Ivory-billed Woodpecker hunt in Arkansas in feature film.

I had no idea this film had been made. Anyway, Here is an interview of filmmaker Director Alex Karpovsky, regarding his partly narratively fictious and partly documentary film .

Alex Karpovsky chats with FilmCatcher at the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival about the interesting subculture portrayed in his new film. Alex discusses the existential turmoil brewing within his main character, the challenge to inject a fictitious story and characters into a real situation, and the notions of faith and hope he explores.

I hadn’t see this before. Had you?
Anyone seen the film? The interview was recorded in April 2008. Why did I miss the buzz? How come only 500 people checked out the interview on You Tube?

Anyway, hope it is a good topic for the blog……

and here is the official site for the film

I still don’t get how this could escape me! Maybe, there was just to much talk about Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and that channel switched off in my brain.

Google Buzz

Share with

Bird song mnemonics with Monty Python and Ben Coffey.

I got the idea for this blog reading an on-going thread about mnemonics on Vermont Birds. When I came to the Peruvian Amazon for the first time in the early 90s I hardly knew any birdsongs.  I soon realized however, if I were to be able to sort out all those Antbirds and Furnarids, I had to learn the songs. Luckily, already back then there were two excellent cassettes available. They were Ted Parker’s didactic Voices of the Peruvian Rainforest from 1985 with 39 species on it and of course the classic Birds of SE Peru by Ben Coffey Jr with 79 species. I must have played the last tape over and over hundreds of times until I learnt it by heart. In fact even the southern accent of late Ben Coffey was memorized. The introduction goes something like this.

Gunnar impersonating Ben Coffey

First song on side two of the cassette was Bamboo Antshrike – a localized species that could readily be seen with playback at Amazonia Lodge in a small patch of bamboo within the forest on the main trail to the river. The same bird was exposed to Ben Coffey’s introduction and the following Crescentchest-like and quite high-pitched evenly spaced chup chup chup chup chup chup…….. (Recording Roger by practically every birding group that came to Amazonia Lodge. In the end it seemed like the bird would come out without even playing its song. One had just to try to imitate Ben Coffey’s pronunciations of the introductory announcement of Bamboo Antshrike (again my impersonation).

I soon found that learning the calls of the rain-forest wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. The antbirds and furnarids had quite distinctive songs, many that were possible to imitate with a whistle. If you can learn to whistle the call of a bird it is much easier to remember.

But I also made up my own mnemonics. Here is Plain-winged Antshrike

Plain-winged Antshrike – Sebastian Herzog on

It seems to query…

“Why-did-you-do-that-thing-to me?”

Another great mnemonic was that of Grayish Mourner.

Grayish Mourner – Weber Girão on

If you seen the Holy grail by Monthy Python, you have no problem picturing that the Grayish Mourner is saying as fast as he can – and with a stressed last word:

We are the knights that say:….. Ni!

Finally, a bird that has become a nemesis bird for me. The Greater Scythebill. I shouldn’t feel too bad because it is a really rare bird. The song was only recorded for the first time less than 10 years ago. I have learnt the song by heart now and will easily pick it up if I ever hear it.

Listen to this:

Greater Scythebill – Charlie Vogt on

Doesn’t it sound like a puppy complaining that it does not like to be beaten? Picture that and it will be hard to forget what it sounds like. Poor dog!

Today, there are apart from a number of relatively new CD:s published by Cornell and edited by Tom Schulenberg with birdsongs from Southern Peru. The 5 CD:s cover both the Andes and the lowlands and all in all close to 500 species. To learn all, you have to play them over and over, and if necessary turn to mnemonics and Monthy Python or other absurd situations to help you remember.

Brain photo by Gaeran Lee. Common creative license on Flickr and all recordings on

Update: I should perhaps, stress that Ben Coffey was a pioneer in putting together together recordings from the Neotropics. I did not have the pleasure of knowing him , but friends that did know him refer to him as a very generous man. I am surprised I could not find a wiki page dedicated to Ben Coffey Jr, but at least there is a In Memorian to download from The Auk.
Also, I must highlight what a fantastic resourse xeno-canto is. It deserves a special recognition. I recently published a list on my blog of my top10 birding web-sites. Unfortunately, xeno-canto slipped my mind….and did not even get a mention. But, to tell you the truth, the site should top the chart and is probably the most useful of all sites on the internet for the Neotropical birder. I have not contributed as much as I would like, but promise I shall try to be more active doing so in the future.

Google Buzz

Share with

Birding Carpish

I am very pleased to announce yet another trip to Carpish mountains in April. Yesterday, I got a new booking right after Easter April 18-26. I have recently blogged about my last speed birding 4 day trip to Carpish with Scott Robinson and his friends. See the following posts.
Day 1. Lima-Huanuco.
Day 2. Birding the Carpish Tunnel.
Day 3. Birding Unchog and Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager.
Day 4. Birding Junin.

This time will do a full 9 day tour described on our web-page, but it is possible to shorten it to 7 days.

I thought I’d wet your appetite with some pictures below. They birds are all waiting for you.

Junin Lake. Great for migrating waders, ducks and critically threatened Junin Grebe.

Bay-vented Cotinga. Another threatened endemic of Bosque Unchog, Huanuco, Peru

Andean Goose in flight. Can be seen at Junin Lake for instance.

Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant. Endemic to Peru. Readily found at Carpish. Tied to bamboo.

Rufous Antpitta. ssp obscura  – which has a completely different song.

Diademed Sandpiper Plover. DSP. Isn’t this one of the most spectacular wader there is?. Readily found on the Marcapomacocha road and near Ticlio which we visit on the last day of the trip.

Had to show this mega bird again, when talking about Bosque Unchog.
Endangered Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager.
The maing target bird on the trip.

Google Buzz

Share with

Best shots of Pelagic birds from Kolibri Expeditions pioneering Tumbes Pelagic.

This pelagic ran on June 24, 2008 from Punta Sal in Tumbes department and was the first pelagic we arranged in Northern Peru. The result was very satisfying. Indeed it was so satisfying that I immediately re-wrote our North Peru itineraries to also include an optional Tumbes pelagic.

On the trip we documented 2 species previously not photographed in Peruvian waters – Galapagos Petrel and White-faced Storm-Petrel. The later a lifer for me and the former a Peru tick. On March 18, 2009 we shall run the second pelagic. We hope to be able to photograph additional species on this trip, that previously are not documented. See Kolibri Expeditions pelagic web-page for more info.

Above photo: Waved Albatross.

Elliot’s Storm-Petrel

Galapagos Petrel

White-faced Storm-Petrel

Pink-footed Shearwater

Swallow-tailed Gull

Immature Peruvian Booby

Cook’s Petrel

Google Buzz

Share with

There is more to a birding tour to Peru than just birds.

For once I am making an exception and blog about a future trip. This particular one includes birding and culture in a great fashion. Also read through the article you shall see that I am giving a fantastic last minute offer. And there are very cheap flights from Miami now. The itinerary is request for the middle of March, combining Northern and Southern Peru and features a pelagic, Chaparri, Machu Picchu and optionally the Amazonian rainforest. What more could you ask for? It is a “best of Peru tour”. The perfect trip to bring your non birding spouse as it gives beautiful scenery as well as many cultural attractions. The trip visits Tumbes, Piura and Chiclayo in the North. Cusco, Machu Pichu and Los Amigos biological Station in the South. Lima acts as a hub with a trip to see condors in Santa Eulalia canyon.

Highlight birding localities of the trip

  • Condor watching in Lima going up the impressive Santa Eulalia Canyon for an overnight stay. Also here Great Inca-Finch and Black-necked Flicker.
  • Birdwatching in Tumbes forest. Semi-dry Spanish moss clad deciduous forest with giant balsa trees with bright green bark and the many species of birds that are endemic for this region.
  • A pelagic tour from the lovely beach resort Punta Sal on which we apart from birds like Galapagos Petrel and Waved Albatross find Humpback Whale and Bottle-nosed and spinner Dolphins.
  • Later we visit Chaparri with the captive breeding program of re-introduced White-winged Guan and Spectacled Bear – as well as spectacular birds such as White-tailed Jay and Black-faced Ibis. Also it is a great place to watch Hummingbirds bathing in a nearby pond.
  • Bosque Pomac that holds the rare Peruvian Plantcutter and Rufous Flycatcher among the target bird species
  • Huacarpay lake in Cusco with many water birds as well as endemic species nearby,  such as Bearded Mountaineer, Rusty-fronted Canastero and Streak-fronted Thornbird
  • Abra Malaga road – cloud forest. With endemics like Marcapata Spinetail, Scaled Metaltail, Red-and-White Antpitta, Cusco Brush-Finch, Parodi’s Hemispingus and spectacular birds such as Sword-billed Hummingbird, Golden-collared Tanager, Grass-Green Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager.
  • Abra Malaga road – Polylepis forest. With rare species such as Royal Cinclodes, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant, Rust-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Tawny Tit-SPinetail, Puna Tapaculo, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, etc.
  • Abra Malaga road – dry slope. With endemics such as Creamy-crested Spinetail and White-tufted Sunbeam.
  • The cloud forest around Machu Picchu with Cock of the Rock, Torrent Duck, Highland Motmot, White-eared Solitaire, Masked Fruiteater, Inca Wren and Ocellated Piculet.
  • Optional full week at Amigos Research station gives good lodging in the rainforest and over 200 birds and 10 species of monkeys – usually….and maybe more. Electric light and WIFI internet access. Bring your computer to blog from here!

Cultural Highlights.

Did we just loose your spouse??? Call her/him back.

Here are the many cultural highlight and other attractions to the non birder.

  • Guided tour in Lima with visit the excellent Archeology museum. The Incas are only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Lima is the gourmet capital of South America. We shall enjoy some of the fine cuisine while here.
  • Relaxed stay on the beach of Punta Sal.  You may work on the tan if you don’t like boats. Exquisite food.
  • Visit to the Lord of Sipan Museum in Lambayeque.
  • Visit to the pyramids of Tucume and the Tucume museum.
  • Charming Chaparri  Eco Lodge
  • The Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman
  • The Inca ruins of Pisac
  • The Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo
  • The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu
  • Cusco town – is one main cultural attraction.

Scenery Highlights

Spectacular scenery and wholesome nature experiences

  • Santa Eulalia Cañon
  • Tumbes forest
  • Pacific ocean at Punta Sal
  • Chaparri Communal reserve
  • Machu Picchu
  • Sacred valley
  • Abra Malaga
  • The Amazon rainforest at Amigos research station close to Puerto Maldonado.

Day to day Peru program 18 days.

In the below program, flights, hotels, transport, food, excursions, guiding and entrance fees are included in the price. Airport taxes, drinks and tips are not included.

Price: Last minute offer for couples. 3000$ per person.

March 15. AM. City tour with Archeological museum. PM. Start of Condor program

March 16. Condor program in Santa Eulalia Canyon. Return to Lima and flight to Tumbes.

March 17. Tumbes program. Visit Tumbes forest AM. In afternoon transfer to Punta Sal.

March 18. Punta Sal Pelagic. PM transfer to Piura and birding Mangroves of Vice.

March 19. Visiting the Royal Tomb Museum of Lord of Sipan in Lambayeque.  PM arrive to Chaparri.

March 20. Chaparri AM. Rest of morning at Bosque Pomac for Peruvian Plantcutter. PM at Tucume. Evening flight to Lima.

March 21. Start of Machu Picchu cultural birding program (program C) Early flight to Cusco. City tour. Sacsayhuaman, Cathedral, Coricancha in this order. Lunch. Departure to Pisac. Visit Huacarpay on the way. Overnight in Pisac. Charming town and charming small hotel.

March 22. Early visit to Pisac ruins. Birding walking down to Pisac town. Visit the Pisac market. Continue to Ollantaytambo. Visit the archeological site of Ollantaytambo in the PM. Night in Ollantaytambo at Hostal Muñay Tika.

March 23 Full day to Abra Malaga. We shall take evening train to Aguas Calientes. Night in Hostal Pachacutek.

March 24. Full day at the Machu Picchu ruins and birding in the cloude forest nearby.

March 25. Birding cloud forest around Aguas Calientes. In afternoon train and bus to Cusco. Hostal Emperador Plaza.

March 26. Morning in Cusco. Flight to Maldonado at 11.00 Birding near Puerto Maldonado. Hotel in PM.

March 27-April 1. Birds and monkeys at Amigos Research Center. Click on the link for more info.

Photos: License by Common Creative. Machu Picchu: Brian Snelson
Google Buzz

Share with

Facebook for birders – an introduction

About a week ago I wrote a message to BirdChat email list asking about Social Media that birders use apart from Facebook and Twitter. Did not get any reply on this question, but I got another question instead.

“I’m new to facebook. How can I connect with birders in it?”

I prepared a (quite long) reply to explain how Facebook can be beneficial to birders and sent it off to BirdChat. Thinking about it, it does make a good topic for a blogpost.
First of all I must thank Wren for providing all the screen shots of for this article. She is one of the people behind Nature Blog Network. NBN will feature this manual in their blogging toolbox. I am overwhelmed for this offer. You find Wren’s fine blogging at Wrenaissance Reflections. I suggest you pay her visit!

Manual to Facebook for birdwatchers

I know there is a lot of people out there who are a bit wary of using the Facebook and have a hard time understanding what it is good for. The most frequent comment I get is: “Sounds like a complete waste of time to me!”

First of all, it must be said that Facebook can be used in many ways. You can keep in contact with your closest friends, but you can also use it in a broader sense to connect with other birders in your area, where you are going to spend your holiday etc. There are several groups you can belong to or you may start a group yourself. (There are several groups similar to birdchat within Facebook, to which you can also upload pictures, movies and suggest favourite web-pages).

Info how to set up a Facebook account in books – for free

If you have not yet set up a Facebook account there is great information on “how to” in these manuals available from Amazon. Click any of the two pics below and Look Inside

Facebook for dummiesFacebook the missing manual

UPDATE: Jan 13, 2010. The For Dummies title is surprisingly updated with edition from November 2009.
You can look inside the books on Amazon on the option on the left on top of the picture of the book. Read the index of each book and then “search” for the page you want to read. I am sure you shall find how to open a Facebook account and how to set your privacy levels. You shall find a lot of good tips in doing so, and it will help to get you started.

You can use this technique to look into a lot of books on Amazon without buying…!!  I posted a post on my blog about how to use to read all types of books about social media (a collective term for Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Flickr, etc).  DISCLAIMER: Just so you know…I have used affiliate links to Amazon through-out. If you do decide to buy, you will be supporting this blog with around 4% of your purchase for beer money ;-D

I also posted a blogpost regarding Google Books, which is another online service that makes it is also possible to read substantial parts of books online. There is a link to my collection of Social Media books on Google Books.

Enter now and start signing up. It is easy.

What about privacy on Facebook?

Privacy issues are often the one thing that worries new users the most, and learning how to set  the settings help a lot. If you are to share with a lot of birders who are not your “real friends”, then you may be careful what you put on your facebook. In my case, having a birding related business, it is in my interest to connect with as many birders as possible (birders talk with birders and if the word “birds in Peru” comes up…there is good chance my name will be mentioned), and therefore on my account you shall find all types of contact info. This may not be your cup of tea, so you may want to set your privacy differently.
As a result – and I guess it is from my generous privacy settings –  the other day I got a mail from an old girlfriend that I have not heard from in 30 years!! (I have not decided if I should reply. I didn’t reply). It shows you, that there may be things you might want to leave in the past. On the other hand, I have connected with some friends I went to High School with…which I do enjoy a lot.

To connect with other birders on Facebook.

First of all use the Facebook feature that imports all your contacts.  This could be either contacts in your Outlook or similar, or your contacts on your email account in Gmail, Yahoo, Msn, Aol, etc.

You will have to give your email password in order for Facebook to import. There should be no risk in doing so, because it is an all automated encrypted process. However, if you feel uneasy anyway, enter your email account and temporarily change your password, and let Facebook upload your contacts with this new password and then set it back afterwards.

To start with connect only with those contacts that have a Facebook account. Later you can add invitations to those contacts that still lack Facebook and you will have to go through the same process you just did. But, you can opt out from this option to start with. Get used to Facebook, before you start sending invitations to join Facebook. When you do start sending invitations, do select each contact manually and don’t click on add all, because it is likely that you will be adding the email of many of the birding list servers you belong to. You can imagine what it would look like on your birdlist server if everyone was sending out such messages! Nobody likes spam.

You may use facebook’s search funtion to see of long lost friends are on facebook. You be surprised how many are.  You find the seach box in the upper right corner. If you search for such a rare name as Gunnar Engblom it is quite likely you will get few hits and can readily find the one you are looking for.

Facebook automatically suggests people you may know, as FB can see when you have “friends in common”. Add those you know. Others you may want to add if just because they are birders.Click on the picture and click on “add as friend”. Before you send off the friend request CLICK ON “Add a personal message…” and explain in a short note why you are inviting the person as a Facebook friend.

Chances are that he/she will accept your request if you just state that you want to get to know other birders.

In Facebook there are a number of groups.

Naturally, you can join up with as many groups as you like. These groups tend not to be as active as you average mailing groups, but are still nice to sign up to. You can scroll through the members in any group and check if there is anyone you know, share many friends with or anyone in your area you would like to become “Facebook friends” with. This often leads to more active interaction as the news from the people you are friends with show in your timeline, while the groups you will actually have to enter one by one to see the new posts.

What if you get Facebook invitations from people to become friends with people you don’t know?

I usually only accept from those I get a personal message from. If there is no message, I check the profile of the person and if it is obvious he/she is also a birder I usually accept. I usually don’t accept those that are not using their own names, and especially not those that instead of their real name use their business name. For all I know, that is just spamming.

I don’t want to be friends with you!

If you don’t want to be friends with someone, you just don’t answer, delete the message or better still, block the person in settings. The last is probably the best, and I would prefer people who do not want to become Facebook friends with me to use this option, as it assures them that they will not get a repetitive invitations. It is pretty harmless to ask someone to become your Facebook friend, but it can be annoying to get more than one invitation if you have already declined. The point is that the person asking will not get any notice message saying that you declined, and therefore will it be difficult for that person to know if he has made an invitation previously.

People will not get mad with you for not accepting them as friends. The original purpose of Facebook was to connect only with your true friends….though birders have found a wider use for it. You also have the option to write the person asking you to become Facebook friends, telling him/her that you use Facebook only for private use.

Thus, denying someone access as a friend is like saying …this network is only for my close friends and family…which obviously is a very good reason.

Don’t put anything on Facebook, you would not put on your friend’s fridge

Even with a selected number of friends, you may want to be careful exactly what you put on your Facebook. As a rule, don’t expose anything that you would not put on your friend’s fridge!  Also know that nobody is allowed to put up compromising pictures of anyone against their will. In fact, this could be a very good strategy to get rid of any pseudo-friends and a get-rich-quickly scheme. Join your pseudo-friends at a party and get completely drunk. Next day after seeing your drunken face on their Facebook – you sue them!

Applications on Facebook

There are a number of interesting applications on Facebook. There is even one for keeping your lifelist of birds called “Birds and Birdwatching”. This is a great little app, that will soon gain more and more followers.

There are also a lot of applications that are a complete waste of time….I am not on many of these…and I still don’t get it, why I should accept to receive virtual flowers to my virtual garden – in the “(Lil) Green Patch” application. Lots of my “Friends” do use this app, which supposedly saves rainforest. I have a hard time seing how! Please explain, anyone!

Update 1: Gwendolen Tee send me a link to an explaination by Beth Kanter regarding Lil Green Patch – a social gardeing game. Apparantly, through sponsors it does generate some money. Also, many worthy causes are being displayed while you play the game. The game donated 138.900 US$ dollars and recruited almost a 1000 members to Nature Conservancy. However, with over 500 000 players logging in daily and 6.8m user monthly worldwide users, my participation is a bucket in the sea.  I have 48 “(Lil) Green Patch” request with plants sent to me. Do I have to play this? Can I donate my plants to someone who needs them?

Update 2: Bora Zivkovic of Blog around the Clock (Coturnix in the commment below) suggests also to make a mention of perhaps the most useful of all features on Facebook. The Event application, which you can use to invite friends to special birding events, such as birding festivals, field trips and lectures. This is a very useful feature for the organizers of the events to both get in contact with attendees and get an idea as how many will attend, as there is a response button for the event invitation. Furthermore, for the participant in the event it provides a constant reminder as the upcoming events are featured on the right. Bora has a lot of experience of Facebook and has used it for many different purposes. I think you will find his blog post – the evolution of Facebook – very helpful.

Update 3: This one I actually found myself.  If you blog, you should definitely use the NetworkedBlogs application. Just click on the link above to sign up. Then search for blogs containing birding and subscribe to your favorites. In summery, you can use Facebook as a blog feeder and you can also rate the blogs you subscribe to.  It is easy to handle a large number of blogs this way.

Joining Facebook about 9 months ago has brought lots of joy. I have better contact than ever with my grown-up daughter. I have connected with friends from the past I lost contact with. And most importantly I am direct contact with hundreds of birders around the world. Some are potential clients – others are not. It is not important. It is interesting to get to know each and everyone – and it is a cool way to connect and interchange bird photos and good birding stories.

See you on Facebook then???
Gunnar Engblom
Lima, Peru

Related newer articles:

Photo by David Fulmer from Flickr by creative commons lisence
Google Buzz

Share with

Ivory Gull – My first dip.

It was winter early 1985. I had been birding only 2 years. Most of my birding until then had been with the local bird club in Stockholm. Any weekend excursion organized and I wanted to go. I guess you could a say I was quite “keen” (or avid …to use a more American term), and the idea of seeing new birds on these excursions was ever so exciting. During the winter of 1984-1985 fewer birds were added as the birds disappeared to warmer latitudes. Then one cold morning  I hear of a bird I hardly knew anything about, less that it could actually appear near Stockholm as a very rare visitor. The Ivory Gull had been found at Landsort – an island south of Stockholm and relatively easy to get to. A check in the field guide showed an exquisite snow-white bird. After some double checking I did understand that this bird was not an adult, but a second year immature with a patchy black mask. Nevertheless, I wanted to see it. The first weekend I could not go for some reason, or maybe I heard too late, but the bird was being fed with hot dogs, so it was likely it would still be there the next weekend.

Weekend came, and I had been approached by some people who were interested in sharing costs of the boat to Landsort. All was coordinated and there were to be two trips to Landsort this Sunday. I happened to end up on the second boat and this made us miss the bird. Only some of the people from the first boat saw the boat. To hear it was seen just a few hours ago and not to be seen again was a feeling of deception that I had not yet gotten used to. It was almost like the same reason I gave up playing chess in my teens. Playing a game for around 5-6 hours only to loose in the end became a complete waste of time as girls were getting more and mote interesting.

Now, on a freezing day on Lansdort, I was thinking of all the other things I could have been doing instead of being wasting my time this way. Yes, I dipped! That great British birder slang for missing a bird you specifically came to see.

Mind you, my trip to Landsort that time was not totally in vain, as I saw my first Steller’s Eider on this trip, and maybe this is the art of dipping gracefully. Be happy seeing other wonderful birds and maybe will the new experiences add to the wholesome.

Ivory Gull in Massachusetts

24 years later I was checking out the listservers in the US and see that my nemesis bird Ivory Gull had been seen both in Gloucester and in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Not smudgy 2K birds this time, but beautifully white adults.

Had I not been going to Brazil, I could have gone on a twitch – again British birding slang for searching a specific bird. A Facebook birder friend, Sheridan Coffey, did a really long twitch. When she heard there was not only one, but two adult Ivory Gulls in Massachussetts, she packed her binoculars to fly 2530 km (1574 miles) to Newark and then drive 370km (231 miles) to Plymouth. It turned out to be quite a journey with lots of delays, but in the end, she and her friends saw the Ivory Gull. She made a very action filled Ivory Gull blog about the quest. Here is her video of the Ivory Gull eating chicken scraps on the ice.


But in spite of birders coming from near and far, the Gulls would not stay forever. Some people arrived just as the bird had left. The dippers!  Here is another blog account by Jim McCarthy about four birders from Cleveland, Ohio, who arrived just a trifle too late. But, just as I had enjoyed my Stellar’s Eiders on Landsort, they enjoyed a lot of other birds on their twitch.

A few years after the Landsort dip, I wrote a song about birding (in Swedish) called Meståg (translated to Birdparty). The song is about my ficitional friend Lasse (Lars). I am sure you are well aware that all the best birders in Sweden are called Lars (Lasse). Lars Jonsson, Lars Svenson and so on…

The third verse contains the story of the Landsort – Ivory Gull incident. I tried to upload to my facebook but apparantly only a few people could hear it as the Facebook mp3 app apparantly does not play in Internet Explorer.

So here it is is again, people….proudly presenting Guran Guran with the number one hit “Meståg”….

meståg – Guran Guran

Birdparty – meståg in English.

All this talk about Ivory Gulls inspired me to do a crude translation to English. Here is the relevant verse in English.

It is freezing cold and a hell of a weather.

He hasn’t seen a bird not even a feather.

So his checking the mails on the local bird server

He’s willing to go birding much further

So he’s packing up his binocs and his new snow shoe set

There’s an Ivory Gull in Massachussetts

He’s going to a bird party…..going to a bird party.

I am thinking of getting some people together to record the song again in English – just for the fun of it.

In the translation I took the liberty of changing Lasse’s name to Johnny. So many famous birders and ornithologists named John, right? Come to think of it, what is the most common English birder name. John, David, Bob or Michael? Please comment!

Ivory Gull picture by Will Smyth by Creative Commons license, Photo taken Jan 25, Plymouth, MA.


Google Buzz

Share with


Top 10 lists

Top 10 lists are popular
Top 10 lists are popular

I am listening to advice here. Catch attention to your site by doing a list! The social media gurus are drowning us with 15 useful tools for wordpress bloggers, 10 Best Strategies to Massively Increase Your Visibility Online, the 10 most egregious SEO mistakes etc. Lists is the way to go if you want visitors to your blog. So people tell everyone you know about this post and I shall let you know if we reach an all high number of visitors to this blog-post.
People just love lists. I second Sheridan’s Ivory Gull post, where she mentions a favorite movie of mine as well – High Fidelity – in which John Cusak and Jack Black turns the whole world around them into top 5 lists. And for birders lists are even more important….I guess you already knew that.

David Govoni – a friend on Twitter – asked today for birdwatching links to his delicious link bundle on birds and birding. I decided to send him my 10 favorite birding links. I later realized this makes a great blogging post, so there you have it. I had actually meant to blog about Ivory Gull, twitching and dipping today, but now I did this instead. Well, I have that blog up my sleef, as well as a series of coming postings with some juicy pics from my recent Brazil trip.

Here we go: Gunnar’s favorite birding web-sites.

Actually, I refuse to make them a proper top 10, because I cannot rank among them. So please don’t see their individual number as an actual preference on my part.

  1. Bird Forum: As the name inplies forum about birds. Lots of activity in here, and always someone on line to give you comments on your posts.  There is also a wiki with info and photos on birds around the world. Not surprisingly this part is being under construction.
  2. BirdLife International Data zone Here you find info on the threat status of all the birds in the world, as well as learning about endemic bird areas and Important Bird Areas.
  3. A birding blog: Corey, Charlie and Mike’s pioneering extremely popular blog. To me it is the best birding blog there is. And even better since today, when they are partnering with Birdlife International to raise money and awareness for threatened birds.     
  4. Worldtwitch.  John Wall’s pioneering world birding site. Even of the interface could do with some make-up, the content is the strong side here. Just loads of info and valueble links for the world birder.
  5. Fatbirder. Bo Beolens pioneering birding resource page. This is also a site I often come back to.
  6. Kenn and Kim Kaufman blog. Famous couple blogging together. Kingbird Highway and field guide author Kenn and his lovely Rock n Roll wife Kim entertain me immensly. And while they travel the world and blogging about it, they also have initiated some great local projects for kids to become interested in nature and birds.
  7. Avibase.  Need a checklist for any one country or region? Need to know what any species is called in Hebrew, Portuguese or Finnish? Avibase has it all.
  8. Travelling Birder. Two Danish brothers created the best trip report collection for birders. You can be sure to find loads of info here prior to your Peru trip.
  9. American Birding Association – ABA. This is not only a great organization to be part of to recieve the beautiful magazine birding. The web-site is packed with info.
  10. Surfbirds. Pioneering modern portal like birding web-site. And still the best of the lot. Here you find people uploading their bird pictures, place their life lists, write blogs, hang tripreports etc.

For avid birders most of these sites may well be known, but maybe you learnt something about promoting your web-sites by the introduction above…and I got yet a visitor to my blog..

Now check out the birding tours or learn about birding in Peru on my other web-sites (hehehe!)

Google Buzz

Share with


New field guide to the Birds of Brazil by Tomas Sigrist

Arrived to Sao Paolo and met up with client Millie Billota and Brazilian Bird festival AVISTAR organizer Guto Carvalho. When in Brazil and you intend to go birding, the first thing you should do is to get a field guide, that can be very hard to get in the US or in Europe. The past field guides have lacked seriously in artistic talant, so a good field guiid was definetely very desirable.

It is pleasing to learn that the first field guide of Brazil is made by Brazilians. Guto was kind enough to take us to the editor Avis Brasilis in Vinhedo- friends of his a big supporters of the Avistar event.

Here are some sample picture. I shall update this blog post tomorrow, but I need to go to bed now. More birding tomorrow.

All birds in Brazil are split up in two volumes. One for the East part of the country, which includes the SE where we are birding now-and another volume for the Amazon part of Brazil. This is a smart move – to make the book more field friendly, becauase the book is really made to be used in the field. Instead of long facing text it shows maps, location of field marks on the bird indicated with dots, and codes for habitat and of course English, Portuguese and Scientific name.

There is also a larger coffee table book that combines these two volumes into one and with more complete text over the biology of the birds.

The book can be ordered on-line at the following web-page (only portuguese):

Should you run into any problems making orders let me know and I will contact the editor owners.

It is a great achievement: Tomas Sigrist has made ornithological history by putting together this fine work. The editors done a very good job. Next project for the young editor house is the printing of high quality posters on linen and on paper.

Google Buzz

Share with

South Florida Weekend. Visit from Peru by a (totally lost) Swedish birder

I spent a long weekend with my wife, Elita in southern Florida. I had to make some changes personally for my bank account in the US, and this was the principal cause of my trip. But business is always more fun if it can be combined with pleasure.

American Crow. Everglades. Photo Gunnar Engblom

American Crow. Everglades. Photo Gunnar Engblom

The car rental (Enterprise) had me fooled a bit. I thought I had managed a super rate on the internet with a vehicle for just around 20$ per day. But the rental guy kept on insisting that I would be sorry if I did not get the “optional insurance of some 20$ per day” and then kept on adding insurance after insurance, so the price of the car would be something like 70$ per day. Hmm. Not at one instance did he mention that I have a quite good insurance with my Visa Gold. Unfortunately, this only struck me after I given in with an end cost of some 50 dollars per day with tax included. Anyway 150 bucks for the 3 days was not too bad.

Before the trip, I had hoped to get some more birding done, but the first day, the arrival day, lost 3 hours due to a delay in Lima. I had already promised Elita, that we should go shopping, so with visits at International Mall and Mall of the Americas and Toys R Us not too far from the airport, time just vaporized. After getting completely lost trying to find our hotel it was close to 11 pm before I finally fount Hotel El Palacio in Fort Lauderdale.

If you know Florida, and you are a birder, you know I was completely lost here. Why the heck did I choose Ft Lauderdale if I wanted to have a good birding position? The best place to stay is naturally Hampstead, from where you have a good vantage point to the majority of birding sites in Southern Florida. However, El Palacio in Ft Lauderdale came up very nicely prised in my hotel searches, and the fact that they had gym and did not charge for parking helped to make me decide. (In the end I did not use the gym of course, but at least it was there.)

Late night and there was no way I could take up offer to join birding at Everglades at 6 AM. I had my alarm clock at 4.45, but the bed was too comfortable and the drive too long. Instead around 10 AM, I went for a long run in the vicinity of the hotel.

It turned out to be a very pleasant run, and I was even seeing some birds, most of which are extremely common for Florida birders, but if anyone is interested here is a link to my running blog, where the run is featured. There are actually a few ID features you birders can help me with. First there is a Canada Goose. The picture is very poor, but it seemed to me that the individual was very small, so I am suspecting it is a Cackling Goose, which I thought is rare in Florida. If anyone in Oakland Park, Ft Lauderdale want to check it out here are the GPS coordinates in the Royal Palm Park:


80° 9’55.46″W

UPDATE: Feb 23, 2009. Chuck Geanangel, Rex Rowan, Roy Peterson and Carlos Ross kindly pointed me that any Canada goose south of Gainsville is not countable as it would not be wild. Jeez, what do I expect in a park pond!

There was also a pair long-necked Grebes quite distantly. The seemed to be too slender to be Pied-billed Grebe which I also saw on the run. I did not bring my binoculars and the 3x optical zoom did not do the job. Would Horned Grebe be a good guess? Is that a good bird?

UPDATE: Feb 23, 2009. Roy Peterson says the grebe is most likely Horned Grebe.

Furthermore a pair distant ducks, with very pale backs. Again the camera could not make out what they are.  I am suspecting Canvasback. Is that at all possible?

UPDATE: Feb 23, 2009. Carlos Ross suggests that the most likely candidate was Ring-necked Duck or Lesser Scaup. Canvasback would be very rare.

Everglades and sparrows.

On Sunday, after convincing my wife that we’d see some alligators if we’d go to Everglades, we took off late after lunch. I set the GPS for Flamingo and just followed directions on the map software on the Blackberry and wondered how I could survive without this gadget before. I did not realize how far it was!

I had before this trip decided that there were 3 species I wanted to see. And the best place to see all of them as I understood was in the Everglades.

My targets were Sparrows. Ever since I read Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway I was fascinated by the local populations of Sharp-tailed and Seaside Sparrows in Florida. I wanted to see as many of these as possible. Kenn relates that Dusky Seaside Sparrow is no more, and it was likely his site for Cape Sables Seaside Sparrow was gone as well.

Cape Sables is close to Flamingo and furthermore Roberto Torres kindly gave me directions for the Coastal Prairie Trail where both Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows can be seen. So Flamingo it was. Roberto gave me many other tips which I will have to try out some other time. However, the two hottest birds in Florida at that moment that Roberto mentioned, being chased by the local birders, had absolutely NO interest for me……..Tropical Kingbird and Neotropical Cormorant. WTF!
(Do I have to mention trash and bird in the same word for you to understand HOW COMMON these are here in Peru. Funny how all things are relative to time and space. Is this what Einstein meant?)

Entrance fee was 10 buck. There were several cars parked at a pond as we approached Flamingo – and there were other birders.

Birders in Florida, Everglades. Does anyone know the name of this pond?

Birders in Florida, Everglades. Does anyone know the name of this pond?

Incredible variety of nice birds in front of my eyes – none new to me, but still cool birds to see. There were several species of ducks.

Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal and Mallard, and also two female plumaged Northern Shovelers. Well, at least that is what the looked like to me, but not having seen one for about many years, and with no book at hand, I was only 99% sure. I was getting a bit shaky for a while, wondering that maybe I am committing a mistake here…maybe I am not recalling this right. Mallards have pretty broad bills, right – I thought for a few seconds and tried to get some pics through my binoculars.

Furthermore, there was Snowy, Little Blue, Tricolored and Green Heron and Great Egret.  A few very pink Roseate Spoonbills and several Woodstorks in a tree and then all of a sudden a belted Kingfisher flew in.

On the lake there was also Pied-billed Grebe. I heard someone mentioning Least Grebe as well, but I never saw it.

Drove almost all the way to Flamingo, but the last open pond on the right a few birders had stopped and looked at something. Stopped car and walked up to them. They had a beautiful Osprey in view that had just caught a fish.

As we watched another raptor flew in. I am not being too familiar with North American raptors noticed it shaped as a Goshawk of Europe. A heavy bodied Accipiter. Streaked below on white and white tail with black bands. It was too large and heavy for a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I suggested Coopers Hawk to the other birders, as it would be next size up in the Accipiter genus. The other birders did not know.

Studying the literature afterwards I conclude it could have been an juvenile Coopers Hawk, but more likely on distribution it was a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk. David Sibley says Red-shouldered Hawk is Accipiter-like, and that coopers Hawk has proportionally a very long tail. It did not appear as extremely long-tailed bird to me, but rather compact and bulky, but yet Accipiter-like. As the observation was short, I would not bet my life on it. I understand Cooper’s Hawk is quite rare in the region, so local birders may want to check if the bird is still there. I’d be interested to know.

UPDATE: Feb 23, 2009. Both Chuck Geanangel and Roy Peterson point out that Cooper’s Hawk is quite rare. I went through a bunch of pictures on the internet and Laura Graham also sent me a picture. I must conclude that my bird felt heavier than the Coopers pictures I am seeing and had a shorter tail. Thus, I am concluding young Red-shouldered Hawk. It was not so strange I did not know. It was my first one ever!

As we arrived to Flamingo only to be informed by a ranger that the Coastal Prairie Trail was closed for maintenance. Darn…

Instead the ranger said I could try the pond trail.


Well, at least no Sparrows. Instead Eastern Pheobe, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Harrier, Anhinga and another Osprey.

My wife finally saw an Alligator as I had promised. A stone fell from my chest!

With some Canadian birders from Toronto we find aptly a Canada Warbler after some intense pishing at the end of the saltgrass.

UPDATE: Feb 23, 2009. Well that is what I thought. But again Chuck Geanangel  as well as Brad Bergstom underline that Canada warbler would be a very lucky find. Chuck said I should get a lottery ticket (LOL!). My description was of a warbler without wingbars, gray on the back (grayish) and all yellow below with streaks on the chestsides (which I extrapolated in my mind to cross the chest ….even that I only saw the bird sideways)  It also had an eye-ring. The eyering was broad and quite loose in shape. This only lead me to Canada Warbler. I was considering immature Yellow Warbler when I was questioned, but that is also a rare bird. Chuck came up with Praire Warbler. Not too bad. It fits perfectly to an immature female. My brain was playing with me, wanting me to put this bird into something I knew. Scrutinizing what I really saw I cannot say for certain I saw streaking across the chest and the gray back was not plumbeous gray as a Canada Warbler, but rather an olive gray that most likely appeared grayer than it was in the very late afternoon with poor light. I don’t complain as Praire Warbler was a lifer! That eyering was perfect!

Also a red-bellied Woodpecker flew over. They inform me that some birders had seen Sparrows on the Coastal Praire Trail in the morning and that the trail could be reached walking from the parking lot. But I was running out of time. On the way back to the parking lot I talk to a birder from Massachussets. Together we see a Red-tailed Hawk and an adult Red-shouldered Hawk with splendid orange underparts and a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher.

I decided to approach the salt marsh habitat near the camp-ground. And yes, finally there were some sparrows there. Problem was that they pressed to the ground and only made short flights when flushed. They were making thin high pitched single note calls. I could not get them into view. Intense pishing, but that did not help and I was running out of light. Oh well, I have to come back and do this properly sometime. As I was walking back to the car, some sparrows were by the side of the road at the edge of the saltgrass vegetation. Finally, I saw it well. Supercillum, whitish or maybe yellow crownstripe (definitely saw yellow somewhere- could have been the lores), white malar, distinct heavily streaked underparts and flanks and a darker black spot on the central chest – Savannah Sparrow. Not quite the thing I was looking for, but at least I would not have to leave in uncertainty.

Birds seen:
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Cartle Egret
White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Northern Shoveler 2 fem
Blue-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal
American Kestrel
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Harrier
Ring-billed Gull
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
Northern Mockingbird
Praire Warbler
Savanna Sparrow
American Crow

Thanks to all that have helped me and answered questions prior and after the trip. Additionally, to the people mentioned in the article, I had help from Renne Leatto who gave me sites for Bobcat (next time!) and Barbara Passmore who signed me up on Floridabirds. Also thanks to Michelle Matson, who also gave some bobcat tips on Facebook.

Google Buzz

Share with