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Worldwide Birding Tours - Birding Ecotours
Ross's Turaco by Masa Wang - Uganda birding tour






Birding Tour South Africa: Elusive Owls and Flufftails 2018



This short Birding Tour South Africa adventure concentrates on finding four particularly tough birds: Grass Owl, Cape Eagle-Owl, Red-chested Flufftail, and Striped Flufftail. Although there is no guarantee, we have good chances of tracking these difficult avian denizens down.

The African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis) is considered a vulnerable bird in South Africa, with only between 1 000 and 5 000 remaining in this country. We quite often see this species on this ‘Birding Tour South Africa’ excursion.

The flufftails are placed in the family called “Sarothruridae”, small birds related to the rails. They are restricted to seven species in sub-Saharan Africa, and two species found in Madagascar. Their name is derived from the short tail, which has degraded fluffy feathers. All species except the White-winged Flufftail display sexual dimorphism in their plumage but not their size.

Flufftails are highly secretive and seldom observed. There are two species, the Buff-spotted Flufftail and the White-spotted Flufftail – inhabitants of dense forests – the remaining species are found in deep grasslands and marshes. One species, the Streaky-breasted Flufftail, is known to be migratory; it is uncertain whether other species are as well. The White-winged Flufftail may breed in Ethiopia and winter in South Africa, but this is not known for certain.

We attempt to spot these birds on this ‘Birding Tour South Africa’ adventure.

Duration: 3.5 days

Limit (Group Size): 5

Date Start: October 31, 2018

Date End: November 03, 2018

Tour Start: Johannesburg

Tour End: Johannesburg

Important explanation about the default vehicles we use on our southern African tours: Whereas the standard birding-tour vehicle in East Africa is the popup-roof stretch Land Cruiser, in southern Africa these are extremely rare and not usually legal except within some parks. Open safari vehicles, on the other hand, are commonly seen in southern African parks but can’t be used outside the parks, and they are extremely unpleasant to be in when the weather is bad even inside the parks. The only tried-and-tested tour vehicle available in southern Africa that allows us to cover the ground we need so we can find the greatest diversity of birds (and other wildlife), and which is comfortable in all weather, is legal, has proper air conditioning, and does not make the overall tour price exorbitant, is the 13-seater Toyota Quantum when we have 6-8 (rarely 9) tour participants (or similar 7-10-seater vans when we have smaller group sizes). In areas where we are not restricted to the vehicle during the tour (such as in the Cape) we usually use unmodified standard Quantum vans – everyone gets out of the vehicle when we see a good bird or animal. In areas in which we are at times restricted to the vehicle because of the presence of dangerous megafauna including lions, elephants, and more (such as the Kruger National Park) we typically use a Quantum van with modified windows for better viewing of birds and other wildlife. In Kruger (and sometimes in Etosha) National Parks we usually do include a day or two in open safari vehicles as part of the tour price. Optional night drives (at nominal cost) in open safari vehicles are available at most southern African parks (including Kruger) for those who have less of a focused interest in birds (as these are operated by the park’s guides, who usually focus mainly on the “Big 5”). You can speak to the tour leader about joining these night drives, but in our experience some tour participants prefer not to join them, and hence we leave them as an optional extra for those willing to pay a (small/nominal) extra fee.

Even the tried-and-tested Toyota Quantum (or similar) vans we use fall far short of being ideal (small windows that are quite low, etc.), and we truly wish there were something better available without breaking the bank. But we use the best available vehicles, and we ensure that everyone has a fair turn in and near the front of the vehicle – we typically swap seating positions daily, but in the parks we can swap positions four times a day as necessary. The vehicles we use are by far the best vehicles available at a reasonable price. All the birding tour companies use the same vans unless their tours have a narrow focus just around Kruger/nearby or another park. It’s a big problem in South Africa that the East African style safari vehicles are, simply, unavailable, except for a handful of very old, shaky ones (and usually in East Africa they don’t have air conditioning anyway, are extremely slow between sites, and, in short, have a different suite of disadvantages). We use the very best vehicles we can without making our trips much more expensive than anyone else’s, but we also feel we have to be clear about what to expect before the tour, hence this note. If you are worried about the vehicle then please:

  • kindly ask further questions (before booking the tour)
  • consider a private tour which will be a lot more pricey, but since you’re not sharing with other tour participants you can always sit at a large window. If a whole group wishes to upgrade a tour and is willing to pay a large extra price, if given enough notice we are able to rent a very special vehicle – the cost is extremely high so the tour becomes a premium, rather than a standard, tour.

While we generally allow a window seat for every passenger and like to have at least a couple of free seats available for birding gear etc., it’s better to ask us about the specific tour to be sure what is the case. For photography trips the per-person price is higher because we leave more empty seats available as more tour participants have bulky camera gear!

It is our philosophy only to have one vehicle per tour as it invariably gets very frustrating when one vehicle sees a bird or animal and the other vehicle misses it! And our group sizes are small – maximum of eight (rarely nine). The tour prices would be very high and uncompetitive if we had a second vehicle and driver-guide with twice the guide’s accommodation, food, fuel and toll costs, considering the small group sizes on our tours. Again, if you request a private tour, we can take two or even three vehicles or absolutely whatever you request – a private tour is different. (It is illegal for us to have any person without a local driver’s license and professional driving permit to drive passengers who are paying to be on a tour, so we can’t even suggest that a tour participant drives a second vehicle to allow more space and window seats).

 

 


Price: Between R8430 and R11333 per person sharing, based on group size and various other factors.

Single Supplement: please contact us

Price Includes:

Transport

Guiding fees

Accommodation

Price Excludes:

Meals and drinks

 

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Duration: 1
Price: Please see https://birdingecotours.com/birding-day-trips/.
Details: The West Coast National Park is a 1-hour drive (if traveling directly) from Cape Town, But we certainly will be birding all along the way instead of driving directly!

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Southern Double-collared Sunbird

Photo and Birding Tour South Africa: Western Cape, with extension to Kruger National Park 2019

Duration: 11 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 7
Date Start: September 01, 2019
Date End: September 11, 2019
Price: Main tour: R54,607 per person sharing , Kruger National Park extension R29,040
Details: South Africa’s Western Cape Province is scenically stunningly beautiful and hugely varied – from rocky sea cliffs and impressive mountains rising straight out of the sea to everything from moist t

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Southern Double-collared Sunbird

Photo and Birding Tour South Africa: Western Cape, with extension to Kruger National Park 2018

Duration: 11 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 7
Date Start: September 01, 2018
Date End: September 11, 2018
Price: Main tour: R50,562 , Kruger NP extension R26,889
Details: South Africa’s Western Cape Province is scenically stunningly beautiful and hugely varied – from rocky sea cliffs and impressive mountains rising straight out of the sea to everything from moist t

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Rockrunner - Ian Merrill

Photo and Birding Tour Namibia and Botswana: 13-day Adventure 2020

Duration: 13 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 7
Date Start: March 09, 2020
Date End: March 21, 2020
Price: R101,830 per person sharing, based on 4 – 7 participants in a 14-seater van with some seats removed.
Details: This is a photographic birding tour that gives you time in some of Africa’s greatest (no exaggeration!) wildlife havens. We begin our Photo and Birding Tour Namibia and Botswana in Namibia with thr

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Rockrunner - Ian Merrill

Photo and Birding Tour Namibia and Botswana: 13-day Adventure 2020

Duration: 13 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 7
Date Start: March 09, 2020
Date End: March 21, 2020
Price: R101,830 per person sharing, based on 4 – 7 participants in a 14-seater van with some seats removed.
Details: This is a photographic birding tour that gives you time in some of Africa’s greatest (no exaggeration!) wildlife havens. We begin our Photo and Birding Tour Namibia and Botswana in Namibia with thr

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What our clients say

One of the best birding tours that I have taken and I have taken many over 50 years. Jason has outstanding knowledge of Southern African birds, recognition of of bird calls even very faint ones and matching habitat with expected species that occur in these habitat types. Jason is enthusiastic and has good group management skills to assist clients from beginners to world listers to maximize their tour enjoyment. And to add to that Jason is an excellent driver, always felt safe.

John Drummond, Colorado Springs, Colorado
01/14/2017



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