The highlight of the Avian Adventures tour was a pelagic trip from Newport, Oregon on 13th September that produced what is being described as only the second-ever Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) recorded in North America. To see three species of albatrosses in one day in North America was unexpected to say the least! Apart from the many Black-footed, a single Laysan Albatross made up the trio.
Of course, there has been a lot of debate about albatross taxonomy and although the American Ornithologists' Union doesn't (yet) recognise the split there are those who regard 'Wandering Albatross' as three separate species. Fortunately, 'our' bird was extremely obliging, staying in view for 40 minutes or so and providing close views that enabled its identification as Antipodean Albatross - Diomedea antipodensis or as the AOU would have it D.e.antipodensis.
Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis
Although most migrant breeding birds had left, the tour produced a very respectable bird list. Apart from all the expected seabirds including South Polar Skua and Buller's Shearwater, we saw Wandering Tattler, Surfbird, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Varied Thrush, White-headed, Pileated, Lewis's and Black-backed Woodpeckers, Harlequin Duck, Wrentit and Lapland Longspur. Highlights amongst the mammals were Black Bear, Humpback Whale, Grey Whale and Dall's Porpoises.
As well as the wonderfully scenic Oregon coastline we spent time in the Klamath Basin, the Deschutes National Forest and on Mt Rainier during two weeks of almost uninterrupted and very welcome sunshine.
Meanwhile in Spain, June had a fairly hectic five days with a party of 24 journalists and tour guides visiting hotels, restaurants and birding sites in southern Andalucía. The trip included a visit to the inaugural Andalucía Bird Fair at Tarifa where it was no surprise to bump into Tim Appleton and others from Rutland Water giving the benefit of their long experience of organising such events.
Although this was only a part-time birding trip an impressive 190 plus species were logged, underlining what a terrific area this is - as we already know! As well as Tarifa, the itinerary included Ronda, Doñana National Park and the Marismas del Odiel.
Good birds, excellent food and wine and lots of new friends - who could ask for more?