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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


Madagascar Birding Tours

Birding Madagascar, our world’s fourth-largest island is, quite simply, unique. Five bird families and five mammal families (including the lemurs) are endemic to this massive island, and half the world’s chameleons, weird and wonderful endemic plant families, and tons of other wildlife can be found here. An astonishing 120 bird species are endemic ( including such exotic groups as vangas, ground rollers, cuckoo roller, couas, asities, and mesites). Lemurs vie for attention, from the tiny mouse lemurs to the marvelous sifakas and the amazing indri with its calls that resound through the forest. Our tour visits a range of habitats: grasslands, dry deciduous woodland, the bizarre spiny forest with its odd octopus trees (Didiera madagascariensis) and elephant’s foot trees (Pachypodium rosulatum), and lush eastern rainforest, as well as lagoons and mudflats.

The birds that we’ll look for include the roadrunner-like Long-tailed Ground Roller and the stunning Pitta-like, Scaly, and Rufous-headed Ground Rollers, as well as the highly-prized Subdesert Mesite, the unforgettable Giant Coua, the astounding Velvet Asity, and Madagascan Ibis, to name just a handful. We invite you to join us on a special tour to an amazing island!

The Masoala Peninsula extension can generate the unbelievable Helmet VangaBrown Mesite, and Short-legged Ground Roller, as well as the largest, and most bizarre, nocturnal lemur, the aye-ayeand a stack more.

One hundred and twenty nine species of birds have been recorded in the northwestern Ankarafantsika National Park, more than half of them endemic to Madagascar. They include Van Dam’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga, the elusive Banded Kestrel, and the more easily observed Madagascan Fish Eagle, which can often be seen at Ravelobe Lake. The endangered Humblot’s Heron can also be seen at Lake Ravelobe.

Berenty Reserve is a haven for birdwatchers, boasting a high number of endemic species. With luck we might be able to find Madagascan Sandgrouse, Madagascan Green Pigeon, Torotoroka Scops Owl, and perhaps even Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk here.

 

Madagascan Pochard - Remote Madagascar birding tour

Birding Tour Madagascar: The Remote North 2017

Duration: 10 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: September 19, 2017
Date End: September 28, 2017
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €4982 per person sharing
Summary: Our Birding Tour Madagascar: The Remote North is good for serious listers who may have already done the basics of Madagascar; the standard Madagascar trips that most birding companies do allow one to see p...

See full tour detail
Sickle-billed Vanga - Ian Merrill

Birding Tour Madagascar: 7-day Northwest Pre-tour 2017

Duration: 7 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Date Start: October 06, 2017
Date End: October 12, 2017
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €2781 per person sharing, assuming 6-8 participants
Summary: One hundred and twenty nine species of birds have been recorded in Ankarafantsika National Park, more than half of them endemic to Madagascar. They include Van Dam’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga, the elusive...

See full tour detail
Red Owl - Alan van Norman

Birding Tour Madagascar: 6-day Masoala Peninsula Pre-tour 2017

Duration: 6 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Date Start: October 12, 2017
Date End: October 17, 2017
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €2149 per person sharing, assuming 6-8 participants
Summary: The Masoala Peninsula extension can generate the unbelievable Helmet Vanga, Brown Mesite, and Short-legged Ground Roller, as well as the largest – and most bizarre – nocturnal lemur, the aye-aye, and a...

See full tour detail
Tomato Frog - Fabienne Raphoz

Birding Tour Madagascar: Best of Madagascar Birds and Wildlife 2017

Duration: 15 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Spaces Available:: 4
Date Start: October 17, 2017
Date End: October 31, 2017
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €5307 per person sharing, assuming 6-8 participants
Summary: Madagascar! Our world’s fourth-largest island is, quite simply, unique. Five bird families and five mammal families (including the lemurs) are endemic to this massive island, and half the world’s chame...

See full tour detail
Giant Coua

Birding Tour Madagascar: 6-day Berenty Reserve Extension 2017

Duration: 6 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Date Start: October 31, 2017
Date End: November 05, 2017
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €2154 per person sharing, assuming 6-8 participants
Summary: The small, private Berenty Reserve, situated at the southern tip of Madagascar, is one of the island’s best-known and most frequently visited nature reserves. Stretching along the Mandrare River, it is c...

See full tour detail
Madagascan Pochard - Remote Madagascar birding tour

Birding Tour Madagascar: The Remote North 2018

Duration: 10 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: September 19, 2018
Date End: September 28, 2018
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €4982 per person sharing (These are 2017 prices; 2018 prices are expected to be 5 - 10% higher.)
Summary: Our Birding Tour Madagascar: The Remote North is good for serious listers who may have already done the basics of Madagascar; the standard Madagascar trips that most birding companies do allow one to see p...

See full tour detail
Sickle-billed Vanga - Ian Merrill

Birding Tour Madagascar: 7-day Northwest Pre-tour 2018

Duration: 7 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Date Start: October 06, 2018
Date End: October 12, 2018
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €2976 per person sharing, assuming 6-8 participants
Summary: One hundred and twenty nine species of birds have been recorded in Ankarafantsika National Park, more than half of them endemic to Madagascar. They include Van Dam’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga, the elusive...

See full tour detail
Red Owl - Alan van Norman

Birding Tour Madagascar: 6-day Masoala Peninsula Pre-tour 2018

Duration: 6 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Date Start: October 12, 2018
Date End: October 17, 2018
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €2299 per person sharing, assuming 6-8 participants
Summary: The Masoala Peninsula extension can generate the unbelievable Helmet Vanga, Brown Mesite, and Short-legged Ground Roller, as well as the largest – and most bizarre – nocturnal lemur, the aye-aye, and a...

See full tour detail
Tomato Frog - Fabienne Raphoz

Birding Tour Madagascar: Best of Madagascar Birds and Wildlife 2018

Duration: 15 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Date Start: October 17, 2018
Date End: October 31, 2018
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €5678 per person sharing, assuming 6-8 participants
Summary: Madagascar! Our world’s fourth-largest island is, quite simply, unique. Five bird families and five mammal families (including the lemurs) are endemic to this massive island, and half the world’s chame...

See full tour detail
Giant Coua

Birding Tour Madagascar: 6-day Berenty Reserve Extension 2018

Duration: 6 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Date Start: October 31, 2018
Date End: November 05, 2018
Tour Start:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Tour End:: Antananarivo (Tana)
Price: €2305 per person sharing, assuming 6-8 participants
Summary: The small, private Berenty Reserve, situated at the southern tip of Madagascar, is one of the island’s best-known and most frequently visited nature reserves. Stretching along the Mandrare River, it is c...

See full tour detail

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What our clients say

I joined a custom trip, followed by an African Bird Club conservation tour, with Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours, in November 2012. I sent Chris a wish-list and he was very quick to reply with a detailed itinerary based on the list I sent him. I got 42 lifers on this trip, which actually exceeded my expectations: with a world list of over 7000 species, it is tough for me to see new birds anywhere. Both the custom trip and the conservation trip were extremely well-organised, and the Birding Ecotours guides were superb. The African Bird Club will be doing more trips with Birding Ecotours.

Keith Betton, Chairman of the African Bird Club, UK



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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