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


Honduras Birding Tours

Honduras, still mostly off the beaten track, is a hidden birding gem in Central America. Many people do not realize that this small country is the regional leader in terms of the percentage of land set aside as national parks and preserves, surpassing even Costa Rica in this regard. Sitting astride the Northern Central America endemic region, this increasingly popular country also boasts an impressive diversity of regional endemics within its many ecosystems.

Birding Tour Honduras - Bushy-crested Jay

Birding Tour Honduras: Rare Motmots and Ocellated Quail 2018

Duration: 15 days
Limit (Group Size): 5 - 8
Date Start: February 25, 2018
Date End: March 11, 2018
Tour Start:: San Pedro Sula
Tour End:: San Pedro Sula
Price: US$5641 per person sharing
Summary: Our next excursion is Birding Tour Honduras! Honduras, still mostly off the beaten track, is a hidden birding gem in Central America. Many people do not realize that this small country is the regional lead...

See full tour detail

Featured Guide - Geoff Carpentier

Tour leader for Birding Ecotours Geoff’s interest in nature started when he was 13, when he would wander through the woods and countryside near his northern Canadian home, learning about nature firs ...

See guide details

Download Tour Itineraries



Request More Info

Gallery for Country

Video of destination

What our clients say

Australia and Barry Davies: When I found out it was Barry Davies that was leading the trip, I was thrilled as I had been in contact with him years ago when I was with Jaeger Tours, at the recommendations of a number of my friends that had travelled with him, so we knew each other! He was extraordinary – knew his stuff in and out about OZ and its flora and fauna and was great with the participants. We did Cairns & Darwin then an extension to Perth & Tasmania. Not sure how you would pick a favourite place from that. Each region is different and of course getting to see different parts of the country is something that I would have thought one would want to do if doing OZ. I would have loved to have seen more butterflies, mammals and reptiles than we did, but maybe that requires different locations and more time in the field. We did however get Platypus and Echidna. Butterflies are pretty much restricted to the north east. Timing for birds is tough as there is so much movement amongst them depending upon food sources, but I would have said we did pretty well. While obviously we wanted to see all we could, it was not the end of the world if we missed anything, and a huge list was not our goal. We were there in the dry season, I would hate to think what it would be like in the wet season, as a number of places/routes would have been under water, especially in the Darwin region. Accommodations on the whole were very good – I loved the different lodgings, many of which we had to do our own breakfast, with kitchen facilities in the cabins. The country is huge, and with very few people, less than SA!, so some of the locations there was little choices, especially for a large group, but Barry did great in getting what he did. At each region we had to get a bus, there were 14 of us – these varied between great to OK, as the on the extension we had to have one with a trailer.

Adrian Binns, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



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