Recently Archaeopteryx Birding and Nature Tours had the unique opportunity to visit and bird in Iceland for 8 days at the end of May/beginning of June. Our mutual friend, Lorri Lilja, asked if we would accompany her on her vacation that she had been planning. First of all, let me say that I loved visiting and touring around Iceland. It’s a beautiful country and with the spring snowmelt coming off of the glaciers and volcanoes, the country-side was full of wildflowers, Icelandic ponies and sheep, and birds everywhere! There are tens of thousands of birds to one human residing in Iceland in the spring. There are breathtaking waterfalls and streams rushing to the ocean. We even got to catch a glimpse of Iceland’s only native terrestrial mammal, the Arctic Fox, shedding into his summer coat.
As is typical of Europe, the food was amazing. All the restaurants we visited had at least one vegan option on their menu. We sampled some of the beer and liquor the country had to offer as well. Kaldi Brewery not only had the very best beers we sampled in the country, but they also have a beer spa in Árskógssandur where you can go and soak in a relaxing mixture of barley and hops. There’s beer on draft and a glass in the spa with you, so you can drink as much as you want within the time they give you to soak. This establishment is one of only four currently in business globally. The other three are also located in Europe.
Scenery from Beer Spa
Our birding adventure started as soon as we picked our car up from the airport. Lorri spotted several European Starlings (in their native habitat!) foraging in a field in town. But wait, what were those larger birds behind all the starlings? We backed up and low and behold- our first life bird of the trip! European Golden Plover! We then pulled off the road to a park we were not planning to visit next to Njarðvík Bay. Right away Lorri and I picked up our nemesis birds we could not find in Florida: Red Knot for Lorri and Common Eider for me. We watched Redwings with worms to feed their chicks, Common Eider females on nests, and even mating Arctic Terns. Yes, spring had definitely hit Iceland! Except of course, for the temperature. For these two Floridian tour guides, the 40 degrees Fahrenheit plus 35 mph winds, were a bit chillier than we had anticipated.
The following day we picked up our friend who had booked a later flight, Terrie Leibler, and the real adventure began. We started driving further and further away from the capital to explore the areas and find new and different birds. One of the highlights of the trip was the day we visited Snaefellsjoekull National Park where we found Snow Bunting, Northern Wheatear, Rock Ptarmigan, Razorbill, Common and Thick-billed Murres, Northern Fulmar and Black-legged Kittiwakes. This was one of the only areas in the northern part of the country where you can hike on a glacier, which we did. The views from the Raudholl trail were amazing!
We also visited Akureyri, which did not disappoint. We saw our Atlantic Puffins that everyone wanted to see and photograph. We had missed them up until this point, but when we saw them, we really hit the jackpot! We estimated 10,000 + puffins roosting on the cliff ledges and foraging in the ocean. We had Great Skua, their natural predator, fly by twice scattering all of the birds and being chased by gulls. The puffins were not on nests yet, but we did see signs of courtship displays.
The following day we went out to Lake Mývatn to observe waterfowl. Mývatn translates to midge- and we found out the lake is appropriately named. Each time we opened the door, several flew inside and clung to our clothing. The ducks certainly had enough food to raise their chicks! Lorri and Terrie got their Harlequin Ducks as well as Barrow’s Goldeneye, Eurasian Wren, Horned Grebe, Common Scoter, and several other species of ducks. We had high hopes for White-tailed Eagle and Gyrfalcon, but unfortunately could not find any. Gyrfalcon is considered a sensitive species of concern and therefore, it’s sighting records are kept hidden.
On the way back to Reykjavik, we stopped and picked up two new birds for the trip. We did find our White-tailed Eagles- two of them nesting on a rock island outside of Borgarbyggð. We also found Goldcrest at Fossvogur Cemetery in Reykjavik. The Goldcrest looks like a kinglet and sounds like a Cedar Waxwing. We were able to pick up on it’s soft, high-pitched sounds and locate a couple of these adorable birds. Not a bad evening for our last night in Iceland, I’d have to say. We ended our trip with a total of 73 bird species seen. I would definitely recommend anyone to visit this country if you get the chance. We will be leading tours here in the future, or upon request. One week’s time is only just enough to scratch the surface of the natural areas, culture, and scenery Iceland has to offer.
We lead 3 trips for the Bird of a Feather Fest and met lots of new birders and had a great time. Beck got Ruff as a state bird on Saturday’s trip. Friday’s trip nabbed Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatchers. Got to spend more time with Greg Miller as well.
5% DISCOUNT FOR TOURS PAID IN FULL 120 DAYS PRIOR TO TOUR
10% deposit is required to reserve your space.
50% is due 120 days prior to start of tour.
100% is due 90 days prior to start of tour.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT IS $500.00 UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE
Refunds and Cancellations
100% Refund 120 or more prior to start of tour.
50% Refund 90-119 days prior to start of tour.
25% Refund 60-89 days prior to start of tour.
NO REFUNDS LESS THAN 60 DAYS PRIOR TO START OF TOUR UNLESS SPOT CAN BE FILLED IN WHICH A 25% REFUND WILL BE ISSUED.
Bird & Butterfly Tour of Rio Grande Valley, Texas
March 24-29, 2021
Cost: $1729.00 per person double occupancy. Minimum 2 – Maximum 4
Join Archaeopteryx Birding and Nature Tours this March for a 6—day tour of the Rio Grande Valley, TX! Starting March 24th through 29th, 2021, we’ll visit such iconic places as the Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge, the National Butterfly Center, and the Estero Llano Grande State Park. Also included in the cost is a boat tour on the Rio Grande river- the perfect location for viewing and photographing waders, Long-billed Curlew, and Green and Ringed Kingfishers! We’ll also be targeting such local specialties as Great Kiskadee, Plain Chachalaca, Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, Olive Sparrow, and Pyrrhuloxia. Not only is this area unique for birding and butterflying, but it’s also a known source for delicious Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants! Afternoon/evening activities will alternate between the National Butterfly Center and the parrot roost, depending on what we’d like to see. Here’s a breakdown of our daily morning activities:March 24th: Arrival by 3pm at the McAllen airport. Eat dinner and check into hotel. Parrot roost for Red-crowned Parrots and Green Parakeets. Possibility for Yellow-headed and Red-lored Parrots as well.March 25th: Santa Ana NWR for Olive Sparrow. Possibility for Franklin’s Gull, White-faced Ibis, Broad-winged Hawk, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Plain Chachalaca, Inca Dove, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Black-crested Titmouse, and Stilt Sandpiper, as well as wintering ducks and shorebirds.March 26th: Estero Llano Grande State Park for Lesser Nighthawk, Common Pauraque, and more wintering ducks and shorebirds.March 27th: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park for Couch’s Kingbird, Swainson’s Hawk, Verdin, Least Grebe, White-tipped Dove, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Neotropic Cormorant, Curve-billed and Long-billed Thrashers, Lesser Goldfinch, Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Curlew and possibility for Green Kingfisher.March 28th: Rio Grande Riverboat tour for additional waterbird species and possible Ringed Kingfisher!March 29th: Morning birding and butterflying at the National Butterfly Center for Pyrrhuloxia, Green Jay, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Clay-colored Thrush, Hooded Oriole, and Altamira Oriole Flights home in afternoon or evening.We’ll also attempt to locate any rare birds that are reported in our tour area, or visit the Brownsville area depending on remaining time. Cost per person will be $1729. The price includes professional guide, lodging, transportation, park entry fees, and light snacks/water. Rooms will be double-occupancy. A checklist of all birds and butterflies seen will be provided to each participant upon completion of the tour. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 609-553-0757 if you’re interested in more information or to book a space on this tour. Minimum 2 participants to run this tour.
Migration Birding Tour in Galveston-High Island, TX
April 15-April 20, 2021
Cost: $1343.00 per person double occupancy – 2 Minimum – 4 Maximum– Single Supplement $400.00
Spring migration is a great time of the year to be in Texas! We’ll be spending 4 days in the Bolivar peninsula area awaiting our breeding birds to return home for the summer and watching for rarities like the Golden-winged and Cerulean warblers. We’ll spend 4 nights in Galveston and 1 night in the High Island/Smith Oaks Santuary area. Flights will arrive and depart from the Houston airport. Here are the various birding places we’ll visit during the tour and an expected species list: 4/15- Arrive at the Houston airport no later than 3pm. It’ll be a 1-hour drive to the city of Galveston. After our hotel check-in, we’ll have some Mexican dinner at the Napalera Grill. 4/16- We’ll begin our birding adventure at Kempner Park, a migration hot spot. This park is a great spot for Cerulean, Golden-winged, Black-throated Green, Bay-breasted, and Worm-eating Warblers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Indigo Bunting, Dickcissel, and White-faced Ibis. We’ll grab a quick fast food type of lunch while we’re out birding and return to the hotel no later than 3pm. Dinner at the Mosquito Cafe. 4/17- Moody Gardens is a little atypical of your average birding location. Moody Gardens consists of a golf course, theme park, and aquarium. However, the property has proven to attract various bird species that may not otherwise be seen on the tour. We’ll expect to see species such as the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Whimbrel, Stilt Sandpiper, Least Tern, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Meadowlark, Mottled Duck, Common Loon, Neotropic Cormorant, Veery, Long-billed Curlew, Monk Parakeet, Yellow, Black-and-White, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Blackburnian Warblers, Franklin’s Gull, Summer and Western Tanagers, Bronzed Cowbird, American Pipit, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Lesser Nighthawk, White-tailed Kite, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Upland Sandpiper and Eared Grebe. We’ll have lunch at the park and dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. 4/18- A visit to Latiffe’s Cove for Blue-winged Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Great-horned Owl, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Couch’s Kingbird, Wilson’s Phalarope, and Black-billed Cuckoo. A quick lunch from Subway and then dinner at the Tipsy Turtle. 4/19- Get up early and check out of our hotel in Galveston. We’ll take the ferry across to the Bolivar peninsula for a day of birding on High Island/Smith Oaks Sanctuary. We should expect to see Roseate Spoonbills, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Hooded, Magnolia, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Wood Thrush, Northern Waterthrush, Swainson’s Hawk, and Orchard Oriole. We’ll have lunch at Jose’s Cantina and dinner at the H2 BrewHouse & Scratch Kitchen. Cost per person will be $1343. A singles supplement fee of $400 will be added to the price of the tour if you’re traveling alone. The price includes professional guide, lodging, transportation, park entry fees, and light snacks/water. A checklist of all birds and butterflies seen will be provided to each participant upon completion of the tour. Please contact us at email@example.com or call/text 609-553-0757 if you’re interested in more information or to book a space on this tour. Minimum 2 participants to run this tour.
Florida Birding and Spring Migration Tour
April 22-30, 2021
Cost: $1800.00 Per Person, 2 Minimum – 4 Maximum, Single Supplement $500.00
April is a great time of the year to visit us here in Florida! We’ll be able to see and photograph our resident bird species, along with migrant species just passing through on their way to their breeding grounds in the north. The climate is comfortable this time of the year and temperatures are usually in the 80s (26.6c). There’s always the possibility for fallout, so we’ll be visiting some of our state’s known migration hotspots, as well as focusing our attention on our resident birds as well. April is also a great time of the year for butterflies, so we’ll stop to photograph and observe any butterfly species we come across.Day 1: Arrive in Orlando. Welcome to Central Florida!Day 2: Mead Botanical Gardens, Winter Park. The urban city park provides an oasis of green amid the noise, concrete, and subdivisions of the Greater Orlando area. Mead Gardens has been a migration hot spot for years. Expected species include Scarlet Tanager, Gray Catbird, Barred Owl, egrets & herons, Wood Duck, Cedar Waxwing, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Hawk, Orchard Oriole, American Redstart, Ovenbird, and Cape May Warbler. This park also has a population of Gopher Tortoises and there’s always the possibility for a rare warbler or other passerine species here. We’ll stop at Ethos Vegan Kitchen for lunch right down the road. Ethos has sandwiches, pizza, salads, a bakery and local beer/wine. Gluten-free options are available. *Alternate non-veg options available at The Ravenous Pig- a gastropub/brewery specializing in southern-style comfort food Day 3: Three Lakes WMA/Joe Overstreet Landing, Kenansville. We’ll begin the day before sunrise at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in search of the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. These social woodpeckers are unique in that they exclusively nest in live trees. We should also be able to find Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman’s Sparrow as well. We’ll then drive a short distance down the road to Joe Overstreet Landing for Bald Eagle, our national bird, as well as Eastern Meadowlark, Sandhill Cranes, Loggerhead Shrike, Crested Caracara, Limpkin, Snail & Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-headed Woodpecker, American Kestrel and Purple Gallinule. Day 4: Fort Desoto Park, St. Petersburg. Fort Desoto is another known migration hot spot and usually produces one or two fallout events per spring. Nanday Parakeets live and nest in the park as well as several species of coastal birds. We should be able to see Whimbrel, Short-billed Dowitcher, Black Skimmer, Least Tern, Red-breasted Merganser, Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper, Willet, American Oystercatcher, and Wilson’s, Black-bellied, and Semipalmated Plover. Passerines include Hooded Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Blue-winged Hooded Warbler Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Great Horned Owl, Worm-eating Warbler, Swainson’s Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager, Wood Thrush, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The Mangrove Skipper butterfly also lives in this park. We’ll stop for lunch mid-day right outside the park at a local restaurant called Philadeli. They specialize in Philly cheesesteaks and sandwiches with local beers on tap. Day 5: Begin the day birding at the Oscar Scherer State Park where we should find our state’s only endemic bird species, the Florida Scrub-Jay. We may also see Blue Grosbeak or Northern Bobwhite. Next we’ll be stopping in the town of Cape Coral for great views and photographs of our Florida Burrowing Owls, an endangered subspecies of the Burrowing Owls of the Southwestern US. Monk Parakeets also live and nest in this area. After everyone has gotten the photos they’d like, we’ll explore Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel for Osprey, Roseate Spoonbill, Eastern Kingbird, Blue-winged Teal, Mottled Duck, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Reddish Egret, and Least and Solitary Sandpipers. Day 6: Key Largo Bird & Butterfly Day! We’ll have great opportunities to find migratory birds plus many Caribbean breeding species such as Black-whiskered Vireo, “Golden” Yellow Warbler, and the elusive Mangrove Cuckoo. Butterfly species that include the critically endangered Shaus’ Swallowtail, Bartram’s Scrub and Silver-banded Hairstreak, Julia, Hammock Skipper, and Florida Purplewing. The day will include stops at the Purplewing Trail (restricted access, we will Mangrove Cuckoo have a permit), Dangy Johnson State Botanical Park, Caryfort Circle, Card Sound Bridge, and Navy Wells Preserve. Lunch will be at Ballyhoo’s, home of award winning fresh local seafood, as well as an extensive vegan menu. Day 7: Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Key West. A visit to the historical island of Key West. This state park offers some of the finest migration birding in the state and the possibility for fallout is high depending on weather. We’ll see Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Short-tailed Hawk, Dickcissel, Tennessee Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, as well as the Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak butterfly. Lunch at The Cafe in downtown Key West for vegetarian and vegan options including tacos, sandwiches, salads, and pizzas, plus a great selection of Prothonotary Warbler wine/beer *alternate non-veg options available Day 8: Downtown Miami exotic birding. We’ll spend the day chasing Yellow-chevroned, White-eyed, Scarlet-fronted, Green, Red-masked, Crimson-fronted, Mitred, and White-winged Parakeets, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Common Mynah, and Spot-breasted Oriole. Possibility for Lilac-crowned Parrots, Scaly-breasted Munia, and Blue-and-yellow Macaws. Break for lunch at the Titanic Brewery for some local British-influenced beers and food. We’ll begin the drive back to Orlando around 3pm for an evening of Red-whiskered Bulbul rest before everyone’s flight home the following day. *Alternative trip for those not interested in exotic birding- Pelagic morning birding trip with Robert Torres’ Pelagic Birding Adventures. Expected species include Royal, Sandwich, and Foster’s Terns, Common Loon, Northern Gannet, Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Booby, plus the possibility for Masked Booby, Bridled Tern, White-tailed Tropicbird, shearwaters, jaegers, or storm-petrels. We’ll have lunch at the marina restaurant. Add $100 to the price of the tour if this option is selected. Price for this tour will be $1,800 per person shared occupancy (singles supplement $500). The price includes pickup/dropoff at the airport, all transportation costs, entry fees to parks, all hotel stays, detailed ebird checklists, water/snacks, and professional guide service. The price does not include your flights, meals, or tips. Hotel lodging will be in the mid-range with access to amenities such as fitness center, pool, and continental breakfast wherever they’re available. We cater to any dietary restrictions and are familiar with several local restaurants around the state as well as wineries and breweries. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up for this tour.