Flock to Marion is an incredible opportunity. Please book this amazing value trip to a remote sub-Antarctic Island directly with BirdLife South Africa here. Please also see our blog about Flock to Marion here. This cruise starts in Cape Town on 25 January 2021 and ends in Durban on 1 February 2021. Birding Ecotours is offering a series of extensions to this cruise in the Western Cape, detailed below, and two pre-tours to this cruise in KwaZulu-Natal, detailed here.
The IOC Congress from 14-20 August 2022 is coming to South Africa, specifically Durban, and we’re offering the same pre-tours and extensions in the Western Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal as we’re offering for Flock to Marion. The KwaZulu-Natal tours are shown here and the Cape tours are shown below.
Birding Ecotours is offering a series of 1-day and 3-day post-flock terrestrial birding trips targeting Cape endemics and specials. If you join all the trips you’ll basically have birded the whole of the Western Cape Province comprehensively, but you can also join them as stand-alone day trips or 3-day trips. We donate five percent of the tour prices quoted to BirdLife South Africa for their conservation work.
South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane
Once any trip in question is guaranteed we’ll advise you at what time we’ll fetch you from wherever you’re staying. We plan to drop you back a bit before dark/in time for dinner at the end of the day, or at the end of three days in the case of the longer tours.
The 1-day trips cost R950 per person including transport, fuel, tolls, guiding fees, and entrance fees. We advise arranging breakfast wherever you’re staying. This is based on a group size of four to ten people, and there will be a surcharge in the unlikely case that three or fewer people book. We’ll e-mail you the plan once the trip is fully subscribed and we know all the participants’ details. In general we encourage you to bring a packed lunch to maximize birding time, but we plan to advise you by e-mail about the exact plan for each trip a few weeks before the trip.
The tour price for the 3 days/2 nights trips is basically all-inclusive (except for drinks, laundry, gifts, and other items of a personal nature) and is R12,000 per person sharing plus R2,000 single supplement (if you want a single room or if we can’t find a room-sharer for you). This price is based on a group size of six to eight, and there will be a surcharge for smaller groups if we don’t get the full quota.
We are also running bird-photography-based versions of these same tours: when booking please specify if your emphasis is on photography and we’ll add you to that group.
On this trip we’ll be targeting Cape Rockjumper, Cape Siskin, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, and many other endemics.
Today we’ll visit the West Coast National Park and perhaps Velddrif and other nearby sites if there are rarities such as Red-necked or Wilson’s Phalaropes, Common Redshank, etc. around, which we’ll be sure to try and find. Some of the main targets apart from these rarities will be Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin, Cape Penduline Tit, Cape Long-billed Lark and other endemic larks, Sickle-winged Chat, and a lot of waders.
Today, we’ll try and clean up on any birds not seen during the 1-3 February trips. These are likely to include Hottentot Buttonquail (which is the most elusive fynbos endemic), but we may also try for Knysna Warbler and perhaps even Striped Flufftail. Do also send us your wish lists and we’ll bear them in mind.
The Karoo must be Africa’s greatest birding hotspot! In addition, on this trip we also hope to see Protea Canary and other desirables. We leave Cape Town after breakfast, look for Protea Canary and other scarcer fynbos species en route, and also stop for raptors and waterbirds such as South African Shelduck and others before eventually reaching Karoopoort, the gateway to the endemic-rich Karoo. Our first target in this area will be Namaqua Warbler, which favors a mixture of Phragmites reeds and Acacia karoo (Sweet Thorn), to use the previous but more familiar generic name of this tree. The trilling song of this quite elusive, rather uncommon, strange warbler is a joy to behold, as will be visuals of the bird. A little farther we’ll try a couple of our stakeouts for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, but we stay two nights at a comfortable guest farm where this species occurs, maximizing the chances of seeing one of the Karoo’s more enigmatic endemics.
Entering the vast plains of the Karoo we’ll look for Rufous-eared Warbler, Karoo Eremomela, Karoo Chat, Tractrac Chat, Sickle-winged Chat, various localized lark species such as Karoo Lark, Karoo Korhaan, Double-banded Courser, with lots of luck perhaps Burchell’s Courser (they occur quite regularly in the southern reaches of the Tanqua Karoo National Park, where we’re likely to go on the second day of the tour), with some luck Ludwig’s Bustard, and many other great birds. Booted Eagle is very often seen in these parts, and we might encounter Namaqua Sandgrouse in the more northern areas. Hilly areas are usually good for Black-headed Canary, but this is a nomadic, unpredictable species. Other canary species such as White-throated Canary usually abound. We’ll also be practically sure to find Fairy Flycatcher and Layard’s Warbler.
We’ll enjoy two nights far away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town in a remote but comfortable guest farm right in the middle of where a lot of the Karoo’s endemics lurk, just where the vast plains meet the hills.
We drive three hours eastward from Cape Town to an amazing area near Africa’s southernmost tip, where two oceans meet at Cape Agulhas. Here Secretarybird and Denham’s Bustard are quite common, and we can also enjoy a Cape Vulture colony along with lots of migrant White Storks. But the real targets are all the Blue Cranes (nowhere is this South African near-endemic more abundant), Agulhas Long-billed Lark, and Cape Clapper Lark. Southern Tchagra, Knysna Woodpecker, and other desirables will also be sought. Grey-wing Francolin is usually easy to find, along with its extremely common cousin, Cape Spurfowl. We should also see great mammals at de Hoop Nature Reserve, including Cape Mountain Zebra and the beautiful Bontebok, together with some exciting small mammal species. We sometimes go to a site where getting visuals of Red-chested Flufftail is relatively easy.
We also plan to take a look at some of the amazing plants of the highly threatened lowland fynbos, far less of which is protected than mountain fynbos. We should find some of the more common fynbos endemics here, such as Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird. This is one of the best areas for the most enigmatic fynbos endemic, Hottentot Buttonquail, and we plan to spend quite a fair chunk of time trying to get visuals of this species.
For those who joined the Agulhas Plains trip we have a further three hours to drive eastward before spending two night in one of South Africa’s most beautiful towns, Wilderness. You also have the option of flying into George, and we’ll fetch you from the airport. Or we can transfer you by road from Cape Town to George to start this trip (it’s a six-hour drive). At the end of this tour you can either fly back to Cape Town or home from George, or you can travel back to Cape Town with our guide (about six hours).
Targets of this tour are Knysna Warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, Knysna Turaco, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Forest Buzzard, Red-chested Flufftail, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Forest Canary, Grey Cuckooshrike, Narina Trogon, Half-collared Kingfisher, African Emerald Cuckoo, African Finfoot, and fynbos endemics. We should also see a lot of water- and reed- associated birds which should hopefully include some less common or obvious species like Hottentot Teal, African Rail, etc.
If there is enough demand, we can also continue one of our Tanqua Karoo trips to Springbok and Pofadder (needs 4 extra days/3 extra nights) in search of Red Lark, Barlow’s Lark, Sclater’s Lark, Stark’s Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Cape Long-billed Lark and other desirables. Aardvark and other great mammals are also possible.
In addition, if you send us your target bird (and mammal, etc.) list, we can also run custom or clean-up trips for you anywhere in the Cape region and beyond. We will be happy to run private trips for you, but at a higher cost than shown for the above.