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Anyone else got a plan a and plan b trip? (1 Viewer)

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Before the pandemic hit, I had booked a birding package deal with the canopy tower, for 7 nights at the tower and 3 nights at Canopy Lodge. It's currently been rebooked for May 23. It's basically all inclusive, but we will be hitting up all the hotspots in the canal (Pipeline, Gamboa road, Summit ponds, etc) and some as yet undecided sites in the El Valle area, which is at higher elevations so has a somewhat different set of birds. Obviously may not be directly comparable to your situation, but I believe there are some decent lodgings in Gamboa, which would probably make a good base if you just have a weekend. It looks like I will probably have an extra morning as well on my last day since I have an afternoon flight, so I will be planning on hitting up Metropolitan Park.
I'm not sure if going with a local guide or do it through the Canopy Family, so I was trying to look for options from other people going to the region (the previous guide I hired had to retire from birding due to Covid)
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I'm not sure if going with a local guide or do it through the Canopy Family, so I was trying to look for options from other people going to the region (the previous guide I hired had to retire from birding due to Covid)
The one nice thing about the tower is...well the tower. That should give you easy access to some birds that might be difficult otherwise, although I guess the discovery center has something equivalent
 

Nightjar61

David Daniels
United States
Today I just bought plane tickets to Texas. I’m leaving in two weeks and will spend a week in the Valley. My goal is not to see as many species as I can see (but I’ll undoubtedly see a lot anyway), but of mopping up any lifers and ABA Area birds I need.

I was planning on going to Arizona, but I wasn’t able to find any decent flights at a reasonable price since I’ll be flying in just two weeks. Instead I got lucky and found cheap and convenient flights to and from McAllen.

Dave
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Today I just bought plane tickets to Texas. I’m leaving in two weeks and will spend a week in the Valley. My goal is not to see as many species as I can see (but I’ll undoubtedly see a lot anyway), but of mopping up any lifers and ABA Area birds I need.

I was planning on going to Arizona, but I wasn’t able to find any decent flights at a reasonable price since I’ll be flying in just two weeks. Instead I got lucky and found cheap and convenient flights to and from McAllen.

Dave
Curious what your targets are? I need another trip down that way to grab the few I have left.
 

Nightjar61

David Daniels
United States
Curious what your targets are? I need another trip down that way to grab the few I have left.
My lifer targets are:

Hook-billed Kite
Lilac-crowned Parrot
Audubon’s Oriole
Crimson-collared Grosbeak
Blue Bunting

My ABA Area targets are birds I’ve seen in other countries but need for the ABA Area:

Red-billed Pigeon
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
Tropical Parula
Golden-crowned Warbler

The grosbeak, bunting, and warblers are very rare vagrants from Mexico that have been present for the last month or so, and I hope they’ll stick around for at least a couple more weeks.

I have no expectations at all of seeing the kite but I have to try.

Dave
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
My lifer targets are:

Hook-billed Kite
Lilac-crowned Parrot
Audubon’s Oriole
Crimson-collared Grosbeak
Blue Bunting

My ABA Area targets are birds I’ve seen in other countries but need for the ABA Area:

Red-billed Pigeon
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
Tropical Parula
Golden-crowned Warbler

The grosbeak, bunting, and warblers are very rare vagrants from Mexico that have been present for the last month or so, and I hope they’ll stick around for at least a couple more weeks.

I have no expectations at all of seeing the kite but I have to try.

Dave
Yeah Texas has been really good this year, as has South Florida. I would have loved to have made it down, but unfortunately my #2 vaccine shot is in the middle of Spring Break. I've seen Audubon's Oriole and Crimson-collared Grosbeak down there, but everything else on your list would be a lifer. Also, Where are you trying for the owl? My understanding was the the private King Ranch was the only place to really pick up that bird anymore.
 

Lerxst

Well-known member
We have to attend a weeding in mid-May in the Portland Oregon area, so will first fly to Salt Lake City a week before, rent a car, and make a convoluted trip through Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon to look for Greater Sage Grouse, Cassia Crossbill, Gray Partridge, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Dusky Grouse, Sooty Grouse, and Flammulated Owl. Need Spotted Owl too but not optimistic.

Perhaps Florida and Dry Tortugas for more mopping up this spring also. Hard to get excited about onesy-twosey trips like this but until Peru is sufficiently open, and we can finish what got interrupted in March 2020, that is all there is for us. We'd go back to Mexico but cannot find any areas there where there are more than a handful of species we need.
 

Nightjar61

David Daniels
United States
Yeah Texas has been really good this year, as has South Florida. I would have loved to have made it down, but unfortunately my #2 vaccine shot is in the middle of Spring Break. I've seen Audubon's Oriole and Crimson-collared Grosbeak down there, but everything else on your list would be a lifer. Also, Where are you trying for the owl? My understanding was the the private King Ranch was the only place to really pick up that bird anymore.
I probably should have mentioned that, like the kite, I have no realistic chance of finding one.

There used to be a private ranch, the Canelo Ranch, that had a breeding pair, and for a fee birders could go see them. It’s my understanding that the ranch is now closed to visitors.

Dave
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
I probably should have mentioned that, like the kite, I have no realistic chance of finding one.

There used to be a private ranch, the Canelo Ranch, that had a breeding pair, and for a fee birders could go see them. It’s my understanding that the ranch is now closed to visitors.

Dave
That's where I saw it, but it was 20 years ago.
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
Just back from my Hawaii trip. I'll write up a full report later, but in summary, the first half of the trip was successful and smooth, the second half one setback after another. I went to Hakalau with Hawaii Forest and Trail, though at the last minute I had to pay for two extra "seats" to prevent trip cancellation - ouch on the wallet but well worth it, Gerry was an excellent guide and we got great looks at all three endangered specialities despite the almost constant rain. I managed to get all the big island endemics, got the Palila on my own on the second try, and still had time for snorkeling. I encountered difficulties with getting my second covid test in order to get to Kauai, available appointments on the big island were fewer than I had anticipated and none that gave guaranteed 24-hr turnaround time as I had gotten at home (my results came about 60 hours later!), so I ended up having to spend an extra two days on Oahu that ate into my time for Kauai. Once I got there, everything I wanted to do was closed or inaccessible - I had planned to do the backpacking trek to the Mohini-Wailae trail for Akikiki and the thrush, but recent heavy rains had made some of the stream crossings impassible, and parts of the Alakai and Pihea trails were similarly inaccessible. The only endemic songbirds I got were the amakihi and elepaio, couldn't even rustle up the Anianiau. Then, on Sunday I tried to go to Kilauea Point for the seabirds, but the refuge is currently open Thurs-Sat only. Then I tried to go to Hanalei NWR for waterbirds, but the highway was closed a few miles before the entrance (presumably also due to recent rains?).

In short - getting to Hawaii under the current pandemic restrictions was straightforward, but one needs to be flexible with interisland travel (no covid test needed to return to Oahu from other islands). Southwest Airlines offered free and easy itinerary changes that I used multiple times before finally boarding a plane to Kauai. And don't attempt Kauai in the rainy season.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I didn't realize that negative covid tests were needed to travel between islands...I guess I figured as long as you were coming from the States it would be fine, since It's not like there are checkpoints at state borders to check for COVID.

That's unfortunate you got skunked on Kauai, but I guess it provides justification for a future trip where maybe you can try to visit Maui? Sounds like it might have been better to just stay on the big island, especially given the Inca Tern that showed up. Were you able to get the two Oahu Endemics?
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
I didn't realize that negative covid tests were needed to travel between islands...I guess I figured as long as you were coming from the States it would be fine, since It's not like there are checkpoints at state borders to check for COVID.

That's unfortunate you got skunked on Kauai, but I guess it provides justification for a future trip where maybe you can try to visit Maui? Sounds like it might have been better to just stay on the big island, especially given the Inca Tern that showed up. Were you able to get the two Oahu Endemics?

Yep, all interisland travel currently requires a negative covid test within the last 72 hours, and Kauai has the additional restriction that you must have been in the state of Hawaii for at least three days (I believe that rule is changing next month though). I timed my flights and initial covid test so that my entry to the state and travel to the big island were covered by the same test - still, they made me take a rapid 15-minute test before they set me free from the Hilo airport. Definitely found myself wishing I had just spent more time on the big island and left Kauai (+ Maui) for a future trip. I missed the Oahu Elepaio, I tried two locations for it, it's certainly the more difficult of the two. But it should have been possible, just bad luck that I missed it. Also, I almost went to South Point just for kicks the same day the Inca Tern was found, though I didn't learn about it until much later. Wouldn't that have been a surprise to bump into!
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
Also, word on the street is that there will soon be an interisland "passport" for vaccinated travelers, so interisland travel may soon become easier.
 
I have a lot of targets, so why not share all of them?

As soon as lockdown is lifted: I'll cycle to nearby Stilton to watch the red kites there.

May: I'll scour my local patch for places I know reliable for early marsh orchid and white helleborine orchid, and will visit the Rex Graham reserve in distant Thetford Forest to see military orchid

June: Another orchid scouring event, and I'll head down to Rutland Water at one point to see ospreys. Hope Lyndon Center is open! Also will watch peregrines raising their chicks at my site

July onwards

Plan A:
A visit back to Russia to once again observe the bird specialties of the region. This region I stay in has reliable sites for white-tailed, greater spotted and lesser spotted eagles (with a major greater spotted eagle presence in the north and north-west, with the entire region having over 35 pairs), has a major pre-migration crane flock in the north numbering over 1,000 birds most years. My local white stork pair is guaranteed, and hen and Montagu's and marsh harrier are all likely given I live next to a former swamp, where they are seen regularly, and there is an exciting possibility of pallid harrier in the north. Right near me there is a massive forest in which cranes, capercaillie and hazel grouse are seen regularly, and short-toed eagles have been seen, thought he place is reknown for skeeters. In the north-west there is a major white-tailed eagle presence, in addition to the only place in the region where whooper swan breeds, and there have been sightings of saker falcons and black stork here. Bee-eaters and hoopoe are a distinct possibility. Russia has disasters with curlews and peregrines, which are becoming extremely rare, but I know reliable sites for most of them. My main target, though, is the great grey shrike I recently found out lives right nearby to the place I'll stay in. Some places also tease a possibility of seeing deer, moose, lynx, and even bears!

Plan B:
An ornithological trip to Spain to enjoy both sea and birds. Right near me there is a large griffon vulture colony which I'll spend days observing, probably. Nearby there is a reliable short-toed eagle and european roller nesting area. In the south of Spain, where I might go, there is a huge stork migration at the end of august, and an exciting opportunity to see spanish imperial eagle, all vultures, even Ruppell's vulture. The main claim to fame of the south, however, is the reintroduced bald ibis colony. If going to the North, however, I'll spend time looking for the bearded vulture, for which I know several reliable areas, and there is always a chance of great bustard in certain areas, in addition to rarities like lanner falcon
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I made a jokey comment in the Mockingbird thread about this, hope it's all sorted by Feb!
 
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Steve Babbs

Well-known member
I'm on plan c: Islay. I'm not going to see anything new on the wildlife front but it is an island that I've only every driven through. The last couple of years certainly not the 'Africa fest' I was hoping for.
 
I'm on plan c: Islay. I'm not going to see anything new on the wildlife front but it is an island that I've only every driven through. The last couple of years certainly not the 'Africa fest' I was hoping for.
Islay is great, I've been a few times, most recently a week in November 2019 and saw at least one species of Eagle each day, sometimes both. Machir Bay on the west coast is a lovely walk and usually has plenty of Chough and Hen Harriers. If you're into history at all, the American Monument on the Oa is well worth a visit, spectacular scenery as well.
 

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