Archive for October, 2010


October 26, 2010

Here are yet more pictures captured by birders on the PIB trips to the Pacific Northwest last winter.  Here’s you chance to get your own pictures this winter.

View across Sauvie’s Island taken by Steve Murray.  That’s another one of those Cascades volcanoes.

Black Turnstones on the ferryboat dock at Port Townsend, Washington.  There were Surfbirds present, along with Pigeon Guillemot and Pelagic Cormorant.  Steve Murray took this photo.

Adult Pigeon Guillemot in Puget Sound.  This bird will not show up in your local reservoir if you live east of Sacramento.  Photo by Mr.Murray.























Barrow’s Goldeneye by Tom Shade.












In addition to all the birds we saw Orca, river otter, California sealions, harbor seals, elk and mule deer.  Among the land birds we saw: Varied Thrush, Wrentit, Pacific Wren, Pileated Woodpecker, Merlin, Cooper’s Hawk.






October 26, 2010

More pictures from the birders on our 2010 winter trips to the Pacific Northwest.  HERE YOU CAN FIND OUT ABOUT OUR TRIP IN 2011.


Brant loafing along the shore of Hood Canal, Washington State.  Photo by Steve Murray.

Male White-winged Scoter, Hood Canal.  By Steve Murray.

Harlequin couple on the rocks along Hood Canal.  Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

Male Olds… Long-tailed Duck cruising the yacht harbor at Sequim, Washington.  Photo by Ms Mitchell.

A Glaucous-winged Gull struggles to get up enough speed to show its disapprobation of an adult Bald Eagle.  The eagle seemed to be carrying a Coot  in its talons.  This action shot by Ms Jeannie Mitchell.

Red-tailed Hawk dining on fresh rodent, Sauvie’s Island, Oregon.  Photo by Ms Mitchell.

Trumpeter Swans in flight, Sauvie’s Island, Oregon.  Photo by Ms Mitchell.

Whidbey Island beach, photo by Jennifer Hyypio.  Here we saw a large flock of Black Oystercatchers.  A flotilla of Harlequins, several species of loon and grebe fished offshore and a Pacific (nee “Winter’) Wren came down to insect-hunt in the driftwood.


October 26, 2010

The continental United States has only one rain forest.  It stretches along the spectacular Oregon and Washington State coastline.  The evergreens reach two hundred feet into the skies, often disappearing in the low-lying clouds.  The Pacific and Puget Sound shoulder up to a rocky coastline with scattered bits of sandy beach.  The cold, wave-churned waters are rich in critters from plankton to Orcas.  And here the seabirds pull out onto huge floating logs carried down from the forest just uphill from the water’s edge.

Last year PIB had two winter birding trips to the Northwest Coast for those wintering birds down from the Arctic.  Here are a few of the photos taken by birders on those trips.  Take a look, because we are once again offering this great photo safari into the great American Northwest:


Northern Shrike at Nisqually NWR, Washington.  Photo by Ms Jennifer Hyypio.

Harlequins off the shore of Whidbey Island.  Photo by Steve  Murray.

Pelagic Cormorant and Glaucous-winged Gull pole sitting.  Photo by Ms J. Hyypio.

Gang of Bald Eagles patrolling the edge of a marsh at Nisqually.  Photo by Ms Hyypio.

Red-throated Loon in Hood Canal.  By Mr. Murray.

Rhino Auklet over Puget Sound.  By Steve Murray.

Surfbird along Oregon Coast.  You’ll wait a long time before this species shows up in Colorado.  Photo by Steve Murray.



October 13, 2010

Old Winnie the Pooh was fond of an occasional “hummy kind of day.”  Well, he would’ve loved Ecuador.  Every day hums.  On our recent weeklong trip to the Andes and the Amazon Basin we had nearly forty species of hummingbird.  I’ve long avowed a deep love for the Collared Inca.

Dontcha just dig that purple crown? Anyway, if the Collared Inca throws me over, refuses to show up, just decides to go elsewhere when I’m around…well, I could be seduced by the smaller Golden-tailed Sapphire.  Here are three shots I got while watching this beauts at Wild Sumaco on the eastern slope of the Andes, southeast of Quito.  Elevation about 1800 meters.

Of course, there was a tropical downpour when I first saw these guys.  But later…

But if you’re one of those for whom size matters in matters of the heart, here’s the imposing Swordbill at Guango Lodge:

So go see these hummers for yourself, here’s a link to our 2011 Ecuador trip schedule and details.


October 11, 2010

After a week of birding the Ecuadoran mainland, I got a chance to go on an extension trip to the Galapagos.  Thanks to PIB and their Ecuadoran partner, Neblina Forest Tours. Of Galapagos, heads every list of 10 places you must visit during your lifetime.   Like Venice, like the Grand Canyon, there is no comparison with other places.

This is a Nazca Booby, perched high on the sheer rock face of Lion’s Head (or Kicker) Rock off the west coast of San Cristobal Island.  San Cristobal is the easternmost and thus oldest island still above the sea in the Galapagos. Archipelago.  Like Hawaii, the Galapagos are a chain of islands formed by a fixed hot spot in the Earth’s crust. The newest islands are still being formed by volcanoes on the western end of the chain, the oldest islands have been moved  to the east by the continually shifting tectonic plates.  Because the Galapagos have never been closer than 700 miles to any continent, the selection process of species that reached the islands and survived and reproduced has created a unique flora and fauna.

Here’s a group of Galapagos Shearwaters just off the bow of our yacht.  Endemic, of course.

And here are two Galapagos Penguins fishing near some of the human snorklers from our boat.  Endemic, of course. And the only penguin whose range extends just slightly north of the Equator.

Click here for the list of Ecuador and Galapagos trips in 2011.

Birding Sani Lodge

October 2, 2010

Birding Sani Lodge will be the highlight any birder’s trip to Ecuador.  Reached only by river canoe, it is far from cars, power lines, city lights and plate glass windows.  The birds seem to appreciate this nearly pristine habitat.  And the birders on our PIB/Neblina organized trip certainly appreciated the birds.  Here are some I managed to capture by camera: This is a Long-billed Woodcreeper who moved about the area near the dining hall.  And displayed ther beak for which he was aptly named.

While we’re talking big beaks, take a look at this big beaker. The White-throated Toucan.  In our brief stay at Sani we got to see five members of the Toucan tribe. Here’s my best shot of a Many-banded Aracari seen from the Sani Canopy Tower, one hundred feet up.

And thirdly, an Ivory-billed Aracari.  Also shot from eye level atop the canopy.  I show these pics, not because they are much good, but they do prove that I wasn’t dreaming.  The birds really were there, in profusion.

And there were a quartet of Trogons as well.  Here’s my only medicore shot, but any birder knows these guys are serious lookers, and rarely easy to spy.  But our guides were top-notch, always a  key to good Neotropical birding for us Norte Americanos.

My Blue-crowned Trogon up high.

It’s the right time to plan your 2011 birding trip to Ecuador with Partnership For International Birding and Neblina Forest Tours.

Here’s our schedule for next year.

Hoatzin A Name?

October 2, 2010
The Hoatzin was unmissable at Sani Lodge. The bird is unique. It has no peers. It does have spiked feathers atop, a loud hissing voice that sounds like the largest reptile warning you off. It does climb slowly but nimbly in small trees with branches barely able to support its weight.  It is pheasant sized. As you canoe about the lake and riverways at Sani Lodge you encounter small pods of Hoatzin in the trees, bathing along the riverbank, sleeping on limbs. We never saw one fly but I am told their wings do function.
They’re herbivorous, dining on the rich variety of plant leaves in the ever green forest of the Napo River and similar tropical habitat.  They also like some of the abundant native fruits.
It’s Latin binomial is Opisthocomus hoazin. It’s family name: Opisthocomidae. There is just one species in that family. Says Wikipedia about the family name: “Ancient greek wearing long hair behind, referring to its large crest.”

Altogether the Hoatzin’s uniqueness is a source of much puzzlement and lack of scientific agreement. DNA has not helped much. Current speculation has them most closely aligned with cuckoos. Or maybe with doves. Or with nightjars. But the reality of the Hoatzin in lowland South America is wondrous to see.

Sani Lodge is a three hour boat ride from the nearest town. That would be oil boom-town Coca. It’s a half-hour plane ride east of Quito. Coca’s about fifty miles straight east of the Andean crest but there are no straight lines or roads so it’s a five hour drive from Quito which is west of the Andean divide.  The boat ride on a motor-powered canoe affords great birding.  Plumbeous and Swallowtail Kites, Swallow-winged Puffbird, Black, Yellow-headed and Carunculated Caracara, Great Yellow-headed Vultures, Drab River-tyrant. This is one of the Swallowtail Kites that hunted in pairs over our canoe along the Napo River.

These are two of the Swallow-winged Puffbirds we saw from the canoe.
The Sani Comune (township of resident population) made a deal with the dreaded oil companies: build us an ecolodge and we will grant you right-of-way to run your pipeline under our land. But to our last breath we will refuse to let you drill or mine in our part of the Amazon lowland forest. Thus the Sani village controls one of the most pristine sections of the Napo River Valley. The Napo itself is a major tributary to the Amazon itself.

Sani land borders huge areas being exploited by European and American oil companies and now the Ecuadoran government oil agencies. Ecuador is still in court trying to recover damages from Chevron for egregious oil spills and ecological damage done in the Amazonian lowlands. But nobody’s going to shut down the wells that are delivering crude crud. Locals in Sani blame oil companies for polluted river water, increasing disease rates and even swamping local canoes with their large river boats. The Hoatzin and locally-owned Sani Lodge can be a part of your next birding trip to Ecuador with Partnership For International Birding and Neblina Forest Tours. Here’s our schedule for next year.