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Happy New Year!

Greetings, all! We hope your 2024 is off to a great start. How's that year list coming along? Are you still keeping up with those resolutions? Here's hoping you are staying toasty warm—but still enjoying winter's splendor.

With the holiday hustle fully behind us, we can spend some time focusing on places we've never been and birds we've never seen, and how to change the status of both. This email will give you lots of food for thought, without any guilt of breaking a new diet.

One feature in this month's dispatch is an introduction to our two newest guides, Alex Sundvall and Sam Wilson. Welcome, guys! We're glad to have you aboard. We have a couple sections on tours over the next few months to consider, including the Galapagos. If you've never been, is this the year? We also have links to two short videos, a good-news item from Panama, and 14 new triplists from recent tours and 9 updated itineraries for 2024, including a re-worked itinerary for Angola: Endemics in a Little Known Land. Of course, we have our Recent Photos Gallery—this month's collection contains more than 125 images provided by participants and guides from 14 destinations on 4 continents, with a decidedly South American flair. And we think you'll have a little fun with our Best of 2023 gallery.

The inviting image above is from our most recent Northwestern Argentina: The Chaco, Cordoba & Northern Andes tour, photographed by participant Emiliano Garcia. We are offering this comprehensive tour again in October, guided by Willy Perez. To put your name on the waitlist, please contact our office.

The two Guira Cuckoos below are courtesy of tour participant Daniel Brown from a recent Jaguar Spotting in Brazil: Pantanal & Garden of the Amazon tour. These wonderfully expressive and vocal birds are common in the Pantanal.
Best of 2023 Gallery
Click the image above to see some of our favorite images from the past year's Recent Photos series. There are some standouts!
Introducing two new guides!
We are excited to introduce our newest guides, Alex Sundvall and Sam Wilson. Both Alex and Sam have already guided several tours with us in 2023, and each has tours listed in 2024 and beyond. We're delighted to have them aboard, and we think you'll be delighted to travel with them.

Alex is a lifelong birder and proud Minnesota native. In recent years, he has led numerous tours across the US and beyond—from the deserts and sky islands of the Southwest to the hallowed shores of Attu, Alaska, and everything in between. He loves teaching people about birds and showing them all that nature has to offer.

Alex's tour schedule for 2024:

Texas Big Bend & Hill Country, with Chris Benesh (fully booked)
Alaska: The Great Land I, May 29-Jun 14 with Chris Benesh (waitlist available)
Papua New Guinea, Jul 18-Aug 5 with Doug Gochfeld (waitlist available)
Slice of California: Seabirds to Sierra, Sep 5-14 with Chris Benesh (open)
Mexico: Oaxaca Valley II, Dec 21-28 with Jesse Fagan (open)

Sam is a native of New Jersey who calls Anchorage, Alaska, home these days. His path is dotted with bird jobs ranging from research to guiding, from remote parts of Hawaii and Alaska to New Jersey. Sam has a hobby of growing super-hot peppers, so you might want to be careful if you ask him if something is spicy!

Sam's tour schedule for 2024:

Mexico: Oaxaca Valley I, Mar 2-9 with Chris Benesh (waitlist available)
Alaska: The Great Land II, Jun 5-25 with Micah Riegner (1 space)
Maine in Fall: Seabirds & Coastal Migrants, Sep 8-17 (waitlist available)
Louisiana: Yellow Rails & Crawfish Tails, Oct 31-Nov 4 with Dan Lane (open)

You can read their full bios on their respective guide pages by clicking their smiling mugs below. To sign up or get more information about any of these tours please contact our office.

"Alex was amazing. His bird knowledge was excellent and he was super helpful. I was part of the small group that went all the way to Boot Springs in Big Bend National Park. Alex got us on the Blue-throated Mountain-gem and enjoyed watching the bird with us for 15 minutes. I hope that he becomes a regular tour leader for Field Guides." H.C., TEXAS'S BIG BEND & HILL COUNTRY

"Sam is an expert guide and one of the best spotters we've ever experienced. He was great to get us on hard-to-see birds. He worked well with all the participants and was knowledgeable about the birds and plants." A.D., TEXAS COAST MIGRATION SPECTACLE
A few ideas for upcoming travel
Our emailings regularly feature a group of tours that have a common theme: often a certain part of the world, a type of birding, or a particular habitat. In this issue we didn't manage a common thread, but the tours below reflect the amazing diversity of offerings you can escape on with Field Guides over the next three months.

Owlberta: Alberta's Owls & More—When most people are thinking about a warm getaway in winter, Great Gray Owls and Northern Hawk Owls beckon us to the north, to a place where we don't have to rely on a winter irruption of these species to find them. Other owls we seek include Snowy, Northern Saw-whet, and Short-eared. This short tour is guided by Canadians Jay VanderGaast and local guide Dan Arndt. Aside from the owls, the "More" part of the tour name covers other hoped-for species such as Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Canada Jay, and Evening Grosbeak. Some winters we are treated to winter raptors such as Gyrfalcons and Rough-legged Hawks.

Bahamas: Endemics & Kirtland's Warbler—Home to four endemic species, the Bahamas also feature other Caribbean endemics and are a wintering ground for the endangered Kirtland's Warbler. Jesse Fagan is at the helm, and he's been guiding our Bahamas tours for well over a decade. Other treats (aside from the pink sand beaches and sunshine!) include Great Lizard-Cuckoo and a host of cool butterflies.

Ghana: Window Into West African Birding—An underrated birding destination, Ghana is home to well over 750 species of birds in a country smaller than Oregon. One of the tour's highlights is sure to be spending time with the odd White-necked Rockfowl, as well as looking for the scarce Egyptian Plover. The country also happens to be loaded with West African endemics. Phil Gregory and Namibia native Tarry Butcher are great guides for this tour that will provide a lifetime's worth of memories.

Classic Costa Rica—This destination simply sells itself. As birders, we all know we want to get there some day, and this is the tour to start with. We target many of the avian icons—Scarlet Macaw, Resplendent Quetzal, Sunbittern—while visiting the Caribbean lowlands, the foothills and cloudforests of the bird-rich eastern slopes, the oak forests and the scrubby paramo of the high Talamanca mountains, and the transitional forests in the Pacific coastal lowlands. If you haven't been, join Megan Edwards Crewe and legendary local guide Vernon Campos in March!

Florida: Mangroves & Migrants—Get a jumpstart on your spring migration by heading to Florida with Owen Hilchey and Micah Riegner to catch up with the birds before they reach your latitude. While doing that, visit the Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, as well as the Florida Keys. Words won't prepare you for the spectacle of birds at Fort Jefferson on Garden Key: tens of thousands of them! Most are Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns, but we'll sort through them looking for the much scarcer Black Noddies and Bridled Terns that are blending in. Oh, and ask a couple friends to join you as well, as we have plenty of space left on this year's departure!

Please contact our office if you have any questions or would like to sign up for any of these tours.
The Galapagos
Many of us have dreamed of seeing the Giant Tortoises of the Galapagos since we were small children. The first time seeing a picture or video of one of those beasts stirred a notion of "Someday I am going to go there and see them!" Well, why not make "someday" happen this year?

We have two departures to the magical wonder that is this iconic archipelago, and each has space available. This tour is designed to see as many of the endemics as possible—birds as well as the mammals, reptiles, and other fauna. We are based aboard a comfortable vessel with excellent food, naturalists, and crew; we'll travel by night to maximize our enjoyment of these ruggedly beautiful islands.

To sign up or for additional information, please contact our office.
Additional 2024 departure: Northern Arizona
Just a quick note to let you know that we have added a second departure of our popular Northern Arizona's Canyons & Condor tour. This itinerary to Northern Arizona's Colorado Plateau is brimming with unrivaled scenery, including the grandest of them all, the Grand Canyon—where we hope to find a California Condor or two. This part of Arizona is the northern limit of some of Arizona's southern specialties, while also boasting some of the Rocky Mountains' avian gems. John Coons guides to all his favorite and familiar haunts, essentially birding in his Flagstaff backyard. To sign up or for additional information, please contact our office.

Short videos from recent tours
Many of our triplists contain videos recorded by guides or participants. Sometimes they are fairly short, showing a neat behavior of a bird, while others are longer, edited productions that showcase highlights of a tour, such as the two below.

The first video (linked by clicking the treefrog) is from last summer's Iquitos, Peru: Canopy Walkways & Ancient Forests tour guided by Bret Whitney and Micah Riegner. We offer this tour in 2024 and 2025 with the same guides. The waitlist is available for 2024, which departs in July; there is plenty of space for the August 2025 departure. The other video is from last September's Slice of California: Seabirds to Sierra tour, guided by Micah. That tour will also operate in 2024 and 2025, and each has space available. This year's tour dates are Sep 5-14, guided by Chris Benesh and Alex Sundvall. To watch the video, click here or on the Green-tailed Towhee below. If you are interested in learning more about either of these tours, or holding a space, please contact our office.
Happy news from Panama
We recently received an email from our partners in Panama, the Canopy Family, informing us about great strides that have been made to protect wildlife in that country. Throughout last fall, Panamanians protested against a copper mining contract that would have changed the landscape—literally—of some of Panama's most important ecozones. The short version is that the people won, and open pit mining has been stopped. You can read the whole story—including how the Canopy Family was still able to operate their tours throughout massive disruptions to travel—by clicking here.
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!
Comments from participants
We carefully read each post-tour evaluation we receive from our participants, so that we can continue to offer the best possible birding experiences and service on Field Guides birding tours. Here are two representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.
“I had participated in a previous tour in 2018 with Bret Whitney and Marcelo Barreiros as guides. I loved it and especially appreciated the work and the attention to detail given by both guides, as well as their passion and superb knowledge and ability to find birds. My superb experience with these two guides was replicated during this tour. Besides all of their qualities, they took on a lot of menial jobs like making sure we had water and snacks, opening and closing van doors, ordering early breakfasts, organizing meals at truck stops where we weighed our plates and had drinks and desserts. Bret and Marcelo were always there, I don't know how they find the energy and good humor to do these jobs day in, day out, without fail and without a trace of impatience. Top rating for both guides in all aspects of their jobs. The best!” N.A., Spectacular Southeast Brazil, 2023

“I had an excellent overall tour experience. Doug Gochfeld was an awesome guide and quickly got everyone on the birds. He was a bird magnet! I am glad to have been with Doug; the effort he put in to try to make sure no one missed anything meant a lot. Being able to get 17 life birds was fantastic! Doug had knowledge and spunk to get what was needed. He was a good driver too when needed. I felt he valued the time and money the participants spent and tried not to waste it. His energy and excitement to see birds was contagious! Our tour manager Ruth Kuhl was very helpful. She was always available and responded in a timely way to questions. I had heard other nice things about her from the other guests.” C.A., Alaska Fall Goldmine: Rarities on the Pribilofs, 2023
Tours with openings through July
Every month we present a list of the next six months' departures that still have space available, sorted by major region. The offerings run the gamut from close-to-home domestic tours, to others to the opposite side of the globe, to an arctic cruise around Norway. If short-term travel fits your lifestyle, there is surely somewhere to visit listed below that offers a new and exciting adventure.

The photo of the polar bear was taken during our most recent Spitsbergen & Svalbard Archipelago: A Cruise to the Norwegian Arctic by participant Amy Sheldon. John Coons has been leading this tour every year for well over a decade; he'll be doing so again July 2-14, and there is space available. Norway is just one of our ten tour destinations in Europe, most of them in spring. These include familiar and expected destinations like Britain, France, and Spain, as well as an Eastern Europe tour to Hungary & Romania. Check out our European offerings on our website, and contact our office for more information.






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).
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