Weird and wonderful birding

When you embark on birding tours all over the world you see all kinds of birds and being avid birders, all the sightings are wonderful and exciting.

But there are a few that stands out for not only being wonderful, it’s also exhilarating, no matter how many times you see it.  For us, one such bird is the legendary Shoebill.

The Shoebill will mesmerize you, it is just so differently beautiful and unique…

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Why you should put birding in Tanzania on your wishlist…


Did you know that Tanzania has one of the largest species lists of any African country?

Of the almost 1,100, over 800 species are resident and nearly 200 are regular migrants. 21 Species are endemic to Tanzania and a further 43 species are near-endemic. Tanzania’s 80 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) cover a total of more than 167,000 km2 or about 18% of the land area, and the country also boasts 16 national parks and wildlife reserves.  In fact, an incredible 38% of Tanzania’s land is protected in parks and reserves! 

Just look at the amazing birds…

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Except for the extraordinary birding opportunities Tanzania offers that classic “Out of Africa” landscapes, fantastic wildlife (including Big Five), geological wonders, cultural richness and amazing Afro-Arab-Indian cuisine.

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Oh, the excitement of seeing the Pel’s Fishing Owl!

Pel's Fishing Owl with Nature Travel Birding

There are very few birds that bring more excitement when spotted by a birder for the first time than the Pel’s Fishing Owl.

Anticipation fills the air as we quietly approach a possible roosting spot. Slowly….we are trying our best not to step on any dry leaves or twigs that might alarm the birds.

They are a beautiful ginger-colour with a streaked or spotted breast. These owls are large, between 60 and 64cm tall, weighing around 2.4kg.  And their striking, huge black eyes stare down at you with a look of annoyance when you have found them at their day-time roost. 

The Pel’s Fishing Owl is always a highlight and big attraction on our Nature Travel Birding tours in the Caprivi and Botswana. Read more about our Namibia, Botswana & Zambia Birding Tour, we’d love for you to join us on the next one.

Sagittarius serpentarius: bird “of snakes”

This unmistakable, unique, long-legged, mostly ground-dwelling raptor with possibly the coolest scientific name (Sagittarius serpentarius, meaning “of snakes) was announced recently as Birdlife South Africa’s Bird of the Year for 2019.

It is quite a special sight to see one of these uncommon birds purposefully striding in the open grassland savannas of Africa, overpowering and eating anything from insects, lizards, small mammals, birds and of course snakes. Interestingly, despite its fearsome snake-killing reputation, snakes actually don’t make up a large proportion of the Secretarybird’s diet.

Check out this pair of stunning Secretarybirds recently seen by one of our guides and his clients while on a South African birding tour.

To experience once-in-a-lifetime sightings like these, join us on our expert-guided birding tours.  One of our best trips on which to see the Secretarybird is the Best of the East birding tour in South Africa. For more information on this or any of our birding trips get in touch at

The beauty of this Old World Vulture

Hooded Vulture

The Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) is an Old World vulture in the order Accipitriformes. It is the only member of the genus Necrosyrtes and is native to sub-Saharan Africa.

Birding in Namibia Botswana and Zambia

It is a scruffy-looking, small vulture with fairly uniform dark brown plumage, a long thin bill, bare crown, face and fore-neck, and a downy nape and hind-neck. It has broad wings for soaring and short tail feathers. It is a small species compared to most vultures.

Their preferred habitat is mainly open woodland and savanna, also forest edges; it is generally absent from desert and dense forest, except where it enters secondary forest, clearings, settlements and urban areas.

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals (but unable to compete with larger species, usually taking scraps) and waste which it finds by soaring over savannah and around human habitation, including waste tips and abattoirs. It uses its relatively fine bill to pick meat from between bones after larger species have left, and also uses it to extract insects from soil and dung.  It occasionally even feeds on the fruits of oil palms (Elaeis guineensis).

Unfortunately, the species has been uplisted from its previous IUCN status of endangered to critically endangered, since the species is going through a very steep decline in population, owing to various factors including poisoning, hunting, habitat loss and degradation of habitat. The global population is currently estimated at no more than 200 000 individuals.

To see this critically endangered vulture before it is too late, join us on one of our Nature Travel Birding safaris in South Africa soon!


Seeing the Hartlaub’s Spurfowl for the first time

Hartlaub's-Spurfowl with Nature Travel Birding

There are few more evocative sounds in the wilds of Namibia than the kor-rack..keerya..keerya..kew of the elusive, boulder-loving Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. This beautiful, monotypic, near-endemic gamebird is one of Namibia’s top targets for listers from all over the world, and not easy to see! We just had to share one of our client’s experiences with you:

“Seeing the Hartlaub’s Spurfowl for the first time is a magical experience and a privilege not easily described in words. My first sighting of a Hartlaub’s Spurfowl was such an experience and something I will never forget!

We set off for a late afternoon walk at Erongo Wildnerness Lodge and searched the boulders surrounding the lodge for any movement, listening for any telltale calls of the spurfowl. Just before sunset, we spotted some movement on a big boulder on one of the walking trails and then heard the unmistakable call of the Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. What a privilege to see 3 of these birds, one male and two females. They entertained us with loud calling and fighting until it was too dark to see them any more and we had to return to the lodge.”

Hartlaub's-Spurfowl with Nature Travel Birding

Certainly one of the best experiences on our Namibia Endemics tour and a such a special sighting!

Seeing the near-endemic Rockrunner


Surely the highlights of any birding tour are to see the true endemic and near=endemic birds in your birding destination.  Well, Namibia has a wonderful bird list of almost 700 species, with one true endemic and 15 near-endemics, along with many other spectacular species.   A lot of the Namibian endemics and other specials can be found quite close to the capital of this vast country.

One of those being the Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius.

We have been fortunate to see the striking terrestrial babbler-like Rockrunner on several of our tours and again so on our latest.

And what a beautiful bird it is with the chest peppered black and white, heavily streaked dark back, with tawny flanks and rump, and a rufous belly. The face is similarly richly striped and patterned.

Watching it hopping or flying from boulder to boulder is mesmerizing.  This behaviour aids in identification together with the distinctive Rockrunner’s song, a rich, robin-like warbling song.

You can join us to find the Rockrunner in Namibia on one of our next birding tours.  Read more on the itineraries of our Namibia Endemics Birding tour or the Short Namibia Endemics tour to see what to expect on our personalised birding tours and what other wonderful birds we will find.  Get in touch at









Namibia Endemics

The dance of the Secretarybirds…

Is this love or hate? Check out this pair of stunning Secretarybirds recently seen by one of our guides and his clients while on a South African birding tour.

These raptors, seemingly a mix between an eagle and a crane, are endemic to Africa and famous for their ability to kill and eat venomous snakes.

To experience once-in-a-lifetime sightings like these, join us on our expert-guided birding tours in Africa.

One of our best trips on which to see the Secretarybird is the 15 day South Africa tour. For more information on this or any of our birding trips get in touch at