NEW MEXICO WINTER BIRDING plus Minnesota pre-tour extension

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.

MAIN TOUR: Tues11th - Weds 19th January

PRE-TOUR EXT: Fri 7th - Mon 10th January


Here are just a few of the key species we will be targetting on this tour:

  • Western Grebe
  • Clark's Grebe
  • 1000's Snow Geese
  • Ross's Goose
  • Cackling Goose
  • Tundra Swan
  • 1000's Sandhill Cranes
  • Whooping Crane (post-tour ext)
  • Ruffed Grouse (pre-tour ext)
  • Sharp-tailed Grouse (pre-tour ext)
  • Spruce Grouse (pre-tour ext)
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Barrow's Goldeneye
  • Scaled Quail
  • Gambel's Quail
  • Western Grebe
  • Clark's Grebe
  • Ferruginous Hawk    
  • Prairie Falcon
  • Snowy Owl (pre-tour ext)
  • Great Grey Owl (pre-tour ext)
  • Boreal Owl (pre-tour ext)
  • Northern Hawk Owl (pre-tour ext)
  • Northern Pygmy Owl
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Williamson's Sapsucker
  • Red-naped Sapsucker  
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • American Three-toed Woodpecker (pre-tour ext)     
  • Black-backed Woodpecker (pre-tour ext)
  • Pygmy Nuthatch
  • American Dipper
  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Juniper Titmouse
  • Bridled Titmouse   
  • Boreal Chickadee (pre-tour ext)
  • Pygmy Nuthatch
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • Townsend's Solitaire
  • Crissal Thrasher
  • Phainopepla   
  • Spotted Towhee
  • Canada Jay
  • Pinyon Jay
  • Clark's Nutcracker
  • American Tree Sparrow 
  • Fox Sparrow      
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Sagebrush Sparrow
  • Pyrrhuloxia      
  • Chestnut-collared Longspur
  • Thick-billed Longspur
  • Grey-crowned Rosy-finch 
  • Black Rosy-finch
  • Brown-capped Rosy-finch
  • Pine Grosbeak
  • Cassin's Finch
  • Evening Grosbeak

LEADER: Nick Bray

GROUND PRICE (MAIN TOUR): £1750.00 - Albuquerque/Albuquerque
GROUND PRICE (PRE-TOUR EXT): £1195.00 - Minneapolis/Minneapolis
GROUND PRICE  (POST-TOUR EXT: Ask our office for info

£600.00 - £700.00 (Approx) - UK/UK


DEPOSIT: £0.00

GROUP SIZE: Minimum of 4 and maximum 9.

INCLUDED IN COST: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite throughout, transport in 15-seater minibus, bottled water, all reserve entrance fees, and services of English-speaking guides.

NOT INCLUDED: International airfare, Minneapolis - Albuquerque flight (if participating in pre-tour), meals apart from most breakfasts,  ESTA, insurance, most drinks, tips and items of a personal nature.

MEALS: Only meals indicated in the itinerary are included in the cost of this tour (included hotel breakfasts.)  Because a person can eat quite well for as little as $35 per day or they can choose to spend three or four times that amount for a single day, depending upon your choices - we do not include meals where we cannot control the costs. Zoothera Birding has a policy of NOT overcharging one person to cover another’s POTENTIAL meal choices - which we would have to do if all meals were budgeted into the cost of this tour. So we plan to take motel breakfasts and then purchase provisions for a picnic lunch. Dinner will usually be taken at a diner/restaurant of our choosing.

The motels and lodges we will use are all of a medium to good quality and within easy reach of the areas we wish to bird. Some will have laundry facilities and all of them have air-conditioning, hot showers & comfortable beds.

TOUR CODE: A relaxed birding break for all levels of ability and fitness. Leisurely walking, very occasionally over moderately rough terrain, is the only physical requirement on most days. We may well walk for a few kilometres through some arid canyons, but most birding will be done near the vehicles. On other days we may spend long periods of time at a lake or dam scannning through thousands of wildfowl, or soaking in the spectacle of countless geese and cranes flying in to the marshes and ponds right in front of us, or even twitching a particular rarity that has appeared in areas close to our birding circuit. As it is winter, expect warm daytime temperatures to cold/freezing conditions with the chance of some rain or even snow in the mountains. You will need to pack for winter birding! Opportunities for photography are good! Meals are not included in the tour price but are relatively inexpensive and you should budget for £20 - £30 per day depending on your requirements.

COVID-19:  To join this tour you will need to be doubly vaccinated.

We do ask that you take a test at home before flying to the USA, even though proof of a negative test IS NOT a requirement of entering USA at present - this is liable to change. Social distancing  in a birding group is rather impossible, so our policy for this particular tour will be to conduct it in the usual social setting. We would advise you to wear masks when coming into contact with anyone outside of our bubble - although we envisage this scenario will be kept to a minimum. Each one of us needs to adopt a safety-first mentality throughout our time together and whilst travelling to/from USA. We understand masks are not everyone's favourite thing but for the foreseeable future they are going to be part of every birders kit, so please wear them if it make syou feel more comfortable. Saying that, most of our time will be spent in the outdoors and we deem a birding tour to be much safer than more 'normal' holidays! The vehicle we use every day will also be sterilized every day and hand gel will be made available to all.

All costs arising from any Covid-19-related issues are NOT included in the Zoothera Birding tour fee, and the individual tour participant is responsible for all of these payments. These include, but are not restricted to, payment for Covid treatment/medical fees on tour, transport and accommodation in case of quarantine, and the costs of any Covid tests needed for the tour, either before, during, or after the tour. Zoothera Birding will facilitate all arrangements in terms of ensuring that participants are safe and given rapid access to the best locally available medical treatment, but costs are to be borne solely by the tour participant. If anyone in the group shows some of the common symptons of Covid, they will need to obtain a PCR test locally and will have to isolate from the rest of the group - at their own expense.


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