Welcome to our Latest News page where you can get summaries from the latest Zoothera tours, as well as other information. To sign up and receive our new e-newsletter with tour updates and more Click Here
Please note our new office telephone number is 01803 - 390721. We have been experiencing some technical difficulties during the past week following the office move, but this has now been resolved and normal service has been resumed! If you want to ring Nick or Steve to discuss any of our tours then please feel free to do so. We will be posting news from our recent visits to Lesvos, Eaglenest and Canada in the near future...... Why not check out our blog to see the story so far from our Point Pelee private tour - Zoothera Blog
*** Please note that we are changing our office address from Wednesday 1st May and will be moving to 184 Penwill Way, Paignton, Devon, TQ4 5JP. Our new telephone number will be 0044 (0)1803 - 390721 ***
Our latest tour to the mountainous island of Taiwan once again proved to be very successful as we saw 30 of the 31 endemics and soon-to-be-split endemics, getting great views of everything along the way. Particular favourites were, of course, Mikado and Swinhoe's Pheasants, along with Taiwan Cupwing, Rusty and Rufous-crowned Laughingthrushes, Yellow Tit and Flamecrest. This Collared Bush-robin is a common endemic of high altitude areas and is one of the finest looking of all the endemics. This year we again managed to find a few Black-faced Spoonbills which are always most welcome, but also had the scope set up on a Fairy Pitta within 10 minutes of starting our search! A truly amazing experience. To cap off a great tour, we had a fall of migrants on the last few days which included 3 Oriental Cuckoos, 100+ Eye-browed Laughingthrushes, a Brown-headed Thrush, 3 Siberian Rubythroats, Arctic Warbler and others.
We have a brand new tour to China in 2014 visiting the Tibetan Plateau for Szechney's Monal-partridge,Tibetan Sandgrouse, Ala Shan Redstart, Kozlov's Bunting, Pink-tailed Bunting and more. But then we head into the unknown as we will venture into the Takla Makan Desert where the endemic Biddulph's Ground-jay occurs and also visit the Tien Shan Mountains as well. Definitely something a little different! Click here for full itinerary.
Have just added our Sichuan & Tibetan Plateau 2014 tour itinerary - see here for more details - Sichuan 2014.
Thailand 2013 tour report - click here. And check out some photos from this great tour here.
INDIA 1 & 2 TOURS
Once again India has provided us with a kaleidoscope of memories, images, birds and mammals. We saw 408 species during both tours (and that is birds seen, not including heard onlys, or wagtail races etc!). India 1 (239 species seen) and India 2 (319 species seen) covered all of the best birding areas of northern India from Bharatpur, Chambal River & Ranthambhore, up to Corbett, Nainital & Sat Tal and it is very difficult to highlight just a few species. However, during our first tour we had exceptionally close views of Indian Skimmer, as well as Black-necked Stork, Sarus Crane, Painted Spurfowl, Sykes's Warbler, Brooks's Leaf-warbler, Striolated Bunting and Sind Sparrow. Bharatpur is back to its glorious best, the incomparable Taj Mahal was unforgettable and amazing views of Tigers on their kills take some beating. Heading up to the Himalayas we had more Tigers, Cheer Pheasant, Collared Falconet, Great Slaty & Himalayan Woodpeckers, Wallcreeper, Himalayan Shrike-babbler, Himalayan Bluetail, Long-billed Ground Thrush, 6 species of laughingthrush, Black-headed Jay, Chestnut-eared Bunting and many others.
We are only about 5 days into our first ever trip to Mexico! What a great country with fantastic birding and wonderful scenery. This really is a place that should be on everyones wish list. Lovely people, superb food and endless amounts of good birds. Dave our local guide is superb and apart from knowing where all the birds are, he is also faultless at providing everything we need, and very smooth running logistics. So for the birds, we have visited the Durango highway area seeing many endemics including Tufted Jay, Purplish-backed Jay, Mountain Trogon, Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, many Military Macaws, Happy Wren, Blue Mockingbirds, Red-headed Tanager and flocks of warblers such as Hermit, Townsend, Black-throated Gray, Crescent-chested, Red-faced, Grace's, MacGillivray's, and Painted Redstart. Now in San Blas we have secured excellent views of Bumblebee Hummingbird, Mexican Woodnymph, Colima Pygmy-Owl, Citreoline Trogon, Russet-crowned Motmot, Gray-crowned Woodpecker, San Blas Jay, Spotted Wren, Sinaloa Wren, Brown-backed Solitaire, 50 Gray-Silky's, Fan-tailed Warbler, a pair of Rosy Thrush-Tanagers and we are just about to go out on a 4 hr mangrove boat trip......... OK we've done the mangrove trip and notched up 5 Rufous-necked Wood Rails, 5 Northern Potoos and lots of waterbirds including many Boat-billed Herons. We then moved on and now near the Volcanos at Sayula we have added some excellent species such as Orange-breasted Bunting, Elegant and Banded Quails, Red Warbler, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Trans Volcanic Jays, Mountain Pygmy-Owl, Buff-collared Nightjar, Flammulated Flycatcher, Gray-collared Becard, Golden Vireos, Colima Warbler, and much more! A couple of days left now...... Our tour is finished we added more birds including a superb perched Eared Poorwill just 12ft away, and an Aztec Thrush in a fruiting tree. Get your tour completely right and come birding with us in wonderful Mexico, with an expert local guide! This country was safe and friendly with lovely people wherever we went birding. Just like many other country's Mexico has received bad press. We urge you to not believe all you hear as we enjoyed a most fabulous trip and would thouroughly recommend our trip to Mexico to all birders.
COSTA RICA - 2013
Steve is now in Mexico after completing yet another fabulous tour to Costa Rica! His 27th tour to this wonderful bird-filled country. This year was very dry with many small streams and wetlands completely dried up. This didn't stop the birding and a great time was had by all. The start of our tour saw 3 Snowcaps feeding amongst the flowers alongside a stunning male Black-crested Coquette.Several surprises along the way included a superb male Bare-necked Umbrellabird that we watched for over forty minutes, and then a Lanceolated Monklet that posed for us near Arenal Volcano, which by the way showed its peak nicely for photographs. Several boat trips were real highlights with many species showing close and well. Three Sungrebes, 5 species of kingfisher include very close Pygmy Kingfisher, Boat-billed Herons and lots of close looks at the restricted Nicaraguan Grackle. A night trip gave more superb views with Bare-shanked Screech-Owl and Dusky Nightjar, while pride of place should go to the superb male Resplendent Quetzals including one that sat for photos just 8ft off the ground on an open tree trunk. Motmots included the rare Keel-billed, and then there was a Sunbittern sunning itself on the edge of a river with its wings spead showing the amazing patterning that makes this bird so special. Costa Rican Pygmy Owl performed well for us, and many other highlights included Rufous-winged Tanager, Fiery-billed Aracaris at feeders, Great Potoos on day roosts, Scarlet Macaws, close Golden-browed Chlorophonias and Elegant Euphonias, Long-tailed Manakins plus Red-capped and Blue-crowned Manakins bathing in a stream, a pair of Northern Royal Flycatchers, Ochraceous Pewee, Grasshopper Sparrow, White Hawks and much more. With our superb new lodging and Ramon's wonderful picnics this trip is quite simply a fantastic birdwatching holiday. Keep an eye on our web-site for our next Costa Rican adventure.
Just added our fantastic new trip to Northern Peru. Check it out as interest is already very high Northern Peru also our new itinerary to Colombia where we offer the No1. trip to this fabulous country. Colombia 2014
In fact we have just completed our 2013 tour which was once again fantastic and led by Diego Calderon, Colombias number 1 bird guide. There were once again far to many highlights to mention here so you will need to read the trip report once it is complete. We recorded an amazing 696 species with many more specialities and endemics than other companies get. In Santa Marta accompanied by our excellent guide - Juan, we saw just about everything we had hoped for. Notable sightings included a Kelp Gull we found at Los Flamencos (this may represent the 1st for Colombia), also 4 Scaled Piculets, Tocuyo Sparrows, all the Santa Marta endemics, with amazing close views of just about everything. A Fuscous Flycatcher near Tayrona may represent a very good record and along the coast we cleaned up with all the specialties in little over an hour! Some sort of record no doubt. On our mainland tour we again found an endless amount of endemic and sought after species. Some birds of note included Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, 2 Dusky Starfrontlets near Jardin (this is the 3rd year we have found this mega!), Tanager Finches, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Colombian Screech-Owl, Shining-green and Violet-bellied were surprises amongst the 66 species of hummingbird seen. This included 2 or 3 Black-thighed Pufflegs, Bearded Helmetcrest, Indigo-capped and many more. Other memorable sightings included Olive Finch, Magdelana Antbird, Beautiful Woodpecker, Multicoloured Tanager, Turquoise Dacnis, Choco Vireo, Munchique Wood-Wren, Ocellated Tapaculo, Bogota Rail, lots of antpittas coming to worms and fabulous looks at the newly described Antioquia Wren. Why not join us for 2014 and have the best ever trip to Colombia using the country's best local guides. Colombia 2014
The recent tour to Thailand has gone very well, with a number of very special birds seen - once again proving why this is such a popular destination for birders. Beginning in the northern mountains, a number of new feeding stations are proving a goldmine and we had point-blank views of 2 White-gorgeted Flycatchers, 2 White-bellied Redstarts, 3 White-tailed Robins, Himalayan Bluetail, 3 Siberian Rubythroats, 10+ Black-breasted Thrushes, Eye-browed and Japanese Thrushes, 3 Scarlet-faced Liocichlas, 2 Spot-breasted Laughingthrushes, Spot-throated Babbler, and this superb Rusty-naped Pitta. With Hume's Pheasant, Jerdon's Bushchat, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Giant Nuthatch, Dark-sided Thrush, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Spot-winged Grosbeak, the 6th Thai record of Black-headed Bunting, and many other mouth-watering species you can see why our Thailand tours are always full. The tour then continued to Khao Yai where Silver Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Banded Kingfisher, Long-tailed, Banded and Dusky Broadbills, Black-and-buff Woodpecker, Wreathed and Great Hornbills, and a superb male Blue Pitta have been seen. At Pak Thale we saw 3 Spoon-billed Sandpipers, and nearby 30+ Nordmann's Greenshanks, 25+ Asiatic Dowitchers, White-faced & Malaysian Plovers and finished with 37 species of wader for the day. At Kaeng Krachen we had Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Collared Babbler, Black-and-yellow and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Slaty-legged Crake, Bar-backed and Scaly-breasted Partridges, plus many other great birds. We've just finished the tour and ended up with 450 species seen - proving there's more to Thailand than Spoonies! Checkout the Zoothera Blog for the full story.
Check this out! The No1 tour to Guyana - New improved itinerary! Using the best local guides with 10% of our tour profits going to help these local guides and communities. The most refined trip to this superb new destination - Guyana 2013
Recent tour reports added: Costa Rica 2012 Sichuan 2012 Sichuan 2012 Birdlist Guyana 2012 Madagascar 2012
Our recent visit to South India and the Andamans resulted in a total of 342 species, of which 100 were endemic. To put this into perspective we saw 21 Andaman endemics, 33 Indian endemics and 46 Indian Subcontinent endemics. But it is not always about numbers is it? And probably the top two highlights of the tour were our sightings (and close ones too) of a young male Tiger strolling through the forest in front of us at Nagarhole, and a pack of 7 Dhole (Asiatic Wild Dogs) attacking a huge Gaur. We began on the Andamans and secured most of the endemics quite quickly, although Hume’s Hawk-owl, Andaman Crake and Andaman Cuckoo-dove took a bit more effort. But we did it and also secured views of Long-toed Stint, Two-barred Warbler, and both Oriental and Black-browed Reed-warblers that you don’t normally see on the mainland. Then our extensive coverage of the peninsular gave us a veritable feast of localized, endangered and nice & skulking species to get our teeth into. We had great looks at endemics such as Grey Junglefowl, Nilgiri Woodpigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Barbet, Malabar Lark, Black-chinned and Kerala Laughingthrushes, Nilgiri and White-bellied Blue Robins, Nilgiri and Black-and-orange Flycatchers, Nilgiri Pipit, Yellow-throated Bulbul, Indian Rufous Babbler, Malabar Starling and White-bellied Treepie. Other goodies were seen such as Yellow-legged Buttonquail, Black Baza, 12 species of owl including Mottled Wood-owl, Ceylon Frogmouth, Indian Jungle Nightjar, a confiding Indian Pitta and Tytler’s Leaf-warbler added to a wide variety of other species. With taxonomy changing and a few more potential splits in the offing, this is definitely one of those tours to keep your eye on in the future and we look forward to returning. You can catch up with the full story on our blog: www.zootherabirding.blogspot.co.uk
Steve has recently returned from a very succesful tour to Guyana. This fascinating country is relatively new to the birding scene and we were delighted to be able to support all the local communities and Guianan guides that were used throughout. In fact we feel very strongly that it is of vital importance that birdwatching companies use local guides and where possible lodges owned by locals and not outsiders! Zoothera are certainly doing their bit to help conservation and the promotion of wildlife tourism with 10% of their profits from this tour going direct to the local people. Our main guide throughout this tour was simply superb and delivered many of Guyana's most sought-after birds and Guianan Sheild Endemics. An adult male Harpy Eagle found in an area they are not usually seen was a great delight, as were displaying Guianan Cock-of-the Rock, the very rare Sun Parakeet, the equally rare Red Siskin, Crested Doradito, Bearded Tachuri, Orange-breasted Falcons, Caica Parrot, a Long-tailed Potoo on a day roost, displaying Capuchinbirds, Red-and-black Grosbeak, Guianan Toucanet, Green Aracari, Azure Gallinule, up to 25 Hoatzins on a boat trip, three Blood-coloured Woodpeckers, Rufous Crab Hawks, Rufous-throated Antbird, the very localised Rio Branco Antbird and Hoary-throated Spinetail, plus a surprise Giant Snipe in the savanna and five Giant Anteaters including one carrying a baby on its back. Many other birds and other forms of wildlife were a delight including Giant Otter, Golden Frogs, Black Caimen, Amazonian Tree Boa and countless butterflies. We cannot wait to return in 2013 on one of the very best tours to Guyana - book with Zoothera and know you are doing the right thing!
Our Bolivia tour visited a wide variety of habitats from the snow-capped Andes to Amazonian rainforest in search of a wide variety of species. We travelled through arid canyons covered in cacti, mist-enshrouded cloud forest with lively mixed flocks and everything else in between! In all, we saw 415 species which included many classic South American prizes such as Greater Rhea, Maguari Stork, Torrent Duck, Sunbittern, Andean Condor, Andean Avocet, Oilbird, Crested Quetzal and others. We began at Santa Cruz and nailed the first of 5 species of tinamou with a Darwin's Nothura feeding out in the open - we later saw Grey, Brown, Red-winged and Andean Tinamous. A number of endemics were found and in particular we enjoyed Titicaca Grebe, Bolivian Earthcreeper, Red-fronted Macaw, Cliff Parakeet, Wedge-tailed Hillstar, Black-throated Thistletail, Rufous-faced Antpitta, Bolivian Blackbird, Bolivian Brush-finch, Orange-browed Hemispingus, Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer, Bolivian Warbling-finch and Cochabamba Mountain-finch. Other highlights included Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Yungas Pygmy-owl, Golden-breasted Woodpecker, Plush-crested Jay, Spotted Nightingale-thrush, this Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Spot-backed Puffbird, White-tipped Plantcutter, spectacular Plushcap and Golden-collared Tanager, and Slaty Finch. The scenery was truly spectacular and it was a fascinating journey enjoyed with a really fun group. For the full story and loads of photos check out Nick's blog at: www.zootherabirding.blogspot.co.uk
We have just completed a fabulous tour to Madagascar where we saw almost 100% of all the species we were looking for. In fact 96% of all the birds seen on this tour were seen by all participants which shows our commitment to making sure everyone and not just a few see the birds. There were many highlights and we saw every Coua, every Vanga, every Ground-Roller and superb views of all. Some of the group highlights included Scaly Ground-Roller showing at our feet for 40 minutes, Helmet and Bernier's Vangas on the beautiful Masoala Peninsula, delightful Madagascar and rare Slender-billed Flufftails, Madagascar Crested Ibis sat out in the sunlight, Bernier's Teals, all three Mesites showing unbelievably well, Collared Nightjar camouflaged in the leaf litter, lots of Madagascar Pygmy Kingfishers, super looking Asity's, and to top it all off we had 26 species of Lemur from tiny Mouse Lemurs, to huge and noisy Indri, Black-and-white, and Red-Ruffed Lemurs, gorgeous Diademed Sifaka, dancing Verreaux's Sifaka and 4 species of Sportive Lemur. There were incredible Comet Moths, strange Leaf-tailed Geckos, Lesser Hedgehog and Lowland Streaked Tenrecs, frogs and many Chameleons. The tour ran exceptionally smoothly due to our highly experienced ground agents and we were delighted to use the services of many of the country's top local guides. Check out the 2013 trip before it fills up!
2 spaces have just become available on our Sichuan tour. Click here.
Our latest Sulawesi & Halmahera tour has once again proved very successful with a grand total of 260 species recorded, but more importantly thiscomprised a superb 109 endemics! Pride of place went to Wallace's Standardwing, but this year we connected with a pair of Geomalia high up along the Anaso Track at Lore Lindu. Other goodies included Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Diabolical Nightjar, Ivory-backed Woodswallow, amazing views of Maleo, numerous Sulawesi Crested Mynas, showy Great Shortwings, 24 species of pigeon and dove and 15 species of parrot. On Halmahera we easily saw Moluccan Scrubfowl in the spotlight on a secluded beach, and possibly the highlight of the entire tour with outstanding views of Ivory-breasted Pitta calling from a bare branch for several minutes. A real treat indeed! You can getan insight to this tour by taking a look at Nick's blog: www.zootherabirding.blogspot.co.uk
NEW TOUR for 2014: India - Mishmi Hills and Beyond! Once again we return to the mythical Mishmi Hills in search of some of the Eastern Himalayas most prized birds, such as White-winged Wood-duck, Ibisbill, Beautiful Nuthatch, Ward's Trogon, Blyth's Tragopan, Himalayan Cutia, Cachar Wedge-billed Wren-babbler, Black-breasted Parrotbill and many others. But that's not all, as we visit Digboi, Dibru-Saikhowa, Kaziranga & Nameri during our extensive exploration of fantastic habitats by jeep, boat, Elephant and on foot! If you fancy an adventure then this is the tour for you! For tour itinerary - click here.
Maldives 2013 - new tour dates. Click here.
SE China tour report added. Click here.
Chile, South Africa, Madagascar, Brazil Atlantic Rainforest & NE Brazil all new itineraries just added!
SCILLY ISLES 2013 tour also just been added with no increase in price! Click here!
GUYANA 2013 Tour details just added! Note that this tour is exceptionally well priced as we use just local guides and agencies and not outsiders! Our 2012 tour filled very quickly so we urge you to go and compare and then check out the Zoothera itinerary which includes Sun Parakeet, Red Siskin, Harpy Eagle and the fabulous Kaieteur Falls. Click here!
NEW TOUR for 2013 - Brazil - Pantanal, Cristalino Lodge & Iguazu Falls promises to be an amazing adventure as we search for some truly wonderful species from the mighty Harpy Eagle to the beautiful Hyacinth Macaw. This tour is arguably one of the best that we have ever been privileged to do and we have very fond memories of several boat rides in the Pantanal which allow an 'up close and personal' approach to many species. A visit to the extraordinary Cristalino Jungle Lodge in the Amazon is also available for more mouth-watering species and we end with the spectacular Iguazu Falls. Click here.
Birdfair 2012 - was a huge success for us and we would like to say a big thank you to all of our friends from previous tours who attended and came to say hello. It really was like old times and it was great to chat about the birds we had all shared over the years. On top of that we had a large number of bookings from old and new clients, showing that the word is spreading and it really is worth checking out our rapidly growing programme of tours for the next year or two. In fact we have now filled 17 tours up to the end of 2013, with several more filling fast. Adding to this are our exciting new itineraries to South Africa, Madagascar, NE Brazil, Northern Peru, Pantanal & Cristalino Lodge and Brazil's Atlantic Rainforest that all have lists of people waiting to book once the itineraries are posted. Then we have already filled one of our Thailand trips in 2014, Sulawesi & Halmahera in 2014 is full, and Sumatra & Java in 2014 is also attracting bookings as well. We will also be adding a few more tours for next year, so please keep an eye out for a surprise or two!
Additional dates for Central Thailand in January 2014. Click here.
New Tour for 2013 - Maldives! Something completely different for us is this whale-watching cruise around the numerous atolls of the Maldives in search of some of the rarest cetaceans on the planet. With great opportunities for snorkelling, diving, and also some good seabirds as well this tour is led by world famous expert Dr Charles Anderson. Click here.
Our 2013/2014 Brochure was posted on 23rd July and should be arriving by the end of the week - if you are not on our mailing list for our brochure then just drop us an email and we can post one out immediately.
New Tour for 2013 - Tanzania! An exciting 18 day adventure visiting Arusha, Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu, Serengeti and Lake Victoria with Adam Kennedy. The classic African safari featuring all the big mammals and an exceptional birdlist. Click here.
New Tour for 2013 - Uganda! An extensive and quality tour with Adam Kennedy to this outstanding destination. If you have ever wanted to visit, then now is the time and to find yourself amidst a group of Gorillas is one of the most thrilling experiences imaginable. Add to this the incomparable Shoebill, a host of other mouth-watering birds and plenty of mammals then this really is the tour of a lifetime. Click here.
Ghana 2012 tour report just added. Click here.
The Sichuan & Tibetan Plateau Tour has just finished where our group recorded 275 species during the fortnight - it's a shorter tour than other tours on the market but very successful. This includes 54 endemic, near-endemic and breeding endemics. Bird of the trip was this male Temminck's Tragopan which displayed out in the open for over 20 minutes. We saw another 13 species of pheasant and partridge on this tour including Lady Amherst's and Golden Pheasant, Chinese Monal, Tibetan Snowcock, Chinese Grouse and Blue Eared-Pheasant. Up on the Tibetan Plateau huge Tibetan Larks were seen, very close views of dancing Black-necked Cranes, Sakers at a nest, Salim Ali's Swift, Sukatschev's Laughingthrush, Sichuan Jay, Three-banded Rosefinch and Hume's Ground-tit. We ended up this year in Shaanxi Province where we saw 20+ Crested Ibis. This is something of a conservation success story with only a handful of pairs left in the world in the mid-80's, there are now over 500 wild birds in this province - the only place in the world to see them! Other goodies seen on the tour included Golden-fronted Fulvetta, Rufous-tailed Babbler, Emei Shan Liocichla, Crested Tit-warbler, Firethroat, Przewalski's Nuthatch, Gansu Leaf-warbler, Grandala and many others. See our blog for the trip diary and photos of the tour: www.zootherabirding.blogspot.co.uk Photo Gallery - Click here.
Breaking News!!! A brand new endemic species of Wren the Antioquia Wren - (Thryophilus sernai) has just been accepted to science and our group that travelled with us to Colombia in Feb 2012 were lucky enough to see this bird.
From Diego Calderon ........we found this bird a couple of years ago in the dry Cauca Valley forests/scrub and have been working hard on it since; it was a week ago accepted for publication in The Auk and an online preview is already available (http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.1525/auk.2012.12028).
New Tour Reports Added: Cambodia & Malaysia, Lesvos and Taiwan.
Tours just added:
We have just added 2 Bargain tours to Ecuador for March 2013 and a superb trip for Mexican endemics restricted to just 7 persons for March 2013. Check these out on our Tours page.
Also new tour added for Lesvos for April 2013, see our fantastic trip report out soon. Stay in the best hotel, and save money with Zoothera.
The South-east China tour has been very successful with Nick's group seeing 5 Spoon-billed Sandpipers in various stages of
breeding-plumage at Rudong. The area is teeming with other waders such as Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler, Long-toed and Red-necked Stints, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Far Eastern Curlew, and even a Little Whimbrel amongst many others. A flock of Black-faced Spoonbills have also been seen. There has been excellent heavy migration activity and amongst the more expected Siberian Blue Robins, Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous-tailed Robins, Siberian Thrushes, Yellow-rumped and Mugimaki Flycatchers and Tristram's and Meadow Buntings, there have been several othe scarcer finds by our group. Pride of place goes to a male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher at Magic Forest, whilst Narcissus Flycatcher has proved to be moving through in small numbers. There has also been Northern Boobook, Daurian Starling, Japanese Grosbeak, Pale Thrush, Red-billed Starling, Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Reed Parrotbill, Marsh Grassbird, Manchurian Bush-warbler, Swinhoe's Minivet, and 30+ Saunder's Gulls. A huge fall of warblers has resulted in 12 species being seen in a few hours one morning! The tour has just finished after visiting the mountains around Wuyishan where 5 adult Cabot's Tragopans were seen well, including this male feeding in a tree just below eye-level. A female with 4 small chicks was seen on a couple of occasions as well. Moving on to Wuyuan we visited a breeding colony of Courtois's Laughingthrush, a species only rediscovered in 2000 and which this year numbers less than 200 individuals. Also seen here was a fantastic male Elliot's Pheasant (the hardest to find pheasant in China?), Chinese Bamboo-partridge and Long-billed Plover. We finished off with 3 Chinese Crested Terns on the Min Jiang Estuary - with less than 27 known individuals left in the world after a recent survey. See some photos from this tour by clicking here. See our Zoothera Blog for the tour diary and more photos by clicking here.
Colombia 2012 Tour Report added. Click here.
Our Taiwan tour has been very successful with all of the currently accepted endemics and potential future splits seen well. It really is an impressive country with some of the finest mountain scenery imaginable and many wonderful and special birds. We have so far visited all of the best mountain sites such as Dasyueshan, Wushe & Alishan where Mikado Pheasant, Flamecrests, Collared Bush-robins, Taiwan Cupwing and Taiwan Hill-partridges have all showed superbly. As well as the key endemics species a day of wader watching resulted in a flock of 33 Asiatic Dowitchers, 15 Black-faced Spoonbills, Terek and Broad-billed Sandpipers and much more. And just recently a Mountain Scops-owl gave point-blank views to our group as well. It doesn't get much better than this fine male Swinhoe's Pheasant that Nick photographed on the tour.
You can get the full story on the Taiwan tour by going to the ZOOTHERA BLOG. Click here. Or view the Taiwan Photo Galley - Click here.
Our March tour to Costa Rica was simply fabulous. Perfect weather, perfect itinerary and an amazing variety of sought after birds. This was Steve's 24th tour to Costa Rica and both Steve and Gina's experience in one of their favourite destinations shone through! There were countless highlights including a nesting Northern Royal Flycatcher (pictured here), fantastic looks at a nesting pair of Costa Rican Pygmy-owls, Silvery-throated Jay on its nest, Resplendent Quetzals at their nest hole, Scarlet Macaws, King Vultures, White Hawk, Sungrebe, Mangrove Hummingbird, Snowcap, a beautiful pair of Spectacled Owls, and much much more. Our short 10 days of birding produced around 386 species of birds. The UK's best value tours to Costa Rica are as popular as ever so check out next years tour with our extension to Arenal & Cano Negro! No-one can beat our price, our high standards and our experience! Click here - Costa Rica 2013
Our Brazil - Atlantic Rainforest tour report has now been added. Click here.
The first of our Central Thailand trip reports has been added. Click here.
Our Northern Thailand trip report is now online. Click here.
The second Central Thailand tour report from this year can now be viewed. Click here.
Thailand 2012 birdlist just added - click here.
Our latest Cambodia & Malaysia tour has finished with a very respectable 271 species recorded. Beginning at the stunning Angkor Wat Temple we topped up on culture as well as notching up Black Baza, Hainan Blue Flycatcher and a couple of tree dwelling Forest Wagtails. The hillside of Kbal Spean added Great Iora and White-throated Rock-thrush. We spent the next day in boats along the Prek Toal Reserve at the huge Tonle Sap lake where a 5-hour vigil for Milky Stork eventually proved fruitful. Several Greater Adjutants, Grey-headed Fish-eagle and numerous waterbirds made it a very pleasant excursion. The following day we visited the fields and marshes of Ang Traepang Thmor and began with several Lanceolated Warblers acting true to form and skulking exceedingly well. Oriental Pratincoles were numerous, Pied Harriers gave great views, Sarus Cranes were impressive and Spot-breasted Woodpecker showed well. We then had Bengal Floricans walking out in the open, Small Buttonquail providing crippling views and Manchurian Reed-warbler proving elusive, before reaching Tmatboey. Both White-shouldered and Giant Ibis, Spotted Wood-owl, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Chinese Francolin, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Pale-capped Pigeon and Violet Cuckoo were the star birds here. At Seima Protected Forest along the Vietnamese border the lush forests gave us Red-vented Barbet, Golden-crested Myna, Scaly-crowned Babbler, Green Peafowl, Collared Falconet, Large Scimitar-babbler, and Bar-bellied Pitta feeding on a secluded forest trail. We ended with a boat ride along the Mekong River with Irrawaddy River Dolphins all around us and Mekong Wagtail singing on its nesting island.
A post-tour extension in Peninsular Malaysia to Kuala Selangor and Frasers Hill produced 203 species, of which 126 were new for the tour giving us an overall trip total of 397 species recorded. A pair of Barred Eagle-owls got us off to a great start, and an evening owling then produced Spotted Wood-owl and Buffy Fish-owl. In the coastal mangroves we had Pink-necked Green-pigeon, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Pied Triller, Ashy Tailorbird, Mangrove Whistler, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Mangrove Pitta and White-headed Munia. And then we headed to the cool highlands where new birds were everywhere! Our first morning saw us at a stake-out for Malayan Whistling-thrush, and there was also Fire-tufted Barbet, Mountain Fulvetta, Streaked Wren-babbler, Black-eared and Blyth's Shrike-babblers, Mountain Leaf-warbler, Chestnut-capped and Malayan Laughingthrushes, Javan Cuckooshrike and Black-and-crimson Oriole. There are lots of trails where we had close Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Ferruginous Partridge and numerous flocks. Other highlights included Malayan Partridge crossing the road in front of us, Chestnut-backed Scimitar-babbler, Brown, Gold-whiskered, Red-throated and Black-browed Barbets, Pygmy Wren-babblers singing out in the open, showy Lesser Shortwings, Blyth's Hawk-eagle and Red-headed Trogon. It was hard to beat our views of Long-tailed, Dusky and Silver-breasted Broadbills, before we had to leave after an exciting visit. Next year we will do Peninsular Malaysia justice and do a full tour to include Taman Negara and look for some classic south-east asian birds.
Cambodia & Malaysia Photo Gallery from our 2012 tour just added. Click here to view.
Zoothera Blog: We are experimenting with a new blog and can hopefully put a little more detailed info on how our tours are progressing, depending on internet connections of course. See www.zootherabirding.blogspot.com/
Chris has just returned from our Ghana Forests tour and as always it was a great 12 day trip with some quality species. The undoubted highlight for everyone was our visit to the Yellow-headed Picathartes roost site. We had incredible views as a bird sat just metres from us on the forest floor in full view and preened for five minutes totally unperturbed by our presence! Other highlights were of course the Bee-Eaters as we enjoyed great views of White-throated, European, Little, Black, Rosy and the cracking Blue-headed. A visit to Ankasa Forest close to the Ivory Coast was a new site and certainly did not disappoint! Here we were treated to a handsome male Rufous-sided Broadbill and the very shy but beautiful Forest Robin both on our first evening. Our second day produced Hartlaub's Duck, the very shy White-bellied Kingfisher and a brief African Finfoot. However, it was the night birding which was most exciting, as we watched the rarely seen Akun Eagle Owl. Kakum canopy walkway was another undoubted highlight as we birded 30 metres above the forest floor enjoying species such as the huge Black-casqued Hornbill, the stunning Yellow-billed Turaco, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Fire-bellied Woodpecker, Sharpe's Apalis and Hairy-breasted Barbet to name but a few! Highlights elsewhere included White-crested Hornbill and the often difficult to find Black Dwarf Hornbill, African Piculet, the gorgeous Buff-throated Sunbird, Red-billed Helmetshrike and of course many greenbuls including Western Bearded and Yellow-bearded Greenbuls. Finally, a visit to the now famed Saumono Lagoon produced a Pectoral Sandpiper and American Golden Plover, now seemingly annual! Ghana is a great country full of birds and friendly people, so why not join Chris in Jan 2013?
Colombia Feb 2012
The Zoothera Tour to Colombia is over and what a fabulous time we had in what can only be described as Colombias best tour! How you say can ours be the best? We saw over 50 endemics and countless near endemics and specialities, but most important when comparing it must be noted that nearly every bird that we saw was seen by the entire group and not just one or two, a feat only achievable with Zoothera. We had fantastic views of so many good birds and we insist you check out our tour report when complete. With the best local Colombian Guide Diego Calderon, faultless logistics, excellent meals and accommodation throughout our standards were second to none. This was Steve & Gina's 5th trip and just look at this small selection of some of the 630 species we saw! Dusky Starfrontlet (again!), Black-backed Thornbill, Lazuline Sabrewing, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Black-thighed Puffleg, Yellow-headed Manakin, infact (10 species of Manakin), fantastic views of Yellow-eared Parrot, Santa Marta Parakeet, Rusty-faced Parrot, Colombian, Chestnut-winged and Rufous-vented Chachalacas, Bogota Rails, Northern Screamer, Tanager Finch, Turquoise Dacnis, Moustached Puffbird, Greyish Piculet, Parker's Antbird, everyone saw Ocellated Tapaculo, Black Inca, Tolima Dove, all 5 Chat-Tyrants, Apical Flycatcher, Yellow-headed Brush-Finch, Black-and-gold Tanager, Grey-and-gold Tanager, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Crested and Sooty Ant-Tanager, 6 Fulvous-dotted Treerunners, Gold-ringed Tanager, Blossomcrown, Masked Saltator, Beautiful Woodpecker, White-mantled Barbet, Red-bellied Grackle, a pair of Scaled Fruiteaters and fantastic views of 10 Antpittas, including Bicolored, Chestnut-naped, Brown-banded, Slate-crowned, Santa Marta, Rusty-breasted and much more. Oh I forgot to mention our stunning close views of a Santa Marta Screech-Owl, and even Colombian Screech-Owl !!! Nobody else gets that one! If you want to visit Colombia and concentrate on the endemics and specialities and seeing them well then no one does it better. We do not race around after shorebirds and waterbirds that are widespread and common just to build a big list! Get it right and see the birds that count with Colombias very best bird guide and all at the best prices you will find for such a high standard tour. See the best birds with Zoothera! Book now for 2013. Click Here
Our Thailand tours have come to a conclusion and proved to be very successful with a grand total of 456 species recorded. Tour reports and birdlist coming soon!
Central Thailand - Tour 1
Nick's 1st of three tours in Thailand is currently under way and proving once again what a superb winter destination this is. Of course 2 Spoon-billedSandpipers are the main reason why we come here so often, but there is much more to see. The waders at Petchaburi are fantastic with a flock of 40+ Nordmann's Greenshanks, Great Knots, Long-toed Stints, White-faced Plover (apparently DNA suggests it is very closely related to Kentish Plover now), Malaysian Plover and more. At Kaeng Krachen the forest was amazing with close views of the usually invisible Scaly-breasted and even Bar-backed Partridges giving crippling views. Add to this Black-and-red Broadbill, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Violet Cuckoo and Crested Jay!, Maroon-breasted Philentoma, Siberian Blue Robin, and much, much more. The tour is currently at Khao Yai where several Siamese Firebacks have been showing along one of the forest trails. Thailand Central Tour - 2012 Gallery
Northern Thailand - Tour 2
The cool mountains of northern Thailand provide a very different avifauna to our Central Thai tours and this year are giving our group amazing views at the various feeding stations that are now a key part of any visit. We had point-blank views of White-tailed Robin and Black-breasted Thrush at one such place, Scaly Thrush at another, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Hill Blue Flycatcher, Slaty-backed Forktail and White-capped Water-redstart at another. But there are bigger birds to find here, so we also saw Dark-sided Thrush and Black-tailed Crake at Doi Inthanon, Hume's Pheasant, Giant Nuthatch, Bay Woodpecker, Spot-breasted and Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbills on Doi Ang Khang and are now at Doi Lang having just seen Jerdon's Bushchat. On 20th January we visited 2 new feeding sites, the first of which held Spectacled Barwing and the second held 2 White-gorgeted Flycatchers and a Himalayan Bluetail. A visit to the Golden Triangle area gave us the remarkable sighting of a drake Baer's Pochard - such a difficult bird to catch up with. There was also a pair of Long-billed Plovers, 200+ Small Pratincoles, Burmese Shrike, and 30 Male Pied Harriers coming in to a roost site.
Thailand - North 2012 Gallery
Central Thailand - Tour 3
Our 3rd tour got off to a great start with 3 Spoon-billed Sandpipers showing very well at Pak Thale and 30+ Nordmann's Greenshanks nearby, along with all the usual waders like Great Knot, Long-toed Stint, Malaysian and White-faced Plovers. This time we also had 2 Black-faced Spoonbills as well, along with 9 Red-necked Phalaropes - it really is a great trip for wader enthusiasts! We are now at Kaeng Krachen where Bar-backed and Scaly-breasted Partridges again showed well, along with Blue-bearded Bee-eater and Golden-crested Myna amongst others on our first day here. The next two days gave us Great Slaty Woodpecker, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Black-thighed Falconet and Blue Pitta around the 3 streams. Higher elevations held Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Collared Babbler, Black-throated Laughingthrush and Black Baza amongst others. Now we are off to Khao Yai, seeing Black-headed Woodpecker, Forest Wagtail, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Limestone Wren-babbler along the way. Our first day at KY gave us Siamese Fireback, Banded Broadbill, a fine male Blue Pitta which was on view for over 10 minutes and Great Eared Nightjar. The next day was full of quality with a pair of Long-tailed Broadbills building a nest beside the road, a couple of Dusky Broadbills and female Banded Kingfisher. See Gallery for more pics.
BirdLife International are doing a tremendous amount of work to help save Spoon-billed Sandpiper. If you would like to help then click on this link - Save the Spoony. Zoothera runs two tours where it is possible to see this species in Thailand and SE China and we are pleased to help in any way to support this cause.
We are delighted to welcome Will Wagstaff to our team of expert guides. Will is a familiar face to many of you that have ever visited the wonderful Scilly Isles where he has lived for the last 30yrs. He has guided tours to many parts of the world and will be our leader for our superb Kenya Classic in Nov 2012. Kenya Tour Nov 2012
Nick has just finished leading our latest Gujarat tour where we succeeded in finding some of India's rarest and range-restricted specialities. This is definitely a good tour for anyone looking to fill in the gaps on their Asia lists with such delights as White-naped Tit, Sykes's Lark, Sykes's Nightjar, Great Indian Bustard, Green Avadavat, Indian and Cream-coloured Coursers, Greater Hoopoe Lark, Crab Plover, Rock Eagle-owl, Forest Owlet, White-bellied Minivet, Sulphur-bellied and Brook's Leaf-warblers and Sind Sparrow amongst others. Mammals were also well represented with Asiatic Lion, Asiatic Wolf, Leopard and Onager. We will return to this superb area of India in 2013 with a totally revised itinerary - so keep watching for further details.... 2011 Photo Gallery 2011 Tour Report
Steve and Gina have just returned from leading our Brazil Atlantic Rainforest tour. With so many people trying just one resort or lodge, this tour offered Serra dos Tucanos, Regua Lodge, Itatiaia and Ubatuba and produced around 100 species more than a single trip to any of these sites with a trip total of 368 species. So keep a look out for our December 2012 tour and if you want to visit Brazil's Atlantic Rainforest then the only way to see its best birds is this trip and at a very competitive price. As for the birds it was simply stunning with Shrike-like Cotinga, Swallow-tailed Cotinga on a nest, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Hooded Berryeater, Sharpbill, Giant Snipe just 2 metres away, Common Potoo on a nest, Black-banded and Tawny-browed Owls at night, Restinga Antwren, Black-billed Scythebill, a superb Russet-winged Spadebill, excellent views of many hummers including Festive and Frilled Coquette's, Plovercrest, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, plenty of Saffron Toucanets, Spot-billed Toucanet, Bare-throated Bellbird, Red-legged Seriema, Three-toed Jacamar, Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, Itatiaia Thistletail, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, in fact far too many birds for this short write-up so you will need to keep a look out for the full trip report coming soon.
A great tour to Kenya has just concluded where over 600 species of birds were recorded including endemics such as Sharpe's Longclaw, Hinde's Babbler and Aberdare Cisticola. Many other superb species were seen such as William's Lark, African Grey Parrot, Somali and Blue-headed Bee-eater, a very confiding White-spotted Flufftail, Great Blue Turaco, perched Crowned Eagle, 15 different types of Barbet, Southern Ground Hornbills, African Broadbill, the newly described Nairobi Pipit, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Turner's Eromomela, Red-throated Tit, Somali Long-billed Crombec, Equatorial Akalat, Papyrus Gonolek, Golden-bellied Starling, Grey-crested Helmet-Shrikes, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Shalow's Wheatear and 7 species of owl including the fabulous Mackinder's Eagle-Owl. We also saw an amazing 56 species of mammal with highlights such as Cheetah, Leopard, Lions, Black and White Rhino, Serval, Elephants, Hippo, and much much more.
Just added - Sulawesi & Halmahera tour Report from September 2011. View tour report as a pdf.
HOT NEWS!! On October 12th 2011, more than 5 flocks and up to 103 Spoon-billed Sandpipers were recorded in high tide roosts in south-east China. That is clearly the highest number for over 20 years and probably half of the global breeding population!!!
It is supposed that Spoon-billed Sandpipers are gathering into big groups prior to their southward migration due to a recent cold wave in Rudong. The mudflats located in Xiao Yangkou, Rudong and north of Yangtze River estuary are some of the most important staging sites for migrating shorebirds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. A maximum of only 24 SBS was counted during autumn 2010!
This area is under pressure from pollution, reclamation and the spread of spartina grass reducing the natural mudflats and even illegal hunting. There is currently no protection or conservation measures in place despite sterling efforts from local birding groups. One of the best ways to help conserve this area and prove to local authorities how essential it is to preserve these estuaries is to actually visit and show that the revenue generated by visiting birders could have a huge positive impact. Zoothera will be monitoring this situation very closely and we are looking forward to our visit there in May next year. Click here to see our exciting tour itinerary to South-east China - SE China 2012.
If you want to check the most recommended books, Cd's,and other equipment for a trip with Zoothera then see our latest addition to the bottom of each tour page and click straight through to NHBS. Or check out our main menu Books and More!
NEW FOR 2013! We've had a number of requests to run our popular Bharatpur tour once again and with the promise of a new water pipeline from the Chambal River finally arriving in the near future, then a decent water level at Bharatpur would be pretty much guaranteed. So this action-packed tour will see us taking a boat ride along the Chambal River for those skimmers, visiting the Taj Mahal of course, a few days at bird-filled Bharatpur & Bund Baretha and then we go to Ranthambhor for Tigers. You can join this tour to our Classic Himalayas adventure for a mouth-watering selection of excellent Himalayan birds, creating an extensive coverage of northern India. We will be based in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas for what will be a relatively easy tour with most of the birding from roads and definitely not too many strenuous hikes! We visit Pangot based at a wonderful secluded lodge, Sat Tal, Nainital and finish up at Okhla Bird Sanctuary in Delhi. And there's also an Elephant ride and another crack at Tiger at Corbett National Park too. Join Nick for this bird-filled ride of a lifetime! India 1 - Bharatpur, Taj & Tigers Tour. India 2 - Classic Himalayas Tour.
Just added our Beidaihe spring migration tour report which you can view by clicking this link. We will be returning to Beidaihe in May 2013. But if you want to experience the magic of migration in China in 2012 and also have the opportunity to see Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Courtois's Laughingthrush, Cabot's Tragopan, Chinese Crested Tern and a whole bunch of other special birds in the coastal estuaries and mountains of Fujian and Jiangxi then take a look at our SE China tour in May.
Sulawesi & Halmahera - September 2011
Well our first visit to these amazing islands turned out to be a resounding success with all of our major target birds seen. And most if not all were seen incredibly well, offering excellent photographic opportunities. It is probably one of the toughest birding tours with very early starts and plenty of late finishes, but the rewards definitely warrant the extra effort. Habitats were varied from cool montane hill forest, lowland rainforest and subtropical forests, to mangroves and volcanic sandy beaches! We explored all the best birding sites by a variety of transport, with 5 internal flights, several boat trips, a ferry, rafts and from the back of motorbikes! Amongst the 272 species seen, 107 of them were endemics and highlights are too numerous to mention. But, of course, watching a lek of Wallace's Standardwing wins the prize for bird of the tour and we were lucky as they performed for over an hour. Other star birds included great views of Moluccan Scrubfowl visiting its secluded nesting beach at midnight, Maleo up a tree, 14 species of kingfisher including the elusive Scaly, Hylocitrea, Moluccan Owlet-nightjar, Diabolical Nightjar, this beautiful Purple-bearded Bee-eater, numerous parrots, White Cockatoo, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Javan Plover, Sulawesi Ground-dove, Sulawesi Crested Myna, and many others!
Our 2012 tour is already full, but we will post details of the 2013 tour very soon. Why not check out the Sulawesi & Halmahera photo gallery for a taster of what you could see? View trip report.
A quick update on whats going on with Zoothera. Well Nick is back and once he gets his breath back from this fabulous tour I'm sure he will update this further. The trip racked up 107 endemics, 14 species of kingfisher, 25 pigeons & doves, 15 parrots, 6 owls, 5 nightjars, 1 owlet-nightjar and superb views of displaying Wallace's Standardwing. If you want to get on a future tour to this endemic heaven then advance bookings will be required! Its just too popular!
Sulawesi & Halmahera 2011 Gallery .
Steve & Gina have just finished their trip to the Isles of Scilly where everyone was highly delighted with the luxury house that we have exclusive use of. As for the birds we got fantastic views of Pallid Harrier, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper and Northern Waterthrush, 4 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, 3 or 4 Pectoral Sandpipers, 2 Short-toed Larks, Woodchat Shrike, 4 Wrynecks, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard and Firecrest. If you want the best luxury accommodation at less than half the cost of some other companies then check out our tour - its unbeatable! Just £495 and we are already taking bookings for next year.
Also keep checking as Western Mexico Endemic tour for March 2013 just about to be added plus Ecuador in July already added.
ZOOTHERA at the 2011 British Birdwatching Fair was an overwhelming success, and we thank all of our loyal supporters and friends who came along to see us. More than that we were so inundated with enquiries and bookings that we need to stress that if your were interested in a tour then you should secure your place as quickly as possible with a deposit. Many people took our advice and compared our tour prices with other companies before deciding ZOOTHERA offered the best value tours. The results speak for themselves with people rushing back to book tours, saving themselves hundreds and in some cases thousands of pounds! It appears that our decision to offer smaller group sizes combined with excellent tour prices and high quality tour logistics is working!
I thank you all - Nick and the Team
Currently taking bookings for our new Indonesia tour to the Lesser Sundas in July 2013 - includes visits to the endemic-rich islands of Timor, Sumba and Flores, as well as Komodo Island for the dragons and Bali for the extremely rare Bali Starling. Early booking advised as only 6 vacancies available. Click here for tour itinerary.
NEW! Due to an overwhelming demand we have added additional dates for our Central Thailand (Spoonie tour) - 22nd - 31st January 2012
Sichuan - June 2011
The mountainous province of Sichuan not only provides the most breath-taking scenery in Asia, but also some of the most sought-after and spectacular birds from this fabulous continent. Beginning at Wawu Shan our first morning here provided what was undoubtedly THEhighlight of the tour when a male Temminck's Tragopan flew down from the hillside and landed on the road right in front of us. It remained in view for nearly ten minutes - if only we had a decent camera with us! A cable car took us up to the summit and we found Sichuan Leaf-warbler, Sichuan Treecreeper, Great, Three-toed, Brown and Fulvous Parrotbills amongst an assortment of other species. A very confiding Spotted Bush-warbler was also much appreciated here. The lower slopes were home to Golden Parrotbill, Emei and Klossi's Leaf-warblers, Marten's and Alstrom's Warblers, Chinese Hwamei, Emei Shan Liocichla, Spotted, Buffy and Elliot's Laughingthrushes and much more. A fine male Lady Amherst's Pheasant feeding beside the road provided a fitting finale to some excellent birding here. Next up was Balang Shan whose mountainous landscape gave us groups of Snow Partridge, White Eared Pheasant, Grandala, Collared Grosbeak, White-tailed Rubythroat, Red-fronted Rosefinch, Brandt's Mountain-finch, and our first White-throated Redstart. Several stunning Firethroats were found at lower elevations and we had amazingly close views of them, along with Golden Pheasant, Barred and Giant Laughingthrushes and Grey-hooded Fulvetta. At Mengbi Shan a pair of rare Sichuan Jays performed admirably, groups of Verreaux's Monal-partridges and Blood Pheasants gave nice looks, and a stunning Crested Tit-warbler was also seen. A 'new' area also produced a couple of surprising finds in the shape of Black-browed Tit and Rusty-capped Fulvetta. A welcome change of scenery was provided by the Tibetan Plateau where Black-necked Cranes, Hume's Groundpeckers, hulking Tibetan Larks, and both Rufous-necked and White-rumped Snowfinches were the highlights. With Blue Eared Pheasant, Severtzov's Grouse, Chinese Fulvetta, White-browed Tit and White-browed Tit-warbler all showing well we finished our birding in spectacular Sichuan off in fine style.
2011 Photo Gallery. 2011 Tour Report. 2012 Tour itinerary.
Check these out: Ecuador, Brazil, Gujarat & Nepal as these are all filling up for 2011.
Guyana - Just added for November 2012 - Click Here!
Colombia - February 2012 trip just added with small group size and additional days offers extremely good value. Click Here!
Borneo - February 2012 trip added. Click here!
Eaglenest - April/May 2012. The return of our popular Himalayan tour to the hotspot of Eaglenest in Arunachal Pradesh, India. We've been visiting here longer than any other UK tour company and have THE best guide to find us the specialities. Click here!
Beidaihe Spring Migration - May 2011
Beidaihe remains THE place to see a mouth-watering selection of Sibes and this year's tour proved no exception. Our tally of 235 species contains many of the most wanted Asian vagrants that occasionally turn up in the Autumn in Europe. In fact it reads like a 'Who's Who' of desirable ticks with Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Pacific Swift, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous-tailed and Siberian Blue Robins, Mugimaki and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, White's, Dusky and Siberian Thrushes, Lanceolated, Pallas's Grasshopper and Eastern Crowned Warblers, Pallas's Reed, Yellow-browed and Black-faced Buntings. A sprinkling of stardust came with Schrenk's Bittern, Pied Harrier, Pere David's Laughingthrush, Japanese Waxwing, Blunt-winged Warbler, Korean and Siberian Bush-warblers, Manchurian Reed-warbler, Chinese Leaf-warbler, Chinese Nuthatch and Ibisbill. We visited the Great Wall, Old Peak and had superb birding at Magic & Big Woods. Still the best value out there!
Uganda 2011 tour report added. 393 species recorded, as well as Leopard, Lion, Hippo, Elephant and Zebra. And of course Chimpanzee and Mountain Gorilla. Click here.
Cambodia & Malaysia February 2011 tour report added. This unique tour visited Fraser's Hill in Malaysia and the best birding sites in Cambodia. Click here.
Thailand Janaury 2011 tour report added. Another successful tour to this south-east Asian hotspot. Spoon-billed Sandpiper & Gurney's Pitta both seen well. Click here.
India - Gujarat November/December 2010 tour report added. An amazing rollercoaster of a ride across western India in search of rare birds and mammals.
The itinerary also includes a site for Forest Owlet. Click here.
Sri Lanka - March/April 2011
Nick's latest tour to the tropical paradise island of Sri Lanka began with an 'endemics' focussed short-break visiting Kithulgala and the magnificent rainforest at Sinharaja before venturing to the highlands of Horton Plains via a safari at Udawalawe. An extension to the lowlands and coast of Yala & Bundala was followed by a whale-watching pelagic out of Mirissa. Highlights were seeing all of the endemics including repeated views of the usually very tricky Sri Lanka Spurfowl, a feeding Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush, walk-away views of Green-billed Coucal, Sri Lanka Whistling-thrush, Serendib Scops-owl, two pairs of Sri Lanka Frogmouths at their day roosts, Asian Elephants and so much more. The extension was a great success with a sighting of a Leopard asleep in a large tree at Yala, Broad-billed and Terek Sandpipers amongst a multitude of other of waders at Bundala, and then an amazingly successful pelagic. No less than 6 Blue Whales were seen at very close range, a group of 20+ Sperm Whales gave equally stunning views, a huge pod of Spinner Dolphins bow-riding our boat and an uncharacteristically large number of seabirds were found. Hundreds of Bridled Terns, Brown Noddy and a few Flesh-footed Shearwaters were spotted, plus a couple of unidentified smaller shearwaters were seen as we sped by a few fishing trawlers. If only we could have stopped there would have undoubtedly been a few surprises!
We will return to Sri Lanka in 2012 so please check the website – details coming soon.
Check out our photo gallery of this tour by clicking this link: Sri Lanka Photo Gallery 2011
Cambodia and Malaysia - February 2011
Nick and his group recorded 378 species on what turned out to be a fascinating and bird-filled tour. Beginning with a few days at Fraser’s Hill, one of the most famous birding hotspots in south-east Asia, it provided us with a good range of montane and local specialities such as Black-and-crimson Oriole, Mountain Fulvetta, Mountain Leaf-warbler, Chestnut-capped, Malayan & Black Laughingthrushes, and that was on our first morning! Several fruiting trees attracted Black-browed, Brown, Gold-whiskered & Fire-tufted Barbets. Other highlights included Blue Nuthatch, Crimson-winged and Checker-throated Woodpeckers, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Long-tailed Broadbill, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Chestnut-backed Scimitar-babbler, Red-throated Barbet and Tiger Shrike. A quick late afternoon visit to Kuala Selangor just along the coast from Kuala Lumpur added to our woodpecker list (which would reach 21 species by the end of our tour), with good views of Laced and Sunda Pygmy Woodpeckers. We then flew into Siem Reap in Cambodia and paid a visit to the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat before taking a day long boat ride into the Tonle Sap Great Lake, where our search for Milky Stork proved fruitful. Indeed the very close views of the multitude of species residing here including 20+ Yellow Bitterns, Spot-billed Pelicans and Grey-headed Fish-eagle. Moving on to Ang Trapaeng Thmor we found Slaty-breasted Rails and Ruddy-breasted Crakes walking along the road, 21 Lanceolated Warblers, Pied Harrier and Sarus Crane. The next day a couple of Bengal Floricans gave superb views before we arrived amidst the dry Dipterocarp forest at Tmatboey. The exceedingly rare Giant and White-shouldered Ibis were both seen well, and we also had White-rumped Falcon, Chinese Francolin, numerous Great Slaty and Black-headed Woodpeckers, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Spotted Wood-owl, Neglected Nuthatch, and flocks of White-shouldered Starlings. Leaving here we arrived at the Kompong Thom grasslands in the late afternoon and met with outstanding luck when we were able to photograph the poorly-known Manchurian Reed-warbler, and also had a close view of a Pallas’s Grasshopper (Rusty-rumped) Warbler. Another visit the following morning produced hundreds of Red-throated Pipits, flocks of Yellow-breasted Buntings, and Oriental Pratincoles proved to be common. And then we arrived at the fantastic forests of Seima where we enjoyed some of the best birding of the entire tour. An unbelievable encounter with a dust-bathing Germain’s Peacock-pheasant was the undoubted highlight, although a pair of Green Peafowl feeding out in the open at dusk was also pretty good! A fine supporting cast included Golden-crested Myna, Red-vented Barbet, Collared Falconet, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Green-eared Barbet, Banded Kingfisher, Banded Broadbill, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Great-eared Nighjar, Thick-billed Warbler, and a mixed flock of Brown-backed and Silver-backed Needletails swooping down to drink water from a roadside pool was also nice. There was also Asiatic Golden Weaver and Black Baza seen before we ended up at Kratie. We finished up in fine style with a boat ride on the Mekong River where Mekong Wagtail and numerous and confiding Irrawaddy River Dolphins were easily found.
I think we all left this wonderful country full of happy memories and long birdlists. But more importantly everyone was very impressed with the conservation efforts of the Sam Vaesna Centre and their enthusiasm for aiding the local villagers to work towards sustainable eco-tourism. Did you know that funds raised by birders visiting Tmatboey village have actually paid for the entire newly built school? And their efforts are ongoing to help improve living conditions, saving the forests and so helping to conserve some very special birds. Now isn’t that enough reason to visit? We shall be returning to Cambodia in February 2012 – details coming soon.
2012 tour itinerary.
2011 Tour Report Click Here.
Check out our photo gallery of this tour by clicking this link. Cambodia photo gallery 2011.