Wildside At Home

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Apr 7, 2020 | by Sally Ingraham

We’ve been home for a few weeks now. The world is trying to catch its balance in the midst of this global crisis. Our Wildside has shrunk to the limits of our own backyards, balconies, and bird feeders.

Instead of begrudging this shift in focus (of binoculars and camera lenses!) we have welcomed the opportunity to observe and appreciate the wildlife of our homes.

Our family of guides are scattered across the United States and throughout other countries. This gives us a chance to engage with a variety of habitats and share what we find in different bioregions.

Here’s just a sampling of what we’ve seen in the last few days:

Edison Buenaño, Ecuador

Golden Grosbeak – photograph by Edison Buenaño

Edison Buenaño is our South American specialist. He has worked with Wildside Nature Tours for many years, and most recently led our riverboat tour in the Peruvian Amazon. He lives on the Valle de los Chillos side of Quito, in Ecuador.

Edison reported seeing a pair of Golden Grosbeaks from his window the other day, singing their beautiful and varied song. It was a busy morning at Edison’s house – he also saw Vermillion Flycatcher, Black-Tailed Trainbearer, Eared Dove, American Kestrel, Rufous Collared Sparrow, Golden-rumped Euphonia…and more!

Golden Grosbeak – photograph by Edison Buenaño

Black-tailed Trainbearer – photograph by Edison Buenaño

Later on in 2020 and in 2021 Edison will be leading tours in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru – join him for an Antpitta adventure, or a Santa Marta getaway, or an amazing Manu and Machu Picchu mashup!

Gabriel Lugo, Puerto Rico

Gabriel Lugo’s backyard in Puerto Rico

There is an orange tree in Gabriel Lugo‘s backyard, in Puerto Rico, and “everything stops there”. Gabriel is our Caribbean specialist, leading tours in Puerto Rico, of course, but also guiding folks in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Jamaica. These days, however, he is spending his time with his camera (the Olympus E-M1 Mark II) pointed at that orange tree.

A typical “yard list” might include Antillean Mango, Caribbean Martin, Greater Antillean Grackle, Puerto Rican Spindalis, Bananaquit, Saffron Finch, White-winged Dove, Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, Prairie Warbler, House Sparrow, and Common Ground Dove.

Greater Antillean Grackle – photograph by Gabriel Lugo

Saffron Finch – photograph by Gabriel Lugo

Puerto Rican Spindalis – photograph by Gabriel Lugo

Late autumn is a great time to explore Puerto Rico, and Gabriel plans to lead two 5-day tours, in November and December of 2020 – plus our full selection of Caribbean adventures in 2021!

Sally Ingraham, New Mexico, USA

Curve-billed Thrasher; Greater Roadrunner; Bushtit; Gambel’s Quail – photographs by Sally Ingraham

Sally Ingraham (Hi, it’s me!) is in charge of social media for Wildside. While writing blog posts and digging through the team’s photos from past tours, I often look up from the kitchen table and see Gambel’s Quail running across my backyard. The high elevation desert of my home in New Mexico is perfect habitat for them!

They are forced to share the “quail blocks” (little towers of compressed seeds) that line the adobe wall with my other typical yard birds – Curve-billed Thrasher, White-crowned Sparrow, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, and the occasional Greater Roadrunner.

At the bird feeders the House Sparrows and Finches trade places with Lesser Goldfinch. Now and then, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker joins them. The Russian Olive and Desert Willows are a resting place for White-winged Doves and Bushtits, and above them all are a couple of Coopers Hawk patrolling constantly.

Sandia Mountains seen from Sally’s backyard in Corrales, NM

Our Wildside family is resilient and therefore we are confident that we will get through our present circumstances with grace and good humor. And we’ll do it together!

What birds and other wildlife have you been watching and enjoying in your backyard? Let us know by sharing your sightings (and perhaps your insights!) with the Wildside Nature Tours Community on Facebook.

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