North America Tours 2018

 

 

Fall Migration at Snowbird Mountain Lodge

Graham County, NC
September 23-29, 2017

                                         Leader: Aaron Steed

    This is not an official Venture, but Aaron will be the resident birder/naturalist at Snowbird and will be taking folks out to several great birding and wildflower spots during the week. This is definitely one of our favorite places for birding in the WNC Mountains. If you have not made the pilgrimage up to Snowbird, you are missing out on a great birding and wildflower destination.

     At the edge of the Smoky Mountains, high up in Santeetlah Gap at an elevation of almost 2,900 feet in the Nantahala National Forest, nestles the rustic and picturesque Snowbird Mountain Lodge. From the lodge there is an ever-changing panoramic view of the Snowbird Mountain range, Lake Santeetlah, and the homes and fields of the Snowbird Indians in the valley below.

 

Golden Isles of Georgia

October 13-16, 2017

                                         Leader: Aaron Steed

     Georgia's barrier islands, coastal marshes, and estuaries are home to many species of birds. On this long weekend Venture, we will base ourselves on historic Jekyll Island. Coastal Georgia comprises pine flatlands, marshes, sounds, rivers, barrier islands, and beaches, while the mainland is characterized by wide peninsulas formed by broad tidal rivers and salt marshes. Lying along the Atlantic flyway, the coastal area has large numbers of seasonally migrating shorebirds and songbirds, wintering waterfowl, and the expected permanent resident birds of the marshes, maritime forests, and beaches.

 

“Rice & Rails” Festival

October 31 – November 5, 2017

                                         Leader: Ashley Peele

     Join Ashley Peele on this jaunt down to Jennings, Louisiana where we will partially join up with the unique “Rice and “Rails” Festival in the southwestern part of the state. The uncommon and very hard-to-see Yellow Rail (we saw over 20 in an afternoon on our 2015 trip!) will be the star of the show and we should see them as we sit atop the combines as they harvest the late season of rice. Soras, Virginia and King Rails are all likely as well in the fields and there’s always the chance of seeing Le Conte’s, Nelson’s, and Grasshopper Sparrows.

 

Huntington Beach State Park, SC

January 4-7, 2018

                                         Leader: Simon Thompson

     The park has a variety of habitats, including maritime forest, fresh & salt water marshes, and seashore. In mid-winter we should have a good selection of wintering ducks and shorebirds, as well as the chance for some more unusual species, such as alcids (Razorbill, Thick-billed Murre), Purple Sandpiper and Snow Bunting. Huntington Beach is also an excellent location for Bald Eagle, Painted Bunting (sometimes in the winter), Least Bittern (usually the summer months), Common Ground Dove, Cave Swallow (rare) and the endangered Piping Plover.

 

Northern Minnesota

Owls & Winter Finches
February 2-7, 2018

                                         Leader: Aaron Steed

     A trip to northern Minnesota in the dead of winter may beggar belief for the average person, but for birders, this is the best time of year to see the highly-sought after northern owls (Great Gray, Snowy, Northern Hawk, Northern Saw-whet, and sometimes Boreal). Winter finches provide additional highlights with Common & Hoary Redpolls, Pine & Evening Grosbeaks, and Red Crossbill all likely. Winter also provides a much better chance of seeing things like Spruce Grouse in addition to the expected gamut of Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Bohemian Waxwing and more. We will also be on the lookout for any mammals, with moose and gray wolf both being possible.

 

Venture to Dauphin Island, Alabama

Spring Migration on the Gulf Coast
April 16–21, 2018

                                         Leader: Aaron Steed

     In the spring, bad weather can make the journey across the Gulf of Mexico a difficult one for migrating birds. Many will not survive. Those that do are likely to land on the first piece of terra firma they reach, often in large numbers, in order to eat, drink, rest, and gain strength for the continuing trip north. What is bad for the birds can be good for the birder, and Dauphin Island, a barrier island at the entrance to Alabama's Mobile Bay, is among the best places on the Gulf Coast to experience one of these "fallouts." Even without 'fallout,' Dauphin Island, with its variety of accessible bird habitats, such as the renowned Shell Mounds and the 160-acre Audubon Sanctuary, is generally considered to be an outstanding spring migration hot spot. We will explore the island thoroughly, and we also plan to take the ferry over to the Fort Morgan peninsula for additional birding opportunities along the shores of Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Spring in South Florida

May 5-11, 2018

                                         Leader: Carlos Sanchez

     On this tour, we cover the southern third of the state in search of the many specialty birds on offer. We begin by exploring Miami, a city with a decidedly Caribbean flair, in search of several ABA-countable exotics such as Spot-breasted Oriole, White-winged Parakeet and Red-whiskered Bulbul. A little further north, a series of well-planned wetlands are home to all of the Florida wetland specialties: Snail Kite, Wood Stork, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, and more. We also explore nearby oak scrub for Florida's only endemic bird, the Florida Scrub-Jay. On the last leg of our journey, we explore the tropical hardwood hammocks and mangrove swamps of the Florida Keys in search of Caribbean specialties such as Mangrove Cuckoo, White-crowned Pigeon and Black-whiskered Vireo.

 

Minnesota & North Dakota

June 8-17, 2018

                                         Leader: Carlos Sanchez

     This 10-day Venture to the North Midwest takes us through a scenic range of habitats from the rolling, lush prairies and alkaline wetlands of North Dakota to the aromatic, coniferous forests and spruce bogs of the north woods of Minnesota. Spring is the perfect time to cover this region, as the woods will be alive with the songs of thrushes and wood warblers (15+ species are possible) while the prairie potholes teem with waterfowl, shorebirds, and sparrows. This tour is especially fantastic for sparrows, with over 10 species probable and including such gems as Baird's, Le Conte's, Henslow's, and Nelson's.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

Puffins, boreal birds and spectacular scenery!
August 1-13, 2018

                                         Leader: Simon Thompson

 

     The Canadian Maritime province of Newfoundland and Labrador offers rich maritime culture, spectacular scenery, and a bounty and beauty of birds and other wildlife.  The cool coastal climate blends the Acadian, boreal and taiga habitats to produce a special mix of temperate and northern species unique in Canada. Sweeping vistas, rocky seacliffs, hidden fjords and boreal forests offer a rich selection of birdlife from Atlantic Puffin and Black-legged Kittiwake to Mourning and Blackpoll Warblers; all of which we hope to see on this 2-week Venture to this fascinating part of Canada.

 

Washington State

August 21-30, 2018

                                         Leader: Kevin Burke

     Visit the spectacular Pacific Northwest in its finest season on a 10-day Venture to the state of Washington.  We will visit the Olympic Peninsula, Whidbey Island, Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains, and the Columbia River Basin, covering a vast variety of habitats, wet and dry, from scenic rocky cliff coastlines to above the tree-line, ocean to mountaintop, rain forest to high desert.

     Highlights will include visits to both Olympic and Mt. Rainier national parks, where we will search the high elevations for such specialties as Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Gray Jay, Mountain Bluebird and Sooty Grouse, plus an all-day pelagic trip exploring Gray's Canyon, a submarine canyon located on the edge of the Continental Shelf, where we should see an excellent variety of pelagic birds such as Black-footed Albatross, Red Phalarope, South Polar Skua as well as several species of shearwaters and storm-petrels, and marine mammals including whales, porpoises, sea lions and seals. Expect to see many new birds on this Venture which should yield over 200 species!