Usambara, Uluguru, Udzungwa, Rubeho & Ukaguru – the names alone make you want to go there! Tanzania has a surprising number of country endemics within its borders due to islands of isolated forest mountains in the Eastern Arc chain stretching from Taita Hills (Kenya) to the Udzungwa mountains in Tanzania. With a short taste in Kenya earlier this year we couldn’t wait for more. Special thanks to Ross Gallardy for pre-trip information, David Moyer for contact with Elia and Elia Mulungu for his excellent guiding for a part of the trip.
End of May we did a short 5-day trip to Georgia with the goal of seeing a handful of lifers in the Caucasus mountains. The best time to visit is earlier in the year (end of April/ beginning of May) when most birds are found lower down in the valleys because of the snow. Our late visit meant we had to hike higher up, but still we managed to find 5+ Caucasian Snowcocks (more were heard) and 8+ Caucasian Grouses on the ridges above us. Great Rosefinch and Güldenstädt’s Redstart turned out to be more tricky but we managed to find both (and luckily bright plumaged males). And with singing Mountain Chiffchaffs in the valley and an additional stop for Krüper’s Nuthatch near Tbilisi the trip ended with 6 lifers but also a long list of cool birds along the way: Ring Ouzels, Twites, Alpine Accentors, Common Rock Thrush, Bearded Vulture, singing Barred Warblers, Greenish Warblers and Common Rosefinches, and a nice roadside stop for Red-breasted and Semi-collared Flycatcher.
It had been too long since we had been to Africa, and since Helen did not visit Ethiopia, East Africa was the biggest gap in her life list. Kenya was a perfect destination for a three-week self-driving trip in April, with a great variation in habitats, lots of species and a nice set of endemics.
Madeira was one of those short trips that we had talked about for years and given the uncertainty around Covid in most of the world during the summer of 2021 this trip within the EU was the best option. We really enjoyed our time at Madeira which was a nice combination of hard-core pelagic birding and some relaxing and exploring the island.
Travelling around Europe was possible again in the summer. We quickly decided that France would be the logical choice for a nice week-long trip; we could see many lifers (given we had both never been to France for birding before) and the logistics were easy and flexible to plan since you can drive in a day from Amsterdam to the south of France. Sjoerd Radstaak also joined us and we made an itinerary of 8 days: First a 3-days visit to Corsica (for the endemics, near-endemics and some seabird watching from the ferry), then a short stop in the Camargue (Moustached Warbler was new for Sjoerd and since it was not far off route it was a very nice addition), and we finished with 2 days in the beautiful French Alps. Overall it was a very successful and fun trip where we saw all targets resulting in 9(!) lifers for Helen and 8 for Rob.
It had been 10 years since our first birdwatching trip to Thailand. The number of high-quality birds combined with the easy travelling and great food makes Thailand a very nice birding destination. We decided on a two-week trip with the main focus on the species that we had not seen yet. Sander Bot joined us which made for great fun and a good extra pair of eyes. Overall we had a successful trip with around 430 species observed and a very smooth travel experience. In 15 days we visited the following sites: Pak Thale & Laem Pak Bia, Kaeng Krachan, Huai Kha Kaeng, Mae Wong, Doi Inthanon, Doi Ang Kang, Doi Lang West & East, Chiang Saen and Khoa Yai. In hindsight this trip was on the brink of the COVID-19 impact that hit the world and a couple of weeks later this trip had no longer been possible
The Christmas-period meant a few obligatory days off work, so we decided to use this for a short trip. Since this was perfect timing for an Eastern China-trip offering lots of new pheasants, cranes and parrotbills the choice was easily made. We contacted Steven An of China Dreams Tours initially for an itinerary with translator/fixer instead of birding guide (copying Mans Grundsten in 2018, but with added pheasants in Emei Feng). One month before departure Steven contacted us if we would mind if one more birder (Frank Antram) would join our tour and Steven would guide the trip himself instead of Alex. This all worked out very well and we had an excellent trip and can highly recommend Steven for organising this trip or any trip in China.
A 2-week trip to Suriname for some tropical birding in a corner of South America where we hadn’t been before. After having birded in South America for 4 months already this year it felt good returning to the continent after a few months in the Netherlands. The first 5 days we rented a car and birded around Paramaribo and Zanderij. For the last 10 days we arranged transport and guiding through Fred Pansa (firstname.lastname@example.org) to visit Zintete Lodge (aka Fredberg) and Brownsberg. Most of the country still consists of endless forest and good birding sites are therefore reachable within a few hours from the airport. In all this made for a very relaxed birding trip that we would definitely recommend.