Birdwatching

Kolibri Expeditions time-limited special offers for 2010 and 2011.

Extended Special Offer

Since we could not participate in British Birdwatching Fair this year, I figured we needed to present some material anyway for this time, so I ran a campaign for three days with special offers for a limited time period. One offer per day were presented between Aug 20-22, valid between Aug 20-29 Sep 5.  These offers originally appeared in my post about creating a Virtual Birdfair.  We now offer an extra week to take advantage of these great offers – until Sep 5.  Both time and space are limited.

SALE ONE / Tambopata

We have four departures with special price to the tour to SE Peru Tambopata rainforest and the lodge project of the Durand brothers. I say under construction so I do mean it is very basic, but then again – it is well possible to bird at the site and then go back to sleep in Maldonado at night – to come out again the following morning – for a small surcharge. The 8 day trip in October, December 2010 and January 2011 is only US$1180 (£760) including the flight from Lima to Cusco and return. The trip hosted by high demand Moth expert Seabrooke in November is US$1330. This price is held regardless of the number of participants on the tour. The normal price starts at US$1552 (£999). Young birders up to 25 pay only US$695 (£450) (excluding internal flight). The offer is only valid  until Sep 5!

SALE TWO Satipo road and Carpish

Following the successful fundraising in July by Rainforest Partnership from September there will be no camping on this trip as there will be proper beds in the School at Apaya on the Satipo road. The Satipo road and Carpish 8 day trip featuring Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager and Diademed Sandpiper-Plover in September, October, November, December and January 2011, for only US$999 (£640). Normal price starts at US$1212 (£780). Young birders up to 25 pay only US$695 (£450). The Sale is valid until  Sep 5 only!

SPECIAL OFFER THREE .

The last offer may actually be the best of all.
All Peru birding trips for 2011 on the Kolibri Expeditions web-page sell for list-price (which usually involves 7 people for that price) no matter how many people book. If no other people book, you will still enjoy list price (although you would have to pay for a single room). So why is this such a good deal? Isn’t going to be list price anyway, by the time the trip runs?
Possibly, but you get to set the dates and have a price guarantee. Most of our departures are run below max number of passengers which could mean a surcharge for you. You are also protected against sudden price increases. The Kolibri Expeditions list prices are among the lowest in the market, but our guides are among the best in Peru. I have said it before and say it again: Why pay More? Why see Less?

Check out all the Peru trips on this link

Kolibri Expeditions birding tours in Peru

At the top of this page the tours are organized in geographical regions to help you find a tour. Then follows an intent to group the trips into different type of birders and styles of birding. Finally all the possible trips are listed. We are sure you will be overwhelmed, so send us a mail (kolibriexp@gmail.com) with your time limit, a description of yourself and what type of birding you enjoy and which areas or species you are most interested in seeing.

You only have until Sep 5  to decide which trips you want to do in 2011 and until Sep 7 to pay 20% (minimum 700 dollars) of the total fee to activate your booking and secure the list price.

The moment you decide for a tour and a date, that same tour will appear on our tour calendar, which will make it easier for others to find the same tour. It is also possible to specify in the tour calendar what type of birding you enjoy – so that others signing up for the same trip will have similar qualifications (for example specify id you want a hardcore birding with as many species as possible, or if you enjoy photographing birds, or a program with birding and visiting several archeological site.)

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Fiji Petrel Interview.

Fiji Petrel. First photograph. The Tubenose project. Hadoram Shirihai.

Fiji Petrel. First photograph. The Tubenose project. Hadoram Shirihai.

I am pleased to announce a short interview with the main players of the recent discovery at sea of Fiji Petrel that I reported last week.  Both Had0ram Shirihai and Tony Pym have kindly answered my questions. I meant to send this earlier, but had to leave for Cuzco for a few days.
If you have additional questions to ask Hadoram and Tony, please put them in the comment field and I will forward them.

Hadoram Shirihai (47)

In November 2007  Hadoram Shirihai re-discovered and photographed Beck’s Petrel in the Bismark Archipelago.  Again, he is the main executor of a new major seabird discovery as the news and photos of  Fiji Petrel circulated around the world  yesterday. He has an impressive track record of excellent, very thorough and well researched books already published, such as being author or co-author of major birding literature such as Birds of Israel , Sylvia Warblers and The Macmillan Birder’s Guide to European and Middle Eastern Birds.
In the mid 90’s he started getting more focused on seabirds his extensive travels in the southern seas culminated with the definite reference and guide book for Antarctica and the seabirds in the vicinity with the publication of The complete guide to Antartic wildlife in 2001 with a revised and extended second edition 2008. His travels over the seven seas also resulted in an authoritative guide for marine mammals: Whales, Dolphins, and Other Marine Mammals of the World (Princeton Field Guides)

Hadoram has several on-going book project such as Photographic Handbook for Western Palearctic Birds with Lars Svensson, Photographic Handbook of Birds of the World with Hans Jörnvall for which Hadoram himself has to provide around 5000 species  and the definite work on seabirds that all seabird fanatics are waiting for The Tubenose project. It is this latest project that drives Hadoram to make these far-flung expeditions to search for and photograph seabirds rarely or never previously photographed.

The natural question for seabird “locos” like myself. When is the book coming out, Hadoram?

It probably will be ready for publication in 3 to 4 years, depending when John Cox will end his great plates, but in the meantime Vincent Bretagnolle (my co-author) and I are working on the text, more photo/chumming expeditions and on publication of c. 10 scientific papers… Good books takes time to make, you have to wait if you want a good one… Tony will be happy to answer your other questions.  I am on my way to Brazil…

Hadoram native of Jerusalem, Israel, travels for around 5-6 months per year for his book projects and nowadays calls Zurich, Switzerland his home is coming to Peru next year to continue his photographic work for the Photographic Handbook of the Birds of the World. Kolibri Expeditions is getting the privilege to make all the logistical set-ups.

Tony Pym

Tony Pym is senior guide for Ornitholidays and guide many of their pelagic cruises. He is well renowned among pelagic birders and shares a lot of his sightings and news on the list servers  specialized on pelagics. He also has an excellent web-page on Seabirds and Cetaceans. Since Hadoram is travelling Tony kindly answered my remaining questions.
After the aborted expedition in 2008, how sure were you that you were to try again?

After the problems in 2008, if anything this made us more determined to get back to the area. In fact, there were many more problems than solely mechanical problems with the boat but these are for a future chat, not publication! It was very frustrating for us after much planning to be leaving the South Pacific last year, seeing such good birds in the few days and believing the Fiji Petrel was there, somewhere waiting to be seen. After much discussion between the team we decided on a different timing, the dates being co-ordinated between us with particular reference to the possible breeding season. The paper outlines much more about this and the reasons for working given sea areas.

Was it hard to get paying members to the two expeditions in 2008 and 2009?
There are few amateur seabird enthusiasts who wish to be at sea continuously searching for petrels, and have the money also for the travel and real costs. We needed this money up-front also, so that the boat could be charted and other accommodation/logistics put into place in advance of our arrival. The cost was equally shared, with hopes of some refunds from both company and private support, including that from the main conservation societies (listed in the scientific paper).

How did you manage to keep quiet since May and why?
The team agreed an embargo; to not release any photos or information from seeing the first bird to actual publication of the paper. Everyone had to keep to this for maximum impact on a given date (that day was 11 September). Any release of a photo could take away from both the paper and the announcement.

Was there any particular reason why the announcement comes with the publication?
The BOC agreed that the paper was of sufficient importance for its next issue, as we wanted. From May we had to write the paper – 20 pages has been published – with a deadline for publication in the next bulletin, September. We agreed with the editor that the bulletin, with its scoop, had to be mailed and on subscribers’ doorsteps before we released the press announcement. This was agreed with BirdLife also, and the embargo date agreed was yesterday. On the same day, any postings to Newsgroups, other media could take place. This would give maximum take on the plight of the bird, in the world’s press, resulting in many thousands seeing the photos and notes on the same day. This method meant the likes of BBC, USA-Today, Sky News, AOL and newspapers like the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and other big players in new wires would all have the info at once. Also, we had here the opportunity to advertise the BOC, BirdLife, NatureFiji and others in one big hit.

Who were the members on board in 2008 and 2009?
The team in 2008 were Hadoram, myself, Joerg Kretzscmar, Geoff Jones, Patrick Blomquist, Dick Newell and Dick Watling plus others, mostly Fijians on the ground backing us. In 2009 there was Hadoram, myself, Joerg, Dick Watling and again many backing us on the boat and ashore.

The dark small cockilaria like petrel that got away in 2008. Was it IT? Did Patrick, Geoff and Dick Newell see that one well enough to stay at home this time?
Yes, the small dark petrel could have been the bird, but it was seen only by Hadoram, Jörg and myself. The others did not pick up the bird as it came in at distance, disappeared behind a wave and shot out the other way. So, Geoff, Patric and Dick Newell have not seen Fiji Petrel…unfortunately for them, after their efforts in 2008.

Last question: So what is next? Any other lost species you are going to search for? How do I sign up?
As for future expeditions we are planning at least three more at present, but you’ll have to wait for their announcements within the seabirding community. Suffice to say, all involve very rare seabirds….and the world is a big place!

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Harpy Eagle. Harpia harpyja.

Harpy Eagle. Puerto Maldonado. Photo: Walter Mansilla

Harpy Eagle. Puerto Maldonado. Photo: Walter Mansilla

This series continues. Today, we concentrate our attention on a bird in South America. Here  is the Harpy Eagle is the most powerful of Eagles (together with Philippine Eagle). Its talons are the size of a grown man’s hand. Check out the power in this video when a Harpy Eagle catches a Sloth.

Where to see Harpy Eagle.

Bridge to Harpy nest near Puerto Maldonado

Bridge to Harpy nest near Puerto Maldonado

Harpy Eagle occurs from Central America to Brazil and Bolivia. In recent years there have been staked out nests in Venezuela, Belize, Panama, Guyana, Peru and Brazil. As I write this there is an active nest in SE Peru that can be visited near Puerto Maldonado, which is the major airport to reach Tambopata.  It is a very user friendly set up, with a steel tower with a platform across from the nest tree.  A trail has been put in and even a bridge has been constructed to make it more accessible. It should be pointed out that the nest is not in a pristine area. There are lots of agriculture going on nearby. Of the money collected from the visiting birders, half  is donated to the local community and the other half is set off for research by Antonio Fernandini. Antonio has another nest in a more pristine area that is being monitored simultaneously. It is unlikely that the locals would have let the Harpy Eagle nest be if they were not receiving money from the visitors.

Harpy Eagle nests can be productive for visiting birders allowing for seeing adults or almost fully grown juveniles for as long as 2 years. Therefore, this Harpy Eagle nest will be a resource during 2009 and all of 2010.

If you want to visit the nest with Kolibri Expeditions, please check our webpage for tours to SE Peru that end in Puerto Maldonado.  There is a surcharge of 150 US$ to visit the Harpy that is paid at the site. It can be visited in the morning before the flight.

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Suberb Lyrebird from Australia is one of the world's best mimics.

Suberb Lyrebird from Australia is one of the world's best mimics.

The famous BBC series with David Attenborough has brought forward a number of contestants for the “1000 birds to see before you die” project. I think most of the will qualify when I get the final list out by the end of this week or early next week.

Superb Lyrebird Menura novaehollandiae

The Superb Lyrebird Menura novaehollandiae is one of  the best mimic in the world. It imitates the birds around it, but also camera shutters and car alarms. The male clears an area in the forest and makes this its display ground.  Another species is Albert’s Lyrebird Menura albert, which occurs much more localized only in Southern Queensland.

Where to see Superb Lyrebird.

The Superb Lyrebird occurs in rain forest in in Victoria, New South Wales and south-east Queensland, as well as in Tasmania where it was introduced in the 19th century. It is not too difficult to see. Locally, the display sites are well known. Display occures between April and September.

For more information see this great article.

Please let me know any link all of a sudden does not work.  Superb Lyretail photo Rick Ryan under Creative Commons license. All photos made by Gunnar Engblom on this blog may be used under Creative Commons license as long as they are attributed the original article with a link.

Related 1000 birds posts:

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Red-capped Manakin is famous as the bird that dances as Michael Jackson. I can moonwalk.

Red-capped Manakin is famous as the bird that dances as Michael Jackson. I can moonwalk.

Some of you may have heard of my book project “1000 birds to see before you die“. If not click the link. In any case, the project is slowly running along. We are still working with the database and the lists to choose the 1000 birds that will be featured in the book.  Some birds are just given. So without further a due, I give to you a new daily blog series. I may be very random these birds come up.  But one by one – one every day – the 1000 birds will be presented. This means it will take about 3 years to finish the series. And this is also a good deadline for the book. 3 years. First one out is the

Red-capped Manakin Pipra mentalis

This is partly a tribute to Michael Jackson. Here is the bird that does the moonwalk. There are four Manakin species with red heads and black body, but the Red-capped Manakin has the coolest display.

Where to see Red-capped Manakin.

It is distributed from the Yucatan in Mexico to west Ecuador.  Many lodges in Central America have lek-sites staked out, where the moonwalk can be seen.

Please let me know any  link all of a sudden does not work. Red-capped Manakin photo Jorge Montejo under Creative Commons license. All photos made by Gunnar Engblom on this blog may be used under Creative Commons license for as long as they are attributed the original article with a link.
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North Peru birding tour

Marvelous Spatuletail Photo: Gunnar Engblom. Photographed at Leymebamba on June 22, 2009

Marvelous Spatuletail Photo: Gunnar Engblom. Photographed at Leymebamba on June 22, 2009

I am back from one of the best birding routes of the world, packed with endemics and spectacular species. I will have more time to blog now, as I have no birding trips coming up for a while.  This week and next I shall make a series of blogs connected in one way or another to Nothern Peru. Come back daily to this page for more news. First out is a short picture summery about the last trip.

My recent tour to Northern Peru started off a bit nervously due to the violant clash against demonstrators and police just 5 days prior to our departure with over 30 dead (and probably more as numbers unfold). See my previous blog-post for more info on this unfortunate and sad news. We were to pass through this same area. Therefore at the start of the trip I decided it was probably better to just re-route the trip via Cajamarca and Balsas to get to Leymebamba, instead of the planned route via Jaen and Bagua, where potentially more problems could rise.

This was a mixed cultural and birding tour.  I guided 3 women who had grown up together attending the same school. Only one of them, Laura, was a birder from start. Nancy and Jaynie were good sports and participated in the birding activities as well. Jaynie was not feeling too well part of the trip and took it easy at the serenity of the Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge while we were staying there.  In 10 days we noted short of 300 species of birds, but we were not only birding as I just stated. We visited archeological sites and museums, such as the great Sipan Museum in Lambayeque, Tucume, Cajamarca, Leyemebamba Laguna de Condores musuem and Chachapoyas fortress Kuelap. In Lima we made visit to the Gold Musuem and National Museum in Lima. Right now the group is visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu with our guide Alex. Surely many birds are being added.

Lodging highlights were Chaparri and Abra Patricia Lodge, while finding a male Marvelous Spatuletail at the feeders across from the Museum in Leymebamba was the most exciting of all our birds seen.

Coming back to Lima with million things to do I am just posting some of my pictures below with short comments. Upcoming articles this week (tempted schedule….but in reality don’t be surprised if it takes longer!).

  • Birding Chaparri (Tuesday)
  • Birding Abra Patricia (Wednesday)
  • Culture in Northern Peru – combine birding and archeology (Thursday)
  • Hummingbird watching in Peru. Best places to watch hummingbirds. (Friday)
Long-tailed Mockingbird Chaparri. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Long-tailed Mockingbird Chaparri. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Striped Owl. Chaparri. Photo Gunnar Engblom

Striped Owl. Chaparri. Photo Gunnar Engblom

Rufous Flycatcher. Bosque Pomac. Photo Gunnar Engblom. Rufous Flycatcher is one of the most wanted endemic species in the region and generally uncommon to rare.

Rufous Flycatcher. Bosque Pomac. Photo Gunnar Engblom. Rufous Flycatcher is one of the most wanted endemic species in the region and generally uncommon to rare.

White-faced (Tropical) Gnatcatcher. Bosque Pomac. Photo Gunnar Engblom

White-faced (Tropical) Gnatcatcher. Bosque Pomac. Photo Gunnar Engblom

Cinereous Finch. Bosque Pomac. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Cinereous Finch. Bosque Pomac. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Peruvian Plantcutter. Bosque Pomac. Photo: Gunnar Engblom The most threatened species in the region together with White-winged Guan.

Peruvian Plantcutter. Bosque Pomac. Photo: Gunnar Engblom The most threatened species in the region together with White-winged Guan.

White-winged Guan. Chaparri. Photo Gunnar Engblom

White-winged Guan. Chaparri. Photo Gunnar Engblom

Royal Sunangel. Abra Patricia. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

Royal Sunangel. Abra Patricia. Photo: Gunnar Engblom

If you are interested in a tour to Northern Peru, check out our extensive offering on our new summery North Peru tour page. There are both comfortable trips that combine birds and culture suitable for non-birding spouses, as well as more intense birding trips.

Related blogposts.

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Eastern or Western Willet?

The pelagic was cancelled last Saturday, so instead we started the morning at Pozo Arenillas at La Punta.

I got some pics of  Willets. Since they are likely in for a split. I would like to invite the readers of this blog to help me identify them. Of great use is “The Shorebird Guide” by Michael O’Brian, Richard Crossley and Kevin Karlson.

I could do it myself but leaving  for Huanuco in 10 minutes, so I’d thought I’d send you a quiz – instead of an ordinary blog post.

Willet 1
willet
Willet 3

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A reasonable Life List

Who has not heard of the book “1000 places to see before you die“? That is a bucket list for world travellers. Soon there shall be such a bucket list with 1000 birds for birders. I mean let’s face it. Most of us will not be able to see all the 10,000 birds in the world anyway, so we might as well keep the list somewhat realistic.  Even so, 1000 species is still a darn challenge that will be very hard, because some of the most wanted birds are either very rare, very hard to get to with strenuous walks and climbs, or extremely costly to get to.
But that is alright. Most of the people that bought the book “1000 places” book, will not fill their list either. It is living the dream and to always set a new goal that matters.

I cracked the idea, and now I decided I shall write a book! Nobody gets rich on writing birdbooks, so this will be a hobby project in which you can take part by helping selecting the 1000 species. When the book is done, you will be able to download it for free on our web-site.

Choose 100 birds now!

Which are your top 100 birds in the world that you have seen and want to see. Just download this zip excel file – Birds of the World and mark your 100 favorites from the almost 10000 species in the world. Mark them giving your absolute most wanted bird 100 points, your second most wanted bird 99 points, etc.

I shall be doing the same exercise the coming days. To help me there are a couple of books that have been extremely important to me when dreaming about exotic birds that I may one day see. I just took them off the bookshelf and piled them on my desk. They are:

  • BIrds of the World. A survey of the twenty-seven Orders and the one hundred and fifty-five Families by Oliver J. Austin Jr and fantastic illustrations by Arthur Singer. This is a true masterpiece when it comes to bird paintings. The book was first published in 1961. I have had this book since I started birding in 1983 and the a new print was published in Swedish. I am pretty sure that most of my favorites will be coming from this book. Also, I shall make sure that at least one species of each family will be on the final list of 1000 species
  • The Encyclopedia of Birds. A similar  work put together chiefly by Christoffer Perrins and C. J. O. Harrison first published in 1976 and later published by Reader’s Digest. It is beautifully illustrated by Ad Cameron.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds. A publication that again Christoffer Perrins was involved in. This book first published in 1990 was a collective work between Marshall Editions and ICBP (the precursor to BirdLife International). The illustrations again are very good from a number of artists,
  • Threatened Birds of the World. Published by Lynx editions and BirdLife International in 2000. All threatened bird species are illustrated.
  • Rare Birds Yearbook. This book is published by Erik Hirschfeldt, a Swede I know since many years back. Erik’s project has been very inspiring to launch my project. I will think of ways to also be able to get some revenue to BirdLife in spite that the book will be free. In the final list with 1000 birds the majority of the critically threatened birds will be included, except for those that have no recent records. It is a bit pointless to list Ivory-billed Woodpecker and Eskimo Curlew in final list, even if these would be very desirable birds to see.

Additionally, inspiration for participants can be found in David Attenboroughs serie “Life of Birds”. It must be stressed that it is not only the bird it self that is represented in the final lifelist, but also a specific action. It could be a lek or display, a particular behaviour, or a mass-movement of one species. It may even be a particular spot on Earth where birds concentrate – and that the species chosen should be seen there. For instance, who would not want to see a warbler fall-out on High Island? What would be a representative species that could illustrate a fall-out? Please comment below!

Send your checklists to me kolibriexp@gmail.com when you are done. Best if you strip the list to just the 100 birds so the file does not become too bulky. I can help you if you have problems doing this selection. Just let me know. I need around 50 lists to have a good number spreading out the points. All participants in the early stage will be acknowledged in the book.
As I said above, this will be a free e-book. However, once the final product is done, I hope to liase with Birdlife International so that money can be raised – maybe through a Facebook cause – for species in peril. Please comment below – and send me your list!

Finally, a plug for a fine web-site that provides printable checklists – and that provided the world checklist you can download above.

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Twitter, hashtags and RSS feeds.

Last post in the Twitter for birders crash course was about the traditional uses of Twitter. It may still be a bit difficult for birders to really understand the potential here, but make sure you read the previous article first and sign up for a twitter account prior to trying to understand what this post is all about.
In the present post, I will concentrate on the functions that shall become a revolutionary tool for birders. Hashtags and RSS feeds. These terms will be explained later in the text below.
First of all I must mention that I am having a few problems in different platforms. What worked best for me is using Mozilla Firefox web-browser and http://twitter.com with Power Twitter plug-in. Therefore, do consider to download Mozilla Firefox. While, you may read through this manual and test for hashtags without a Twitter account, it is highly recommended that you do sign up for a Twitter account before doing any testing and also download the Mozilla Firefox Power Twitter plugin for Twitter. This is a great plug-in, making the Twitter.com interface more user-friendly and adding a series of features such as short url and the ability to demask the links sent in a tweet so you see what they contain. I also noted that it is the fastest of the available hashtag readers. More on that later.

Twitter on your cell phone

As I mentioned in my earlier post you can twitter from your phone. To do so you have best to upload a  Twitter client. There are different apps for different phones, such as Twitterberry (for Blackberry Phones) or Twitterific or similar for Iphones. For other phones check for applications on the twitter app page for mobile phones. With such an application you will be able to use your phone to tweet out a message when you are actually in the field birding at the same instance you are doing the observation, providing you have coverage where you are.

Hashtags for birders.

I think by now you are slowly grasping the idea that real time birding information like this can be very useful. But what if you are 2000 birders in your state or 10s of thousand birders in a country that are tweeting out real-time birding observations? If you would be following all these people, apart from the bird observations you would also get some 5-10 times more general messages that relates to things like “I am having cofffee“, “I am going to the dentist” and “I just ran 5K and feel totally exhausted“…

So how to just recieve the messages you are interested in? Can you select what you want to get information about? Yes, you can! With hashtags – words that are marked with # – can be searched for by automatic RSS feeders. (I don’t know what RSS is either, but it works! RSS means Real Simple Syndicate – which is just as difficult to understand, so let us content with that RSS catch web-page updates and have them transfered to another location such as a blog or an RSS reader)

With hashtags you can get messages from all people on Twitter that use the same hashtag. You don’t need to follow any of them, but can still get all their messages that are related to the thing you are interested in.
Test this:
1. Enter http://twitter.com
2. In the search box type #birding and press enter.

How about that…? Pretty powerful, huh?

So say that all the people in birdclub or the list server joins Twitter and promise to put a specific #hashtagword that is identified with for specific purpose.

I intend to send a link to this blog to some chosen list-servers to test the functionability of this idea. To make it easier for you to see how it can work for you, I have already created some hashtags for birders that you can use.

Testing Hashtags for birders.

First of all, some credit is due. Dan Thalmann, sent a message to KSBird-L – Kansas birding listserver – mentioning how Twitter can become useful to birders and that hashtags should be used to mark specific regions. He suggests #ksbrd for birding in Kansas.
Maybe we should seperate between actual birding news in general and rare bird alerts in Kansas. Therefore let’s create two codes.
#ksbrd – for general birding, as well as activities that are birding related such as lectures or announcements for field trips.
#ksrba – for Kansas Rare Bird Alerts. If one particular bird at a location generate a lot of tweets, one may just drop the #ksrba tag, by simply replace it with #RossGull or any #ringing-code.

Here is my list of other test areas.

#ILbrd – for Illinois Birders
#ILrba – for Illinois rare bird alert
#CALbrd – california bird news
#CALrba- California rare bird alert
#TEXbrd – Texas birding news
#TEXrba – Texas rare bird alert
#Masbrd – Massachussets bird news
#Masrba  – Massachussets rare bird alert
#FLbrd – Florida bird news
#FLrba – Florida rare bird alert
#CARrba – N & S Carolina rba – for some areas it may be useful to join two states into one rare bird alert hashtag.
#ABArba – ABA birding area rare bird alert
#Rarevine – uncommon birds sighted in the UK – similar to what is reported by Birdguides
#UKrba – United Kingdom rare bird alert – the hashtag is reserved for Mega-birds
#C300x – Sweden rare bird alert

UPDATE: I have added #rarevine to the list above …..which existed before the preperation of this article without my knowing it…

I follow all these lists, so I will make sure that a few tweets are being sent out with the corresponding #tags. Meanwhile, I hope as many as possible will follow the below instructions below to make sure the messages reach your cell phones or set up more hashtag bird alerts for other areas (let me know if you need assistance). After a week of testing, I will make a summery for your list and  give the result of the excersize. Then it is up to you to keep it up. I shall set up these systems for Peru if it looks as if it works elsewhere (too few birders in Peru, to start it here….and even fewer who have smart-phones!)

How much does the Twitter based Rare Bird Alert cost?

Rare bird alert systems in the UK can cost as much as over 400 US$/year including the rent of the pager. “This system sounds as it may be expensive! So what does all this cost?”
IT COSTS NOTHING!!! Well, that is apart from your regular cell phone service. There may be older phone-models that will not work. I believe you need a smart-phone, iphone or Blackberry to make it work. Let me know if you are able to set it up for older phones. It is preferable to have free data transfer to your cell phone account, so that is not a limiting factor. You may still join with phones where you pay for data services per byte, but note that in spite that the tweets don’t cost much at all (due to their small size), it is the other stuff that is available to you through your mobile RSS reader and the links that people send through Twitter that makes reading web-pages on your phone very costly if you don’t have a plan with unlimited data.  The only thing that I ask of you is that you follow me on http://twitter.com/kolibrix as a gesture. You shall be getting updates and lots of interesting birding links in my tweets – and get to know me a little bit…..only to find that I am very ordinary…. (sorry to disappoint you if you had any grander thoughts…). Why I ask you to follow me? It makes me look more popular than I really am! I am sure you understand this is just pure vanity!

Step by Step: How to create a Rare Bird Alert system for cell phones through Twitter, hashtags and RSS

1. Create a hashtags for your birding area. I have created a few for you already ready to use.  I created these by just sending a tweet containing the word.  Previously, you had to follow http://twitter.com/hashtags in order for your hashtag to register, but I believe this is not necessary now. Anyway, I sent my hash-tags through Tweetdeck. Make sure the hashtag is both short and descriptive at the same time – and it has to be unique. There is no limit, you may set up a hashtag for any particular area you think needs singling out, the key issue is that all user use the same hashtag for the same purpose. Therefore, it is likely that list administrators or bird-club boards decide which hashtag to use.

2. I presume you already have a smart-phone, Blackberry or an iPhone. You need a phone that can recieve and transfer data.

3. Install a Twitter client on your phone so you can tweet and recieve tweets from your phone. There are Twitter clients also available for more basic phones. I use Twitterberry for my Blackberry (see above).

4. Install an RSS reader on your phone. While you could use the mobile version of for instance Google reader, for which you have to make sure you have data connection every time you want to look at the hashtag feed, it is much more useful to have an RSS reader that download the feed to your phone, so you can read the message containing the hashtag at any time even on a plane or in the subway where you have no connection. I have found a great such application for smart phones and Blackberry called FreeRange Reader. Download it to your phone by directing the phone’s web-browser to http://mwap.at and set up an account (it is free!).
If you use iPhone, you may try Net Use Wire for iPhones from Newsgator. Please comment below how it works.

5. Create the RSS feed for your hash-tag. This is best done in Mozilla Firefox browser and Power Twitter (see above). For some reason in Internet Explorer with Twitter.com it does not work.  You create the feed by searching for your hash-tag like in the example above for #birding. In the right column at the bottom, there is an orange button – saying “RSS feed for this query“. Click right and chose “copy link route“. Login to your RSS Feeder account, you created in the previous step. In FreeRange reader open “manage feeds” and paste this route where you are creating a new feed. You have to put your newly created feeds into a folder. You may want to create a folder specifically for your birding feeds if you subscribe to many. You may even set the RSS feeder so it checks for updates every so often and makes a little beep if there is a new feed. If you only use the RSS feeder as a bird alert gadget – it will be just as any bird alert device. Congratulations! You have just joined a rare bird alert system that will not cost you a penny. The members of the network through the listservers or forums they use, would together set up the guidelines what shall be included in the tweets.

To make the rare bird alert even more efficient, you could include a map and directions from Google maps.
This long Google map link indicates where a Glaucous Gull was seen in California the other day
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Petaluma,+CA&daddr=38.253542,-122.629116&hl=en&geocode=CV07wYblTw7IFdiVRwIdbdWw-A%3B&mra=mi&mrsp=1&sz=18&sll=38.253608,-122.629459&sspn=0.001643,0.003181&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=18

and it becomes http://bit.ly/xUmE1 when using Tweetdeck to shorten the url. This short url fits with the message. This shows that the 140 character limit can be expanded this way to include links, fotos and other useful information.  Very useful!

Last, but not least. It is likely that you will find, just as I have found, that the FreeRange Feeder is such a fantastic RSS reader that you will want to load it with interesting magazines and news you want to follow.  Now is when you need that plan that includes unlimited data!!
Check this FreeRange Feeder page for two tutorials that explain how the possibilities of this mobile RSS reader. It doesn’t mention the bird alert system of course!

Follow me on twitter and let me know how this is working for you.

Twitter button by Mark Panell – Creative Commons license

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Birdwatching in Peru – videos.

Keith Blomerley just posted some videos he put together from the trip he did with Kolibri Expeditions in 2004 together with Simon Wotton, Richard Winspear and Guy Shorrock. The birdwatching included the area around Lima, pelagic and some birding around Pisco and Ayacucho. The majority however is filmed along Manu Road and down the Madre de Dios river to Manu Amazon Lodge (formerly know as Manu Camping Lodge). The final parts contain Machu Picchu and Ticlio/Marcopomacocha.

The film is split into 13 parts, each around 6 or 7 minutes long. Clicking the “more info” link at the top right of the page gives more details and a mention of all the species filmed. The clips are best watched in high quality by hitting the HQ button at the bottom of the video screen. I shall present the videos in 3 posts with the first four presented here.

Birding Pucusana and Puerto Viejo

In Pucusana the main birds were Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes, Inca Tern and Humboldt Penguin. The birdwatching at Puerto Viejo included Many-coloured Rush Tyrant, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Wren-like Rushbird, Peruvian Meadowlark, Pied-billed Grebe and Great Grebe.

Or click this page to come to the You Tube page Birdwatching Pucusana and Puerto Viejo, Peru

Birdwatching at Paracas and Ayacucho

First minutes covers the desert near Pucusana. The birding here gives Coastal Miner, Vermilion Flycatcher, Peruvian Thick-knee, Mountain Parakeet with a Hooded Siskin, and Croaking Ground-Dove. At Cañete valley there were Black-necked Woodpecker and Tropical Kingbird.
At Paracas National Reserve the filmed Turkey Vulture, Peruvian Booby, Humboldt penguin, South American Fur Seal, Sanderling and Western Sandpiper.

Finally, the areas around Ayacucho covers Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant, female White-winged Black-Tyrant, Pale-tailed Canastero (huancavelicae ssp of creamy-breasted), Bar-winged Cinclodes, Taczanowski’s Ground-Tyrant, Bearded Mountaineer, Andean flicker, Shining Sunbeam, Black-tailed Trainbearer and White-tailed canastero (usheri ssp of Creamy-breasted Canastero). There is also two skippers included. If anyone knows the names of these let me know.


Here is the link directly to the You Tube page for part two. Birdwatching at Paracas and Ayacucho

Birdwatching at Lomas de Lachay, Paraiso and a Lima birding Pelagic

The birding at Lomas de Lachay gave Burrowing Owl, Least Seedsnipe, Croaking Ground-Dove, Mountain Parakeet, Oasis Hummingbird, Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch and Tawny-throated Dotterel.
Paraiso lagoon some 30km to the North commence with an Elegant Tern and Guy’s rescue of an immature Guanay Cormorant caught in fishing net, Chilean Flamingo and Snowy Plover.
Finally, the pelagic, one of the trip highlights, of the trip brings footage of Franklin’s gull, Grey Gull, White-chinned petrel, South American Tern, Sabine’s gull, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, White-vented Storm-Petrel, Black Storm-Petrel, Markham’s Storm-Petrel and White-vented Storm-Petrel. Finally as we reach waters near shore on the way back Peruvian Pelican, Dusky Dolphins with a mix of Peruvian Boobies and Sooty Shearwaters.


For the direct You Tube link click Birding Lomas de Lachay, Paraiso and Lima Pelagic

Birding Palomino islands near Callao and Huacarpay lake in Cusco

The last part of this post contains the final stretch of the Pelagic trip, Huacarpay Lake and first bit of Manu road.
There is a large colony of Peruvian boobies South American Sea Lions at Palomino islands. Chucking the last bit of chum on the way back to port brings a Red-legged Cormorant and a mix of Peruvian Pelicans Kelp Gulls and Inca Terns.
At Huacarpay Lake there are Andean Coot and Common Gallinule, and a Greenish Yellow-Finch. Starting at the dry areas on the Manu road around Paucartambo with Creamy-crested Spinetail, Golden-billed Saltator, Chiguanco Thrush and White-winged Black-Tyrant. Once in the more humid temperate forest there are Great sapphirewing, Calling Diademed Tapaculo and Hooded Mountain-Tanager. In the elfin forest around Pillahuata, there are Broad-winged Hawk and Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Plush-capped Finch and Barred Fruiteater. Finally a very brief Red-and-White antpitta, Blackburnian Warbler and Masked Trogon.

The direct link to You Tube and this video by clicking Birdwatching Islas Palomino and Huarcapay, Cusco

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