Archive for the ‘Guest Blog Posts’ Category

Birding at 15,000 Feet: A Colorado Chronicle

Western Kingbird digiscoped through Leica APO Televid spotting scope

The adventure began at the Denver airport baggage claim area, where I first met my fellow campers for 2014 Camp Colorado. The American Birding Association runs the camp, which is sponsored by Leica Sport Optics. After loading up the van we immediately found the first bird of trip, a Western Kingbird, in the airport parking lot.

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Slowing Down. Gerri and I joining the hundreds of other migrants – avian and human – at Magee Marsh.

What is Neil Hayward up to since his Accidental Big Year? Well, we caught up with him at The Biggest Week in American Birding in Ohio last month and he’s still out there beating the bushes and finding great birds, albeit without the rabid intensity of a year-long birding competition. Neil took Athena for a spin around Magee Marsh to help capture a few more birds for her life list. Read on for his full account!

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Godwit Days pelagic with Athena the Wandering Ultravid

Black-footed Albatross. One of the 15 we say today = Athena lifer!

The North Coast of California is a special place full of special people with local birding that ranges from good to epic. The Godwit Days bird festival in Arcata California exemplifies the North Coast vibe, and of the birding tribe, Rob Fowler (owner and operator of Fowlerope Birding Tours – is the finest of specimens. Join Rob has he takes Athena on her first pelagic birding adventure offshore of Humboldt Bay, California in this dispatch from the field.

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“Feathers Over Freeport” at the Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch

Hawkwatchers search the skies over "The Brad" during one of our hawkwatch workshops.

Over a thousands birds in a day. What could be better? How about 2,000 future hawkwatchers? Introducing “Feathers Over Freeport: A Birdwatching Weekend.”

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Happy 80th Birthday Dame Jane Goodall!

Juan Valadez and Jane Goodall. Photo by Susana Name.

There are many people who help conserve wildlife, who dedicate part or all of their lives to understanding and protecting that which cannot protect itself. Primates, so much like us humans, hold so many secrets of human evolution. More than that, though, they are intrinsically valuable in and of themselves. One woman who has done more than anyone else to both study and conserve chimpanzees, is Dame Jane Goodall. Today is Dr. Goodall’s 80th birthday and we at Leica Sport Optics wish to acknowledge her with this piece written by Juan Valadez. Read on to relive the experiece with Juan and Jane!

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The Bradbury Mtn. Hawkwatch Gets Started with a Bang!

Winter still holds Maine in its icy grip, but at Bradbury Mountain, spring hawk migration is well underway,

This year Leica Sport Optics is sponsoring two spring hawk watches in North America. The first is the Bradbury Mountain hawk watch in Pownal, Maine started seven years ago by Derek and Jeanette Lovitch owners and operators of Freeport Wild Bird Supply in Freeport, Maine. In this piece Derek gives us the skinny on one of the newest hawk watches to enter the national scene. We can’t wait to hear about the great winged creatures counted at Bradbury Mountain this year!

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Athena in The Bog Part 2: Hanging with Erik Bruhnke

Athena meets the bog

The Duluth, MN birding community is a tight nit one to be certain. There are a number of excellent birders who guide visitors into the Sax-Zim bog, and our guest blogger here is one of them. Erik Bruhnke, owner and operator of Naturally Avian tours, took Athena for a few-day spin into Sax-Zim bog right after the Sax-Zim birding festival. Initially I (David La Puma) was going to write about my experience with Athena in the bog, but once Erik got ahold of her I knew only he could do her justice… especially given Erik’s keen eye for a fabulous photo! Come read on about Erik’s time with Athena in one of my favorite birding destinations.

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An Inside Look at the Winter Vacations of Shorebirds: Brazil-Part 1

Looking for flagged Semipalmated Sandpipers in the evening as the birds are concentrated around the shrinking mudflats by the rising tide. The boat farther away is The Universo, where we lived, while the closer boat is a local fishing boat taking a rest on the sandbar.

Most people rarely give thought to what “our” North American birds are doing once they’ve migrated south out of the continent, but what they do and how they get there can be truly fascinating (and extraordinary, making multi-day over water flights without stopping).
Doug Gochfeld has been fortunate enough to study them on the wintering grounds for the last few years, and here provides an enlightening look into some of the research that is currently being done on these remarkable birds.

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SNOW on paper A short look inside the process of illustrating a Snowy Owl, pieces 1 – 3


When Leica Birding Team’s Jen Brumfield heard about Project SNOWstorm, the crowd-funded project to study the Snowy Owl invasion of 2013/2014, her first question was “What can I do to help!?” Since then Jen has been working on a sketch of a Snowy Owl that will be made into prints to be given away to people who have donated $1000 or more to the campaign. In this exclusive dispatch she gives us a glimpse into her artistic process. Read on to see her work in her own words…

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Leica in the Field: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary


In the early 1900s the Kittatinny Ridge in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania was well known by gunners as the place to go in the fall to shoot hawks. By 1934 Hawk Mountain Sanctuary was founded along the ridge to put a stop to the massacre. It was the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and a game changer for conservation.

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Leica Stories – Barbara Bickel


Last weekend I, Jennie Duberstein, got to lead field trips at the Wings Over Willcox Birding and Nature Festival in Willcox, Arizona. It’s a fantastic festival in a tiny town in southeastern Arizona, full of cranes, wintering raptors and sparrows, and great people (if you haven’t been, I highly recommend it). Barbara Bickel, a long-time [...]

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What’s in a (Bird) Name? Part 1: The Common American Problem

Steve Howell ends day 1 of the Peru Bird Rally

What’s so common about a Common Moorhen? Surely the American Coots are much more common in my neck of the woods! Leica Birding Team’s Steve N.G. Howell breaks down the problems with English bird names with his trademark Welsh humor in this first of three installments. Enjoy!

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Travis on the plane

By Neil Hayward, Accidental Big Year birder. I’m at the UPS store in Anchorage. Scott Schuette is dropping me off.  It’s cold and I have no idea where I’m going. Again. This whole year I’ve been passed from birder to birder. It’s been fun! I’ve seen some amazing birds and met some pretty cool birders. [...]

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Back to Alaska

Figure 3: The Rustic Bunting, showing off for all of us.  Photo by Scott Schuette

Scott Schuette, Director of St. Paul Island Tours, volunteers a bit of his “off island” time to help Travis tick a few more fantastic birds!

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Leica Birding Team member Steve N.G. Howell takes on the Peru Birding Challenge

Jesse Fagan, Fernando, Cecilia, Jose Luis

Leica Birding Team member Steve Howell just returned from the 3rd World Birding Rally in Peru, where five teams from around the world competed to record as many species as possible in five-and-a-half days of pre-dawn to post-dusk birding, starting with 3 days near the Bolivian Border in Amazonia (the world center of biodiversity) and ending with a day around the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu (“all those big stones crawling with people, that we didn’t have time to visit”). Read on to see how they did!

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