web analytics
Worldwide Birding Tours - Birding Ecotours





An adult Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)

An adult Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)

 

Pelagic Birding is a rather specific ‘art’ or aspect of birding, and it basically refers to an ocean-going trip taken on a boat in search of true ocean-going species, such as albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, storm petrels, etc. This is usually done as a day trip but can be slightly longer. These species are almost never seen from land (except during extreme conditions when they get blown close to shore), and in order to see them one has to travel out into the ocean. Due to the rather unpredictable nature of the weather and sea conditions on the day itself, each pelagic excursion is scheduled over two days, with the second day acting as a backup.

Pelagic birding offers some of the most exciting birding out there – as one quite simply never knows what will turn up! These species are known to travel vast distances in search of food and spend the vast majority of their lives out at sea, traversing the world’s oceans. The possibilities can literally be anything! The sight alone of these unique birds with their incredible flying skills and aerial prowess is quite simply awe-inspiring, and they leave us marveling at their capabilities time after time.

The port city, Cape Town, off South Africa’s south-western coast, is world-renowned for its pelagic birding. This is due to the rich waters located off Cape Town resulting from the meeting of the Benguela and Agulhas currents. This quite simply attracts a large number of fish and, in turn, the many pelagic species that feed on these fish. This whole process is augmented by the many fishing vessels operating in these waters, which attract even more birds. Birding Ecotours now run regular scheduled pelagic birding trips off Cape Town, and we will soon start arranging pelagic outings in other Southern African destinations (such as Inhambane in Mozambique, Durban and Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and Walvis Bay in Namibia), and also in other parts of the world such as off Lima along the Peruvian coast and off the USA, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

A White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis)

A White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis)

 

Antarctic Prion (Pachyptila desolata) ‘walking on water’

Antarctic Prion (Pachyptila desolata) ‘walking on water’

 

Great-winged Petrel (Pterodroma macroptera)

Great-winged Petrel (Pterodroma macroptera)

 

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri)

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri)

 

There are some seasonal differences during pelagics, and the austral summer brings in a few northern hemisphere species, such as Cory’s and Great Shearwaters, European Storm Petrel, etc., while the austral winter brings in many of the true Antarctic species from further south, such as Antarctic Prion, Cape Petrel, etc. One can experience a great day out at sea during any time of the year; however, the most productive months must be the period ranging from June/July through October. Here the regular frontal systems from the south bring in many rare and ‘exotic’ species from further afield, and the waters off Cape Town are regularly packed with thousands of birds – a true sight to behold!

 

Cape Petrel (Daption capense) is predominantly found during the austral winter

Cape Petrel (Daption capense) is predominantly found during the austral winter

 

Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis) is predominantly a passage species (Sep – Oct; Apr – May) but also is present in small numbers during the austral summer months

Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis) is predominantly a passage species (Sep – Oct; Apr – May) but also is present during the austral summer months

 

Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) is present in the austral summer.

Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) is present in the austral summer

 

Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) is present throughout the year

Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) is present throughout the year

 

Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta) is present throughout the year

Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta) is present throughout the year

 

The austral winter months are better for the ‘great’ albatrosses, like this Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi)

The austral winter months are better for the ‘great’ albatrosses, like this Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi)

 

The prized Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) is one of the most sought-after species

The prized Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) is one of the most sought-after species

 

Our upcoming schedule for 2017 is as follows:

  • 29/30 April — 4 places remaining
  • 27/28 May
  • 10/11 June
  • 15/16 July
  • 19/20 August
  • 16/17 September
  • 14/15 October
  • 18/19 November

 

For more information on these pelagic outings, please click on the link below:

Information Cape Pelagic Trip

 

Seasonality Table (click to enlarge):

Seasonality table.xlsx


China Birding Tours

Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers, China is the world’s second-largest country by land area. China’s landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south. Particularly interesting for birders are the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, and Qinghai.

Birding Tour China - Rufous-breasted Accentor

Birding Tour China: 9-day Yunnan Pre-tour 2018

Duration: 9 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: May 13, 2018
Date End: May 21, 2018
Tour Start:: Kunming
Tour End:: Tengchong
Price: US$4100 per person sharing, assuming 4-8 participants. Airfare estimate (Tengchong to Chengdu) US$230
Summary: Welcome to our Birding Tour China adventure excursion. Yunnan is China’s most diverse province, biologically as well as culturally. The province contains snow-capped mountains and true tropical envir...

See full tour detail
Birding Tour China - Blue Eared Pheasant

Birding Tour China: 18-day Sichuan 2018

Duration: 18 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: May 21, 2018
Date End: June 07, 2018
Tour Start:: Chengdu
Tour End:: Chengdu
Price: US$7476 per person sharing, assuming 4-8 participants
Summary: Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers, China is the world’s second-largest country by land area. We’re really excited to bring you our Birding Tour China adventure. China’s...

See full tour detail
Birding Tour China - Grandala

Birding Tour China: 12-day Qinghai Extension 2018

Duration: 12 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: June 07, 2018
Date End: June 18, 2018
Tour Start:: Xining
Tour End:: Xining
Price: US$5135 per person sharing, assuming 4-8 participants. Airfare estimate (Chengdu to Xining) US$193
Summary: Welcome to our next ‘Birding Tour China’ adventure. Qinghai is a province of the People’s Republic of China located in the northwest of the country. The province is home to nearly 400 spe...

See full tour detail

Featured Guide - Andrew Walker

Andrew Walker is Birding Ecotours’ UK representative, and he also guides some of our birding tours in many parts of the world. He lives in York, North Yorkshire, England, where he is the York Ornith ...

See guide details

Download Tour Itineraries



Request More Info

Gallery for Country

What our clients say

Just wanted to tell you what a fantastic time I had on my custom Sri Lanka birding tour. Everything went flawlessly thanks to Andy’s preparation, and his knowledge and passion for the birds was infectious and made it great fun. Our local guide, Lester, was as passionate, and was expert in locating the birds and sharing his knowledge of the country. The food and lodging were great, and we became good friends as well as birding buddies, and I would recommend Sri Lanka as a, safe, friendly place to bird.  Andy’s trip report is on the website. Birding Ecotours ran a wonderful tour, and I will use their services again for our next trip. Bill Fiero

Bill Fiero, New York
01/24/2017



We can run any of our tours privately any time and we can also arrange custom itineraries - send us your wish-list and we'll put the itinerary together! Please click here.

Back to Top

Switch to our mobile site