After a busy but productive autumn in which I managed to take care of a lot of things on the long-range "To Do" list, I am now approaching winter with a full schedule ahead of me. One of the perks of my job is the ability to bank hours during the busy season, to take as time off when things are slower. This spring and summer I put in longer hours nearly every day throughout southern and northern Ontario, and as a result of banking the extra time combined with my vacation time I am able to take a good percentage of the winter off.
This summer I began to plan how I wanted to use some of my banked time. I had originally planned to visit Kenya with Laura, as she will be completing a long placement there this spring. My plan was to travel on my own/with a friend or two for a month or so prior to meeting up with Laura for a few weeks before she began her placement. However, as the time got closer I still hadn't planned this trip, the political situation in parts of the country was unstable and I was having trouble finding someone to go with. It was looking like it would be out of my price range as well, especially since I wanted to do some safaris. David Bell, however mentioned that he was thinking of heading back down to South America this winter. We both had Patagonia and Chile on the mind, so I abandoned Africa plans and focused on South America. I would plan a few weeks with Laura in Europe in March instead, prior to her trip to Kenya. Chile and Argentina would be a bit cheaper, and while we will see less new species, there are some pretty awesome birds in that part of the world.
|Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager - Reserva Rio Blanco, Caldas, Colombia|
After the success of California in 2011, Panama in 2014 and Colombia earlier this year, I am looking forward to birding and traveling with David again this winter. David is flying into Santiago early in the new year, than catching an internal flight to the Arica area in north Chile, where he will bird for a few days before flying back to Santiago. I fly down on January 8, and we will meet up that day to partake on a pelagic the following day to the Humbolt Current off of Valparaiso in central Chile. At some point we will meet up with Adam Timpf, who Dave and I traveled with in Colombia earlier this year.
|David Bell (nearest), Adam Timpf and Dan Wiley birding at PNN Chingaza, Colombia|
We'll be doing this trip on the cheap as best we can, though we may rent vehicles for part of it depending on how things go. The plan is to work our way south to Patagonia, where we will look for seedsnipe, skuas, penguins, rheas and other awesome Patagonian wildlife. The plan will be to continue into Argentina, likely making our way north towards Buenes Aires. I fly out of here at the end of January.
In February I will be returning to western Cuba with Worldwide Quest Nature Tours, who I guided with earlier this year. The trip this year was a success and I'll be the sole guide from Quest on the 2016 trip. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to explore this beautiful country once more, and to gain more experience as a guide.
I have four full days at the end of my Cuba tour where I'm on my own before flying out, so I am considering flying east to Camaguey, renting a car or a car+driver, and birding some hotspots in the area for those few days. There are still around 10 endemic Cuban birds I haven't seen, and I could end up locating six of them (Cuban Parakeet, Giant Kingbird, Cuban Palm Crow, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Oriente Warbler, Zapata Sparrow) in the Camaguey area or in the northern cayos (Coco, Guillermo, Peredon Grande, etc). I would also have a chance at all five remaining Caribbean endemics I could find in Cuba, including West Indian Whistling-Duck, Bahama Mockingbird, Thick-billed Vireo, Key West Quail-Dove and Plain Pigeon.
|Cuban Grassquit - Orquideario de Soroa, Pinar del Rio, Cuba|
|Bare-legged Owl - Zapata, Cuba|
Over the past few months, I've began assembling together all the blog posts I have written for each of the trips these posts are from. This includes trips such as Netitishi Point, California (2011), Cuba (2015) Panama (2010, 2014), Europe (2013), etc.
Links to all of the trip reports can be viewed here. Once on this webpage,clicking on a link for a trip report will bring you to the first post for that trip. At the top of each post will be links to all subsequent posts (usually covering 1-2 days) from that trip. Also in the text you will frequently see locations highlighted. Clicking on the link will bring you to my eBird checklist for that location and time. I will be trying to link these eBird checklists with all the blog posts in the trip reports.
While quite a few trip reports are up and running, there are still many more to add. This winter I hope to set some blog posts to auto-post while I am away from southern Ontario. I have all of my Panama photos from 2014 edited as well as a good chunk of the daily blog posts written. I also have to create daily posts from the Colombia and Morocco trips, but that may wait until the spring.