On this week-long Venture, 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 visit 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.
This fabled desert is the home of such iconic desert species as Greater Roadrunner and Gambel’s Quail. Rising from this desert, isolated mountain ranges clad in Madrean pine-oak woodland provide a habitat found nowhere else in the United States. These forested mountain islands, with provocative names such as the Huachucas and Chiricahuas, are the northernmost outposts for a long list of primarily Mexican species such as Elegant Trogon and Red-faced Warbler. The canyons ringing these mountains carry ephemeral streams to the parched lowlands below, creating ribbon-like groves of cottonwood that act as a conduit for even more tropical birds to enter southeastern Arizona such as Thick-billed Kingbird and Violet-crowned Hummingbird.
More than 240 species of birds have been recorded on St Paul Island in the Pribilofs. During our 5 day and 4 night stay, we hope to see an excellent selection of breeding and migrant species. The biggest attraction on St Paul is the colonies of seabirds. 7 species of alcids breed here in vast numbers, including Thick-billed and Common Murres, Least, Crested and Parakeet Auklet, and Horned and Tufted Puffin. The sound, sight and smell of this birding spectacle have to be seen to be believed. Another one of the major attractions of St Paul Island are the colonies of Black-legged and Red-legged Kittiwakes.
In these varied biogeographic regions we will explore Alaska's biodiversity, encountering breeding birds (many are seldom, if ever, seen in their breeding plumage), mammals (including Sea Otter, Arctic Fox, Musk Ox, Steller's Sea Lion, Pika, marmot, Moose, Caribou, and Grizzly Bear), and overwhelmingly beautiful scenery. An outstanding feature of this trip will be our time spent in the northern outposts of Nome and Barrow, havens for northern breeding species.
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.
The focal point of our weekend venture will be a hike along a section of the Appalachian Trail to the summit of Mt. Rogers to seek "northern" bird species (such as Magnolia Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush & Purple Finch) which breed here at the higher elevations. In fact, this is the southernmost point in the Appalachian Mountains for breeding Swainson's Thrush and Purple Finch. Starting out in a grassy meadow, we will ascend through a northern hardwood forest, to the spruce-fir forest at the top. There should also be a fine wildflower and butterfly show along the way.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.