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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


Panama Birding Tours

Few places in the world offer such a variety of natural habitats in such a small surface area like Panama. Within its mere 29,159 square miles, Panama has habitats that range from dry “deserts”, where cacti and other succulents are common, to lush tropical rainforests and mountain cloud forests, where moss-covered, epiphyte-laden trees abound. Additionally, its location at the Crossroads of the Americas allows Panama bird species from North, Central, and South America. The Darien is Panama’s bordering region with South America, and it shares an abundant and diverse wildlife reminiscent to that of the Amazon Basin. All in all, in its tiny surface area, smaller than the state of South Carolina, Panama contains more than 977 different species of birds, making it a birdwatcher’s dream come true!

Red-billed Tropicbird by Ramon Fernandez

Birding Tour Panama: Wild Western Panama - the Caribbean and the Cloudforest Slope 2018

Duration: 9 days
Limit (Group Size): 6
Date Start: May 09, 2018
Date End: May 17, 2018
Tour Start:: Panama City
Tour End:: Panama City
Price: US$3236 per person sharing
Summary: Panama offers one of the greatest birding experiences in the Neotropics, conjuring up visions of the Panama Canal, Harpy Eagles, army ants, and ground cuckoos. However, less frequently visited by birders i...

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Birding Tour Panama - Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo by Dylan Vasapolli

Birding Tour Panama: Central and Eastern Panama and the Darien 2018

Duration: 12 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: May 17, 2018
Date End: May 28, 2018
Tour Start:: Panama City
Tour End:: Panama City
Price: $4409 per person sharing, assuming 4 - 8 participants
Summary: Welcome to our new Birding Tour Central and Eastern Panama 2017! Panama is perhaps one of the best birding countries in the Neotropics. With easy access, an excellent logistic infrastructure, and a huge bi...

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Featured Guide - Eduardo Ormaeche

Head of our South/Central American office in Peru, and senior tour leader in this region. Since 2004 Eduardo Ormaeche has not stopped working for Birding Ecotours. He started guiding tours in his nati ...

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What our clients say

Chris I sent a longer analysis of the Florida trip to Stephan, which I will forward to you. Again, my thanks for a truly memorable experience. The trip was spectacularly successful. I chose Birding Ecotours because other trips were full, and I couldn’t be happier. On a purely practical note, with three rather inexperienced birders as the participants we picked up a variety of birds missed by other birders. But the final bird list doesn’t really cover why this tour was so vastly superior. This was my first birding trip ever with less than 12 participants, and the advantages of a small group are monumental – no battling for seats, no squabbling over who saw what, no battles to get to the leader’s scope when the Resplendent Quetzal finally comes into view. In fact, there were no squabbles at all on our trip Hotels were quite well chosen, despite some early problems with accepting South African addresses, etc., and the restaurants worked out quite nicely. Mexican restaurant would be my only quibble – a bit heavy for our over 60s group. One of us simply said he wouldn’t be on the lookout for Mexican restaurants in the future. But then he also discovered Key Lime pie and had it four nights, not to mention the Key Lime ice cream along the way. The balance of Cuban unique restaurants with seafood and steak houses worked out quite nicely, and the final two nights at Cracker Barrel were a big hit. Big hit too were the home-made lunches – they were actually better than the Subway lunches of the last few days and they extended our birding times quite dramatically But the tour only really worked because of Stephan – he’s a gifted birder – that’s a given on any tour these days, but he’s also extremely good with people. In my note to him I mentioned how impressed I was with his interactions with the other participants. They were new to American birding, so we had lots of initial sightings of grackles and starlings. But Stephan patiently looked at all their sightings, and soon they were finding some rather wonderful birds. Main point – he never made them feel bad – something many guides need to learn, believe me. And Stephan really knew the territory – I have no qualms about any of his choices, though I might have questioned a few at the time. There were virtually no migrating birds, and we still got 20 warblers. We also got close to 180 species without that much luck either. We missed the Thick-billed Vireo by one day, and others easily picked up the Smooth-billed Ani at the same location we has scoured a day earlier. But then we got all three cowbirds in an afternoon and had great looks at multiple Prothonotary Warblers, a bird everyone else missed this year. And we birded both the first day and the last – not something most tours do, and he even saved the Spot-breasted Oriole for our last bird. Bottom line, Stephan is equal in his birding skills to any guide I’ve been with. More importantly, he’s the best overall guide I have ever experienced – a people-person who knows birds.  I highly recommend him on any tour he might be leading and love to bird with him again. So, I had never heard of your tour company and only signed on because it was all that was available on dates my wife had to be in Florida. The serendipitous result was one of the most rewarding birding experiences of my rather long birding career. I strongly recommend your company to anyone and even more strongly recommend the value of small group tours – they are worth every extra penny. My thanks for all your help, and I hope to be on one of your tours in the future. Kieran

John Kieran Kealy, Canada
05/20/2016



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