Birding Ecotours News – September 2015

By September 14, 2015 Trip Report

Dear Birders

Welcome to our September 2015 newsletter! This is the fifth and penultimate newsletter of the year.

Last-minute spaces available at low prices:

Namibia and South Africa have recently become amazingly inexpensive because of the suddenly very weak South African Rand (which these destinations are priced in). So we do suggest considering a couple of last-minute trips running from Oct to Dec this year, if you want them at truly bargain prices:


Black Rhino (Matt Prophet) is still quite easily seen in Etosha National Park, northern Namibia. We can see over 40 mammal species and almost 400 bird species on our 18-day Namibia/Okavango/Victoria Falls trip

There is 1 place left on our first Namibia/Okavango/Victoria Falls trip of the season (, and 2 places left on our third Namibia/Okavango/Victoria Falls trip of the season (

We have 2 places left on our subtropical South Africa tour next month (, and 3 places left on our “off the beaten track” South Africa tour in November (this is a great tour for birders who have already done the classic South African routes and who are now looking for flufftails and other more tricky species) ( )

Striped Flufftail-DVasapolli

Dylan has mastered the difficult art of finding flufftails – he will be guiding the “off the beaten track” South Africa trip mentioned above and hopes to find Striped Flufftail for participants

Other 2015 trips available at the last minute:

Most of our 2015 trips are no longer available, but we still have a couple of places left on next month’s Madagascar trips (but our October 2016 ones are already starting to fill so we recommend early booking on them). The 2015 ones are at and

Helmet Vanga-JNicolau

Helmet Vanga (Justin Nicolau) from last year’s Masoala Madagascar pre-trip

There are 2 remaining places on our West Papua trip (

birding ecotours west papua_1-mprophet

birding ecotours west papua_2-mprophet

And finally, 1 place is left on “Bhutan in winter” ( ) plus 2 places are available on the Northeast Indian extension (

birding ecotours bhutan

As for 2016, here are a handful of the trips that we wish to specifically highlight at this point (please peruse for many others):

We have 3 places left on northern India in January ( )

Himalayan peaks-NDevasar

Himalayan peaks (Nikhil Devasar)

Winter owls of Minnesota (

birding ecotours Winter owls

Arizona in late spring (

birding ecotours taiwan

Taiwan and mainland China and

birding ecotours china


The “nightingales” are spectacular in China!

Amazing Bulgaria and Romania ( )

birding ecotours - Bulgaria _ Romania

And then there’s the whole of South America, Central America and the Caribbean ( )

cuban tody-wprice

Cuban Tody (William Price)

2017 trips that we advise booking soon:

Our Neotropical Bird Club conservation tour to Costa Rica is likely to prove popular and to fill very fast

( )

birding ecotours hummingbirds

Other 2017 tours that need early booking are New Zealand ( and Japan (

And, we’re now planning a very low budget “roughing it” version of the Zambia/Malawi trip at

White-chested Alethe-HChittenden

We hope for White-chested Alethe (Hugh Chittenden) and Thyolo Alethe on this trip

Then, please see our new home page for our latest three blogs, tours on sale, etc. And, kindly find us on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Finally, we’re now doing regular 1-day Cape Town pelagics and we can also offer pelagics in Mozambique, the USA, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, etc. by request. Full details of the Cape pelagics will shortly be available at – including a seasonality table and how to prepare for your pelagic. In the mean time, please find below the schedule along with the latest trip report from last month’s trip:

1 / 2 Oct 2015 – 2 places left

10 / 11 Oct 2015 – 2 places left

4 / 5 June 2016

26 / 27 June 2016

16 / 17 July 2016

13 / 14 August 2016

10 / 11 September 2016

10 / 11 October 2016– 2 places left

15 /16 October 2016


8 AUGUST 2015

birding ecotours pelagic

An adult Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)

With an early start, we departed the Simonstown harbor while it was still dark, bound for the deep oceanic waters south of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.

We made good progress, and still well within False Bay, just with the sun rising over the mountains, we picked up our first true pelagic species, a White-chinned Petrel slowly working over the swells. After rounding Cape Point, we headed south towards the known trawling grounds, and had good success en-route, with large numbers of White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters and Cape Gannets present. It wasn’t long before we got onto our first Albatross – which turned out to be a Shy, as it came nice and close for a brilliant look. Progress was slow up until the 20-mile mark from the point, where we picked up on our first Black-browed Albatross, a Wilson’s Storm Petrel and a group of three Antarctic Prions – a winter species which wouldn’t be present for much longer in our waters.

We then pulled in behind a trawler in the process of reeling in her nets – with a huge mass of birds following her. The majority of the birds were made up of Shy and Black-browed Albatrosses and White-chinned Petrels. Sifting through the birds as we went along revealed a few Cape (Pintado) Petrels, Brown (Sub-antarctic) Skuas, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Cape Gannets, Kelp Gulls, Sooty Shearwaters and another small group of Antarctic Prions. We were treated to a brief, but brilliant flyby view of a stunning Spectacled Petrel, and watched as it disappeared into the mass of birds. A lone Northern Giant Petrel put in an appearance as it glided in the wake of our boat for a while, before moving off. After some time behind the trawler with no new species, and an astonishing lack of any other species, we decided to head off and search for another fishing boat.

After a little while of searching, without luck, we pulled in behind the trawler for ‘Round 2’. After repeat views of the same species and still no further new ones, our skipper picked up on another fishing vessel off in the distance. We moved towards her, and on getting closer confirmed it was a long liner. A few of us on board were lucky to get onto an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross moving through whilst still en-route. A complete different selection of species awaited us here, and although we didn’t quite have the same numbers, we enjoyed the different variety of species. First up were good looks at various individuals of both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, before a lone Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross flew in allowing us ample time to view it. We enjoyed closer views of Wilson’s Storm Petrels, and a lone Antarctic Prion, in between the numerous Brown (Sub-antarctic) Skuas squabbling with the Black-browed Albatrosses and Kelp Gulls over scraps, before having to call it a day and head back to shore.

The return journey was relatively uneventful, but heading through False Bay whilst it was light allowed us views of Cape and White-breasted Cormorants, African Penguin, Greater Crested (Swift) and Common Terns. On reflection over the days sightings, the very calm sea, coupled with the very calm weather for roughly a week preceding this weekend probably resulted in the relatively ‘quiet day’ we had in terms of species present.

Comprehensive Species List:

Common nameScientific name
Penguins (Spheniscidae)
African Penguin – ENSpheniscus demersus
Austral Storm Petrels (Oceanitidae)
Wilson’s Storm PetrelOceanites oceanicus
Albatrosses (Diomedeidae)
Black-browed Albatross – ENThalassarche melanophris
Shy AlbatrossThalassarche cauta
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross – ENThalassarche chlororhynchos
Indian Yellow-nosed AlbatrossThalassarche carteri
Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)
Southern Giant PetrelMacronectes giganteus
Northern Giant PetrelMacronectes halli
Cape PetrelDaption capense
Antarctic PrionPachyptila desolata
White-chinned Petrel – VUProcellaria aequinoctialis
Spectacled Petrel – VUProcellaria conspicillata
Sooty ShearwaterPuffinus griseus
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
White-breasted CormorantPhalacrocorax lucidus
Cape Cormorant – ENPhalacrocorax capensis
Gulls, Terns and Skimmers (Laridae)
Hartlaub’s GullChroicocephalus hartlaubii
Kelp GullLarus dominicanus
Greater Crested TernThalasseus bergii
Common TernSterna hirundo
Skuas (Stercorariidae)
Brown SkuaStercorarius antarcticus

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