Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review: Birds Of South America Passerines

It's hard to image how you can even fit 1,952 species in a single book but Birds of South America manages to cover all of them in a book that is still a manageable size.

What I Like -

  • Family Description Section - This section does a great job of summarizing each family of passerine that is covered by the book.
  • Having all passerines from South America in one book. It's really nice to be able to compare all of them even if they occur in different countries.
What Could Be Better - 
  • I feel that much of the artwork lacks detail. While the drawings are beautiful, I don't think they would be extremely helpful when trying to identify a bird.
  • I know space is an issue when covering this many species but the range maps are tiny. When covering a whole continent, the range maps have to be bigger in order to really see where the species occurs.
Overall, I feel putting together a book with all these species covered is quite an accomplishment. It's not a book I would use in the field but it is nice to flip through and get a feel for the passerines of South America.

Title: Birds Of South America Passerines
Author: Ber van Perlo
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: September 23, 2015

We received a copy of this book from the publisher to review on The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Birding with Leica in Honduras

Anyone that reads this blog frequently knows that I love birding in Honduras. It was the first country in Central America that I visited for birding and I've now been a total of four times over the last 2 years. The last trip was one of the most fun birding trips that I've ever been a part of. A group of nine writers and bloggers was invited to join Leica Sport Optic's Jeff Bouton at The Lodge at Pico Bonito to test out the brand new Leica Trinovid HD binoculars.

We were all pretty serious birders and I've never spent so much time in the field while in Honduras. We didn't just spend the daylight hours in search of birds, we spent hours at night searching for owls, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals! With all this effort, we put together an incredible list of species for just 6 days of birding.
This young Spectacled Owl spent
a long time posed for us at Rio Santiago Nature Resort!
For me, there were a couple of highlights during the trip. The first was learning a lot more about digiscoping. Jeff had brought along a PhoneSkope adaptor for me to use with my phone and the Leica scope that I was using which made digiscoping easier than ever! Not only could I take photos but I could shoot video as well! Look for a lot more digiscoping from me because I'll have all the parts I need to use it with my scope for my next tour.

Keel-bill Motmot
I was amazed at how well my video turned out of this Keel-billed Motmot.

This was one of our best mammal
finds, a Mexican Tree Porcupine
 The other highlight for me was our hike to Unbelievable Fall in Pico Bonito National Park. It's certainly the hardest hike I've ever done and it wasn't any easier the second time (read about my first trip to the falls in this previous post). We left early and spent nearly exhausting 8 hours out on the trail. The birding was absolutely incredible and I got my only three lifers of the trip on that hike, Azure-hooded Jay, Gray-headed Piprites, and Rufous Piha. We also enjoyed incredible views of Yellow-eared Toucanets along the way! Not only was the hike difficult this time, crossing the river at Unbelievable Falls was quite the challenge with the very high water. What an adventure!

Thanks to Jeff Bouton of Leica Sport Optics for putting together such a fantastic group of people for this amazing trip. It was a pleasure to travel with this group. Also thanks to all of my friends at The Lodge at Pico Bonito for showing us all such a great time!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Birding in Ecuador: Part 7 - Wildsumaco Lodge

We made several stops during our drive from CabaƱas San Isidro to Wildsumaco Bird Lodge including several along the well-known Loreto Road. When we arrived at the lodge, it started pouring and we figured that our afternoon would be rained out. Even with the rain, we decided to go ahead and see if the antpittas would come in to be feed at their usual afternoon feeding time. After sitting in the rain for well over an hour, the Plain-backed Antpitta finally come in!

Although we didn't get a picture of the Plain-backed Antpitta, this Ochre-breasted Antpitta did pose nicely.
We started early the next morning and spent nearly all day out hiking on the incredible trails at this lodge. We tallied 131 species on the day with highlights including, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Military and Chestnut-fronted Macaws, White-backed Fire-eye, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant, Scarlet-breasted and Fiery-throated Fruiteaters, Gray-tailed Piha, Paradise Tanager, and Golden-eared Tanager.

Spotted Tanagers were one of the more common species at Wildsumaco.
While I was out birding with Edison, Brian spent the day working with his multiflash setup and the many species of hummingbirds that visit the lodge. These are a few of the incredible images he captured that day.

Booted Racket-tail might be common but it's extremely impressive!
On the eastern slope, this species has orange boots but on the western slope, they're white.

This Green Hermit was very shy but Brian's patience paid off.

With a hummingbird this is a little more drap, like this Many-spotted Hummingbird,
having a beautiful flower for additional interest in the photo is key.
The next day we were headed back to Quito and just about finished with our trip. Check back soon to see what we did on our final two days in Ecuador.

Black-mantled Tamarins were common around the lodge.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book Review: Birds of Botswana

I always get excited when I'mm sent a book to review that is a field guide to a location that I've always wanted to go. When Birds of Botswana arrived in the mail, I immediately opened the package and started flipping through the book and studying the birds of this incredible country. What I found when looking through the field guide was one of the best guides that I have reviewed in a long time.

The book has a fantastic intro section that covers a lot of habitat and birding hotspot information in a concise but thorough way. I also found their Glossary of Terms and Bird Topography sections to be very useful.

The artwork in the book is wonderful and very life like. With all 597 species of birds found in Botswana covered and 1,200 total illustrations, I have no doubt that this book would be very useful in the field. The range maps are large enough to be helpful to the travelling birder as well. A new feature that I've not seen in other field guides is the "Breeding Bar" provided for each species. It indicates a species' seasonal presence as well as their breeding patterns.

This book is a must-have for anyone that is planning to go birding in Botswana!

Title: Birds of Botswana
Author: Peter Hancock and Ingrid Weiersbye
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: December 5, 2015

We received a copy of this book from the publisher to review on The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.