Birdwatch magazine voted Birding Africa as one of the TOP 5 most recommended bird tour companies in the world. (See www.birdingafrica.com for more survey details.)
Callan has just finished an incredible two-week natural history tour of Madagascar and his next birding tour starts tomorrow! He met up with Michael Mills and the other Birding Africa group at Andasibe a few days ago where we shared some good stake-outs, including a Madagascar Sparrowhawk nest — and this Madagascar Crested Ibis too. Will post more pics later, but here’s a Jewel Chameleon and a Painted Gecko from a night walk last week.
Painted Gecko on a Birding Africa Madagascar tour
Claire Spottiswoode has just sent a photograph of an Ortolan Bunting, photographed a few days ago in Namibia by Paul Donald.
Paul has just arrived back in email contact in Luderitz and reports that the bunting, which would represent a first for southern Africa, was briefly on the verandah at NamibRand Family Hideout (which is here: 25°17’14.12″S 16° 4’5.45″E) on 13 Nov 2013 at about 9.20 am. It only stayed for about 10 seconds and he could not relocate it.
He can’t download the photo off his camera while travelling so this is a screen grab off the camera, sent from his iPod. Good luck if any of you are considering try to relocate it!
Ortolan Bunting, NamibRand, Namibia, (c) Paul Donald
Our journey through Uganda and Rwanda this month was once again a resounding success, with great views obtained of the four main target birds: Shoebill at Mabamba Swamp, Green-breasted Pitta at Kibale, Grauer’s Broadbill at Mabwindi Swamp in Bwindi and Red-collared Mountain Babbler at Nyungwe, Rwanda. We logged a total of just over 530 bird species, including heard-onlys.
Here follows the summary of the trip and the link to the full trip report.
Our standard ‘Uganda Specials’ tour was supplemented with a quick pre-tour loop through the lower-altitude forests of Budongo and savannas of Murchison Falls, adding substantially to our species list. Our Specials tour also took in the endemics of the lofty Albertine Rift forests and various other habitats en route. During the two weeks we visited wetlands at Lake Victoria’s Mabamba Swamp, Lake Bunyoni and the Nyabarongo River in Rwanda, mid-altitude forests at Kibale and “The Neck” of Bwindi, grasslands and savannas at Queen Elizabeth, and montane forests at Bwindi and Rwanda’s Nyungwe. Some of the group also opted to spend a day tracking Eastern Gorillas.
Besides the four biggies, other highlights included Ituri Batis, Nahan’s Partridge, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Black Bishop, Cardinal Quelea, Puvel’s Illadopsis and Brown Twinspot in the Budongo area; Heuglin’s Francolin, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Red-winged Grey Warbler and Shelley’s Sparrow at Murchison Falls; Lesser Jacana, Long-toed Lapwing, Blue Swallow, Weyns’s Weaver and Orange Weaver at Mabamba Swamp, Papyrus Gonolek nearby, Speckle- breasted Woodpecker and White-winged Swamp Warbler en route to Kibale, Toro Olive Greenbul, Grey Parrot, Joyful Greenbul, Thick-billed Cuckoo and White-collared Oliveback at Kibale, Senegal Lapwing and White-tailed Lark at Queen Elizabeth, Swamp Nightjar and Red- throated Wryneck en route to Bwindi, Many-coloured Bushshrike and Grey-headed Sunbird at “The Neck”, Handsome Francolin, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Grauer’s Warbler, Doherty’s Bushshrike, Regal Sunbird, Grauer’s Rush Warbler and Dusky Crimsonwing at Ruhija, Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Carruther’s Cisticola at Lake Bunyoni, Ruaha Chat en route to Nyungwe, Mountain Buzzard, Red-throated Alethe, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Equatorial Akalat, Dwarf Honeyguide, Kungwe Apalis, Willard’s Boubou, African Broadbill, Lagden’s Bushshrike, Neumann’s Warbler and Purple-breasted Sunbird at Nyungwe and Papyrus Canary at the Nyabarongo wetlands.
Mammal highlights were Chimpanzee at Budongo, Leopard in a tree at Murchison Falls, Central African Red Colobus and Grey-cheeked Mangabey (Uganda Mangabey) at Kibale, Leopard beside the road in Queen Elizabeth, l’Hoest Monkey and Eastern Gorilla at Bwindi and Angola Pied Colobus at Nyungwe.
See the detailed trip report.
See the 2014 tour dates and prices.
To join Michael Mills in July and August 2014, please contact Marje Hemp: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks everyone for visiting our stand at the British Birdfair, and for attending Callan’s lecture on combining birding with the wildebeest migration in Tanzania. It was great to connect with new and old friends and talk about the exciting tours we have planned over the next year. A huge thanks to the birdfair team (including Tim Appleton, Martin Davis and everyone) for making it all happen! See you all next year…
Cameroon’s rarest endemic, the enigmatic Bates’s Weaver Ploceus batesi, only occurs in the area due south of Yaounde towards the Gabon border. Besides Bates’s Weaver, a whole mouth-watering array of rare lowland forest birds occur in Cameroon’s far south. To our knowledge, this area has never been part of a bird watching tour.
Long-tailed Hawk is a squirrel-eating special of African lowland forest and is possible on our Southern Cameroon extension tour.
You may as such not be surprised that our ornithological knowledge of the area is based primarily on the collections of Bates, who lived in the region for a period in the first half of the 20th century. A long time has passed since then and we seem to be none the wiser regarding the status of some of the rare birds Bates collected. Besides the rarely-seen weaver, other species Bates collected in this area include Yellow-capped Weaver, Grey Ground Thrush, Black-eared Ground Thrush, Eastern Wattled Cuckooshrike, Shelley’s Eagle Owl, Maned Owl, Sandy Scops Owl and Forest Penduline Tit.
In recent years access to the area has improved, with the main tar road to Gabon skirting the western edge of these interesting forests. To see what these forests might hold, we’ll run an exploratory trip from a reasonably comfortable base. Following our nose and what roads and forest we can see from satellite imagery, we’ll try our upmost to reach some of these special forests in hope of finding one or more of the special birds they hold. No doubt many other species will be seen, with goodies possibly including Gabon Batis, Gabon Coucal, Yellow-throated Nicator, Falkenstein’s Greenbul, Black-collared Lovebird and a host of more common lowland forest species.
This four day Birding Africa trip to Southern Cameroon’s lowland forest will run as a pre-tour extension of our main Cameroon tour and will be led by Michael Mills.
Cameroon Pre-tour Extension: Southern Lowland Forest
Dates: 25 to 28 February 2014 (starts in the morning at Douala and ends in the evening at Douala)
Price per person sharing a room: GBP 880
Single room supplement: GBP 90.
Cameroon: Picathartes, North & South
Dates: 28 February to 21 March 2014 (starts with the nights accommodation in Douala and ends in the evening at Douala)
Price per person sharing a room: GBP 4290 including local flights or GBP 3990 without local flights.
Single room supplement: GBP 330.
Birding Africa guide Tertius Gous writes: Keen Dutch birder Erik Ernens joined me yesterday for a half-day trip to Rooiels with one singular aim, to see the Cape Rock-jumper. We knew the weather would be against us and the day started with intermittent pre-frontal rain that would continue throughout the morning. Fortunately the day was successful and we had great views of a male bird, first high up on the slope and then again later right down along the path. We were drenched, but very happy, and according to Erik, the Cape Rock-jumper is the most beautiful South African bird! Other good birds were Verreaux’s Eagle, Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Grassbird, Victorin’s Warbler, nesting Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Grey-backed Cisticola, Yellow Bishop and on the way back we found Lesser Flamingo, Maccoa Duck and Southern Pochard.
More info on our Cape Town tours is here:
We’ve launched a new series of tours: specialist primate and mammal watching trips!
We’ve started this exciting new venture with a Uganda Primate Tour earlier this year; as you can see from these photographs.
We run three types of trips per year to our most popular and mammal-rich destinations:
* specialist Uganda Primate Tour from 4 until 16 February 2014.
* specialist Tanzania Wildbeeest migration and Hadza bushmen tour from 8 to 19 April 2014 and
* specialist Madagascar lemurs and fosa tour from 24 October to 10 November 2014.
Bookings have opened, so if you would like to join or enquire, please contact Deirdre at email@example.com.
On these trips for keen mammal watchers, we’ll track primates up close, and watch them play, groom, vocalise, eat or hunt… Inbetween, we’ll find other interesting mammals and birds and take in the best of the landscape too. The trips focus on intimate and close encounters with much sought-after but also unusual mammals, while staying in comfortable lodges and tented camps set in remote and scenic locations. We spend time at sightings, watch behaviors and interactions, learn about the animals and soak up the landscape. There is time for photography, comparison and discussion. We encounter the sightings on foot where possible, to create intimate and unique experiences.
Our tour combines high quality primate and other mammal observations with stays in luxury tented camps, chosen for their wilderness feel, comfort and location. Under the shade of this Acacia tree, participants are discussing the day’s sightings while sipping sundowners in Uganda.
Here are some photos taken on our inaugural Uganda Primate Trip last January. We tracked Mountain Gorillas on the slopes of Bwindi National Park, which only required a 20 minutes hike! This group of gorillas was so well habituated that they nearly came to sit on our laps! We kept on walking backwards! A community of Chimpanzee sat around us at Kibale forest and others ran through the beautiful old gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. We watched them play, groom, race up trees, cross rivers, drag branches and drum buttresses! We were kept excited even at night, as we searched for bushbabies and were rewarded with incredible views of Thick-tailed Greater Galago (Otolemur crassicaudatus) up close, including some beautiful black melanistic ones!
On the mammal front, we enjoyed special sightings such as a pride of lions up a fig tree, Giant Forest Hog in front of our luxury tents, Black-and-White Guereza Colobus above our cabins, Spotted Hyena with cubs in a cave and right in front of our private boat, African Elephants taking a bath!!
Mountain Gorilla up close in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Who’se watching who?
Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, where some of us spent a full day following these close relatives.
We were very lucky to see a family of the elusive Giant Forest Hog here near the border of Virunga National Park. Spotted from our tour-leader’s balcony, we all krept closer and were rewarded with these rare views!
One of a pride of seven lions in a Sycamore Fig tree in Queen Elizabeth National Park. So, why do you think lions climb trees?
Never a dull moment on this primate tour! These Thick-tailed Greater Galagos kept us entertained after dinner. Some individuals only develop dark pigment, such as this melanistic black one, and are very well camouflaged!