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& Arizona Winter Specialties

Second departure added! January 14 - 21, 2018

Get rid of the winter blues by experiencing the spectacle of Bosque del Apache in winter plus the avian specialties of Arizona!

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2016 Trip Report (pdf)>         2016 Species List (pdf)>

Sandhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache. Photo by Catherine Hamilton.

Join us to experience magnificent mountain vistas where three different species of Rosy-finches are found and witness the stunning gathering of cranes and waterfowl at the wetlands of Bosque del Apache. We’ll enjoy the winter specialties of the southwest including a wealth of waterfowl, a stunning number and variety of sparrows and a sweep of the American Bluebird species. We’ll also explore the areas exciting border regions for resident and wintering specialties. As well as the regularly occurring species, we will search out rare wintering residents like Baird’s Sparrow or Montezuma Quail and you never know what might show up in winter whether it be a Sinaloa Wren, Rufous-backed Robin or 2014’s Common Crane!

Join us to experience winter birding in the American southwest! 

Trip Cost & Travel Planning>      Registration Form>
Contact to reserve your space!  

ITINERARY (Subject to change depending upon weather and birds!)

Day 1: Arrive Albuquerque
Plan to arrive in Albuquerque today to meet our group for dinner and be ready first thing in the morning on Day 2.  Night Albuquerque.

Bridled Titmouse.  Photo by Catherine Hamilton.Day 2: We will spend our morning heading up into the mountains north of the quaint city of Santa Fe. Here we will seek out denizens of western mountains including Clark’s Nutcracker, Steller’s Jay and Gray Jay. We will visit feeders looking for titmice, sparrows and finches including Cassin’s Finch, Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse and a potential split “Rocky Mountain” White-breasted Nuthatch. Other species of interest will include Townsend’s Solitaire, Pygmy Nuthatch and Red Crossbill.

In the afternoon we will check out a deep water reservoir for wintering Bald Eagles, gulls, loons, grebes and diving ducks. The rest of the day will be spent searching out some interesting species that can be found east of the Sandia Mountain range including Pinyon Jay and Evening Grosbeak. Though neither avian nomad is ever guaranteed, we should have a good shot at them. While searching out these wanderers we will be almost certainly be treated to a trifecta of bluebird species: Eastern, Mountain and Western as well as another potential split “Woodhouse’s” Western Scrub Jay.  We will wrap up the evening with a meal at one of Albuquerque’s fantastic New Mexican eateries.  Night Albuquerque.

Day 3: Our morning start will find us seeking out both Curve-billed and Crissal Thrasher. While we hunt for the thrashers we will also hope to encounter dry canyon species like Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Scaled Quail, Cactus Wren, Black-throated and Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

Black Rosy Finch. Photo by Gina Nichol.Mid-morning we will find ourselves up over 10,000 feet looking for perhaps some of the most sought after winter species: the Rosy-Finches. Though the summit of the Sandias are not bird rich they are one of the few places on the continent where one might hope to find all three species of Rosy-Finch at one time. There will be other species to see on the road up and coming to the feeders including Pine Siskin, Red Crossbill and Steller’s Jay among others.

Our afternoon will be spent winging our way south towards Bosque del Apache but there will be time for a stop or two along the way to look for open country and wetland species. Here we will search out Ferruginous and Rough-legged Hawks amid the more common Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harriers. Snow Geese flocks will be scanned for Ross’s Geese and White-fronted and we will revel in the bugling of flocks of Sandhill Cranes. We will end our day watching and listening to the incredible sounds of the geese and cranes coming in to roost.  Night Socorro.

Snow Geese at Bosque del Apache. Photo by Catherine Hamilton.Day 4: Our morning will start at dawn to witness the fly out of the cranes and geese at Bosque, perhaps one of the continents more spectacular birding spectacles. From there we will check feeders and shrubs at the Visitors Center for Crissal Thrasher, White-winged Dove, Green-tailed Towhee and a mix of sparrows that might include a rare Zonotrichia like Golden-crowned, White-throated or Harris’s among the usual White-crowned Sparrows.

We will spend the rest of our day moving south along the Rio Grande. Stops might include deep water reservoirs, ephemeral marshes and parks and woodlands along the river that trap avian migrants and winter visitors alike. Stops could reveal diverse species like Bridled Titmouse, Prairie Falcon, Phainopepla, Pyrrhuloxia and Crissal Thrasher. We may also run into a wintering western empidonax flycatcher or a lost eastern avian vagrant. This means we could have a confusing mix of Yellow-breasted or Red-naped Sapsucker, Eastern or Western Bluebird and Black and Eastern Phoebe all sat in the same tree.

We will end our day where Billy the Kid once stood trial and almost at the junction of New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. Here along the Rio Grande we will seek out interesting wintering birds and hope to witness an incredible roost of wintering corvids and blackbirds that will include both Chihuahuan Ravens and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Lingering at dusk may also help us uncover a Barn Owl or two. Night Deming.

Ferruginous Hawk. Photo by Catherine Hamilton.Day 5: We will start our morning in southwestern New Mexico. Here we will explore a couple of local parks where we might hope to find some interesting wintering birds including an array of junco subspecies or a lingering warbler or two as well as residents like Verdin, Greater Roadrunner and Loggerhead Shrike. Scrubby edges should reveal a wealth of sparrows including Brewer’s, Lark Bunting and Black-throated Sparrow.

As we wind our way towards the Arizona border we will keep our eyes peeled for open country birds and check the flocks of sparrows for more or less common possibilities like Chestnut-collared Longspur and Sprague’s Pipit. We will also sort through the common raptors checking for Ferruginous Hawks and Prairie Falcon as we drive.

The afternoon will see us leave open country and gaining elevation as we head into Portal, AZ. In town we will check out feeders for species like Lesser Goldfinch, Bridled Titmouse, Acorn Woodpecker and more. One never knows what else might be in town, perhaps a lingering Blue-throated Hummingbird or Painted Redstart.

Mexican Jay. Photo by Catherine Hamilton.Pushing up in to the Chiricahuas we will seek out such winter residents as Cactus Wren, Black-throated Sparrow and Green-tailed Towhee. Large flocks of sparrows will be scanned for possible Black-chinned and Rufous-crowned and junco flocks will be pored through for Yellow-eyed. We’ll also be keeping our eyes peeled for uncommon residents like Montezuma Quail, Mexican Jay and Arizona Woodpecker, as well as the more expected Juniper and Bridled Titmouse, Hutton’s Vireos and Canyon Wrens. We will end our day west of the Chiricahuas ready to explore the best sites winter southeastern Arizona has to offer.  Night Benson.

Day 6: We will start our day early at San Rafael Grasslands. We'll be keeping an eye open for Short-eared Owl, while we sift through the Savannah and Vesper Sparrows in the hopes of turning up the rare but regularly wintering Baird’s Sparrow. From there we will make our way to the nearby Patagonia Lake State Park. Here the list of vagrant species from past winters is alluring, but even when a Nutting’s Flycatcher, Rufous–backed Robin or Ruddy Ground-Dove aren’t to be found there is much to enjoy. Among the roving flocks of wintering passerines, one might find a Black-capped Gnatcatcher or Rufous-winged Sparrow. The water attracts waterfowl, rails and shorebirds alike. We will keep our eye on local reports to see if feeders in the area might yield a Violet-crowned, Broad-billed or Anna’s Hummingbird.

A stop at Sonoita Creek offers another birdy spot with rarity potential. As well as seeking out reported rarities and trying to seek out our own we will also enjoy more expected species like Common Ground-Dove, Vermilion Flycatcher, Abert’s Towhee and Gila Woodpecker. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Gilded Flicker and perhaps a, lightning strikes twice, wintering Crescent-chested Warbler among the throngs of Yellow-rumped Warblers.  We will end our day in search of reported rarities or outstanding residents.  Night Benson.

Day 7: With our fingers crossed for its return in 2016, we will start our day looking for a Sinaloa Wren. They have been showing up with some regularity in the last couple of years in Southeast Arizona and we will hope that trend continues. From our wren hunt we will bird our way north and west towards Tucson. Flexibility will be the order of the day to help us get the most out of what birds are around and showing up reliably. Recent reports will influence our movements over the day and plans will be heavily influenced by both what rarities have been reported and our need to sweep up any local specialties missing from our trip list.

Tucson, and its environs provide for some excellent and exciting birding as well as specialties including Gilded Flicker and Bronzed Cowbird and we will spend time tracking both down. From there we will head for an end of tour celebratory meal and to our hotels.  Night Tucson. 

Day 8:  Today is the departure day from Tucson airport. 

LEADER:  Luke Tiller with a group of up to 7 and a second leader with 8 or more pax.

(Photos, top to bottom:  Gray-crowned Rosy Finch (CH), Sandhill Cranes (CH), Bridled Titmouse (CH), Black Rosy Finch (GN), Snow Geese (CH), Ferruginous Hawk (CH), Mexican Jau (CH), Harris's Sparrow (CH), Clark's Nutcraker (GN);  CH=Catherine Hamilton, GN=Gina Nichol.

Clark's Nutcracker. Photo by Gina Nichol. BOSQUE del APACHE
& Arizona Winter Specialties
January 14 -21, 2018

Contact to reserve your space!   
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TOUR PRICE: $1995.00 per person/double occupancy based on 6 passengers from Albuquerque, New Mexico (Airport code: ABQ). Note the tour begins in Albuquerque, New Mexico and ends in Tucson, Arizona (Airport code: TUS).

Single supplement: $400.00 per person, based on availability. 

Deposit: $500.00 per person. Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise when you have made payment. 

Included in cost: Accommodation in /double twin rooms, all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 8, airport transfers by hotels, ground transport throughout, guiding services.

Not included: Flights, insurance, drinks, laundry, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Note: The tour price is based on a minimum of 6 participants. If there are less than 6, a small group supplement may be charged.

Transportation/Travel Planning: You will be responsible for making your travel plans to Albuquerque, New Mexico and from Tucson, Arizona.  We have a flight agent that can help if needed. Information will be forthcoming about timings for arrival and departure schedules.

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour, complete the Registration & Release Form and mail it with your deposit of $500.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC.  Instructions are on the form. Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   
>Download & print the Registration Form 

Contact to reserve your space!  Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit within two weeks to secure your place.  Final payment is due October 6, 2017.  Check or bank transfer are preferred but credit card payments are possible (surcharges of up to 5% are added depending on amount to cover credit card company fees).  Please inquire.

Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators, estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, and fuel costs can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount. Note, we have rarely had to do this but we need to be clear what could happen due to changing costs.

Cancellations and Refunds:  All cancellations must be made in writing.  In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.

There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. 

Insurance:  The purchase of trip cancellation insurance to cover any eventuality is strongly recommended.  Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour. 

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at 
Phone: 203.453.6724

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