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FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT PARTICIPATED IN A WINGSPAN TOUR DURING 2016, THANK YOU FOR YOUR CUSTOM & YOUR COMPANY AND WE WISH YOU HEALTH AND HAPPINESS FOR 2017.

THE PROGRAMME FOR SPRING 2017 IS NOW ON MY

WEBSITE BUT HERE IS A PREVIEW



Jan 15th - 28th. - Sri Lanka. £1750

Feb 12th -27th - Costa Rica - full

Mar 20th - 30th Morocco - 10 nights. - £1190

April 5th - 12th - Andalucia migration tour. - £750 - 2 places

April 16th - 24th - Coto Donana & Extremadura - £950 - 2 places

April 29th - 6th May. - Lesvos - £875

May 8th - 15th - Portugal - full


May 13th - 21st Bulgaria - £850

May 23rd - 30th - Andalucia birds and butterflies - £750

May 31st - June 8th. - Extremadura and Sierra de Gredos - £950

June 12th - 20th - Pyrenees and Picos de Europa - £1050


FLIGHTS NOT INCLUDED IN THESE PRICES



BOOK NOW TO SECURE YOUR PLACE SEND AN E-MAIL TO:

E-mail: bobbuckler49@hotmail.com





















Red-throated Bee-eater

Red-throated Bee-eater
join us for a fantastic tour of The Gambia this November

Saturday, December 31, 2011

BACK IN SPAIN - DEC 31ST 2011

THE LAST DAY OF 2011 WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR ITS GLORIOUS WEATHER AND OUR HOME COMING. IT IS DELIGHTFUL TO BE BACK IN SUNNY SPAIN AGAIN AFTER SPENDING CHRISTMAS IN THE UK. A WALK TO THE SHOP THIS MORNING WAS GREAT, EVERYONE WE MET SMILED AND GREETED US WITH BUENAS DIAS, EVEN THE SHOP ASSISTANT WISHED US A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

WE HAD A LOVELY CHRISTMAS IN THE UK WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS BUT EVERYDAY WAS DULL, DISMAL AND WET. THE ONLY DRY DAY (28TH DEC) WAS COLD AND WINDY.

ALL PHOTOS WERE TAKEN TODAY AT 3PM FROM OUR TOP TERRACE.


WE SPENT THE WHOLE OF THE 29TH DRIVING THROUGH FRANCE, DULL, WET AND DISMAL. ON THE 30TH WE DROVE FROM TOULOUSE TO GAUCIN PASSING THROUGH THE PYRENEES. ON THE FRENCH SIDE IT WAS PICTURESQUE WITH A COVERING OF SNOW AND ON THE SPANISH SIDE IS WAS DRY AND CLEAR WITH LOTS OF SUNSHINE.



TODAY IN GAUCIN WE HAVE WARM TEMPERATURES, WALL TO WALL SUNSHINE, I CAN'T THINK WHY I'D RATHER BE HERE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE!



IT'S GOING TO BE A GREAT NEW YEAR - WE HAVE LOTS OF BOOKINGS - PLENTY OF BIRDING TRIPS TO DO - WATCH THIS SPACE I AM GOING TO ATTEMPT 150 SPECIES IN JANUARY IN SPAIN!!



HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Somerset Orchard - Christmas Eve 2011

We are staying with Dawn's sister and brother-in-law, Celia and Martin near Crewkerne, Somerset. I took a wolk out the back of their house to visit a huge commercial orchard complex where thousands of Fieldfare and other thrushes are gathering for the annual 'scrump'.
























It's always nice to return to the UK and see the lovely Dunnock, I do miss this little beauty and its melodious song, I'll try to photograph it tomorrow. Other birds in the orchard were: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit.

If the weather is good I shall go there again on Christmas morning or Boxing day morning.

Merry Christmas.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Merry Christmas to one and all, hope you all have a great holiday and a healthy, prosperous New Year.





Thursday, December 15, 2011

COSTA RICA - DEC 15TH 2011

OUR FINAL DAY HAD ARRIVED - so I made a special effort to see 10 new species. It was dark at 5am when I set off for the 25km drive to Parrita where a large river (Rio Parrita) gushes into the Pacific Ocean.

It was a bright clear morning when I arrived, the tide was ebbing so small shingle banks and sandy spits were emerging from the water. Many Snowy, Cattle and Great White Egrets were feeding and Green-Backed, Great Blue, Small Blue, Bare-throated Tiger and Tricloured Herons were also present in good numbers. Throughout the next two hours I also recorded White Ibis, the beautiful Roseate Spoonbill, Olivaceous Cormorant and several birds of prey.
The two pictures above are of Roadside Hawk, a very common bird that reminds me of Grasshopper Buzzard from the Gambia. Several waders were persent, both along the river and along the beach pools. Whimbrel (below) was joined by the plentiful Black-necked Stilt, Willet and also Sanderling, Ruddy Turstone and Spotted Sandpiper.


More birds of prey appeared along the beach, Osprey, Yellow-headed Caracara and a new species for me Black Hawk-Eagle, it flew passed me but refused to land and pose for my camera, next time!


The Black Vulture is also very common and many were sitting on the beach looking for dead things.



A sandbar near the mouth of the Rio Parrita held a group of roosting terns, which consisted of Royal Tern (shown above) and Sandwich Terns. Out at sea many more terns were joined by Laughing Gulls, Brown Pelican and Magnificent Frigatebirds.

Back along the track on the way home I stopped to photograph this very noisy Northern Jacana. Behind me there was a shrimp farm with many pools. On the nearest pool there were 100+ Lesser Scaup and one Least Grebe.

Another photograph of an immatureWhite Ibis, I never caught up with the adults, at least not close enough for the camera.

Two of my favourite herons the Small Blue, above, and the Bare-throated Tiger Heron below were both found in good numbers along the river.
Other birds included: Streaked Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Golden-hooded, Palm, Blue and Grey Tanagers, Red-crowned Woodpecker and lots more.

At 11am we set for a slow drive to San Jose, we intended to take all afternoon to do so and indeed it did take that long because of road works, birding stops lunch stop, car accidents and a wrong turn in San Jose. One stop was on the bridge overlooking the Rio Tarcoles where over a dozen gigantic Crocdiles were lying on the river banks!!

Our bird list for this last trip included Scarlet Macaw, several were seen around Jaco. Also the giant Ringed Kingfisher, Grey-breatsed Martins, Barn Swallows, Amazon Swallows, White-winged dove, Ruddy ground Dove and many Turkey and Black Vultures.

I never found 10 new species - only 7!

This will be the last bird report from Costa Rica unless something good turns up in the hotel grounds first thing tomorrow morning - we have to be at the airport by 8am.

Plenty more photographs will follow in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

COSTA RICA - DEC 14TH 2011

OUR LAST DAY AT MANUEL ANTONIO - and yes, it rained all afternoon!

I took an early stroll along a local lane, I didn't see much but heard two Spectacled Owls calling, a few Tanagers, some Mealy Parrots, Bananaquit, the Pale-billed Woodpecker with the punk hair style shown below. The load call kiss-ka-dee rung out from several places and several Hummingbirds buzzed passed me without stopping to give their names.




On the way back to the Hotel I stopped to watch more parrots and found Thick-billed Euphonia in the same tree, see picture below.


Thick-billed Euphonia (female)

As it was our last day and we were staying next to the famous National park it would have been rude not to visit. So at 9am we entered the park which has recorded 184 mammals since it opened. We saw 6! Both the Two and Three Toed Sloths, Red Brocket Deer, Raccoon, White-chinned Capuchin and Howler Monkeys. There were very few birds on show but we did find: Shining honeycreeper (new species), Baltimore Oriole (male Shown below), Chestnut Sided Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Fiery-billed Aracari, Golden-naped Woodpecker (new species).

BALTIMORE ORIOLE- MALE


GOLDEN-NAPED WOODPECKER (MALE)

The park backs onto a fantastic white-sand beach, it looks like a scene from the film 'The Beach',
white sand, palm trees, blue sea and ......rain clouds. We manged an hour or so on the beach constantly being pestered by Raccoons, they wanted to raid the picnic box.




Rain started about 3pm as usual, so we departed and on the way out of the reserve we found a roosting Lesser Nighthawk (new species), it was too dark and wet to try to photograph it. The rest of day was spent sheltering from a tropical downpour that is persisting as I write this at 6pm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

COSTA RICA - DEC 13TH 2011

ANOTHER BEACH DAY! So I had to do my birding at 5:30am, it was overcast with a threat of rain, again. I drove to a recently cropped rice field just north of Quepos and adjacent to the Rio Paquito. First I drove to the banks of the river which held several species of birds: Lesser Yellowlegs was new for my list, a single bird joined a flock of Willet and Black-necked Stilts.


Two shots of the juvenile Bare-throated Tiger-Heron that I found very close to the main road in the rice fields.


Further along the river I scoped Tricoloured Heron (shown immediately below), a juvenile Little Blue Heron (all white), a Green-backed Heron, Spotted Sandpiper as I got a little closer to the bank I noticed some very large Crocodiles, no swimming today then? There were also two Southern
Lapwings on the sand spit - possibly the same two birds recorded on the 8th south of Quepos.


The Green-backed Heron, flew off and landed in a small tree, it posed perfectly for my camera.


Spotted Sandpiper, very common where-ever there is water.


Lesser Yellowlegs and Black-necked Stilt

In the rice fileds I got great views of a number of species from the main road which was quite a bit higher than the fields.

A juvenile White Ibis fed alone not too far away.

One small pool held the Bare-throated Tiger-heron as well as a family party of Northern Jacanas, the male is shown below.



Several Crested Caracara were stalking the rice filed and were quite unconcerned by my presence.



A Greater Yellowlegs is shown below, a bigger bird than the Lesser Yellowlegs, it has a longer and slightly upturned bill, very synonymous to our Redshank/Greenshank pairing.



A Snowy Egret, a juvenile again is shown below.


The rest of the day was spent on the beach and my usual lunchtime walk to the mangroves was rewarded with great views of the Amazaon Kingfisher shown below.

Monday, December 12, 2011

COSTA RICA - DEC 12TH 2011

At last, a full day-out birding once again! I was joined today by Phil (an American non-birder staying at the same hotel as us), Manuel and Roy both Costa Rican bird guides based at Quepos and Manuel Antonio respectively.

A POOR PICTURE OF SCARLET MACAW HIGH UP IN THE CANOPY

It was an early start, we set off at 5:30am for the 90 km drive north to Carara National park in the dark.

WHITE WHISKERED PUFFBIRD

We then spent all day walking the tracks and trails of this lovely tropical forest reserve. It has a great number of recorded species including those that overlap the north/south Pacific regional divide.

We started in the car park with a pair of Rufous-naped Wrens, they were building a huge nest high up in a tree. We then saw a group of 5 noisy Scarlet Macaws flying over, what a great start. After buying our entrance tickets we drove the short distance to the park entrance.

ORANGE-COLLARED MANAKIN


We then spent 3 hours walking a nice wide glade ad although is was very muddy we managed Ok.The birds came thick and fast: Long-billed Gnatwren, Blue-black Grosbeak, White-collared Puffback, Rufous-breasted Wren, Riverside Wren, Black-hooded Antshrike and Chestnut-backed Antbird. But the star of the show for me was the superb Barred Antshrike - what a stunner, we saw both the male and the superb female.

An open area to our left held a large pool of water and above it, in the overhanging trees a colony of Boat-billed Herons roosted, what an odd looking creature that one is! We also found Green Kingfisher and Roy saw an American Pygmy Kingfisher. Our excitement was increased as we found Tricolour heron, Green-backed heron, Northern Jacana, Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Dusky Flycatcher.

GREEN KINGFISHER (MALE)

On the return trip back to the car park we found: Streaked Flycatcher, Dot-winged Antwren, Slate-headed Tody Flycatcher and yellow-crowned Euphonia.

After a delicious lunch which was taken across the Rio Tarcoles, where we saw several very large Crocdiles from the bridge, we spent the aftern noon on a second trail.

BLUE-THROATED GOLDENTAIL


The afternoon culminated when we tracked down a calling Streaked-chested Antpitta, what agreat little bird this was, it looked like a thrush with a big eye and no tail!! We also had much better views of the Scarlet Macaws and added Turquoise-browed Motmot and White-whiskered Puffbird.
TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT


Rain came in about 4pm and we drove all the way back through torrential down-pours.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

COSTA RICA - DEC 11TH 2011

DAY 3 of our "holiday section" of our visit to Costa Rica, we remain on the Southern Pacific Coast at Manuel Antonio just 3km from the entrance to famous national Park.

BROWN PELICAN - BAD SHOT TAKEN FROM THE BEAUTIFUL BEACH AT MANUEL ANTONIO

I took another early morning birding trip at 5:30am to the Rice fields and Palm Nut farms just north of Quepos. I photgraphed a Yellow-headed Caracara just after I stopped by a bridge over the Rio Sevgre where I watched Grey-breasted martins and a Snowy Egret. My next stop was near a small stream where a party of Orange-chinned Parakeets were feeding, in the same tree I also saw Red-crowned Woodpercker, Tennessee Warbler and a Cherrie's Tanager.


SPOTTED SANDPIPER - IT CLOSELY RESEMBLES THE EUROPEAN COMMON SANDPIPER WHEN IN WINTER PLUMMAGE, SUBTLE DIFFERENCES INCLUDE LEG COLOUR

On telegraph wires and posts I saw Roadside Hawk, Ruddy Ground-Dove and Crested Caracara. On wires over the stream I had great views of Ringed and Amazon Kingfishers.
THE GIGANTIC - RINGED KINGFISHER


At the rice fields there were fewer birds in sight but many more were well hidden in the tall stalks of rice. I saw Great Egret, Northern Jacana, Black-necked Stilt, Spotted Sandpiper and lots of Variable Seedeaters.

A MALE AMAZON KINGFISHER

After breakfast we set off to the beach, but our visit was curtailed by a rainstorm. Before we left however I managed a short walk where I watched many Brown Pelicans fishing, an Osprey, Willet and a few Spotted Sandpipers.


THE YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA - A COMMON ROADSIDE BIRD

Saturday, December 10, 2011

COSTA RICA - DEC 10TH 2011

OUR second day of non-birding, it was a beautiful, sunny day with a nice breeze coming in off the Pacific Ocean. I took an early stroll at 5:30am to a nearby stream. I added Band-rumped Swift (now known as Costa Rican Swift) to my list as well as a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl which I tracked down as it was calling repeatedly. Other species noted were White-Collared Swift, Chimney Swift, Blue and White Swallow, Summer Tanager, Cherrie's Tanager, Bananaquit and quite a few flycatchers.


I also got much better views of the White-billed Woodpecker which is shown above.

After another great breakfast we set off for the beach, I took my scope this time and during a lunch time walk to the mangrove swamp I added a couple more species.


Several Inca Doves were feeding on the grass verges these tiny doves allowed a close approach, when they fly a lovely rufous patch can be seen in their wings, smashing bird.

I almost trod on a small flock of waders on a shingle spit near the mangroves. There were about 10 Least Sandpipers, shown below, and a single Semi-palmated Sandpiper shown above. A few Spotted Sandpipers were also seen. The usual Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigate and Brown Booby were flying over the bay. Another two species arrived in the mangroves: Belted Kingfisher , a female with its two bands across the breast and a Green-backed Heron, both good sightings but photos were bad.


The Green-backed Heron which was found skuling at the edge of the mangrove stream on Mauel Antonio beach.

A couple of the 10 or so Least Sandpipers seen today.

At 3pm we left the beach and after a short stop at our hotel we set off in the car to Quepos to look for a parakeet roost. We failed to find the roost but instead found a Grackle roost with hundreds of these noisey blighters flying around.

As a beautiful red sun dropped over the pacific horizon we logged a few terns on the sand spit which include Royal, Elegant, Sandwich and Common, with Willets and laughing Gulls. Two new species then flew out of a mangrove swamp: White Ibis and Wood Stork, a nice end to the day.

Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns.