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Greetings, and welcome to our September emailing!

Southbound migration is in full swing for our Northern Hemisphere birds. Every cold front brings a new batch of songbirds to the trees, shorebirds to the mudflats, and raptors over the ridges. We hope all of you are able to get out and enjoy the spectacle that is fall migration.

Like the birds, our Field Guides tours start to drift south as the days shorten and the weather cools—but not all of our northern tours have wrapped up just yet. In the next couple of weeks we have tours to Alaska and New Jersey, but indeed, as you read this, we have groups in Brazil, Bolivia, and Botswana. If you haven't made plans to join us on a tour soon, what are you waiting for?

In this month's emailing we toss a few ideas your way, including two departures to Hawaii next year, a close-up on two Asia tours to India and Bhutan, and a few words about a truly once-in-a-lifetime cruise across the southern Atlantic Ocean. There is a focus on our Panama program—five different tours to that tropical isthmus, each one a little different.
Lastly, we have a short report about our recent Field Guides meeting to share with you.

On a more somber topic, people have inquired about donations that can be made in honor of our dear friend Tom Johnson. Recently a *spotfund has been set up by friends to benefit Melissa Roach, Tom's fiancée. You can click here to learn more, or find the same link on Tom's bio page on our website.

We also have our regular features, including images from recent tours in our Recent Photos Gallery—this month's virtual tour contains over 100 pics taken by participants and guides from 10 destinations on four continents. And we present 10 new triplists from recent tours and five updated itineraries for 2024.

Anyone up for a trivia question? What is the only species of hummingbird (Trochilidae) that has a single word for its common name? (For example, Sora, Anhinga, or Limpkin.) The answer at the very end of this email.

The cover shot above comes courtesy of participant Herb Fechter. Herb captured this unique image while on our Central Mexico & Baja: Birds, Butterflies & Whales tour back in February. We're offering that again February 18-29, 2024, with Micah Riegner and Bret Whitney guiding, and there are a couple spaces still available.

Thanks also to guide Doug Gochfeld for the photo below of the gorgeous Brown-throated Sunbird. Doug took this great shot while co-leading our Borneo tour late last winter with Megan Edwards Crewe. Borneo is one of the most naturally rich places on earth, and we typically visit twice a year.
Panama has a bird list of more than 970 species, and as such it's on every traveling birder's must-visit list. Trying to decide which Panama tour is the right one for you might be a bit challenging. While we try to make our tour names informative and concise—and our tour managers are always an excellent resource—sometimes there are overlapping tours and similar terms in them. We currently have five tours in our Panama program, with four of them running annually—the four most likely to cause a little confusion. Below is a short explanation of each of them.

Panama's Canopy Lodge: El Valle de AntonWe describe this tour as an introduction to Neotropical birds or a complement to your broader Middle American birding, all based at a charming lodge. The accommodations are splendid, the food great, and the weather pleasant with cool mornings and warm afternoons. We limit this tour to just eight participants, with a Field Guides leader and a local guide. Our next departure is:

  • Dec 29-Jan 5 with Megan Edwards Crewe & local guide (space available)

Panama's Canopy Tower—This is another introduction-to-Neotropical birding tour based at a single, unique lodge (pictured above) with quick access to the famous Pipeline Road. As on the Canopy Lodge tour above, participants can expect the same level of fine service, cuisine, and hospitality. We also limit this tour to just eight participants with a Field Guides leader and local guide. Our next departure is:

  • Jan 28-Feb 3 with John Coons & local guide (space available)

Panama's Canopy Tower & Lodge—As you can probably guess, this is a combination of the two venues above. This week-long tour allows for four nights at the Canopy Tower and visits to nearby Pipeline Road, followed by two nights at the Canopy Lodge with its stellar foothills birding. With the excellent hospitality and food at both lodges, and the fabulous birding, it is no wonder that this tour fills quickly. Our next departure is provisionally full, but if you have interest, it is a good idea to get on the waitlist.

  • Mar 3-10 with John Coons & local guide (waitlist available)

Panama's Canopy Camp: Lowland Darien—This tour is different from the three above. We travel to remote eastern Panama, with many local specialties found nowhere else in Central America. This most exotic and untouched part of Panama was inaccessible until the Canopy Camp opened, allowing comfortable accommodations and outstanding food. Even for birders with considerable experience in Middle America, the Canopy Camp holds numerous birding attractions and offers the most comfortable entry into the rich lowlands of Darien. We limit this tour to just eight participants with a Field Guides leader and a local guide. Our upcoming December departure is sold out, but we have space available in December 2024.

  • Dec 27, 2024-Jan 4, 2025 with Chris Benesh & local guide

Western Panama: Chiriqui & Bocas del Toro—Separate from our "Canopy Family" itineraries above is this itinerary to endemic-rich western Panama, where we explore the Chiriqui highlands and Caribbean lowlands in Bocas del Toro. Birders are treated to a cross section of birding from cloudforest to lowland rainforest and coastal Caribbean waters. Our next departure is in 2025, and a few spaces are available..

  • Mar 11-20, 2025 with Jesse Fagan & local guide

Ruth Kuhl is the tour manager for all of our Panama tours, and she would be happy to answer questions or provide additional information. To sign up or to reach Ruth, please contact our office.
Hawaii in the new year
Hawaii is a place most people want to visit at least once. It boasts year-round warm weather, spectacular landscapes and gorgeous natural beauty, and a culture found nowhere else in the United States. It is also home to many endemic species.

Our week-long tour to Hawaii visits three islands where we seek a great portion of the endemic birds while also delighting in seabird specialties. We're also sure to encounter a legion of snazzy non-native species that call the islands home.

With seaside lodging, excellent dining, a rich natural history—not to mention towering mountains, active volcanoes, and black-sand beaches—Hawaii is a special birding destination and a perfect winter getaway!

We have two departures to the Aloha state in 2024, both guided by Cory Gregory (above) and local expert Mandy Talpas.

  • Hawaii with Cory Gregory & Mandy Talpas, Jan 17-25 & Mar 20-28

Please contact our office to sign up or for more information.
Field Guides 2023 Business Meeting
For the first time since 2019, the Field Guides staff was able to gather for our annual business meeting. This took place during the last full week of August at Cave Creek Ranch, near Portal, Arizona. Office staff and guides flew from all over the globe for a few days of welcomed camaraderie where we reveled in each other's company, celebrated retirements, mourned our losses, and reflected on the tumultuous last few years, while preparing for the years to come.

As a first-time attendee, I was deeply moved by this gathering. Despite working for Field Guides for more than two years, I was still an outsider who had only met a couple folks in person. To say I was welcomed warmly understates just how graciously I was accepted by this group of over 30 people. And what a group of people it is! Having been in the workforce for over three-and-a-half decades, I was struck by how deeply this group of people cared for one another, and how genuine the relationships are. I have honestly never seen anything like it. Field Guides is truly a family, in nearly every sense of the word. There is no doubt this respect and fondness shared among our staff is what sets Field Guides apart. —Todd Day
A bit of Field Guides housekeeping: In the coming weeks we'll be moving our Austin office! Times have changed a bit, and we have an opportunity to take on a new space in Austin. This move will cut the commuting time for most of our staff (without adding time to anyone) and will even allow some staff to walk or bike to the office. The location is right at the entrance to Austin's Barton Creek Greenbelt, which we are quite excited about. Lunchtime bird walks? Absolutely!

Our new address will be:
Field Guides Incorporated
4425 South Mopac Expressway
Building 3 Suite 505
Austin, TX 78735
India and Bhutan
We have two fantastic Asian destinations that we intend to visit next year, but both departures are just below our "go number"—the number of participants we need in order to operate the tour. Often tours that reach their go number this close to departure end up being smaller groups, which can certainly enhance the experience.

The first of these is Northern India: Birds, Tiger & the Taj Mahal, which departs Jan 27 with the incomparable Terry Stevenson guiding. The name almost says it all, with bucket list experiences of seeing the Taj Mahal and Tigers in the wild. But there are plenty of birds too, as northern India is full of wildlife. We visit famous Corbett National Park, the Himalayan foothills, the wetlands of Bharatpur, and Ranthambhore National Park—the best place in India to see Tigers. Well over 300 species have been tallied on most of our tours, with hornbills, cuckooshrikes, drongos, sunbirds, and leabirds among them.

The second tour is Bhutan—nestled between India and Tibet—guided by Asia expert Jay VanderGaast and departing Mar 30. Bhutan is a bastion of ancient Himalayan customs and undisturbed, spectacular landscapes. Unlike in other Himalayan neighbors, much of Bhutan's forest remains intact, with spellbinding beauty and diversity. Some of the birds we seek include several superb pheasants as well as Himalayan Cutia, Scarlet Finch, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Ward's Trogon, and the enormous Rufous-necked Hornbill.
Atlantic Odyssey
A new tour that we are excited about is our Atlantic Odyssey: South Georgia to Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena, guided by seabird expert Doug Gochfeld. This is a first-time excursion for us, as we are offering spaces on this extended cruise as the ship is repositioned from the Antarctic to the Arctic. The once-in-a-lifetime cruise travels from the southern tip of South America to St. Helena, the island where Napoleon was exiled in 1814. It promises to be a seabird spectacular, with stops at some of the most remote islands in the Atlantic. We'll also spend three days visiting South Georgia, considered by many to be the most significant seabird breeding island on the planet—home to hundreds of thousands of King Penguins, such as those pictured above, among many other breeding birds and mammals. The itinerary for this tour is packed with information and goes into great detail about the islands we'll see, as well as a five-star roster of seabirds we have a chance to encounter.

For more information or to sign up, please contact our office.
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 a couple of representative recent comments. From all of us at Field Guides, our thanks for all your valuable feedback.
“Willy Perez is a superlative guide. Not only an outstanding and knowledgeable birder, but a great trip leader—patient, enthusiastic, calm, great sense of humor, fun—and relates to and "manages" people in the nicest way. Willy is very good at getting everyone on the birds. His being Ecuadorian was a big plus—having a leader who can provide cultural, historical, and economic perspective really enriches the trip. We would very happily go anywhere with Willy, and we'll be looking into another adventure with him soon! We had the dream team of guides, with Oscar and Sergio from Sacha Lodge. Sacha Lodge's canopy towers and canopy walkway were amazing! Our tour manager Nicole Cannon is excellent—very responsive, provides prompt and complete communication. A real pleasure to deal with!” L.T., Amazonian Ecuador: Sacha Lodge, July 2023
“Our overall tour experience was fabulous! The best features of this tour were the different experiences with locations chosen by guide Eric Hynes. We traveled to unique, off-the-beaten-path areas. Eric is so thorough with planning the details of each day to give us the most fulfilling experiences and opportunities to see the birds. He is also very knowledgeable and willing to explain many aspects of the area as well as the birds we see. He also wants to make sure everyone has the opportunity to see the birds. We have traveled with Eric before, which influenced us to choose this tour as well. He cares so much about his trips. He is a great asset to Field Guides. The service of Tour Manager Christine Boilard was very responsive and helpful.” C.B., Iceland, June 2023
Tours with openings through March
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 the opposite side of the globe to boarding a re-positioning cruise and sailing from the New World to the Old. If short-term travel fits your lifestyle, or if getting away for the holidays appeals, there is surely somewhere to visit listed below that offers a new and exciting adventure. You can click any link for more information, and contact our office to book.

This pretty white bird with the red cap is Araripe Manakin. This critically endangered beauty is known only from a very small area at the base of the Araripe Plateau in Ceará, Brazil. Tour participants David and Judy Smith photographed this bird on a recent Nowhere but Northeast Brazil! tour. We'll seek this species, the fantastic Lear's (Indigo) Macaw, and Buff-fronted Owl among scores of endemic species on our next departure in January. If you're looking to forget about winter for nearly three weeks of January, join our guides Marcelo Barreiros and Bret Whitney between Jan 19-Feb 5 and come along!





  • (No open spaces on Europe tours during this period. See our tour schedule for more options after March 2024.)

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).
Answer to the trivia question: Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata)
Snowcap is at the top of many a wish list on our two Costa Rica tours that bring us into their range—and we usually have success finding them. Both Holiday Costa Rica: Rancho Naturalista and Classic Costa Rica are where we find them, and our next departures of both tours have space available, December and March respectively.
Field Guides Incorporated, 9433 Bee Cave Rd #2-105, Austin, TX 78733
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