A SELECTION OF SOME OF OUR 2015 & 2016 SCHEDULED TOURS | INTRODUCING OUR LUXURY SAFARI COMPANIES | CONSERVATION
Dear Friends of Rockjumper,
Welcome to our September Newsletter. In this edition we discuss Rockjumper’s latest staff news, our expanding selection of South American tours, reports from a selection of recent tours and top 10 recent sightings. We also unveil our new checklist partnership with iGoTerra – the global leaders in this regard, and a selection of some of our upcoming scheduled tours. Lastly, we introduce our two new luxury safari companies and focus on our most recent conservation efforts. For all this and more, read on…
We are also pleased to announce that we have finalized our 2016 Tour Calendar, which is brimming with over 250 scheduled birding tours to over 100 destinations worldwide. Details of dates, rates, leaders and group sizes are included in this schedule, as well as our 2017 tour dates and an indication of which tours we are planning to offer in 2018. Click here to download.
We have welcomed two tour leaders to our South American team recently as well as another member to our office team. Under this section we would like to introduce these new staff members as well as take the opportunity to congratulate some of our staff on important events in their lives.
Marius’ award winning photograph
We would like to congratulate our sister company’s CEO, Marius Coetzee (from ORYX Photographic Expeditions), who was announced overall winner of the Nature’s Best Photography Africa Award under the prestigious African Culture Category with his image titled ‘The Karo’.
Nature’s Best Photography originated in the United States with ambitious goals to celebrate the beauty and diversity of nature through the art of photography. A robust awards program evolved from this mission to become one of the most highly-respected nature photography competitions in the world.
Nature’s Best Photography Africa is a new extension of this globally recognized program with ambitious plans to become the premier African-focused photographic competition of today, bringing special attention to the spectacular diversity of Africa’s flora and fauna.
The Omo Valley is located in far southern Ethiopia – a raw region that is a bit edgy and full of photographic opportunities. The Karo are an ethnic tribe living on the east bank of the Omo River who practice flood retreat cultivation. To prepare for ceremonies, many tribes in the Omo Valley paint their bodies and faces with white chalk. The Karo include decorative facemasks and clay hair buns adorned with feathers in their ceremonies. Determined to capture a unique shot of the tribe’s women, after ensuring that the ladies understood what Marius wanted to attempt through the use of a translator, he created this winning shot of the fascinating Karo people.
Kim Swinstead and Rich Lindie
After searching the world over for the ultimate bird, tour leader Rich Lindie has finally laid eyes on ‘the one’! Only he needn’t have travelled the globe to find her.
His, now, fiancée Kim hails from South Africa and it was here in Rockjumper’s hometown (Pietermaritzburg) where the two first met. Indeed, a very fitting location for a pair who share the utmost passion for everything African and outdoors.
Wanting to continue the trend, Rich was soon searching Tanzania for the perfect stone and found himself a winner in a beautifully set Tanzanite ring, which he gave to Kim in the Black River Gorges in Mauritius, earlier this year. The rest is history, as they say, while these days, you’ll find the two of them exploring the African bush together or manning a Rockjumper post from somewhere in the world. That’s right, Kim also works for Rockjumper, in our support department! We wish them all the best in their lives ahead, with many new birds and a lifelong list of happiness!
Kim Swinstead has an unequaled love for travel, literature and just about all things outdoors which have taken her to all corners of the globe, as well as obtaining a Master’s degree in English. Introduced to the world of birding by tour leader Rich Lindie, Kim now approaches her travelling days and love of the outdoors with renewed interest as she is now an avid birder and budding photographer.Kim has joined Rockjumper as an invaluable member of the support team where she enjoys getting to know the clients. She is also thrilled to add to her birding skills which grow from strength to strength.
Our South American tour department has been rapidly growing over the past few years as Rockjumper focusses on this bird rich region. We have recently recruited two of South America’s most highly regarded tour leaders. Their massive experience and expertise in the Neotropics has allowed us to significantly expand the range and diversity of our tours and at the same time, keep our costs down due to our tour leaders being based in the region.
Originally from Hampshire in the UK Trevor Ellery spent time living and birding in Israel and Ecuador before settling in Colombia in 2008. Trevor has led numerous birding trips across Colombia and has also taken part in various expeditions to its remotest corners whilst he worked with the ProAves NGO. A keen photographer, sound record list and passionate conservationist Trevor delights in showing people the fantastic birdlife of the world’s richest birding country. Trevor has also travelled extensively in South America and has guided tours and birded in Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru and Argentina. When not guiding Trevor can often be found assisting Colombian conservation projects or sneaking off in search of new birds for his Colombia list. A keen mountain biker Trevor also holds a BA Hons in History and English Literature. Trevor will be a full time Rockjumper leader from January 2016.
Originally from the Netherlands, Dušan spent much of his youth birding throughout Europe before relocating to the undisputed birding continent of South America. While Quito, Ecuador is home, Dušan has traversed not only South America, but much of the globe. He has conducted ornithological field research in Holland, Sweden, Hungary, China, Ecuador and Australia. Dušan enjoys helping others observe the amazing birds found in the neotropics. He has also added substantial records to Ecuadorian ornithology including the first Chocó Vireo found in Pichincha province (a significant range extension for this very rare species) A keen photographer and sound recordist, he also holds an MSc in Ornithology. Considered one of the foremost Neotropical bird guides, he will be joining the Rockjumper family in November 2015.
Araripe Manakin by Forrest Rowland
Giant Antpitta by Forrest Rowland
Harpy Eagle by Adam Riley
SOUTH AMERICAN BIRDING TOURS
Besides the stunning scenery, exotic wildlife and rich cultures, our expert tour leaders have lived, birded and guided for decades in various parts of South America such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, and Peru. All our tour leaders are experienced, passionate birders and patient teachers, all essential skills for ensuring a well-run and enjoyable tour.
Hosting over 3 500 species, South America requires no introduction to the international birder! It is THE Bird Continent and the greatest birding destination on the planet. It should come as no surprise therefore that the world’s largest country lists are also to be found here: Colombia (1,900+) leading the way, though not far ahead of Peru and Brazil (1,800+). Where else could you expect to come back from one Mega tour alone with over 1000 species? To put such numbers in perspective, one can see more endemics in a few days, around the small, isolated Colombian mountain range of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta than exist on mainland USA or the whole of the Western Palearctic!
South America’s staggering avian diversity is driven by unique and varied habitats: the ice-cold Atlantic Ocean and Humboldt Current, one the most marine-rich upwellings in the world, give way to tropical northern beaches of the Caribbean. The Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range, towers over the windswept steppes of Patagonia and the rolling Argentine Pampas. Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andean massif sits the Atacama – the oldest and driest desert known to man. Then there are the Inter-Andean valleys, cloud-shrouded Polylepis and elfin forests, Paraguay’s hot, semi-arid Chaco, the isolated and rarely-visited Ecuadorian and Colombian humid Choco lowlands, Venezuelan Tepuis and Peruvian Tumbes. But the most impressive of all ecosystems is to be found among the oxbow lakes, terra firme and Varzea forests surrounding the world’s largest river – the Amazon.
Home to hundreds of endemics, the continent also boasts more hummingbirds, flycatchers, parrots, antpittas, antbirds and furnariids than you could shake a stick at. A list of standout species is impossibly long, but might include Harpy Eagle, Marvelous Spatuletail, Andean Condor, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Giant Antpitta, Hoatzin, Torrent Duck, Hooded Grebe, Hyacinth Macaw, Araripe Manakin and Sun Parakeet. South America also provides outstanding bird photo opportunities, especially around the hummingbird, antpitta and fruit feeders that so many lodges now maintain.
South America has more than just birds of course. Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, Maned Wolf, Spectacled Bear, Vicuna, tapirs, over 100 species of monkey, a full spectrum of rainbow-coloured poison dart frogs and the gigantic Green Anaconda make up a fraction of the most sought-after species. The incredible spectacles of Iguazu and Angel Falls, Machu Picchu and Kuelap in Peru, Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, Ecuador’s snow-capped volcanoes and Bolivia’s infamous ‘Death Road’ make South America a prime destination for any traveller. It has seen the rise and fall of the Incan Empire, the Spanish Conquistadores and ‘Che’ Guevara. Charles Darwin’s five-year voyage around the continent led to his formulation of evolution by natural selection and has been the sole inspiration of numerous luminary minds since.
You cannot bird South America once, but one visit will certainly be enough to keep you coming back for more!
Click here to view our complete list of South American tours.
NEWS FROM SOME OF OUR RECENT TOURS
Our tour leaders get to see thousands of birds and fantastic wildlife throughout the world every year. We thought we’d take the opportunity to share some news from a selection of recent tours recorded in their own words. In this newsletter we focus on South Ecuador Endemics (plus Shiripuno Lodge Pre-tour and Cuenca Extension Post-tour), Kenya & Tanzania: Birds and Big Game (customised tour), Best of Taiwan, Bhutan II and Borneo – Black Oriole and Dulit Frogmouth Extension.
Jocotoco Antpitta by Owen Deutsch
South Ecuador Endemics
11 – 26 March 2015 (plus Shiripuno Lodge Pre-tour and Cuenca Extension Post-tour) guided by Forrest Rowland
Southern Ecuador is almost too good to be true. The habitats are too diverse to believe, the scenery is too stunning to describe, and the lodging is too quaint and remote to explain. Most importantly, the birding and wildlife are just too good to be true!
How does one relay the experience of navigating the Shiripuno for 3.5 hours, passing a total population of fewer than 40 people en route? How can one wrap his/her mind around the fact that, in driving less than 80 miles, the habitat changes from the most arid in the country, to the wettest?!?! It’s an amazing region of perhaps the most comfortable of all the Andean countries, each boasting their fair share of exceptional sights and sounds. But sometimes Ecuador is almost too much! Almost…
On this year’s adventure we managed several 100+ species days, and one day we bagged no fewer than 5 species of Macaw in a single afternoon (not to mention 6 species of monkey)! While we uphold the tradition of having participants elect their tour top-ten-highlights by vote, I must admit that this was one tough tour to quantify the highlights of. On a tour during which we see 700+ species (800+ total species recorded), including the likes of Long-wattled and Amazonian Umbrellabirds, Jocotoco and Crescent-faced Antpittas, Rufous Potoo, Hairy-crested and Banded Antbirds, Orange-throated and Vermilion Tanagers, and Giant Conebill, the vote can be a tough one!
Join us on a tour where the hardest decision you’ll have to make might be deciding whether or not White-breasted Parakeet, Red-faced Parrot, Crimson-breasted Finch, or Scarlet Macaw can nudge out the competition and win their way onto your Tour Top Ten!
Our next South Ecuador Endemics tour is scheduled for the following dates:
South Ecuador Endemics: 11-26 Mar 2016, USD4, 350 per person sharing
To view our other tours to Ecuador click here.
Caracal by David Hoddinott
Kenya & Tanzania: Birds & Big Game (customised tour)
8 – 23 May 2015 by David Hoddinott
In May I shared the most fabulous tour to Kenya and Tanzania. These countries had both experienced late rainfall and thus much of the birdlife was breeding.
In Tarangire we enjoyed prolific sightings of African Elephant, which were enjoying the lush conditions. Both Bronze-winged and Three-banded Coursers showed very well, in fact we saw all 5 possible courser species during the tour, while a fabulous Leopard was seen posing nicely near the Silala Swamp.
In the Ngorongoro Crater we enjoyed a remarkable day! The beautiful Quailfinch gave a great view, brilliantly coloured Rosy-throated Longclaws sat up on territory singing their hearts out, Chestnut-banded Plovers strolled across the mudflats, and a wonderful surprise was the much unexpected sighting of an African Skimmer. We also had superb views of the highly elusive Abyssinian Crimsonwing and Brown-backed Woodpecker. An African Buffalo bull was seen chasing off a Lion and Lioness and Black Rhinoceros.
Moving on to the Serengeti we enjoyed memorable sightings of a good number of rare birds including Fire-fronted Bishop, Miombo Wren-Warbler, Grey-crested Helmetshrike and Karamoja Apalis, and here we also witnessed an impressive migration of wildebeest and had the great fortune to watch a Caracal hunting next to the road for an incredible 20 minutes!
In Kenya we started off in Amboseli National Park where we enjoyed magnificent views of Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest peak). Mount Kenya was delightful with numerous forest species showing remarkably well including Crowned Eagle, Brown-chested Alethe and White-browed Crombec. Moving on to Buffalo Springs we found the sought-after Steelblue Whydah in full breeding plumage, rare Friedmann’s Lark and impressive Somali Ostrich displaying. Lake Nakuru, although very full, was also very rewarding with numerous sightings including good views of Rothschild’s Giraffe and a Spotted Hyaena with kill. Nearby we learnt of a new site for the elusive Lesser Jacana, which showed particularly well.
Our next Kenya & Tanzania: Birds & Big Game tours (with available spaces) are scheduled for the following dates:
Kenya & Tanzania – Birds & Big Game I: 2 – 19 Apr 2016, USD7,650 per person sharing
Kenya & Tanzania – Birds & Big Game II: 27 Apr – 14 May 2016, USD7,650 per person sharing
Kenya & Tanzania – Bird & Big Game III: 01 – 18 May 2016, USD7,650 per person sharing
Please remember that we have a maximum of 6 participants on these popular tours so they do fill up quickly.
To view our other tours to Kenya & Tanzania click here
Taiwan Blue Magpie by Glen Valentine
Taiwan Partridge by Glen Valentine
Best of Taiwan
28 May – 07 June 2015 by Glen Valentine
The beautiful island of Taiwan, or Formosa as it was formerly known, is one of the world’s truly sensational birding destinations. This small, bird-rich island harbours an incredible 25 officially recognised endemic bird species and a further 9 endemic sub-species that are very likely to be elevated to Taiwanese endemic species status when split in the near future. This gives a grand total of 34 endemic birds and, given the island’s small size, excellent infrastructure, wonderful food and accommodation and spectacular scenery with rugged, forest-draped mountains, Taiwan therefore makes for the perfect birding holiday.
Our comprehensive June 2015 tour of Taiwan managed to rack up 24 of the 25 currently recognised endemics as well as 8 of the 9 likely future endemics amongst a host of other tantalizingly special and desirable species.
The range of habitats and altitudes during the tour makes for fascinating and exciting birding, with the higher elevation broad-leaved and coniferous forests hosting the majority of the island’s endemics. Birding this beautiful habitat was indeed a delight and gave us eye-catching specialities such as the superb Swinhoe’s and Mikado Pheasants, shy and elusive Taiwan Partridge, spectacular Taiwan Blue Magpie, rare and localized Chestnut-bellied and Yellow Tits, skulking Taiwan Wren-babbler, Black-necklaced and Taiwan Scimitar Babblers, Rusty and White-whiskered Laughingthrushes, very smart Flamecrest, attractive Collared Bush Robin, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Golden Parrotbill, elusive Mountain Scops Owl and Taiwan Rosefinch, to mention just a few!
The lowlands and the offshore island of Lanyu have a very different feel to the highlands and also harbour a very different selection of birds. This is where we encountered such mouth-watering target species as the unusually common and confiding Malayan Night Heron, Chinese Egrets in full breeding plumage, the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill, exquisite Fairy Pitta, Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Bulwer’s Petrel and Ryukyu Scops Owl, amongst many other fabulous avian delights.
Taiwan is a top-class birding destination with so much to offer both the keen and casual birder!
Our next Best of Taiwan tour (with available spaces) is scheduled for the following dates:
Best of Taiwan: 25 May – 05 Jun 2016, USD3, 975 per person sharing
Ibisbill by Wayne Jones
16 Apr – 5 May 2015 by Wayne Jones
The Kingdom of Bhutan is well-known as a birder’s paradise. Forests ranging from evergreen sub-tropical to deciduous temperate and coniferous sub-alpine forest cover approximately 60% of the country, providing possibly the best birding in the Himalayas. During our tour from the eastern lowlands to the high elevation west, where we climbed to almost 4,000m a.s.l., we found such exceptional species as the iconic Satyr Tragopan, dazzling Himalayan Monal, critically endangered White-bellied Heron, Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Spotted Elachura, Ibisbill, Great Parrotbill, Spotted Laughingthrush, Beautiful Nuthatch, Himalayan Cutia and Mrs Gould’s Sunbird. Imposing dzongs, lavish temples, and medieval landscapes with traditionally dressed men and women and intricately painted buildings added to the country’s charm, while landslides, snowfalls, rainstorms and an earthquake all made for a rather unique birding tour to this part of the world!
Our next Bhutan – Birding the Buddhist Kingdom tours (with available spaces) and extensions are scheduled for the following dates:
Bhutan – Birding the Buddhist Kingdom II: 14 Apr – 03 May 2016, USD7,575 per person sharing
Assam Birding & Big Game Extension II: 10 – 14 Apr 2016, INR92,000 per person sharing
Bhutan – Birding the Buddhist Kingdom III: 10 – 29 Apr 2016, USD7,575 per person sharing
Assam Birding & Big Game Extension III: 6 – 10 Apr 2 2016, INR92,000 per person sharing
Blue-banded Pitta by Rosemary Loyd
Borneo – Black Oriole & Dulit Frogmouth Extension
27 Jun – 2 Jul 2015 by Erik Forsyth
Our inaugural Black Oriole & Dulit Frogmouth Extension to our Malaysia & Borneo tour was a fantastic success, with both of these exceedingly rare and range-restricted birds in the bag. With fewer than 100 birders having seen either of these species, we therefore count ourselves very fortunate in having come up trumps not only with both birds, but to have also secured fabulous and prolonged views to boot! Not that these were the only special species we saw, with other great birds including Mountain Serpent Eagle, Mountain and Bornean Barbets, Hose’s Broadbill, the stunning Blue-banded Pitta, Bornean Treepie, Bare-headed Laughingthrush, Rufous-tailed Shama and Bornean Leafbird. This is a definite worthy addition to our Malaysia & Borneo tours portfolio and is highly recommended!
Our next Black Oriole & Dulit Frogmouth Extension is scheduled for the following dates:
Borneo – Black Oriole & Dulit Frogmouth Extension: 25 – 30 Jun 2016, USD2,050 per person sharing
The group looking for birds by Noah Strycker
Budget Eastern South Africa II
12 – 23 July 2015
US birding author and birding celebrity Noah Stryker is currently attempting to break the world bird year record and aims to see over 5,000 or maybe even 6,000 species this year. He recently joined the Rockjumper Budget Eastern South Africa II tour guided by Wayne Jones which experienced great winter birding and mammal viewing. Rather than hearing it from us, we recommend you visit Noah’s blog and read his entries for days 193-203. After the tour Adam Riley birded with Noah for 2 days and they managed to find 26 new birds for Noah’s year list including such highlights as Drakensberg Rockjumper, Buff-spotted Flufftail (seen), Lammergeier, Ground Woodpecker and much besides.
To view our other tours to South Africa click here.
Our tours invariably turn up interesting and unexpected sightings, and here are the top 10 recent sightings from some of our tours that have run over the past few months as documented in our tour leader’s own words. This is obviously just a small selection, but should nevertheless give a good indication of some of the unusual species and experiences that make every Rockjumper tour special for our participants.
1. Golden Masked Owl by Glen Valentine in Papua New Guinea
Our first Papua New Guinea tour of the season was an immense success with loads of incredible birds, so many in fact that I saw 15 lifers and Adam Walleyn saw 6 (and we’re both veterans on numerous PNG tours)!!! However, nothing compares to the absolute highlight of our first New Britain Extension, which came in the form of seeing a GOLDEN MASKED OWL on two out of three nights!!! In fact, we were even able to capture the second ever known photographs of the species and our group became the first birding tour to see this mythical bird since the early 1980’s!”
2. Geomalia by David Erterius in Sulawesi, Indonesia
One of the absolute highlights of our recent Sulawesi & Halmahera – Wallacean Endemics tour was seeing a Geomalia (Geomalia heinrichi)! This very shy and elusive ground-dweller is endemic to Sulawesi and certainly one of the toughest birds to find on the island and is very rarely photographed!
The Geomalia (also known as Sulawesi Mountain-Thrush) inhabits primary montane forest with dense undergrowth and moss forest ranging from around 1,700 – 3,400 metres above sea level. For a very long time, it remained a taxonomic enigma (amongst others, it was thought to be a babbler of sorts), and it wasn’t until very recently that researchers conducted molecular studies on the bird which confirmed it to be a thrush.
This individual was seen along the famous Anaso track in the bird-rich Lore Lindu National Park in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
3. Satyr Tragopan by Wayne Jones in Bhutan
A grey, drizzly afternoon was brightened significantly on our Bhutan II tour in April. We’d been driving the middle Lingmethang Road searching for Satyr Tragopans when a plump, scarlet bagpipe of a bird was sighted at the next corner. We edged closer, careful not to scare off our quarry. We needn’t have worried! This magnificent bird pottered about the roadside, allowing us to climb out of the bus and ogle him. We ended up watching him for at least 15 minutes – he didn’t even budge when another vehicle came past. What a beaut!
4. Beautiful Sibia by Wayne Jones in Bhutan
We were walking through lush temperate forest near Morong in Bhutan when our local guide spotted an unusual-looking Sibia. Soon all attention was diverted to the bird whose subtle grey and rufous plumage revealed it to be a Beautiful Sibia. While not a rare bird within its range, it seems it might be one of only a handful of records for Bhutan. We enjoyed great views as the bird was pretty relaxed.
This photo was taken in the late morning at around 2,200 m.a.s.l. The bird was in view for a fabulous 15 minutes (!) but was quite wary and shy of any attempt to get closer, hence the relatively poor quality of the image.
5. Sunbittern by Keith Valentine in the Brazilian Pantanal
We were fortunate to have a few amazing sightings during a recent private tour into the depths of the Brazilian Pantanal. Naturally one of the main targets was finding the elusive Jaguar and with success on this front being almost instant it allowed us plenty of time to enjoy the Cuiaba River and its tributaries for some additional birding and wildlife viewing. One afternoon we spotted this fabulous Sunbittern on an exposed bank, which allowed for some phenomenal views. The bird was calling actively and strutting about seemingly oblivious to who was watching. We probably observed it for around 5 minutes before it popped up into the air and dropped out of sight behind some vegetation. A spectacular bird belonging to its own family Eurypygidae, while also sharing a unique order, Eurypygiformes with the extraordinary Kagu of New Caledonia.
6. Black-fronted Dotterel by David Erterius in Indonesia
During late August, we were birding the Megitimbe Wetlands, a great area for waterbirds not far from Waingapu on the island of Sumba. We recorded a good variety of species, including highlights such as a dozen Australian Pratincoles, a fabulous male Spotted Harrier, newly arrived Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpipers, Long-toed Stints, hundreds of Wandering Whistling Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks and Sunda Teals among others. Arriving at a roadside rice paddy, I had barely put up the scope before I spotted a stunning Black-fronted Dotterel! I later found out that this species has been found a couple of weeks earlier a few kilometres away. As far as I am aware, these constitute the first ever record of the species for Indonesia. The normal range of Black-fronted Dotterel is Australia and New Zealand.
7. Hylocitrea by David Erterius in Sulawesi & Halmahera, Indonesia
One of the highlights of our Sulawesi & Halmahera – Wallacean Endemics tour was undoubtedly our multiple sightings of Hylocitrea. Endemic to Sulawesi, this species is placed in its own family and high up on many birders wish list. Our first sightings were along the famous Anaso Track of Lore Lindu NP, near the summit of Mount Rorekatimbu. Here, the entire group enjoyed one bird sitting just a few metres away, allowing for perfect open unobstructed view for a couple of minutes, followed by another sighting in a nearby fruiting tree, where at least three birds were feasting on berries. A few days later, as we were about to locate the rare and localized Matinan Flycatcher up on Mount Ambang, again not only one but two Hylocitreas appeared in front of us, and this was the occasion where the shot shown here was taken.
8. Dulit Frogmouth by Erik Forsyth in Borneo (photo by Ch’ien C. Lee)
The highlight of our inaugural Borneo – Black Oriole & Dulit Frogmouth Extension was finding this very rare bird within only a short while of arriving at the spot where it had recently been seen. Here’s the story: After dinner we got together for a planned night search for the Dulit Frogmouth, a rare and little-known species recently discovered in this area. We drove the short distance to the site and within a few minutes … our local guide’s quick spotting found the bird perched in a gully below us, offering fabulous looks. A short while later the bird flew off but was again relocated and scoped, so that we could enjoy even better views – fantastic!!!
9. Orange Fruit Dove by David Hoddinott in Taveuni, South West Pacific Islands
Undoubtedly one of the main highlights of our recently-concluded South West Pacific Islands – Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu & New Caledonia tour, and this fabulous species showed extremely well on Taveuni. A real jewel and surely one of our planet’s most colourful birds!!
10. Siberian Crane by Glen Valentine in Taiwan
During a recent tour of Taiwan we were extremely fortunate to have heard about the first-ever record of Siberian Crane for the island. The individual, which was still slightly immature, was first found in December 2014 and, quite incredibly, in June this year was still milling around the same small wetland at which it had originally been discovered. Luck was on our side as we found ourselves close to the site at the beginning of our tour and so a mini twitch of this rare species ensued. We found the bird in question immediately after arriving at the site as it stood out head and shoulders above the egret species also in attendance. We watched and photographed it at close range for an extended period, a very lucky encounter indeed!
The Siberian Crane, Siberian White Crane or Snow Crane as it is sometimes known, is one of the rarest crane species and is currently listed as Critically Endangered. The western population of the species is on the verge of extinction with around a mere 10 individuals hanging on, while the eastern population that breeds in the Arctic tundra of eastern Russia has an estimated population of around 3000 birds, of which around 95% of the population winters in the Poyang Lake basin in China. However, the risk of losing the last remaining population of these beautiful and stately birds is of major concern due to the planned building of the Three Gorges Dam, which will flood the valley and the crane’s wintering habitat.
We were extremely fortunate to have seen this rarity in the wild, a species that is declining every year and on the brink of extinction.
Follow Rockjumpers lead … start using iGoTerra to keep on top of your lists!
“The most organised, efficient and user-friendly list server around, and the only one that allows me to control all my fauna and flora lists, not just birds.” Clayton Burne, Rockjumper Tour Leader and iGoTerra user.
Most of us keep a variety of checklists of birds we have seen and some of us also maintain lists of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and plants. How do you keep on top of these lists? Which authority should you use? Should you use computer-based spreadsheets, a website-based cloud system – or both? Do you have the time to re-arrange your list every time there is a new taxonomic update? Chances are good that you have asked yourself these questions before, but have never felt completely on top of things. At Rockjumper Birding Tours, we were compiling, maintaining and delivering hundreds of different checklists covering birds and mammals and sometimes reptiles, amphibians, plants and even fungi. We found that manually editing our spreadsheets just didn’t cut it anymore. To help improve our capacity to deliver quality, up-to-date and typo-free checklists, Rockjumper has partnered with iGoTerra.
Furthermore, the recent announcements that both Avisys and Santa Barbara Software Products will close down, there will unfortunately be no further updates to AviSys, BirdBase or BirdArea software. If you are using these systems, fortunately, it is a simple procedure to convert all your AviSys, BirdBase and BirdArea data to iGoTerra! By following the Import Wizard you will be able to transfer all your records (incl personal notes) with no more than a few clicks of your mouse.
iGoTerra offers unique tools and services to:
• Record and manage your life list, year lists, country lists, any list – even down to sub-species level;
• Share and distribute sightings and information;
• Host your own photos;
• Plan forthcoming trips;
• Receive and offer help on species identification;
• Import facilities to upload your checklists, including those developed by all major listing sites;
• Add Geo-coded locations in the field using the off-line app Pocket (iOS & Android);
• Export and synchronize your iGoTerra lists with eBird;
• Advanced taxonomy updates (IOC, Clements, IUCN etc), immediately or just after general release;
• IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Status coding; and
• Species markers showing Endemic, Near Endemic and Introduced species.
iGoTerra is easy to use, with hands-on support staff and simple tutorials to help members get accustomed to the website, as well as offering ideas for the development of new tools, improve usability, help maintain accurate country and area lists and sort out the odd bug.
iGoTerra now helps Rockjumper manage over 250+ scheduled, and multiple private tour checklists worldwide. Just like us, you’ll save a vast amount of administrative time and headache…
To all 2015 Rockjumper tour participants that do not yet have an account with iGoTerra, Rockjumper is proud to offer Standard Membership for 1 year, free-of-charge..
1. Log onto: www.igoterra.com and create your user account
2. Insert RJFREE into the promotion code field
Take the Tour and discover all the advantages of iGoTerra. If you have any questions, just post them to the Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org
A SELECTION OF SOME OF OUR 2015 & 2016 SCHEDULED TOURS
Our tour participants are now able to choose their ideal tour from our range of over 250 tours to 100 destinations worldwide. Rockjumper Birding Tours continues to maintain its reputation of offering quality birding, wildlife and photographic tours, solid value and a long-established track record. Our featured upcoming tours are Southern India – Birding and Wildlife of the Western Ghats II , Eastern South Africa XI and Cape Extension XI, Best of Honduras, Classic Antarctica II – The Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, Colombia – 1000 Birds Mega I Tour, Bulgaria & Romania in Winter, Best of Birding Panama, Southwest Pacific Islands: New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa, Papua New Guinea: Birds in Paradise III and Indonesia – Remote West Papuan Islands Cruise.
Malabar Whistling Thrush by Adam Riley
Southern India – Birding & Wildlife of the Western Ghats II
Tour Dates: 08 – 19 Nov 2015 (12 days), Tour Price: USD3,575 per person sharing
Southern India is widely recognized as one of the most important endemic bird areas in Asia, and our tour to this productive birding region produces not only an amazing number of endemics, but also spectacular scenery as we wind our way through the Western Ghats mountain range. Birding highlights include Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Pitta, Black-and-orange and Nilgiri Flycatchers, Malabar Trogon and White-bellied Treepie. Furthermore, excellent mammal opportunities exist for Dhole, Gaur and Nilgiri Tahr, amongst many others. This tour is offered in conjunction with our Sri Lanka – Endemic Birds & Big Game II tour.
Drakensberg Rockjumper by Adam Riley
Eastern South Africa XI and Cape Extension XI
Tour Dates: 02 – 15 Dec 2015 (14 days), Tour Price: ZAR41,750 (Approx. USD3,150*) per person sharing
This combination of Rockjumper’s two-week Eastern South Africa tour and six-day Cape Extension is our top seller. This combination can net up to 500 bird species and runs with a maximum of just 6 participants. Eastern South Africa offers the classic African savannas of the world-renowned Kruger National Park along with the teeming Zululand game reserves. Besides the exhilarating array of colourful bushveld birds, we spend time seeking big game and other wildlife. We also explore endemic-rich mist-belt forests and Highveld grasslands, as well as scaling the lofty peaks of the Drakensberg into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Target birds include Drakensberg Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker, Blue Crane, Southern Bald Ibis, Gurney’s Sugarbird, the lovely Pink-throated Twinspot, Black Harrier and African Penguin.
Lovely Cotinga by Adam Riley
Best of Honduras
Tour Dates: 11 – 19 Dec 2015 (9 days), Tour Price: USD3,150 per person sharing
Rockjumper’s Best of Honduras tour targets a rich assemblage of Neotropical, Yucatan and overwintering North American birds, including every possible endemic and many near-endemic species in the area and, using the services of local bird specialists, we have an impressive success rate in observing such speciality species as Orange-breasted Falcon, Scarlet Macaw, Keel-billed Motmot, Honduran Emerald and Lovely Cotinga. The awesome birdlife is further augmented by ease of travel, luxury lodges, the impressive Mayan city of Copan, super-friendly people and fine cuisine, making these thoroughly enjoyable adventures for both hardcore and casual birders alike.
King Penguin Colony by Markus Lilje
Classic Antarctica II – The Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica
Tour Dates: 30 Dec 2015 – 18 Jan 2016, Tour Price: from USD15,895 to USD21,795 per person sharing
Our Classic Antarctica cruise is a ‘must’ for every wildlife and nature enthusiast, and we guarantee that you will return not only enriched but totally blown-away by this experience of a lifetime! During this incredible journey we will explore the remote Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Shetlands and, finally, the Antarctic continent. Along the way we marvel at some of the world’s last truly pristine wildernesses and will be treated to spectacular vistas, hauntingly beautiful icebergs and the planet’s greatest concentrations of marine wildlife. Walking amongst vast, crowded nesting colonies of over 200,000 displaying King Penguins and their fluffy young is an experience that defies description. We will also set foot on Antarctica at the aptly named Paradise Bay, while our return via the Drake Passage promises to produce some thrilling pelagic birding, as we search for species including Wandering and Light-mantled Albatross, Snow, Kerguelen and Antarctic Petrels, South Georgia Diving Petrel and 7 penguin species (plus a remote chance of Emperor Penguin). This cruise also offers unbeatable photographic opportunities and some of our departures will have onboard specialist Rockjumper birding leaders along with highly experienced expedition leaders.
Flame-winged Parakeet by Clayton Burne
Colombia – 1000 Birds Mega I Tour
Tour Dates: 17 Jan – 15 Feb 2016 (30 days), Tour Price: ZAR128,950 (Approx. USD9,250*) per person sharing
Our Colombia 1,000 Birds Mega tour targets over 1,300 of Colombia’s nearly 1,900 bird species and aims to encounter over 1,000 bird species in less than a month! This tour includes most of the sites of our Andean Endemics tour and Santa Marta Extension, as well as the exceptional Mitu region of Amazonian Colombia, where we will search for another 300 species not available on our other tours. Red-fan Parrot, Fiery Topaz, Pompadour Cotinga, Orinoco Piculet and Brown-banded Puffbird are but some of the rare and spectacular birds that await us! This tour is a monumental New World birding experience; in fact, 3 of our previous 4 Mega Tours have achieved the 1,000 species goal, with our 2014 tour recording 10% (1044 species) of the world’s birds and one departure narrowly missing this amazing goal due to inclement weather!
Red-breasted and Greater White-fronted Geese by Mladen Vasilev
Bulgaria & Romania in Winter
Tour Dates: 25 Jan – 02 Feb 2016, Tour Price: €1,675 per person sharing
The main attraction of our Bulgaria & Romania in Winter tour are the approximately 50,000 Red-breasted Geese, in fact almost the entire world population of this Endangered species, that over-winter on the Black Sea coast of these two nations. We will be assured of superb views of great flocks of these incredibly beautiful waterfowl amongst thousands of other wild geese. We will explore forests, mountains, steppes and cliffs for other key targets including Dalmatian Pelican, White-headed Duck, stunning Smew, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Eurasian Bittern, Eurasian Eagle-Owl, no less than eight woodpecker species including Syrian, Black and White-backed, Bearded Reedling, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch and, if we are fortunate, Lesser White-fronted Goose and/or Wallcreeper. This is a highly recommended tour offering prime European winter birding and opportunities for numerous highly sought-after species.
Ocellated Antbird by Adam Riley
Best of Birding Panama
Tour Dates: 05 – 14 March 2016 (10 days), Tour Price: USD4,125 per person sharing
Our Best of Panama birding tour is a joy, as long travel days and arduous hikes are unnecessary. We spend several days at and around the famous Panama Canopy Tower, allowing us an unrivalled opportunity to explore the rainforest canopy of Soberanía National Park from a bird’s eye view. Colorful tanagers, toucans and honeycreepers can be observed even from our beds or dining room! Surrounding forest and wetland sites provide superb birding and the mammal watching opportunities are surprisingly good. Further to the south, our next attraction is the Canopy Lodge, in the delightful hill country of el Valle de Antón. Here we explore cloudforest and a whole range of new mouth-watering species! Moving further south, we enter the great rainforests of the little known Darien and its myriad of exciting birding opportunities. Key targets of this relaxed-pace tour include Harpy Eagle, Sunbittern, Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, the almost endemic Veraguan Mango, stunning Blue Cotinga, Ocellated and Wing-banded Antbirds, Rosy Thrush-Tanager and the bizarre Sapayoa.
Kagu by David Hoddinott
Southwest Pacific Islands: New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa
Tour Dates: 10 – 28 July 2016 (21 days), Tour Price: Price to be announced
Quite simply, our Southwest Pacific Islands: New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa tour is unlike any other! Each island that we will be birding on this epic adventure exhibits its own distinctive ensemble of characteristic and rarely-seen endemic birds, including some of our planet’s least known species; and, although these oceanic islands and their bird lists aren’t large, they are nevertheless very special indeed. On this trip we will be treated to a wonderful assortment of imperial pigeons, fruit doves (one of the most beautiful of all bird groups), parrots and lorikeets, kingfishers, hosts of flycatchers, monarchs, fantails, whistlers, honeyeaters and white-eyes, almost all of which are endemic and consequently found nowhere else on earth. Included in this suit of fantastic species is the iconic and monotypic Kagu, one of the world’s rarest and most sought-after birds!
Raggiana Bird-of-paradise by Markus Lilje
Papua New Guinea: Birds in Paradise III
Tour Dates: 15 Aug – 01 Sep 2016 (18 days), Tour Price: PGK25,750 per person sharing
Traveling by air, road and boat, we will explore the diverse habitats of the country, ranging from winding lowland rivers and sprawling grasslands, to rich highland ecosystems and forested valleys where native tribesmen dance still dressed to mimic the fabulous birds-of-paradise while adorned with elaborate head plumes of parrots and birds-of-paradise. Over the years Rockjumper has established an unbeatable reputation for leading highly successful birding tours to Papua New Guinea, and our tour totals of around 400 species include up to 22 different birds-of-paradise! The extravagant birds that we can expect to see range from the bizarre Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise to the strangely plumed King-of-Saxony and the brilliant Blue and King Birds-of-paradise, which dance at their phenomenal leks. We also enjoy almost 20 kingfisher species, a feat impossible to match anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, most of our tours boast sightings of the rarely-seen Shovel-billed Kookaburra, remarkable Southern Crowned Pigeon, unbelievable Flame Bowerbird and Papuan Eagle. You can therefore expect a phenomenal array of remarkable birds amidst vast and pristine forests.
Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise by Dubi Shapiro
Indonesia – Remote West Papuan Islands Cruise
Tour Dates: 12 – 24 Nov 2016 (13 days), Tour Price: to be announced
Our new and exciting Remote West Papuan Islands birding cruise to the Raja Ampat Islands (Four Kings: Waigeu, Batanta, Salawati and Kofiau), will seek out such extraordinary gems as Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise – regarded by many as the most spectacular bird on earth; Red Bird-of-paradise, Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher and Kofiau Monarch. Thereafter we cross Weber’s Line and head into the south Moluccas. Here we explore these little-birded waters in addition to visiting several endemic-rich islands including Obi, Seram, Boano and Ambon for many incredibly exciting endemics such as Bare-eyed Rail, Carunculated Fruit Dove, Obi Woodcock, Lazuli Kingfisher and Long-crested Myna, to mention but a handful. We will then continue westwards along the north coast of Seram to the little-explored islands of Boano and Ambon, where we hope to find the virtually unknown Boano Monarch and Ambon White-eye.
INTRODUCING OUR LUXURY SAFARI COMPANIES
We have recently launched two new luxury safari companies namely, ORYX Luxury Photo Safaris and ORYX Luxury Wildlife Safaris. Defined by their high-end safaris to Africa’s finest wildlife destinations, ORYX’s expert team, incredible tour leaders, choice in luxury accommodation and best service ensures that the ultimate tailor-made experience will be provided for you.
Rockjumper Trains Six Community
Bird Guides on the South Coast
Graduates of the BirdLife
bird guide course by D Pritchard
Since its formation, Rockjumper Birding Tours has been supporting the conservation of the birds that bring us many delightful hours of sheer bird-watching pleasure. In order to co-ordinate and effectively implement our conservation efforts, we launched the Rockjumper Bird Conservation Fund (RBCF) in 2006. US$50 from each Rockjumper tour sign-up goes directly into the RBCF. Just by signing up to one of our tours, you are ensured that your contribution goes directly to bird conservation!
Our ultimate goal is to support bird conservation in multi-faceted ways. By means of carefully managing our available funds, we are able to support numerous bird conservation efforts and activities, including the sponsoring of bird monitoring and research work, hands-on bird conservation (which entails efforts such as captive breeding projects for endangered birds), and habitat protection. We are also actively involved in raising the awareness and knowledge of birdlife, by encouraging local communities to value their birds, by promoting the need for increased awareness and also training enthusiastic community members to become bird guides.
We are either solely responsible for a project’s funding or contribute to larger, more ambitious ventures. Our current Rockjumper Bird Conservation Fund projects and contributions are particularly exciting and are spread across the globe.
Our two most recent conservation efforts have been with The Rare Bird Club and our sponsorship renewal as a Species Champion supporting Birdlife International’s conservation action for Globally Threatened Birds throughout the world. You are welcome to read about these two initiatives below.
Rockjumper is thrilled to announce our partnership with BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club. We will be organizing two Ethiopia private tours for the club with other exciting and ground-breaking tours in the pipeline….. The Rare Bird Club is an exclusive international community of currently around 300 individuals who are determined to make a difference through their high level of support.
The Club provides BirdLife International with unrestricted funding which is the lifeblood needed to support the work of the Birdlife Global Partnership. In return the Club provides members with a social outlet and opportunity to meet other like-minded people from all walks of life.
Member benefits include bespoke birding tours to see the work of BirdLife Partners in the field and invitations to a program of Club events. Members also receive special newsletters and the opportunity to select a bird from the Club’s checklist of 1,200 globally threatened species. An original painting of their chosen species is presented to each member at a Club event and meets with the club’s goal to have one member for each of the species listed.
All profits made from trips and events are ploughed back into BirdLife’s work.
So why not step forward and become a Rare Bird Club member? Click here to find out more.
Taking a stand and making a difference…
Rockjumper is proud to renew its sponsorship as a Species Champion supporting Birdlife International’s conservation action for Globally Threatened Birds throughout the world.
This innovative initiative is providing substantial targeted conservation action to help to save the world’s Critically Endangered birds from extinction. We have supported this important program for several years and have just renewed our pledge for a further 3 years. Already more than 60 species are benefitting, some of which we can take you to see on our tours!
Click here to read details about some of our conservation initiatives.
The Rockjumper Team