published itineraries, and upcoming tours, as well as short news bits
about travel to the European Union and Big Bend National Park.

The photo of the Ross's Gulls gulls above was one of Tom's best (and that is saying something).
Remembering Tom Johnson: 1988-2023
At the news of Tom’s death, we wrote:

“There are some people you are just glad to know. Directly, closely, casually,
peripherally, deeply, or once for a half hour. You are glad to be in their orbit,
however many times you have the chance to spin around. They have a
gravitational pull, whether you’re at arm’s length or on the other end of a Zoom
signal bouncing off a satellite somewhere. They give a comfortable feeling, a
warm embrace of acceptance and caring, of thoughtfulness and consideration, of
curiosity and attention, of knowledge and sharing, of this moment together being
precious. Such a source of joyful gravitation was Tom. We fortunate satellites,
entangled near and far, now find ourselves bereft without that pull. We can
hardly believe it, and we will miss you terribly, Tom, but you shine in our hearts.”

We have more about Tom and his history at Field Guides on his bio page. An
obituary for Tom has not yet been posted, but when it becomes available, we will
link to it. Many of you have asked how you can make a gift in Tom’s memory. When that information becomes available, we will also post the details on his bio page.

Tom was in regular contact with people throughout the North American birding
community, and in recent years he had been closely involved in the recruitment
of prospective new Field Guides leaders. Over the past year, as a member of our
New Guides Committee, Tom had been working closely with others in the
company to bring several new faces into the Field Guides schedule in 2024 and
2025. One of these is Owen Hilchey, whom you will meet below. Owen will be
guiding our 2024 Costa Rica: Birding the Edges two-parted tour in January as well
as Florida: Mangrove & Migrants in April. We think Tom would have been
delighted to see Owen introduced in this emailing.

Tom had many passions and accomplishments. One in which he excelled was
photography. With that in mind, we've assembled a gallery of some of Tom's best photos, along with some great photos of Tom. Click here or on the Wandering
Albatross below to get started. We’ll be re-visiting these images for a long time,
remembering Tom with love and admiration.
New entry requirement for EU
Starting in 2024 the rules of travel to Europe will change. Travelers from visa-exempt countries will soon be required to have travel authorization to enter most European countries, called ETAIS. The process seems relatively simple, and the authorizing agency states that it often takes only a few minutes to receive authorization, but possibly up to 96 hours. Below are a few bullet points, as well as a link to the ETAIS website.

  • The requirement goes into effect with the start of 2024.
  • It’s recommended to get your authorization completed before booking flights or lodging arrangements. We suggest that folks have this handled before submitting final payment for our tours.
  • The authorization is linked to your travel document (passport) and is valid for three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
  • You don’t need an ETAIS if you’re just transiting through the EU, so long as you do not leave the international transit area. If you are overnighting and have to leave security or go through customs, it appears that you will need an ETAIS.
  • It is cheap to obtain—only 7 Euros—and you are exempt from the fee if you’re over 70.

For complete information, click this link to the ETAIS webpage.
Introducing Owen Hilchey
We are pleased to announce the newest addition to our guiding staff at Field Guides, Owen Hilchey. Owen is an experienced guide and has co-led Field Guides tours to Louisiana and Florida in recent months. He will guide three tours in the first half of 2024, listed below. We expect you will have a wonderful experience traveling with Owen.

Owen grew up in the desert southwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where from a young age he developed an interest in nature and birds. Ever since, his passion hasn't waned. That interest in birds has led Owen to various bird-related pursuits, from researching shorebirds in the Alaskan wilderness, to backpacking the remote mountains of Mexico to catalog bird life, to leading birding trips all over North and Central America. You can read more about Owen by clicking the photo or visiting his guide page.

Click the links below for more information on Owen's upcoming 2024 tours:

News about Big Bend
The National Park Service has announced the closing in late 2024 of the historic Chisos Mountain Lodge, located in the heart of Big Bend National Park. The lodge will close October 1, 2024, when it will be razed and a new lodge built. It is expected to take two years.

This beloved facility has long served as our lodging for several nights during the tour when we stay within the park. Aside from its iconic status, it is the only lodging within the park. The park service promises that the new facility will be larger, with even better views.

Our 2024 departure will not be affected by this renovation. We will still wake up in the park during that portion of the tour, and we'll still be able to return at the end of our daily adventures to the scenic splendor of this lodge. However, we are unsure how things will go during the closure. If you were thinking about taking this tour, it certainly seems like 2024 will be your best bet for a few years. We still have limited space available, so please contact our office if you'd like to get more information or hold a spot.

Triplists from recent tours
We have triplists from past tours linked below, each with some lovely images and some with video clips, and all with great annotations by our guides. Enjoy!
Tours with openings through February
Below you'll find our full listing of tours with space available between now and February. Among them are four itineraries in Mexico that depart before year's end. Each offers a distinct experience visiting a different part of the country. The first is Mexico: Veracruz River of Raptors, Oct 6-16, to a location where millions and millions of birds pass over each fall. The second is Mexico: Yucatan & Cozumel, Nov 18-27, where we cover much of the Yucatan peninsula and beautiful Cozumel Island, exploring Mayan ruins and interesting birds. If desert birding holds appeal, we also have Gulf of California: Mexico's Rich Desert Coast, Dec 4-9. This tour includes birding the Gulf of California's coast, exploring Kino Bay, and making two boat trips. Lastly, we have Mexico: Oaxaca Valley, Dec 22-29, on which we'll spend seven nights in Oaxaca City while we endeavor to find up to two dozen Mexican endemics. (This last itinerary will run again Mar 2-9, 2024.)

These tours are listed below, along with about 40 other departures across the globe. The majority of them only have one or two spaces remaining, and they are likely to fill up. You can find more information about each of the tours listed here by clicking the links to visit their tour pages. If you'd like to get more information or hold a spot, please contact our office. Our thanks to guide Doug Gochfeld for the image above of Golden-browed Warbler, which can be found on both Mexico: Oaxaca Valley and Mexico: Veracruz River of Raptors.




  • South Africa, Sep 30-Oct 22 with Jesse Fagan & Tarry Butcher (1 space)
  • Madagascar, Oct 28-Nov 20 with Phil Gregory & local guide (1 space)


Field Guides video series
Check out our OutBirding subscription series, a sample of which you'll find in the five full videos available free on our YouTube channel. They are marked OutBirding. Have a look, and if you enjoy what you're watching, join us as a subscriber!
Recently posted upcoming itineraries
Click on any image or link below to see the detailed itinerary for the following tours. All of these itineraries are packed with information (and have a few nice photos as well).
Field Guides Incorporated, 9433 Bee Cave Rd #2-105, Austin, TX 78733
1+800-728-4953 • 1+512-263-7295