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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


Ecuador Birding Tours

Ecuador lies both on the equator and over the spine of the Andes, affording it some spectacular birding. The western slope holds some staggering birding, especially hummingbirds — from the amazingly long-billed Sword-billed Hummingbird to the visual candy of Velvet-purple Coronet. Antpittas, owls, tanagers, and the many Choco specialties make the western slope so appealing. Crossing over the Andes from the capitol Quito affords the chance to visit Papallacta pass for species like Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe as well as giving access to the eastern slope and its many treasures. The Andes have split once-joined species, and here you can pick up the eastern counterparts leading all the way down to the lush forests of the Ecuadorian Amazon. This gives Ecuador an impressive list of over 1600 species in a country the size of the state of Nevada.

Birding Tour Ecuador - Ecuadorian Toucan - Charly Sax

Birding Tour Ecuador: The North, with Optional Extension to the Amazon 2018

Duration: 15 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: January 06, 2018
Date End: January 20, 2018
Tour Start:: Quito
Tour End:: Quito
Price: Main tour: US$6831 per person sharing (4 people), US$6096 (5 people). US$5900 (6 - 8 people); Extension: US$3240 per person sharing (4 people), US$3020 (5 people), US$2985 (6 - 8 people).
Summary: Ecuador has the highest bird species diversity per square kilometer on the planet and offers some of the best birding of South America. Due to the short distances to drive, good tourist infrastructure, and...

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Brown Violetear - Mukesh Ramdass

Birding Tour Ecuador: The South 2018

Duration: 19 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: March 02, 2018
Date End: March 20, 2018
Tour Start:: Guayaquil
Tour End:: Guayaquil
Price: US$6421.00 per person sharing
Summary: Although it is not as famous as The Northern Ecuador Birding Circuit, the Southern Ecuador route is truly a gem for birders, offering a very unique set of birds, including some country endemics and several...

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Buff-fronted Owl - Alan van Norman

Ecuador: Night Birds of the Northern Andes

Tour Start:: Quito
Tour End:: Quito
Summary: Please contact us for details. ...

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Featured Guide - Galo Real

Tour Leader for Birding Ecotours Galo Real was born and raised in the heart of the Andes in Quito, Ecuador.  After graduating with a degree in Eco-tourism from Catholic University in Quito (PUCE), he ...

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What our clients say

Hi Chris- I just wanted to send a quick note from the airport letting you know what an incredible day I had with Jason. He is an outstanding guy and a great birder. Our list for the day exceeded my wildest expectations. My head is still buzzing! I will connect with Jason so that we can compare lists once I have my details sorted out. In the meantime, please let him know today was one of the best days I have ever had in the field. Please also tell him I asked for a refund for lack of raptors…kind of an ongoing joke throughout the day. Thanks for coordinating all of this, Chris. Yours is an outstanding outfit. If I ever travel to one of the countries you cover or if I return to SA, I will only use Birding Ecotours. Best- Jon

Jonathan Bowser, University of Colorado
11/04/2014



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.

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