Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Lesvos - 2018

Lesvos - 2018

Here are a few shots from another great tour to the wonderful Greek island of Lesvos.

Sunrise Birding represents the very Best US based bird tour company visiting this magical island.

European Bee-eater is always a favourite to see

This Dalmatian Pelican gave us a great show

European Pond Terrapin the harder of the two island species to see

The endemic Lesvos Bush Cricket

An early Rosy Starling delighted many people

The fabulous Thread-winged Lacewing

Turkish Clubtail a rarely seen dragonfly on the island

The beautiful Komper's Orchids were out early this year

Cant wait to return again next year
Check out this link

Monday, 5 March 2018

TOURS!  Check right hand column for other tours:

SNOW LEOPARDS! Quest for the Gray Ghost (with easier homestay option)

February 25th - March 11th   2019

Just over 400 western people have ever seen this staggeringly beautiful creature in the wild and for many wildlife watchers this has become their "Holy Grail". Our chances of seeing Snow Leopards are quite high as the guides now know the habits and best places to look. We will also keep a look out for other mammals found in this part of the Himalayas such as Tibetan Wolf, Red Sheep, Lynx and Ladakh Urial. Amongst the birds we will search for Solitary Snipe, Ibisbill, White-winged Redstarts, Robin Accentor, Tibetan Snowfinch, Himalayan Snowcock and possibly Indian Eagle Owl. If seeing Snow Leopards is on your life-time bucket list then join the very best team on our quest to see the "Gray Ghost". Please note we have a homestay option for this tour which is a more comfortable than camping which we offer as well.
MORE INFO (pdf itinerary)>
Snow Leopard. Photo by Bikram Grewal.

COLOMBIA - MITU! With Colombia's No1 guide Diego Calderon

March 21st - 30th  2019            

The diverse biodiversity of Mitu holds a great variety of species amongst habitats such as Terra Firme, White Sands, Varzea and Riparian Forests. Many Amazon  and Guianan Shield specialities can be found here and sheer variety and quality of the species on offer is astounding. For those that have been to Colombia before or for those wanting to experience somewhere new then our Mitu itinerary is a must. Add to this a few days before and afterwards looking for some very special birds this is a trip not to miss.  
MORE INFO (pdf itinerary)>
Golden-bellied Starfrontlet. Photo by Fabio Arias.

Other Tours - details coming soon  

Bhutan 11th May - 25th May 2019Panama Dragonflies & Nature with Dennis Paulson 27th June - 11 July 2019Brazil's Amazing Pantanal - 17th July - 29th July 2019Borneo/Sabah 20th Aug - 31st Aug 2019NE Brazil - Dates TBAMongolia - Snow Leopards & Pallas's Cat - Dates TBA   St Lucia & St Vincent - Dates TBA    

For more info contact Steve:

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Svalbard again!! This time more breeding birds.

Some fabulous birds giving great views in Svalbard. The weather is perfect and these birds just want to perform. All around the town of Longyearbyen.
Several lovely flight shots of a drake King Eider

Stunning drake King Eider showed very well

Little Auks are great to see and we saw thousands!

And Snow Buntings are all around town singing and displaying

As for the tame Red Phalaropes how could you ever get enough of these beauties

That's about it for now will add some more later and hopefully Polar Bears from our cruise!

Barnacle Goose

Monday, 12 December 2016

Fabulous Dragonflies of Sri Lanka

Our recent tour to Sri Lanka in search of some of the rare and endemic jewels that inhabit this fabulous island was a complete success. We found many species rarely seen before and totaled nearly 70 species.
                                                                   Variegated Flutterer
                                                                        Adam's Gem
                                                                   Brook Hooktail
                                                                 Elephant Emperor
                                                                      Ebony Gem
                                                                   Elusive Adjutant
                                                                           Ultima Gem
Light-tipped Demon
Green's Gem
                                                                Burmiester's Glider
Crimson Dropwing
Foggy-winged Twister
                                                                   Indigo Dropwing
                                                               Orange-winged Groundling
                                                                   Oriental Scarlet
Pied Parasol
Restless Demon
                                                                     Sapphire Flutterer
                                                                     Rapacious Flangetail
Pruinosed Bloodtail

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Svalbard (Spitzbergen) Arctic Birding

Although not the perfect time of year to see the wildlife of the Arctic myself and Gina nethertheless made a trip on the M/V Plancius to access the ship and see what a trip into the Arctic was all about.

Day 1  - Longyearbyen
Our first day at Longyearbyen introduced us to this small town where tourism was now big business. We had a full day to check out the area. A few Snow Buntings were present, as well as Barnacle Geese, lots of Glaucous Gulls, a few Arctic Skuas and one nice Long-tailed Skua. Arctic Terns still had chicks and Black Guillemots and Common Eider were just off shore, while Purple Sandpipers showed well beside some roadside pools. The sound of Red-throated Divers echoed across the valleys as they called in flight to each other. To our delight and surprise we were scoping the opposite shoreline from town when we found a mother and young Polar Bear. Although distant we enjoyed watching them through the telescopes, walking around, laying down and even going into the sea for a swim. This was obviously a significant find as when we showed some local residents they immediately contacted the governor of town who announced it on the local radio. In the same area we could see Reindeer feeding on the hillside.
Distant Polar Bears taken with iPhone through scope (Gina)
Purple Sandpiper
                                                                          Arctic Tern

Day 2  - Longyearbyen
GPS position at 1600 hrs: 78°13.8 N / 015°36.1 E Wind: light air Sea: port Weather: partly cloudy Temperature: 7°C
Today we set sail at about 5pm but first had to go through a safety briefing and an introductory talk by expedition staff and crew. A few Black Guillemots and Atlantic Puffins were seen close to the boat plus many Kittiwakes and Fulmars including the dark “Blue Morph” birds.
                                                                   Black Guillemot
                                                                      Atlantic Puffin
Day 3  - Raudfjord: Hamiltonbukta and Alicehamna
GPS position at 0800 hrs: 79°53.8 N / 010°44.6 E Wind: W 3 Sea: slight Weather: overcast Temperature: 2°C

Today was a nice clear fairly calm day which started off before breakfast with a sighting of a Blue Whale. We watched it as it surfaced several times before continuing out journey north. There were plenty of Puffins Black Guillemots, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and a pair of Brunnich’s Guillemots to be seen. We then took to the zodiacs and checked out the coastal icebergs and the Hamilton Glacier. A Bearded Seal was inquisitive and came over to look at some of the boats, while an Arctic Fox showed well along the shoreline. We then had fabulous looks at a mother Walrus and its youngster.
                                                                     Mother Walrus and pup
                                                                               Bearded Seal
In the afternoon we made a landing at Buchannon Halveya where we took a short walk finding several small Arctic flowers, some Purple Sandpipers, Arctic Skuas, Arctic Terns and Common Eider. Back on board ship we all went outside between 10.45pm until midnight where we had fantastic views of a group of 15 Walrus playing in the sea. They even came over to inspect the ship.
Day 4  - Phippsøya and Sea Ice
GPS position at 0800 hrs: 80°40.2 N / 020°47.3 E Wind: various 2 Sea: calm Weather: partly cloudy Temperature: 3°C
Today we headed north toward the pack ice. We awoke at about 5.30am to a beautiful calm and sunny day. Before breakfast we saw a nice Pomarine Skua, several Arctic Skuas, at least 20 Atlantic Puffins, 4 Brunnich’s Guillemots (Thick-billed Murre) and a couple of Harp Seals. After breakfast we anchored up and took the zodiacs to shore. Two Polar Bears were dug in to hollows in the snow and were quite distant so views were not that good. Along the beach we slowly approached a large herd of Walrus just lazing around. We enjoyed great looks at these huge creatures packed together on the shoreline. On the water were hundreds of Kittiwakes and a few Glaucous Gulls.
                                                                                  Herd of Walrus
Back on board ship we headed further north until we encountered the pack ice. Here the captain slowly manoeuvred along the edge for several hours before entering this carpet of ice bergs which the ship smoothly pushed aside as we got deeper and deeper into the ice. Several Harp Seals were seen along with 5 Pomarine Skuas, 4 Little Auks and then our first immature Ivory Gull flew over our heads soon joined by another. Over the course of the rest of the day we saw over 60 adult and immature Ivory Gulls sometimes in groups of double figures.
                                                                       immature Ivory Gull
                                                                                adult Ivory Gull
                                                                                          adult Ivory Gull
Day 5  - Expedition Day: Sea Ice-Pack
GPS position at 0800 hrs: 81°16.5 N / 020°06.4 E Wind: NNW 4 Sea: ice Weather: snow Temperature: -3°C
Today was spent entirely drifting through the pack ice. A fabulous experience and a little chilly! Our goal was to find Polar Bear but despite searching hundreds of miles of ice we did not find one, although Polar Bear tracks were seen on several snow covered plates of ice. More seals were seen including Harp and Ringed Seals, there were over 25 Ivory Gulls, 4 Little Auks, a couple of Black Guillemots, and several Pomarine Skuas.
Just being amongst the ice and watching the ship split some of the bergs in two and hearing them crack and move aside was a highlight of the trip
                                                                                          Ringed Seal
                                                                                  adult Pomarine Skua
                                                                           immature Pomarine Skua
Day 6  - Karl XII Øya & Reliktbukta
GPS position at 0800 hrs: 80°39.5 N / 024°53.3 E Wind: SW 4 Sea: slight Weather: overcast Temperature: -1°C
Today we came out of the ice and headed for a small volcano shaped island called Karl X11 Øya. We took to the zodiacs and circumnavigated the island. A Polar Bear was again dug into a snowy hollow and barely visible, although if you were lucky you may have seen him lift his head and look around briefly. One of the zodiacs spotted some Walrus but they quickly disappeared. On the cliff face were hundreds of Kittiwakes and we noted a couple of Great Skuas hanging around. The zodiacs took us up close to look at some of the amazing blues and purples of the ice bergs and finally as all the zodiacs headed back to the ship our we made a brief landing on the island where few people have ever set foot before.
                                                                                  immature Kittiwake
In the afternoon we sailed slightly westwards towards Duvefjorden. Taking the zodiacs to a quiet bay we walked the snow covered hills seeing several Arctic Fox tracks and both Arctic and Pomarine Skuas. A beautiful landscape we eventually head back to the zodiacs and back to our ship and a nice warm cup of hot chocolate.
Day 7  - Expedition Day: Sea Ice-pack
GPS position at 0800 hrs: 80°15.4 N / 012°12.8 E Wind: E 4 Sea: slight Weather: overcast Temperature: 3°C
Today we awoke at 06,45 to the announcement that there were Blue Whales ahead of us, and indeed within minutes of getting dressed and rushing up to the bridge we were soon watching three Blue Whales blowing, and make shallow dives. A superb start to an amazing day.
                                                                                          Blue Whale
                                                                             Blue Whale showing blow
Shortly after breakfast we hit the ice-pack again and with scopes set up we scanned every inch of ice in search of Polar Bears in an area that the crew normally find one or two. We found several Harp Seals and enjoyed fabulous views of many Pomarine Skuas and Ivory Gulls.
                                                                A Pomarine Skua pursues a Kittiwake
A highlight today for Gina was going out on the zodiacs and landing on the ice flow where they had a rum and hot chocolate and some cake. If I had know that I would have gone as well. Back on the ship we enjoyed watching skuas chasing Ivory Gulls and Kittiwakes and the total count of Ivory Gulls over the last 3 days came to 200. Amazing as this is normally a rare bird. This evening we enjoyed a BBQ on deck.
                                                                          Ivory Gulls and Kittiwakes
Day 8  - Alkhornet

GPS position at 0800 hrs: 78°47.1 N / 010°12.3 E Wind: S 3 Sea: smooth Weather: clear Temperature: 4°C
Today we awoke to a beautiful sunny day with flat calm sea conditions. We were heading back towards Spitzbergen. The morning passed by watching the Fulmars skim low of the mirror-like water where if you were lucky you could get some amazing reflection shots.

                                                                           Fulmars with reflections
In the afternoon we called in to Trygghamna where we went ashore. Here we encountered some Svalbard Reindeer, plus flocks of Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese, some very showy Arctic Skuas and even a Ptarmigan and an Arctic Fox. Back on the ship we enjoyed our farewell cocktail evening and recap of the trips highlights.
                                                                                         Svalbard Reindeer
                                                                                    Pink-footed Geese

                                                                                   adult Arctic Skua
                                                                                         Barnacle Geese
                                                             The Plancius our home for the last day!

Day 9  - Longyearbyen
GPS position at 0800 hrs: 78°13.9 N / 015°36.6 E
And we were in dock after a very successful voyage. The Polar Bears were disappointing but we knew we were a little late in the season for this fabulous marine mammal. Our trip next year in June will be very different, we will see thousands of Little Auks, plus other birds like Eiders and Snow Buntings and have far better chances of seeing Polar Bears. We would hope to see a few Ivory Gulls but nowhere near the spectacle of see 200 of these rare and much sought after gulls.
                                                      The fabulous dove-like Ivory Gull - simply superb!

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 1,032 nautical miles 1,911 kilometres.
Furthest North Point: 81°26.1 N, 024°36.2 E
               Look out for our next tour and come with us and see Polar Bears at the best time of year.