24 August 2015

Glacier & Waterton Lakes

After visiting my brother's family in Billings, we continued north, getting an early start to visit the grasslands of Musselshell County. A well known spot for Mountain Plover, we cruised the open expanses in vain, but were able to enjoy a host of other plains species: McCown's Longspurs were everywhere, and multiple Chestnut-collared Longspurs could be found in their midst. We were mobbed by a territorial pair of Marbled Godwits as we walked one section of the plains, and songs of the Western Meadowlarks were our constant companions.

Limosa fedoa (Marbled Godwit)

A Marbled Godwit in Musselshell County, Montana.

From here, we continued winding our way across the plains, visiting Giant Spring before heading northwest to our final destination: Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park is a place that I have dreamed of visiting for years, and one that Caroline was blown away by. From the sheer rock faces to the dense cedar rainforests beauty abounded, and Caroline subtly tried to convince me that I should look into jobs in the Pacific northwest. Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Varied Thrushes, birds that I had not seen since my field work in Idaho, made appearances on the shadowy trails of the park, and we even found Caroline's first Black Bear ever.

Anthus rubescens alticola (American Pipit)

An American Pipit trying to figure out why I'm staring at in at Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana

Avalanche Creek, Glacier National Park, Montana

Avalanche Creek, Glacier National Park, Montana

After two days in the stunning canyons of northern Montana, we headed even further north, crossing into Alberta, Canada and Waterton Lakes National Park. Here, I worked on my Canadian bird list and Caroline and I soaked in the views of the equally spectacular Canadian Rockies.

Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

From here, we headed even further north still to Banff and Jasper National Parks, impatiently awaiting the glaciers that lay before us.

To be continued!

20 August 2015

Jaegerquest

I promise I'll finish my Canadian summary soon, but first, a story from yesterday, August 19. But to tell that story, I have to start in September 2014: Michael McCloy and I were birding our way across Kansas, and what started as a day of enjoying different birding locations soon devolved into a frantic cross-plains roadtrip that we dubbed "Jaegerquest". Running low on time, we spent 5-10 minutes at each reservoir along our route, but unfortunately failed to locate any member of the genus Stercorarius.

Fast forward to yesterday, 19 August 2015. Mark Robbins and I raced out to Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Barton County, Kansas, to try to catch migrating shorebirds at dawn. A massive front had passed through the night before, lowering the temperature to an unbelievable 55F (12C). While we were complaining about bringing too little clothing, we were not complaining about the marshbirds we were encountering. We caught the tail end of an Upland Sandpiper flight, with 14 individuals passing over us within the first hour of being in the refuge. Massive numbers of Blue-winged Teal and Plegadis ibis flew around the marshes, and we even saw multiple Least and American Bitterns. Hundreds upon hundreds of Bank, Barn, Cliff, Northern Rough-winged and Tree Swallows perched on the roads and bushes, waiting for conditions to improve and trying to warm as hundreds of coots darted between the reeds and hundreds of Black Terns passed above them. The refuge was teeming with life, and we were loving our visit.

As the temperature started to warm, the winds began to increase, and Mark and I hurried to the southern portion of the refuge to try to see some of the shorebirds before they left. We began parsing through the present flocks but were interrupted as the birds all took flight, uttering their quavering alarm calls. Mark was immediately on alert: "Is there a Peregrine [Falcon]? Look for whatever is scaring them!" We frantically scanned the skies as the cries of Baird's Sandpipers overwhelmed us. The swirling flocks soon returned and settled, and we looked around perplexed. Something had flushed them, but what it was we might not ever know. Mark settled back into identifying shorebirds, and I turned my attention towards the water. I was set on finding a Western Grebe (spoiler alert: I failed, but we did have some later in the day) and began scanning the lake behind us. About two thirds of the way across, I spotted two Black Terns chasing each other when suddenly the back "tern" banked and revealed a short tail projection, a light belly and throat and a complete breast band. I immediately started shouting at Mark.

"JAEGER! JAEGER! We've got a Jaeger!"

Mark whipped his spotting scope around, shouting back "Don't take your eyes off of it! Don't lose it!"

The bird continued in its maniacal pursuit for another 45 seconds or so before disappearing against the far bank of the lake over a mile away. We stood there in shock, and began discussing what we saw. After going back and forth between a lot of characters, Mark lamented that it "may forever be just a Jaeger sp." We continued working both the lake and the shorebirds for another hour or so, continually checking the lake but failing to locate anything that was not a Black Tern, a Forster's Tern, or a Franklin's Gull.

When we reached the end of the lake, we sat for a while, scanning the lake again before we decided to continue to Quivira to see what we could find. We were pretty convinced the bird had moved on, as many terns and gulls appeared to be leaving, and decided to give the lake one final scan. Suddenly, Mark dramatically exclaimed "I don't believe it - IT'S STILL HERE!"

We got the scope and binoculars on the bird, and soon found ourselves looking at what was obviously an adult Jaeger soaring over the lake. The bird had a complete breast band, light chest and throat, and a seemingly bulbous tail projection, leading us to believe it was an adult Pomarine Jaeger. Mark became even more excited, informing me that at this time of year, Long-tailed and Parasitic Jaegers were much more likely than Pomarines, and that Pomarines do not usually occur inland until at least October. 

We continued to watch the bird, but soon realized we were not alone. A Bald Eagle had also spotted this rare vagrant, and began edging its way closer and closer to the Jaeger. Then the Eagle made its move, diving at the Jaeger. The Jaeger, far more nimble than the Eagle, dodged out of the way, and Mark's an my adrenaline spiked as the Eagle twisted around for another pass, forcing the Jaeger to drop out of the Eagle's path again. The encounter was soon over as the Jaeger bombed away from the Eagle, and it soon dropped out of view. Mark and I stood there waiting for another 45 minutes or so to no avail. It appeared as though our Jaeger had left.

We spent the afternoon visiting other birding spots, but found ourselves drawn back to Cheyenne to try one last time for the Jaeger around 4:15 in the evening. As we entered the refuge, my phone alerted us to an email it had just received - the Jaeger was seen fifteen minutes ago in the northern part of the wildlife area! We raced over there, but the bird and the observers seemed to have already left. We spent a maddening half hour searching the lake again before I spotted a lone, dark-backed gull like bird on the far side of the impoundment. Almost simultaneously, Mark was on it. "That's the Jaeger."

We threw up the scope, got out the camera and started watching the bird. Almost immediately, it got up to fly and Mark laughed, exclaiming "That's a [Pomarine]!" We watched the bird for an hour, showing it to other birders and watching it swim, fly, eat a Franklin's Gull it had killed and unsuccessfully try to kill another. We laughed as we watched it, amazed by our luck of being able to see it again.

Stercorarius pomarinus (Pomarine Jaeger)
Stercorarius pomarinus (Pomarine Jaeger)
Stercorarius pomarinus (Pomarine Jaeger)
Poor quality photos of our very distant Pomarine Jaeger, 19 August 2015, Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas

If accepted, this will be the sixth state record of Pomarine Jaeger for Kansas, and one of the few records for the interior lower 48 United States for the month of August. It took almost a year, but Jaegerquest was finally a success. Now to catch up on my work.

eBird checklists:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24681845
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24685159

24 July 2015

Heading North

Driving across the plains has always been very hit or miss for me; either you have a pleasant drive across the wide expanses of central North America, or you get hit by massive supercells that meander across the plains and endure rain, hail, and hurricane-like winds. Our journey northwards started with a hit; I awoke to the sound of rain falling on the roof, and allowed my self to sleep in order to miss the worst of the storm. I knew we had a long way to travel, but didn't want to do a single mile in the dark pre-dawn rain.

The storm passed as the sun rose, and Caroline and I packed out little Nissan Rogue for the long journey ahead. We were going on vacation, and while that means rest and relaxation for most, it means thousands of miles of driving, hiking, and exploring for us. As soon as our gear loaded, we were off. We were going to try to make it to the Bear Lodge Mountains of Wyoming by nightfall, and had significant portions of Nebraska and Iowa and the entirety of South Dakota between us and our goal.

The rest of the day was (thankfully) misses. By the time we reach Sioux Falls, our luck seemed to be holding. The massive storms were building, but we were still keeping on our "missing streak". The radar and weather reports indicated that the dark horizons were the edges of massive storms, and that we were threading the eye of the needle between systems working their way across the flats.

Hours stretched by as we grew closer to the regions in which I used to work. Soon after crossing the Missouri River, I started recognizing roadside stops from my field work two years prior. We stopped and filled up with gas by the KOA I had camped at for three days years ago, the same place I had sat while ordering my plain tickets for Puerto Rico. We were soon on the road again, and Caroline got to see her first new park of the trip: Badlands. Last time Caroline had visited me in South Dakota, we didn't have nearly enough time to head to this part of the state. Now, we were finally there, but running short on time. Despite not being able to visit every part of the park, we were still able to drive through the entire park and watch Burrowing Owls fly above their burrows.

As evening approached, we realized that the sky was getting darker faster than we expected, and we saw the clouds building to the northwest. Soon, our fears were confirmed:our day of blissful misses was over. A massive storm was building near our anticipated camping spot, and was heading straight for us. We hit the road for the last time, and managed to pull into a hotel in Rapid City as the sky opened and the wind and rain soaked the entire town.

The next morning, we woke up early and headed to Devil's Tower, Wyoming. Upon arriving, we realized that the effects of the storm were lingering, as all but the very top of the tower was shrouded with fog. We decided to continue north, and enjoyed a day full of missing storms as we crossed the grasslands of northeast Wyoming and wound our way to Billing's Montana to spend the weekend with my brother and his family.

After our time catching up and seeing my niece and nephew, we continued our journey north. We passed through the extensive grasslands of Musselshell County, where we failed to find any Mountain Plovers, but did get harassed by Marbled Godwits and found a Ferruginous Hawk nest.

Limosa fedoa (Marbled Godwit)

Buteo regalis (Ferruginous Hawk)

From there, we pressed northward, and finally arrived at our first stop of the trip: Glacier National Park (which I will save for my next post!).

19 May 2015

St. Louis

For Caroline's birthday this past weekend, we ran out to St. Louis to explore the city and to visit the University of Missouri--St. Louis. Our drive out there was long, but well worth it. Scattered thunderstorms crossed the prairie, and during a brief respite we stopped at the historic Locust Covered Bridge in north-central Missouri. The site of the first transcontinental highway in the US, the bridge was also a good opportunity to explore a small patch of woods and get some nice eastern birds.

From here, we crossed the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri and continued south to Two Rivers NWR. Even though it was late and in the heat of the day, the birding was fantastic. Canada Goose families cruised in the placid waters while dozens of Great Egrets foraged in the shallows. A pair of Eurasian Tree Sparrows nesting in the parking lot were a pleasant surprise, and the forest hosted boisterous Prothonotary Warblers. Dickcissels sang in the clearings and Indigo Buntings flushed from the roadsides, making us feel like our summer had truly started.

The next day, we went to downtown St. Louis to explore the zoo and the Gateway Arch. Despite some initial difficulties finding our way around the city, the day ended up being a fantastic opportunity to explore. In addition to the wild birds, the zoo also possessed an incredible variety of birds and beasts from around the world. We spent five hours exploring the zoo, watching baby Ring-tailed Lemurs harass their parents and flustered bustards displaying to females in adjacent enclosures.

In the mid-afternoon, we finally found our way to the river, where Caroline came face to face with the Gateway Arch for the first time.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

All in all, she said it was a pretty great birthday.

08 May 2015

Rumpi Hills Revisited

In July 2014, during my whirlwind tour of South-west, Cameroon, one place I greatly enjoyed was the forested Rumpi Hills near Dikome-Balue, a place I spent two days with Moses and regretted not being able to spend more time. Despite my brief visit (and the frequent rains), I saw a multitude of great birds, including Woodhouse's Antpecker, Western Tinkerbird, and Cameroon [African] Pipits.

In mid-March, I found myself heading back there, this time with the University of Kansas. We crammed into our caravan of four-wheel drive pick-ups, and headed up into the mountains. The road, markedly improved from the last time I visited, was still scarred from the rainy season. Road improvements were noticeable, as culverts were being installed along the many creek crossings. Those that had not yet been fixed were still in terrible condition, however, and brought back flashbacks from the rainy season. A lone semi stood derelict in the road halfway to the village as well, a somber reminder that errors in this part of the world are not easily fixed.

We arrived at the village late in the afternoon, and spent the night in an old missionary home above the town. The next morning, we hiked into the village for a traditional blessing ceremony before our work in the forest could begin. The morning was perfect; light clouds wrapped around the summits of the peaks, and Luehder's Bushshrikes purred in the roadside vegetation. We gathered in the chief's home, and met with the village elders to discuss our work, arrange guides, and accept the blessings they offered us.

Elminia longicauda (African Blue Flycatcher)
African Blue Flycatchers (Elminia longicauda) were commonly seen in the farms and fields surrounding Dikome-Balue.

Our group headed up into the mountains, searching for an appropriate campsite for the coming week. Our choice was made easy as the road grew progressively worse, and we found a nice flat area near a creek at the edge of secondary forest and the primary Afromontane forest that cloaked the hills. Scaly Francolins called from the surrounding scrub, Crossley's Ground-Thrushes (a surprisingly common bird!) sang from the adjacent forest, and Mountain Sooty-Boubous let out their whip-cracks from the dark understory.

Camp soon became a home away from home, as we surveyed the surrounding hills. Mark and I roamed the hills every morning, almost every day adding new birds to our list. Family groups of White-throated Mountain-Babblers could be seen traveling with Gray-headed Greenbuls, and one morning we even lucked upon a pair of Green-breasted Bushshrikes foraging near the road. Occasional flocks of White-throated Bee-eaters would cross over the ridge, and a lazy afternoon near camp yielded a displaying Lyre-tailed Honeyguide.

Muscicapa infuscata (Sooty Flycatcher)
Sooty Flycatcher (Muscicapa infuscata) near Dikome-Balue, Rumpi Hills. This is one of the only records of the species from the range, and was part of a pair that was nest building in a large snag.

Our week in these hills was one of the most enjoyable weeks of field work I've ever had in my life. The camp atmosphere was almost never less than jovial, and the multitude of amazing birds (and other animals) meant that there was never a dull moment.

Arizelocichla montana (Cameroon Mountain Greenbul)
Cameroon Mountain Greenbul (Arizelocichla montana) near Dikome-Balue, Rumpi Hills.

Trioceros sp. (Large Chameleon)
Large chameleon (Trioceros sp.) near Dikome-Balue, Rumpi Hills.

After our week of surveying was through, we bid our sad goodbyes to the amazing mountains, and headed back to the coast. The rest of our time in Cameroon was spent drying and cleaning equipment and ensuring that all of our information was well organized. As the rains increased, I spent my time hiding from the downpours watching movies as I finished formatting my eBird checklists. The brief breaks we did have from the weather allowed us to get out around Buea a little, including visiting the coastal city of Limbe and morning walks around our hotel. Our outings yielded several species we had missed in the field (including my first Eurasian Curlew in Africa), and were a pleasant way to enjoy our last days in the region.

Muscicapa cassini (Cassin's Flycatcher)
Cassin's Flycatcher (Muscicapa cassini) at the Limbe Wildlife Center, Southwest, Cameroon.

It was not long before we were boarding the planes in the hot Douala International Airport for the long journey home. Despite logistical difficulties, we all eventually made it back, and were soon put to work catching up on everything that we had missed during our month in the field.

01 May 2015

Ten Days in Korup

After Mark Robbins and I left Mt. Cameroon, we were whisked away to our first field site: Korup National Park. Once again I was on the long road to Mundemba, but this time, the weather was completely different. The deep mudholes had long dried up, and as our visibility was once reduced by rain, it was now shrouded in dust from the parched roads. The lifted cars bounced and rattled down the dusty highways as huddled in our bush taxi. As Mark and I were in the taxi that possessed an air conditioner, we were relegated to the second position in our procession, only able to obtain glimpses of the forest through the veil of brown dust. Our only pause on our hectic drive towards the forest was when we got a flat tire on one of our vehicles. As the drivers fixed the car, we slipped off down the road to bird a little bit and start familiarizing ourselves with Cameroon's rich avifauna. As luck would have it, we had a flyover Abdim's Stork, an uncommon bird in this part of Cameroon, and our first Bristlebills of the trip.

Bleda notatus (Lesser Bristlebill)
Lesser Bristlebill (Bleda notatus) in Korup National Park, Cameroon.

After fixing the vehicle, we raced to Mundemba, where we had a brief (and, content-wise, disturbingly mysterious) lunch and headed for the bridge. The area was barely recognizable from the maelstrom I had seen in July. What was once a massive river was now a rocky riverbed, with water restricted to one small part of the channel. Given the amazingly dry conditions, it did not take us long to get across the river, and we were in camp by the early evening.

The next ten days, Mark and I stuck to our ornithological routines: we both left early (Mark earlier than I could manage!), and hiked several miles worth of trails obtaining recordings and observational records for the area. By mid-morning, we would return, eat a sandwich while we discussed identities and set up our nets for further surveying. Every morning held a mess of fantastic birds, and, even though it was my fourth trip to the region, every morning held something new and exciting. Bare-cheeked Trogons calls from the hillsides, a Yellow-footed Flycatcher foraged above a waterfall, and, perhaps most amazing of all, multiple Black-eared Ground-Thrushes were caught in some of our low elevation nets.

Geokichla camaronensis (Black-eared Ground-Thrush)
The rare Black-eared Ground-Thrush (Geokichla camaronensis), a bird that we caught several times in Korup but never saw away from the nets. The song of this species is still undescribed.

After the first four days, the rest of our party from Buea came out and joined us, as they ran the final segment of their Biodiversity Inventories Course and we continued with our ornithological surveys. The camp was vibrant and alive, with constant activity of some sort. Every day we encountered different animals as well: one morning we saw a distant group of Galagos, another morning I scared up what appeared to be a Bush Pig, and monkeys could be heard around the camp regularly.

There was a downside to the lowland forests, however. The heat and humidity led to us sweating constantly, and I often found myself simply going shirtless during the afternoons to avoid overheating. Unfortunately, the density of sweaty people led to the local bee population taking note of our presence, and the entire camp was infested with bees. The pit toilets were virtually unusable during daylight hours as the bees swarmed around anything they though may contain salt. Our own bodies would become covered with sweat bees whenever we stopped moving, and I was stung four times by the bigger honeybees that patrolled the camp.

Merops gularis (Black Bee-eater)
On the plus side, we did have bee-eaters (such as this Black Bee-eater Merops gularis) that could be seen around camp.

Eventually, we grew tired of the heat, humidity, and insects, and prepared for our second field site: The Rumpi Hills. It was another area I knew from the previous year, and an area that I was extremely excited to return to...

08 April 2015

A Taste of Mount Cameroon

Mark Robbin's enthusiasm was palpable. We waited for the car to arrive, calling out birds at the hotel. Common Bulbuls sang from the surrounding vegetation, Chattering Cisticolas called from the undergrowth, and Village Weavers paraded past with their palm fronds towards their favorite nesting tree. It was Mark's first time in Cameroon, and it was clear that he had been dreaming of visiting these mountains since he was my age. We birded every second until our friend, Moses, drove up to take us to the trailhead for the Guiness Tract forest of Mt. Cameroon.

Mt. Cameroon as seen from Buea
Mt. Cameroon on a clear day from Buea. We birded the forest below the grassy upper slopes. (For those of you wondering, treeline is ~8,000 feet (2,000 meters) and the summit around 14,000 feet (4,000 meters)!

It was both of our first times birding the massif, and though Mark was crazy about seeing his first Afromontane birds, I was almost equally excited about birding the tropics with Mark for the first time. Ever since I was young, I had been reading about tropical bird expeditions in which he had been involved, and now I was part of one. His knowledge regarding the world's avifauna was obvious from our discussions, and I was extremely interested in seeing his unique perspective on the birds of the region. That is, if I could keep up with him. From the outset, Mark was almost running up the cinder-strewn trails of the mountain, eager to get as high in elevation as possible before our early-morning deadline to return. I felt like an anchor constantly dragging him back, getting caught up in the lower-elevation holarctic migrants as he sought out the endemic residents. We soon fell into a good birding pace, covering an extensive section of the mountain and spying some excellent montane species.

The farm fields at the beginning of the trail were surprisingly productive. A male Whinchat foraged in the furrows, while Western Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipits flushed from the trail before us. The scattered scrub held weavers, nesting Yellow-billed [Black] Kites and cooperative pairs of Yellow-breasted Boubous.

Saxicola rubetra (Whinchat)
Whinchat foraging on the lower slopes of Mt. Cameroon, Cameroon.

As we progressed up the mountain into the thicker forest, two things became abundantly clear: the Afromontane birds were amazing, and the amount of human disturbance in the forest on this side of the mountain was amazingly high. The trail was one of the most well-used trails I have ever used anywhere, and a constant stream of mountaineers and hikers was heading up and down the mountain at various stages in their trips. Birds were frequently flushed by large groups of people moving around, and farms and selective logging were evident in many areas. We were informed that the forest was in better shape further up the mountain and in other regions, but we were still amazed at the number of people.

Despite this, we were graced with a non-stop parade of amazing birds. Gray-green Bushshrike sang from thick submontane forest, Evergreen-forest Warblers skulked along the sides of the trails, and families of Chubb's Cisticolas betrayed their presence with their boisterous songs. Even the areas that possessed farms and logging were productive, providing more open habitat for Shelley's Olivebacks, Red-faced Crimsonwings and even a Gray Cuckooshrike! Mark and I were overwhelmed, at times reduced to merely shouting bird names at each other before switching places to see what the other person had been excited about.

Cisticola chubbi (Chubb's Cisticola) fledglings
Chubb's Cisticola fledglings sharing a fern branch on Mt. Cameroon.

Cossypha isabellae isabellae (Mountain Robin-Chat)
Mountain Robin-Chat of the endemic Mt. Cameroon race on Mt. Cameroon.

Unfortunately, Mark and I only had a few hours to explore before we needed to be back in Buea. We left the mountain promising to come back and to spend more time. We barely made it high enough in elevation to see some of the endemic birds, but greatly enjoyed our introduction to the Cameroon mountains for the trip. (For those interested, our eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22121301)

From here, we headed back to Buea, and gathered our gear over several days during the concurrent workshop operated by Town Peterson and prepared to head deep into the lowland forests of Korup... To be continued!

20 January 2015

The End of 2014: An Overview

I will try to write a more formal, in depth post about some of my specific adventures in the near future, but the last two and a half months have been a whirlwind for me. I will try to recap as best as I can for now, and will elaborate later. (David Bell, if you are reading this, I am copying your format as it seems to work well!)

November 24: Caroline and I left for northeastern Arkansas, where we spent the night in lovely Paragould.

November 25: Caroline and I birded northeast Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel, finding large rafts of waterfowl and generally enjoying the Mississippi embayment. A sample checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20674203

November 26-27: Caroline and I stayed in Slidell with her mom, and then spent Thanksgiving Day at her Uncle Pete's in Lafayette, Louisiana.

November 28: Caroline and I journeyed through Cameron Parish, Louisiana towards Houston, where we spent the 29 at the Houston Zoo with her dad.

November 30: I left for Equatorial Guinea.

December 1: I arrived, exhausted, in Malabo at the base of Pico Basile.

Malabo Morning

Pico Basile as seen from Malabo.

December 1-5: Luke, Jared and I met up and began working on logistics. Like many areas in Central Africa, getting cars, transportation, and other related issues straightened out can take quite a long time. Luckily, we had some excellent urban birding in Bata.

December 6-18: Despite a two day break where I returned to Bata for supplied, the entirety of this period was spent in the primeival forests of Parque Nacional de los Altos de Nsork. This fascinating area was the site of our research, and I will try to write more in depth about some of the localities soon. I encountered 146 species in Wele-Nzas during this time, including such local specialties as Congo Serpent-Eagle, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, migrant Wood Warbler and many of the ten country firsts that we encountered during our trip!

Spermestes fringilloides (Magpie Mannikin)

First country record of Magpie Mannikin for Equatorial Guinea! 13 December 2014.

December 19: On this day, we explored the coastal regions of Equatorial Guinea, visiting the grasslands to the south of Bata.

Petrochelidon preussi (Preuss's Cliff Swallow)

Preuss's (Cliff) Swallows in Mbini, Equatorial Guinea. So far as we know, this is the first breeding colony located in the country. 19 December 2014.

December 20-23: We spent our last several days in Moka, on the south side of the island. One of my favorite places in the entire country, the Afromontane forests in this region did not disappoint! We once again encountered the rare and local Bioko Batis, found high-elevational Forest Weavers and Klaas's Cuckoos, and saw a bunch of other fascinating birds such as Black-capped Woodland Warbler, African Hill Babbler, Cameroon Olive Greenbul and African Stonechat. Check out the following checklist to hear some of the recordings I was able to obtain during our hike on the 23rd: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S21028472

December 24-Jan 1: Grand Junction, Colorado with my family.

The new year has so far been promising. I have been working almost non-stop, but things are progressing well and I am back into the swing of work and Caroline just started a new job at the university. I also saw the legendary Ivory Gull on the Mississippi River, so I will take that as an omen that another fantastic year has begun.

I'll post more soon!

Pagophila eburnea (Ivory Gull)

Ivory Gull in Quincy, Illinois. 5 January 2015.

2014

A map of all the places I birded in 2014. Here's to another great year!