Archive for May, 2014

How did Steve Howell and the Sunbird-WINGS team do during the Word Birding Rally in Peru?

our team (left to right, Rich Hoyer, captain; Gustavo Bautista, local guide; Paul French; Jake Mohlman; and yours truly) with the fine Marvelous Spatuletail trophy (yes we saw a male of this amazing hummer!)

Leica Birding Team’s Steve Howell was part of the Sunbird-WINGS team for the recent World Birding Rally in Peru – 8 days and nights of grueling travel, from the Pacific coast over the Andes, through the Marañon Valley, and down to the Amazonian lowlands. How did his team fare? Read on to find out!

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Leica Birding Team: Luke Tiller

Leica shoots Leica - Catherine Hamilton

Leica Birding Team member Tom Johnson puts questions to fellow team member Luke Tiller. Originally from London England, Luke transplanted to the United States in 2003. Surrounded by wildlife he found his love of birds reignited. Employed as a hawkwatcher, his passion, experience and knowledge saw him recently added to the Hawk Migration Association of North America board. He currently counts hawks at Braddock Bay, NY, leads birding tours for Sunrise Birding and HMANA and writes for a number of publications on both sides of ‘The Pond’.

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Enough Light to Digiscope at Night

"Peenting" American Woodcock, Maumee Bay State Park, OH, May 2014.  Photo by Bill Schmoker, Leica Birding Team

I recently had the great pleasure of joining David La Puma and Jeff Bouton at the 2014 Biggest Week in American Birding. The event is hosted by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory at the famed Magee Marsh and nearby Maumee Bay State Park along Northwest Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline. Droves of neotropical migrants make their way through the region each spring, earning the region its nickname, ” The Warbler Capital of the World.” I certainly enjoyed the abundance of warblers and other gorgeous passerines, but the chance to see American Woodcocks doing their thing was certainly among my personal highlights.

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Wordless Wednesday

Black Vulture, Hunt, Texas, April 2014.  © Bill Schmoker, Leica Birding Team

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How to Use a Field Guide Part 1: Remember the “guide” part of Field Guide

Bolinas, CA

In this multipart series Steve Howell takes us through “how to use a field guide”, or more accurately, how to maximize your effective use of a field guide to get the most bang for your buck.

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The Siberian Express in Yolo County, California

Common Ringed Plover 11Sb

Join Leica Birding Team’s John Sterling as he takes you on an adventure to meet the Siberian birds that have been found in Yolo County, California.

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Wordless Wednesday


Ben Thesing, a participant in ABA’s Camp Colorado in 2013, got some digiscoping instruction from Leica Product Specialist David La Puma during a field trip to the alpine tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Quick update from the Field

male Blackburnian Warbler - a site to behold!

Dubbed “The Warbler Capital of North America” for good reason! Athena the Wandering Ultravid – a gorgeous 7×42 glass on a mission – is rocking the Biggest Week in American Birding festival. Racking up many new birds & making new friends. The list of birds enjoyed through this beautiful glass is rapidly approaching 425 species [...]

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Steve Howell embarks on another World Birding Rally in Peru!

Galapagos Albatross Callao pelagic, Peru (78 of 157)

Leica team member Steve Howell is back in Peru for another World Birding Rally, as part of the Sunbird-WINGS team (the rally can be followed at Last year it was in southern Peru, where Steve’s team fought a close race to come second with 455 species to the winning team’s 457!

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Leica in the Pacific Island jungles….

One of the few “published” images of Vanuatu Petrel (Pterodroma occulta), described to science in 2001, but perhaps not safely separable at sea from White-necked Petrel (P. cervicalis). Off Vanua Levu, Vanuatu, 26 April 2014.

Steve Howell has just returned from leading a WINGS cruise for 4 weeks from New Zealand to Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. He sent us this virtual postcard and we wanted to share it with you.

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Leica Stories: Jack Whetstone


It’s not every day that you see someone riding a camel with Leicas around his neck. But Jack Whetstone is not your average birder. Biologist, bird bander, sculptor, artist, musician, mayoral candidate, and all-around handy man, he is truly a Jack-of all trades. Leica Birding Team member Jennie Duberstein caught up with him recently to reminisce.

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