The stunning snow-capped mountains, arid deserts, secluded rivers, prairie and grasslands of New Mexico all form a visually stunning backdrop to some of the most exciting winter birding that North America has to offer. This specially designed one-week ZOOTHERA tour is aimed at seeing some of New Mexico’s most exciting and special birds in a fairly relaxed manner, with the emphasis on getting good views and studying the impressive wildlife on offer. The undoubted highlight of any tour to this exciting region is a visit to Bosque del Apache NWR, where literally thousands of Snow Geese, ducks and Sandhill Cranes fill the air each morning and evening. It is estimated that there are up to 32,000 geese and 14,000 cranes present at any one time here during the winter! The sheer volume of noise and flurry of wings combined with the crisp, clear winter air should provide superb photographic opportunities and we will spend plenty of time savouring one of the natural world’s most impressive wildlife spectacles. An extensive series of lakes, ponds and marshes will be searched for such wanted species as Hooded Merganser, Ross's Goose, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Clark’s Grebe and a multitude of other waterfowl. Whilst the surounding desert and canyons are home to Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunner, Crissal Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Bridled Titmouse and Phainopepla. Several impressive mountain ranges will be searched for a variety of scarce birds such as Northern Pygmy Owl, Red-naped Sapsucker, Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee and at one special site, 3 species of rosy-finch – a rather unique experience. There's a short journey to look for Bridled Titmouse and several lakes to explore as well. There is also a wide variety of commoner species on offer which provide a perfect introduction to the birdlife of North America, all set in superb scenery that provides a fantastic winter break.
We are also preparing a few days at SaxZim Bog in Minnesota (7th - 10th January) as a pre-tour extension. At this time of year there are numerous feeding stations in the area that prove attractive to species such as Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, sometimes Hoary Redpoll, White-winged Crossbill and others. But it's the owls that are the main draw for many people and it is possible to see Great Grey Owl, Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk Owl and Boreal Owl. There are also opportunities to see Ruffed & Sharp-tailed Grouse feeding along the roadside, whilst we will also drive a couple of hours to a site that will increase our chances of seeing Spruce Grouse. Other species we hope to see include Rough-legged Hawk, Thayer's & Glaucous Gulls, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Boreal Chickadee, Grey Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin and possibly a rarity or two. There's also an option to visit west Texas and see Whooping Cranes as well as a post-tour extension. Please email our office for more info.