Aiming to see all the world’s bird families is a key priority and goal of many world birders. It entails visiting some of the world’s most remote and fascinating regions and experiencing firsthand the massive diversity that the avian world boasts. This task has become more challenging as taxonomists finetune their techniques and determine which groups of birds actually constitute their own families. The list of families has grown from the 150’s when the first birder to achieve this formidable goal (Peter Kaestner) ticked all the families, to the 230 that the International Ornithological Congress bird list committee now accept. One of these “new” families is the flufftails (Sarothruridae), which previously resided with the Rallids.
Nine species of these secretive birds haunt the swamps, forests and moist grasslands of Africa and Madagascar. Many of them call nocturnally and have achieved almost mythical status for being close to impossible to observe! The White-spotted Flufftail occurs throughout the central and west African rainforest zone and can be seen from Kakamega in Kenya westwards to the Freetown Peninsula in Sierra Leone and is regularly observed on all the Rockjumper tours that visit these great rainforests. This superb photo of this special bird was taken near Kibale Forest in Uganda by John Carlyon.