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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


São Tomé and Príncipe Birding Tours

With 75% of its area covered by rainforest, São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is characterized by unspoiled, palm-fringed beaches, towering volcanic peaks, and a fascinating colonial heritage. Now with the recent discovery of large oil deposits in the Gulf of Guinea, STP is on the cusp of change. This is Africa’s second-smallest country, and it exhibits an enticing blend of African, Portuguese and Caribbean culture. Pioneering travelers will discover an African island paradise. Largely unexplored and unexploited by tourism, these tropical, volcanic islands off the west African coast are the antitheses of mass-market destinations, and one of the most unspoiled places on earth. The scarcity of tourists is one of the islands’ biggest attractions.

African Grey Parrot - São Tomé and Príncipe birding tour

Birding Tour São Tomé and Príncipe: 10-day Birding Adventure 2018

Duration: 10 days
Limit (Group Size): 6 - 8
Spaces Available:: 0 - please book for 2019; similar dates to 2018
Date Start: February 18, 2018
Date End: February 27, 2018
Tour Start:: São Tomé
Tour End:: São Tomé
Price: US$5504 per person sharing
Summary: The scenically spectacular, equatorial islands of São Tomé and Príncipe boast 25 endemic birds! Needless to say, therefore, they are a “must” for any serious world birder. We aim for all 25 of these...

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What our clients say

My brother John and I joined Chris on a tour of KwaZulu-Natal. As scientists, we were difficult customers, constantly being distracted by plants and rocks instead of birds. Chris tolerated these diversions with unflappable grace. And when our attentions were finally engaged fully in the bird watching we could not have asked for a better guide who knew the calls, where to look for tricky sightings, and had all the necessary local contacts to help us find the truly strange and wonderful. My favorite example of the “strange and wonderful” category was the African Broadbill which was displaying, but in the midst of impenetrable vegetation. Despite this, Chris and the guide managed to get us amazing views in the spotting scope. It was my most memorable bird of the trip. He accompanied us just across the border into Swaziland, past guards with guns (because we wanted to say we’d been there), and to a truly dodgy neighborhood in Durban to look at a rock outcrop, and never once complained – at least not out loud. We’ve been on several other international birding trips, and Chris is still our standard of comparison to all our other guides. And he’s still number one. We will be doing a pelagic trip off South Africa in the not too distant future, and will plan it so Chris can lead us there.

Wil Taylor (University of Wisconsin), on a South African tour guided by Chris



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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