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Naturalist Journeys Explores the Legacy of Aldo Leopold with the Aldo Leopold Foundation as Fall Color Peaks in Wisconsin

EDPE Fall at the Leopold Shack

This fall, Ed and Sil Pembleton, naturalist guides with a strong repeat following, join Naturalist Journeys and the Aldo Leopold Foundation to share their love of prairies, the Mid-West and the legacy of conservation giant, Aldo Leopold. Experts from the Aldo Leopold Foundation staff join Ed and Sil for this year’s October 11 – 17, 2015 tour that showcases the wonderful Wisconsin places where Leopold grew up. Explore treasured locations that inspired Leopold’s conservation writings and principles.

Leopold is famous for his deeply profound, lyrical essays in A Sand County Almanac and other publications, and was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer and outdoor enthusiast. As David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette once said, Leopold is “The poet laureate of the environmental movement.” His legacy lives on through the Aldo Leopold Foundation, a focal point of the tour. Over 2-million copies of his book, written 65 years ago, have been published in nine languages.

Naturalist Journeys’ owner Peg Abbott is excited about the tour partnership with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and hopes that the company’s decades of nature and birding tour experience helps The Foundation find new ways to encourage educational travel for its members, and anyone wanting to learn more about the Leopold legacy. The Foundation currently offers day tours of the Aldo Leopold Shack, and occasionally weekend seminars, but this week-long adventure in October is new. Conservation enthusiasts can look forward to a tour, framed in Wisconsin’s glorious fall colors and heralded by the call of Sandhill Cranes. Abbott notes that the birds are preparing to migrate, a poignant time of year learn more about Aldo Leopold’s life, work and philosophy.

Central to this week-long experience is time at the Leopold Farm and Shack, where Leopold found inspiration for many of his essays. Tour participants will contemplate and discuss his conservation ideas and visit the new Leopold Legacy Center, where his inspiring work of advocating a land ethic continues. Both Ed and Sil appreciate literature, and they have prepared readings throughout the tour. In addition to generous time at the Shack and with the Aldo Leopold Foundation staff, participants will explore locales around Wisconsin where Leopold, his family and students worked, learned and planted the seeds of a land ethic that continues to grow and endure today.

Ed Pembleton, former Director of the Leopold Foundation, says, “Leopold inspired me. I have spent my career protecting places important to Sandhill Cranes, and in educating people about them. I keep this quote from Leopold where I see it daily: ‘Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty.’ It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. The quality of cranes lies, I think, in this higher gamut, as yet beyond the reach of words.”

WISC 13 Pat photo craneThe Foundation’s Wisconsin-based work has international influence; close to the Leopold Foundation is the International Crane Foundation’s headquarters. Participants on the October 11 – 17 tour will have the opportunity to see all 15 of the world’s species of cranes at the International Crane Foundation.

Find full details of Naturalist Journeys’ Aldo Leopold’s Wisconsin Nature and Hiking Tour, limited to just 12 persons, at http://naturalistjourneys.com/jcalendar/jc_WI15.htm. This seven-day nature and birding tour begins and ends in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

More about the Aldo Leopold Foundation: 
http://www.aldoleopold.org/About/foundation.shtml

The Aldo Leopold Foundation’s mission is to foster the land ethic through the legacy of Aldo Leopold. Their vision is to weave a land ethic into the fabric of our society; to advance the understanding, stewardship and restoration of land health; and to cultivate leadership for conservation. The five children of Aldo and Estella Leopold established the Aldo Leopold Foundation as a not-for-profit conservation organization in 1982.

More about Aldo Leopold: 
Leopold,deservedly known as the “Father of Wildlife Management,” wrote the first text and taught the first course at the University of Wisconsin. A superb teacher and researcher with a great ability to connect with landowners, he and his students were involved early on with farmers on the prairie near Lake Mills in a cooperative research and wildlife management project.

More about Naturalist Journeys LLC: http://www.naturalistjourneys.com 

Naturalist Journeys, LLC creates top-rate, unique natural history and birding tours. Our list of tours includes off-the-beaten-track locations, allowing participants to get to know places close to home that they may know little about. We like to build intrigue, and our strong network of talented guides share their expertise and help design our tours.

Photo credits: Leopold Shack, Ed Pembleton; Crowned Crane, Pat Owens

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Naturalist Journeys Announces New Tour to View Rare California Condors of the Four Corners Region

California Condor at Zion National Park, photo by Narca Moore Craig.

Naturalist Journeys announces a new tour September 3-8, 2013, to observe rare California Condors in the Four Corners area, in partnership with the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo (NRCP), Colorado.  The company owner, Peg Abbott, and Center’s Executive Director, John Gallagher, created the tour based on their strong mutual interest in the restoration of iconic California Condors, making a return from the brink of extinction. Gallagher describes “When I called Peg Abbott, owner of Naturalist Journeys, I had one word for her: “CONDORS.” She said, “I like it.” So we put our heads together and in a short time, we had a plan.”

Gallagher welcomes Condor enthusiasts and Naturalist Journeys travelers to join the NRCP group. In a NRCP recent newsletter, he says that leading summer programs for kids has made him realize the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of time in nature. In the latest edition of The Cottonwood, his invitation to join the tour is titled, “Adults Need Nature Too”.   To reserve space on this tour, contact NRCP directly.  Find out more about the tour and organization at www.natureandraptor.org.

Peg Abbott comes from a conservation background, having worked 17 years with the National Audubon Society. She says that part of Naturalist Journey’s mission as a top-rated eco-tour company is to work with nature organizations like NRCP to help put together a well- organized and successful nature tour for their members.

On this extraordinary week-long adventure, tour participants will visit the Four Corners region’s spectacular parks and monuments with a focus on understanding the ecology and current status of the California Condor population.  A recent report highlights just how rare this specie is, listing less than 250 individuals as living in the wild.  Abbott says that the guided experience is essential here, not only to find wild and elusive California Condors, but to better understand the region’s fantastic geology, lush forests, open sagebrush-clad valleys and rainbow-colored canyons.  She says, “California Condors need a large expanse of terrain and they move around within that large region seasonally.  Where they may be in September is different than where we find them in January”.

Guides network with professionals and depend on previous experience to find them. Abbott and Gallagher choose to include Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon,

and the Vermilion Cliffs to showcase California Condors.  Because of the group’s interest in birds and other wildlife, they also selected the ghost town of Grafton, Utah and Pipe Springs as lush oases that attract migrant songbirds, on the wing through the region in early September.

Condor Terrain, Zion National Park

Naturalist Journeys Nature and Birding tour participants delve into their passion and the terrain. The Adventure in Condor Country tour includes a guided hike in scenic Antelope Canyon and a raft trip on the Colorado River through Marble Canyon. Guides carry high-powered optics to aid in raptor viewing.

For more information about Naturalist Journeys and the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo’s adventure to Four Corners, including costs, detailed itinerary, and travel planning, see the full Adventure in Condor Country description.  The tour begins and ends in Page, Arizona and is limited to 12 persons, with two expert guides.  For the full schedule of Naturalist Journeys Nature, Birding and Hiking tours on the calendar page of their website.

Naturalist Journeys Southeast Arizona Birding Guides Run 32nd Portal Arizona Breeding Bird Survey

Olive Warbler, Southeast Arizona at Rustler's Park

Olive Warbler, Southeast Arizona at Rustler’s Park

Because it provides long-term data, one of the tools potentially useful to assessing the effect of severe fires (2010, 2011) in the Chiricahua Mountains is data from a Breeding Bird Survey run on a 25-mile route within the range, over a span of 38 years.  Prior to 2013, thirty-one U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Breeding Bird Survey counts have been conducted on a route that starts near the road junction to Whitetail Canyon, continuing over to Paradise, then Portal, and on up to Rustler and Long Parks at higher elevation. These official USFWS counts began in 1975.  Dr. Walter Spofford, a retired ornithologist from Cornell University living in the canyon, designed and conducted the route in its early years.  Counts were run every year with the exception of 1988, 1989, 1991, and 1994 (likely due to the Rattlesnake Fire).  The three years prior to 2013, that would have provided quite valuable data in 2010, 2011 (year of the Horseshoe II fire), and 2012 were also not run.

Peg Abbott, a professional birding guide for Naturalist Journeys, LLC, who lives in Portal, agreed to pick up the route and keep it active. She was familiar with the count protocol, having run a route in northwest Wyoming for many years. Abbott is on the board of the Friends of Cave Creek Canyon, a non-profit group interested in supporting long-term monitoring on Coronado National Forest.  Another board member, Wynne Brown, agreed to assist in the task that required much of a day and an 0443 (sunrise) rendezvous.

Over the 38-year span, 131 bird species have been recorded along the Portal Breeding Bird Survey route 06133.  The highest number of species in any one year was 86 (1993) and the lowest was 54 (1975).  This year’s count will come in second when tallied, with 83 species having been detected.  Over the years, four counts had totals in the 50-59 species range (1975, ’76, ’77, ’78); six counts had totals in the 60-69 species range (’79, ’81, ’87, ’90, ’97, ’99); nine counts had totals in the 70-79 species range (’80,’82, ’83, ’84, ’85, ‘86, 95, ’96, ’98) and two counts previously noted over 80 species (‘92, ‘93).

Count observers receive maps and instructions from the USFWS ahead of the count. They drive a designated 25-mile route, stopping every half-mile to listen for a 3-minute period.  Every attempt is made to keep the stops consistent year to year. This year, Abbott and Brown added GPS coordinates to the route, a great technological tool for this type of work.  One person (Abbott) recorded bird data, counting all individual bird calls and sightings, and noting their species. The other person (Brown) took monitored the timer, recorded weather data, marked GPS waypoints, and navigated the route.

Over the years the number of individual birds has ranged considerably, from 206 (1975) to 929 (1992). This year’s total of 505 individuals was just under the average for the 31 counts of 530 individuals.

Chiricahua view webOn June 11, 2013, Abbott and Brown met at the start point just ahead of the 0443 start time. They said to each other, “On your mark, get set, GO”.  A sense of participating in a historical conservation effort, pioneered by esteemed local Portal residents, helped inspire them. The 25-mile route for Portal (BBS 06133) starts on the Galeyville Road, close to the junction with the road to Whitetail Canyon. The route ends at the lower end of the big meadow at Long Park. Clues on the official tally sheet at times were less than helpful: “cairn on left side of road” (long since gone), “Red-tailed Hawk nest in sycamore tree” (many sycamores, no nest), and “cattle guard” (no longer there). At stop 16 Brown said, “Oh my,” recognizing the scope of their task. Powered by snacks, friendship, and a fascination with the remarkable diversity and beauty of the area, they finished the count, walking the last four points (2 miles) due to the closure of the road for the Rustler Park Campground rehabilitation.

A few notes on the 2013 count:  All species that have been seen on nearly all (29-31) of the 31 counts were found again this year.  Of 23 species regularly encountered (seen on 20-28 counts), only Greater Roadrunner was missed. Seven species detected on 10-19 (less than half) of the counts were not recorded: Great-Horned Owl, Elegant Trogon, Juniper Titmouse (though this species was heard at one of the points, it was not noted in a 3-minute observation block), Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hooded Oriole, Bullock’s Oriole, and House Sparrow. Within the category of those detected on less than 10 of the 31 counts, observers had no expectations of finding them, but Abbott noted several of this 2-9 count category including: Scaled Quail, Montezuma Quail, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Pygmy Owl, Magnificent Hummingbird, Rock Wren, and Eastern Meadowlark. Two species were noted that had only been on one count within the 38-year span, though both are considered to be regular breeders in the Chiricahuas in Rick Taylor’s Location Checklist to the Birds of the Chiricahuas: Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (recorded at one stop), and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (recorded at six stops).

While many variables play into the patterns observed from the Breeding Bird Survey, the patterns can be informative, and they alert wildlife managers and observers to further monitor species of concern. Two species of those that occur in 20 or more counts, Summer Tanager and Hooded Oriole, do not occur in the last eight counts, absent since 2002.  One of these, Summer Tanager, was recorded this year.

Summary data as background for the 2013 Portal Breeding Bird Survey

(17) AZ 12 Spring 094Species that have been detected on all 31 counts

Gambel’s Quail, White-winged Dove, Acorn Woodpecker, Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, Western Wood Pewee, Cassin’s Kingbird, Mexican Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Cactus Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Spotted Towhee, Black-throated Sparrow, Yellow-eyed Junco, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Brown-headed Cowbird.

(12) Species that have been detected on most counts, all but 1-2 years (29 or 30 counts):

Mourning Dove, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Steller’s Jay, Bridled Titmouse, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Hepatic Tanager, Scott’s Oriole, and House Finch.

(23) Species that have been detected on 20-28 counts:

Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Greater Roadrunner, White-throated Swift, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Hutton’s Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Western Scrub Jay, Common Raven, Violet-green Swallow, Pygmy Nuthatch, Canyon Wren, Hermit Thrush, Curve-billed Thrasher, Lucy’s Warbler, Audubon’s Warbler, Grace’s Warbler, Canyon Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Blue Grosbeak

(30) Species detected on 10-19 counts:

Band-tailed Pigeon, Great-Horned Owl, Common Poorwill, Blue-throated Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Elegant Trogon, Hairy Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, Greater Pewee, Black Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Mexican Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse, Verdin, Bushtit, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Olive Warbler, Virginia’s Warbler, Red-faced Warbler, Painted Redstart, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Summer Tanager, Hooded Oriole, Bullock’s Oriole, Lesser Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(32) Species detected on 2-9 counts (# = # of counts):

Scaled Quail (8), Montezuma Quail (3), Sharp-shinned Hawk (3), Cooper’s Hawk (6), Northern Goshawk (3), Zone-tailed Hawk (2), Golden Eagle (4), American Kestrel (5), Peregrine Falcon (3), Prairie Falcon (3), Northern Pygmy Owl (4), Lesser Nighthawk (5), Magnificent Hummingbird (9), Bell’s Vireo (2), Chihuahuan Raven (2), Purple Martin (2), Barn Swallow (2), Rock Wren (8), Eastern Bluebird (2), Western Bluebird (6), Crissal Thrasher (6), European Starling (5), Phainopepla (6), Yellow-breasted Chat (3), Black-chinned Sparrow (9), Lark Sparrow (7), Pyrrhuloxia (6), Indigo Bunting (4), Eastern Meadowlark (6), Bronzed Cowbird (6), Red Crossbill (3), and Pine Siskin (6).

(17) Species detected on only one of 31 counts in a 38 year period.

Wild Turkey, Short-tailed Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Killdeer, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Clark’s Nutcracker, Horned Lark, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Townsend’s Solitaire, Varied Bunting, and Western Meadowlark.

Naturalist Journeys, LLC Support Recognized by the Friends of Cave Creek Canyon (FOCCC)

Naturalist Journeys, LLC supports the Friends of Cave Creek Canyon (FOCCC) as a founding member, and this support was honored by FOCCC today with publication of a founding member’s poster.

The Friends of Cave Creek Canyon is a non-profit organization based in Portal, Arizona, with a mission to:

To inspire appreciation and understanding of the beauty, biodiversity and legacy of Cave Creek Canyon.

Cave Creek is the stunning canyon right outside the door of the offices of Naturalist Journeys, LLC.  Company owner and lead guide Peg Abbott is on the Board of Directors of FOCCC and is happy to help with educational projects, work projects in cooperation with the US Forest Service, Coronado National Forest and more.  Current FOCCC projects include: development of a native plant and butterfly garden at the Visitor Center, assisting the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Lab with songbird monitoring post-fires in the Chiricahuas, developing a brochure for the canyon, staffing the Visitor Center with volunteers to expand its hours, trail work and placement of benches and a meeting area for groups at the South Fork Campground, and educational programs for the public on topics ranging from living with bears to the artistic side of rattlesnakes.

Friends of Cave Creek Canyon has a very active Facebook page where the group posts photos of the canyon, announcements of events, and natural history highlights for the region.  They have a website under development, with material being added each month.  This same beautiful logo that appears on this poster is also on T-shirts for FOCCC, available in black and in turquoise for $20.00 + shipping, from the Chiricahua Desert Museum.  Contact them at: 575 557-5757 or / 575 545 5307 or email your request t: ecoorders@hotmail.com

IPhones and Conservation? Attention Naturalist Journey’s Kenya Tour Participants, Grab Your Phones!

Leopard Hunting Squirrels

IPhones, Apple and Conservation?  Who would ever connect an IPhone App with Kenya and its majestic BIG cats.  In this month’s online Science News (Nov. 14th), I read that an IPhone App can be used by visitors on safari. Hidden cameras report IMAGES, but it’s on the ground guides and groups that can determine just what species it is, saving wildlife managers valuable time.  Pretty cool.  Our Naturalist Journeys group will be in Kenya, Feb. 5-19, with a keen eye out for Leopards and other species and I’m sending out a note today to all our participants with IPhones, load the app and bring it along!  Leopards rank as near-threatened on the IUCN Red-List .  One of the biggest challenges of running a Natural History tour company is keeping abreast of events in places that we visit, places that matter tremendously while our tour group is there, but can then slip off to the sideline as we move on to the next trip rotates on the calendar. Before our trip, I’ll search out updates on a host of the species we find.  Lines like “Leopards have vanished from almost 40% of their historic range” in a recent Natural History Magazine article (a quote from the New York-based conservation group Panthera’s president Luke Hunter), remind me that this challenge is vitally important. Through our Africa wildlife tours, people come face to face with threatened cats, canids and other predators.  On safari, we lead them to experiences that create a bond, a connection; it’s our hope that they will continue to care, to take the step to get involved.  This important article points to long-standing threats to Africa’s wild species: loss of habitat, conflict with livestock, and illegal trade in skins and body parts. But it also reveals the growing direct competition of man and beast, as markets for “bushmeat” abound.Kenya is the first country I visited in Africa, and twenty years later, and it still retains a strong pull on me.  I can’t wait to return in February; you could join me!  We have space for three more to join our custom safari with Preston Mutinda; we have flights that you can join us on to ease the trip over, and we’d love to see you try the new IPHONE app if we get in range of one of the motion-sensing cameras near Amboseli.  I’ll be looking further into just where they are located. In the meantime, you can download the free app at the ITunes store, or at the fascinating Edge of Existence website.  What will Apple think of next that can benefit conservation!

A Leopard Engrossed in its Task

Photos by Peg Abbott, owner and guide, Naturalist Journeys, LLC

Post Cards on the Edge

Rainbow Bridge © Greg Smith

We take off on our 2011 Utah Sampler in September where we visit the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion and Lake Powell. Rainbow Bridge is one of the sites we will visit as in previous trips.

I like collecting old postcards from the early color era (non-linen) and then try to recreate the shot. Postcard color from that time was not truly representative (blues and yellows especially) of what we saw. So I went to Rainbow Bridge for the photo and then played with the colors trying to replicate a Photochrome postcard. What do you think?

Greg Smith