Nature Travel Birding offers private, customized birding tours that will also suit birding enthusiasts travelling with their families.
We understand that birders who travel with a family may need an option where everyone is included in the planning of the tour itinerary.
With our tailormade birding options we can combine birding with wildlife and other activities to accommodate the whole family; making it possible for you to go birding more often.
BirdLife South Africa recently announced that the Cape Rockjumper Chaetops frenatus is the Bird of the Year for 2021. We here at Nature Travel Birding can’t think of a more fitting candidate!
Totally restricted to the fragile fynbos biome of southwestern South Africa, the strikingly beautiful Cape Rockjumper is not only a South African endemic, but its genera and family (it has a sister species, the Drakensberg Rockjumper) are also endemic to the country.
The thrush-like or babbler-like, ground-dwelling Cape Rockjumper gets its name from its habit of hopping from boulder to boulder with incredible agility in its natural rock-strewn mountain fynbos habitat. The Latin frenatus refers to the “bridled” or black-and-white head pattern.
It forages on the ground, probing with its bill, eating mainly invertebrates (caterpillars, beetles, flies and worms), but also small lizards and amphibians. Usually there is pair in an area, but they can also occur in small family groups. Although fairly easy to spot when it sits on an exposed boulder, they can sometimes be rather secretive. The easiest way to locate it is by its piercing , piping pee-peepee-pee-pee-pee song.
The Cape Rockjumper breeds as a monogamous pair in a co-operative manner, sometimes with helpers. The nest is built by both sexes and consists of an untidy bowl of grasses, twigs, lichen, animal fur and seeds. It is usually placed on the ground at the base of a rock. Usually 2 eggs are laid and after 3 weeks the chicks hatch. They stay on the nest for a further 3 weeks and are helped along by adults for up to a month afterwards.
Currently the Cape Rockjumper is considered as Near Threatened on the IUCN RedList 2017, with the species’ main threats being habitat destruction, climate change, invasive vegetation species and diseases. Some authorities actually believe the species will soon be upgraded to the even more serious Vulnerable category.
In a media release, BirdLife said the following, “During 2021, BirdLife South Africa will create awareness about the Cape Rockjumper through the production of an informative poster, the development of learning resources for schools that are free to download from the BirdLife South Africa website (www.birdlife.org.za), articles in African Birdlife magazine, social media posts, presentations to interested groups, and the sale of merchandise.”
We honour our feathered friends on this holiday called Bird Day in the United States. Oil City, Pennsylvania Superintendent of Schools, Charles Babcock, established the first such holiday in 1894, an incredible 125 years ago. This was the first holiday in the United States dedicated to the celebration of birds!
Babcock founded the day, observed annually on May 4th, to advance bird conservation as a moral value.
Bird Day is an annual holiday with half a million dedicated followers who celebrate through birdwatching, studying birds, and other bird-related activities.
According to the newspaper, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, adoption of injured or abandoned birds is a particularly important Bird Day activity. Many bird enthusiasts celebrate by educating future bird owners about the special issues involved with taking care of birds.
The Avian Welfare Coalition’s Bird Day very important campaign aims to improve the welfare of parrots and other exotic birds by discouraging their purchase as pets. Encouraging the support of wild bird habitat conservation programs and captive bird rescue organizations and sanctuaries also forms part of this campaign.
Use the hashtag #BirdDay to further these incredibly important messages.
We here at Nature Travel Birding love our avian friends. We fully support any program that aims to further the hobby amongst people and aims to encourage habitat preservation and educating people about the plight of these vitally important creatures.
Go to www.naturetravelbirding.com to see what we are all about!
“It’s practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry.” Joe Moore
Penguins are some of the most adorable and lovable creatures on the planet. World Penguin Day is an educative initiative that encourages people to learn more about penguins, their environment, and how important they are to the ecosystem.
Here are some fun penguin facts:
• They live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galapagos Penguin, found north of the equator.
• Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall.
• The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.
• A penguin’s striking colouring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean, while from below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.
• Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins moult all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic moult.
• All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.
• The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them “strange geese.”)
World Penguin Day takes place during the annual northern migration of Adelie Penguins, a species of penguin that is native to Antarctica. The Adelie Penguins migrate north to have better access to food during the winter months and then during the summer, return to the coastal beaches on Antarctica to build their nests. The holiday was created at McMurdo Station, an American research center on Ross Island in Antarctica. Researchers noticed that the Adelie Penguins began this migration specifically on this day, and they created this holiday as a way to pass the time and give social awareness to these fascinating creatures.
While this holiday takes place during this specific species’ migration, this holiday actually celebrates all the penguins in the world and raises awareness for their survival plight. Many of these penguins are sensitive to the effects of climate change, and as a result, many are having to migrate further to find their food, decreasing the population of these penguins as a result.
Out of the total 17 species that live in the world, 11 of them have been classified as endangered or vulnerable, according to the WWF. They spend most of their lives out at sea, so this holiday encourages people to work towards protecting the waters, as much of the time human activities such as pollution and the burning of fossil fuels directly impact their already fragile environment.
There are many things that you can do to lend a helping hand on World Penguin Day. Read up about the different species of penguins in the world and enrich your knowledge of them. Go crazy and dress in penguin colours!
Donate to a non-profit organization that you trust such as the WWF or the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. Share this holiday on your favourite social media websites using the hashtag #WorldPenguinDay and let everyone know what day it is today.
We here at the Nature Travel group fully support this initiative to highlight the plight of these cool birds.
Today we here at Nature Travel Birding celebrate the birthday of one of the world’s most famous ornithologists, Coenraad Temminck.
He was born on 31 March 1778 in Amsterdam in the then Dutch Republic. He became interested in birds and nature from an early age. From his father, Jacob Temminck, who was treasurer of the Dutch East India Company with links to numerous travellers and collectors, he inherited a large collection of bird specimens. He also had an aviary with living birds. His father was a good friend of another very famous ornithologist, Francois Levaillant, who also guided Coenraad later in his life.
Temminck was the first director of the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden from 1820 until his death. In 1831, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1836 he became member of the Royal Institute, predecessor of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Temminck’s Manuel d’ornithologie, ou Tableau systématique des oiseaux qui se trouvent en Europe (1815) was the standard work on European birds for many years. He was also the author of Histoire naturelle générale des Pigeons et des Gallinacées (1813–1817), Nouveau Recueil de Planches coloriées d’Oiseaux (1820–1839), and contributed to the mammalian sections of Philipp Franz von Siebold’s Fauna japonica (1844–1850).
He gained his contemporary’s respect thanks to the description of many new species and to his detailed monographs on birds. He also published a small number of works on biogeography describing the fauna of the Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia and Japan. These works are remarkable for two reasons. First, in them Temminck accurately described the species composition of poorly explored regions, like the Sunda Islands and Japan. Secondly, he formulated a new law on the geographical distribution of animals around the globe, based on the parallels he observed between the fauna from Europe, Asia and Japan. The underlying ideas that lead Temminck to this law were the type-concept, which he understood as the ideal morphological plan behind animal form, the unchanging character of the species and a strong belief in nature’s divine design.
Temminck died on 30 January 1858, at the age of 79, in Leiden, Netherlands.
A large number of animals were named for Temminck in the 19th century. Among those still in use are 11 species of fish and sharks, 2 reptiles, 14 different mammals and 20 species of birds.
Some of the bird species named after him are highly sought after and can be seen on many of our Nature Travel Birding tours across the globe. This includes, amongst many others, the globally threatened Temminck’s Tragopan of northeast India, the dainty Temminck’s Courser of sub-Saharan Africa, the mouse-like Temminck’s Stint that breeds in the Arctic north of Europe and Asia, and the highly social Temminck’s Hornbill, endemic to Sulawesi, Indonesia.
The diminutive House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is perhaps one of the earliest birds you can remember from your childhood. Their nests dotted almost every house in the neighbourhood as well as public places like parking lots, bus bays and railway stations, where they lived in colonies and survived on food grains and tiny worms. Many bird watchers and ornithologists recall with fondness how the House Sparrow gave flight to their passion for observing birds. The association between humans and the House Sparrow dates back to several centuries and no other bird has been associated with humans on a daily basis like the House Sparrow. It is a bird that evokes fond memories and has thus found mention in folklore and songs from time immemorial.
World Sparrow Day is a day designated to raise awareness of the House Sparrow and other birds common to urban environments, and of threats to their populations, and has been observed on 20 March each year since 2010. The population of House Sparrow is believed to be declining for various reasons ranging from the destruction of its habitat to lack of insect food for the young and even the increasing microwave pollution from mobile phone towers.
World Sparrow Day is an international initiative by the Nature Forever Society of India in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and numerous other national and international organisations across the world. The Nature Forever Society was started by Mohammed Dilawar, an Indian conservationist who started his work helping the House Sparrow in Nashik, and who was named one of the “Heroes of the Environment” for 2008 by Time magazine for his efforts.
The idea of marking World Sparrow Day came up during an informal discussion at the Nature Forever Society’s office. The idea was to earmark a day for the House Sparrow to convey the message of conservation of the House Sparrow and other common birds and also mark a day of celebration to appreciate the beauty of the common biodiversity which is taken so much for granted.
The first World Sparrow Day was celebrated in 2010 in different parts of the world. The day was celebrated by carrying out different various kinds of activities and events like art competitions, awareness campaigns, and sparrow processions as well as interactions with media.
World Sparrow Day also has a broader vision to provide a platform where people who are working on the conservation of the House Sparrow and other common birds can network, collaborate and exchange conservation ideas which will lead to better science and improved results. It aims to provide a meeting ground for people from different parts of the world to come together and form a force that can play an important role in advocacy and in spreading the awareness on the need of conserving common biodiversity or species of lower conservation status.
We here at Nature Travel Birding love all birds, including the common ones like the House Sparrow. To see it and its common cousins, but also many more exotic and colourful ones, join us on a tailor-made private and small group birding tour to one of the many birding destinations that we offer.
The annual celebration of a bird whose circling overhead was a signal to the cowboys of old that a once living creature had met its demise seems strange to say the least. Yet, Buzzard Day is circled on the calendars of many dedicated Ohio residents who, once a year, eagerly scan the skies with binoculars watching for its return. For them this graceful, winged creature with its bald head and red beak signals, not death, but rebirth.
The mid-March buzzard celebration is led by an ‘Official Buzzard Spotter’ on the Hinckley Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks in Ohio in the United States of America. A large number of enthusiasts converge on Buzzard Roost at around 6:30am in anticipation of the bird’s return. Those for whom this is beyond the call of duty can still participate in the joyous celebrations by attending Buzzard Sunday for festive family fun that celebrates the return of this flying precursor to spring.
The legend of the annual return of the Buzzards (Turkey Vultures) to Buzzard Roost goes back nearly a century in Hinckley history. Legend has it that they were first attracted by the tons of butchering refuse and unwanted game left behind in the great Hinckley Hunt of 1818, but additional historical research among the records of the Sylvester Library of Medina uncovered an old manuscript by William Coggswell, proving that these vultures had made their home on Hinckley Ridge long before the white men settled west of the Cuyahoga River.
In 1957 a reporter from the Cleveland Press became interested in a claim by Metroparks Ranger Walter Nawalaniec. He told the reporter that he had personally observed the buzzards arrival in Hinckley each March 15 for the past six years and that his predecessor, the late Charlie Willard had kept a personal log of their arrival for the past 23 years. The reporter’s interest was aroused. He wrote in the February 15, 1957 issue of a Cleveland paper that longtime legend of the Hinckley Buzzards. He further predicted their return in exactly one month – March 15.
Excitement mounted as the month progressed. Naturalists, ornithologists and reporters repeated and embellished the original story and suspense mounted. March 15 arrived and so did the buzzards – who arrived right on schedule at 2 PM that day, a Friday. The news travelled fast and the weekend brought throngs of sightseers from all over Ohio and neighbouring states.
The town was unprepared for the 9,000 plus visitors that flocked there that year but by 1958 plans had been made to welcome the interested visitors.
The town proclaimed the first Sunday after March 15 as Buzzard Sunday. Forty-plus years later thousands of visitors continue to attend the pancake and sausage breakfast, hosted by the Hinckley Chamber of Commerce, at Hinckley Elementary School. Organizations from the town are invited to help and provide exhibits and information about their activities. Crafters and artists fill the classrooms with their wares. Many town volunteers assist in the Chamber with this annual breakfast.
The Cleveland Metroparks welcome visitors yearly on March 15 to the Buzzard Roost in Hinckley Reservation. With a traditional “Buzzard Spotter” the first buzzard’s time of arrival is clocked. The event is hailed as a sign of spring in the Midwest by all who attend.