“Far South” in the Americas

I first met Claudio Vidal in 2004 at theAmerican Birding Association’s convention in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and have had the pleasure of birding with him at various shows and birding/nature expos since (although not nearly enough). An all around great guy, enthusiastic & knowledgeable, with a passion for the natural world, we bonded immediately. I met Enrique Couve, at a later show and liked him immediately as well! Clearly we shared that same innate appreciation of nature and his sincerity & warmth won me over right away. A consummate naturalist and skilled wildlife photographer, Enrique has amassed one of the most…

OCT 13

Dia de Halcón, the Day of the Falcon

October 10th has become a red letter day on my annual calendar each year. The “Day of the Falcon” or “Dia de Halcón” en Espanõl has become my own personal, special little holiday. I’m not certain if anyone else holds this day dear in their heart, or even recognizes it as anything special, but for me it is. No matter where in the world I am on that day. I’ll note that date and think, “oh man… today’s the day!” Over the past decade, 10/10 has emerged statistically, as the single best day for Peregrine Falcon sightings through the Florida Keys. Since the year 2000, a…

SEP 19

A Conversation with Richard Crossley

Richard Crossley was born in Yorkshire, UK and found his way to Cape May, NJ as a young man. His love for birds and the fabled migration at Cape May were such a perfect match, that he has spent all of his adult life living here ever since. Richard is the author of the unique Crossley ID Guides and co-author of the wonderful “The Shorebird Guide” with fellow Cape May residents, Michael O’Brien & Kevin Karlson. In March 2017, Richard joined the Leica / Cape May Bird Observatory “American Dippers” team in the Champions of the Flyway bird race in Israel. Recently we had a…

A Tropical Treat

“You’re going to do what?… You guys are insane!” That was my response when my buddy Brant Julius told me he and friend Jeff Fisher were planning on leaving at 10 PM Friday night and driving through the night to arrive at sunrise. It was madness… but it was also an insanely beautiful & rare bird they were going to chase.

82 or 65 the Televid Quandary

The big question most users have when selecting a new Leica spotting scope is, “Which model is the best for me?”  The Leica APO Televid is offered in body styles with either a straight through or 45º angled eyepiece design. While the former seems more intuitive for use at first (as you are always looking in the direction of your subject), the VAST majority of birding and nature consumers purchase the angled eyepiece design shown below do to the ergonomic advantages and versatility. As example, when birding in a group it is much easier for the taller participants to bow slightly at…

Tale of two Adapters – new digiscoping accessories from Leica!

So after weeks of anxious anticipation, I FINALLY received the shipment I’d been eagerly awaiting. The shipment arrived late Friday evening as I was literally heading out the door for a scheduled appointment. On Saturday, heavy rains kept me from being able to test these new beauties and even though under a heavy overcast with threat of rain, I managed to head afield on Sunday at long last with the Leica APO Televid 82 mm spotting scope and two different Leica digiscoping rigs to test and compare. Over my left shoulder I slung the Leica Q (typ 116) camera with the new…

What did the DSP ever do to Them?

One of the unique and most charismatic birds in South America, high if not top on any birders’ list of target species when they visit its range, is Phegornis mitchellii, long known as Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, or affectionately abbreviated as DSP. Its long and droop-tipped bill is unlike that of typical plovers, hence the compound sandpiper-plover, conveying a history of taxonomic uncertainty. Now, because it appears to be ‘simply’ an aberrant small plover, some authorities have castrated the name to Diademed Plover, or ‘just another’ plover, which DSP most certainly is not. But why stop there? I mean, everyone knows what…

Assumptions versus the dark-morph Pink-footed Shearwater

Whether Pink-footed Shearwater has a (very rare) dark morph, or whether occasional individuals are melanistic, are interesting semantic questions. But the bottom line for field observers is that apparently dark-plumaged Pink-footed Shearwaters are out there, and they could be confused with Flesh-footed Shearwater. Although some have questioned this assumption (e.g., see pages 56-58 of the January 2012 issue of Birding magazine), their alternatives of an undescribed new species of large shearwater, or of hybrid Pink-footed x Flesh-footed Shearwaters, seem to overlook the principle of parsimony: the most likely = parsimonious explanation is that some Pink-footed Shearwaters are dark-bodied. There’s even…

Champions of The Flyway – Team Extremadura

In 2016 a team of expert birders is being formed by members of Lonely Birder in conjunction with The Urban Birder.

First At-sea Images of Ainley’s Storm-Petrel – but who cares?

Leica team member Steve Howell is back recently from a ten-day pelagic trip off northwest Mexico, where he saw plenty of ‘Leach’s Storm-Petrels’ – including the enigmatic Ainley’s Storm-Petrel, endemic as a breeder to Mexico’s Guadalupe Island (about 170 miles west of the Baja California Peninsula), described as new to science as recently as 1980, and never before photographed at sea! Here’s the story…   Ainley’s Storm-Petrel? Huh, what’s that? OK, here’s a synopsis of taxonomy to put the story in context. (Don’t worry, it’s short!) In 1980, marine scientist David Ainley described the winter-breeding ‘Leach’s Storm-Petrels’ on Mexico’s Guadalupe…