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ULTIMATE SOUTH AFRICA

Friday 4th November - Monday 28th November 2016

Pete Morris

Spotted Ground Thrush (Pete Morris)

Spotted Ground Thrush (Pete Morris)

The 2016 Birdquest Ultimate tour to South Africa certainly lived up to its name! An outstanding birding destination and this tour delivered, with an amazingly high proportion of the targets (the hoped for endemics, regional endemics and specialities) being not only found, but seen superbly! We recorded an astonishing 530 or so species of bird, and no fewer than 60 species of mammals! Top birds included the fantastic Spotted Ground Thrush which showed so well after making us wait, Knysna, Victorin’s and Barratt’s Warblers that were all bold as brass, magical Blue Swallows, and the stunning Drakensburg Rockjumper, which along with its close relative the Cape Rockjumper, and the two sugarbirds (Cape and Gurney’s Sugarbirds), are truly iconic species for this tour. Other memorable specials included the graceful Black Harrier, the trio of wonderful cranes and nine superb species of bustard. Colour was added by showy Cape Parrots, glorious Gorgeous Bushshrikes, a Half-collared Kingfisher and three species of splendid turacos, elegance by the Blue Cranes, and Buff-streaked Chats, comedy by African Broadbills and rarity by globally endangered species such as Botha’s Lark, not to mention the rapidly disappearing vultures! Sometimes however, there’s not only the bird of the tour, there’s an event of the tour, and our hour of ‘flufftailing’ in Himeville (amazing views of Red-chested and Buff-spotted Flufftails one after the other) surely took the award this tour! To bring things down a notch, nearly five per cent of our species were members of the Alaudidae family as we saw no fewer than 24 species of lark in what has to be the lark capital of the world. The great thing was that we saw them all well enough for all in the group to appreciate their subtle differences. This of course has just scratched the surface of the wonderful and varied bird life that we encountered! But it wasn’t just the birds. We also notched up an impressive 60 species of mammal, including rarities such as Aardvark and Black-footed Cat, enjoyed varied and wonderful scenery throughout, and all this whilst making the most of the excellent roads, accommodation and restaurants. Just a shame about all of those fences…

Buff-spotted Flufftail (Pete Morris)

Buff-spotted Flufftail (Pete Morris)