Birding Africa
    Birding tours from Cape Town to Cameroon and Madagascar, with the only African Birding Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Special announcement

2010: Birdwatch magazine readers voted Birding Africa as one of the top 5 most recommended bird tour companies in the world. Birding Africa includes Cape Town Pelagics and Cape Birding route. (Click here for more survey details.)

Our Team

We are a group of biologists, bird book authors and conservationists who are drawn together by a common passion: sharing our enthusiasm for Africa's birds with others. Since 1997, we have been leading tours around our home town of Cape Town and further into Africa for top international tour companies and small groups. We’ve even acted as consultants for the BBC Natural History Unit and shown Bill Oddie his very first Cape Rockjumpers…

Our office team consists of 6 people working both full and part time in Cape Town, supporting 8 principal tour leaders, a further 5 guides around Cape Town, 3 specialist leaders further afield, and 8 guides with our sister company Cape Town Pelagics.


Tertius, Ethan, Callan, Marje and Jon at the British Birdwatching Fair - August 2014
Tertius, Ethan, Callan, Marje and Jon at the British Birdwatching Fair in August 2014.

Our office team:
 Callan Cohen
 Marje Hemp
 Amanda Kropman
 Michael Mills
 Deirdre Vrancken
 Ethan Kistler

Our principal tour leaders:
 Callan Cohen
 Dalton Gibbs
 Tertius Gous
 Joe Grosel
 Alastair Kilpin
 Ethan Kistler
 Michael Mills
 Deirdre Vrancken
 Seth Musker
 Nick Fordyce

Our Cape Town bird guides:
 Andrew de Blocq
 Cliff Dorse
 Campbell Fleming
 Nick Fordyce
 Dalton Gibbs
 Alastair Kilpin
 Ethan Kistler
 Seth Musker
 Barrie Rose
 Otto Schmidt

Specialist leaders:
 Brenden Pienaar
 Japie Claassen
 Claire Spottiswoode

Our pelagic guides:
 Alvin Cope
 Andrew de Blocq
 Cliff Dorse
 Nick Fordyce
 Dalton Gibbs
 Rob Leslie
 Seth Musker
 Dominic Rollinson
 Barrie Rose
 Vincent Ward


Callan Cohen
Director of Birding Africa and Principal Tour Leader
Callan Cohen, Birding Africa director and principal tour leader

Callan has had a life-long dedication to birds and founded Birding Africa when he was still a university student. Since then, he has led over 100 tours and expeditions to 23 African countries, both for Birding Africa and British and American bird tour companies. Callan has acted as a consultant for the BBC Natural History Unit and has even shown Bill Oddie some of the birds around Cape Town!

Callan has spent much of his life traveling to the remotest parts of Africa in search of birds, with his highlights being finding Congo Peafowl after 17 days on foot and canoe in Africa's largest rainforest, Warsangli Linnets in the Daalloo mountains of Somalia, and rediscovering Namuli Apalis in Mozambique, not seen since it was described to science in 1932. He has co-authored two birding books, including the Southern African Birdfinder, a guide to finding over 1400 species in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar (and was once the youngest person to have seen a landmark 800 species in southern Africa, a few years ago now!). Callan has served on the Birdlife South Africa Council as Chairman of the Cape Bird Club, and chaired the Western Cape Rarities Committee.

Callan is also a research associate of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, where he completed his doctorate on the evolution of African desert birds in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley. Some of his scientific publications are listed here. However, he's also a dedicated natural historian and has a passion for all things natural, including flora & trees, dragonflies, butterflies, mammals, frogs, reptiles, etc!

Marje Hemp
Operations Manager and Tour Consultant for Southern & Eastern Africa
Marje Hemp, Birding Africa operations manager and tour consultant

Marje loves to combine travel and birding, and together with her husband Jon, has birded on all 7 continents! She has lived in Southern, North and East Africa and brings a wealth of experience to our offices to make birding trips across the continent run smoothly. Previously, she worked on producing natural history books at Struik Publishers and was the production manager at Getaway travel magazine. Marje is an extremely active person, and has cycled the Cape Argus Cycle Tour over 30 times - a woman's record achievement!

Amanda Kropman
Operations Manager of Cape Town Pelagics and Tour Consultant for Birding Africa
Cape Town Pelagics operations manager & Birding Africa tour consultant

Amanda grew up in Cape Town, spending much time outdoors with parents who took the family on birding and safari adventures in Southern Africa. She gained a further appreciation for natural history taking Zoology and Botany in first year B.Sc. before focusing on microbial and biochemical studies. A registered tour guide, she combines her knowledge of birding and ecotourism to organise our tours around Cape Town and further afield. She's been the Operations Manager of Cape Town Pelagics for over 7 years and has successfully organised dozens of pelagic trips, quite an achievement in one of the windiest places on earth! Amanda is a keen hiker and cyclist and has represented South Africa in international cycling competitions.

Deirdre Vrancken
Primate / Mammal Tour Leader and Tour Consultant
Deirdre Vrancken, Birding Africa tour leader and tour consultant - primates & mammals

Deirdre lives in Cape Town, where she guides and organises primate and mammal-focussed tours in Madagascar (the lemurs are a strong favourite), Uganda (gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates) and Tanzania (big cats and wildebeest migration). Her previous work in conservation ecology and primatology led her to study Water Buffalo in India, Pronghorn Antelopes in Montana, African Elephants and Painted Hunting Dogs in Africa, as well as our closest living relatives, Bonobos, in the jungles of the Congo. She holds M.Sc. degrees in Ecology from the Brussels Free University and the University of California at Davis.

Michael Mills
Principal Tour Leader and Itinerary Development
Michael Mills, Birding Africa principal tour leader

Michael Mills grew up "in the bush" in the Kalahari and Kruger National Parks where his parents were carnivore researchers. Michael's incredible focus, dedication and ability to locate and show people Africa's toughest birds is probably unequalled on the continent. He has led dozens of tours in Southern, East, Central, West and North Africa and his experience in locating birds on just the softest of calls or briefest of views impresses those who have travelled with him (see Client Comments). There is seldom a tour where he doesn't make an interesting discovery such as finding a new species for a country or record an undescribed bird call (and he has published these in the scientific literature). Not only is Michael one of our principal leaders, but he also helps extensively with scouting and planning our most challenging itineraries.

Michael has a Masters degree in Conservation Biology and also runs a bird and forest conservation project in Angola. Michael has birded extensively in Australia, Asia, South America and Antarctica, but says he always finds Africa more exciting and rewarding.

Tertius Gous
Principal Tour Leader
Tertius Gous, Birding Africa principal tour leader

Tertius grew up in the bushveld in South Africa has birded widely across Africa. He now leads tours for Birding Africa in South Africa, Uganda, Namibia and the Okavango, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia and Madagascar. Besides birds, Tertius has a broad interest in all wildlife, especially mammals. He is trained as a vet and volunteers his special skills for penguin conservation, and has travelled all the way to Tristan du Cunha to help save oiled penguins there. He is also an accomplished and well-known bird photographer who has that rare balance between showing people good birds and sharing his photographic insights. He also our only guide to have shown clients both Green-breasted and African Pittas in one year!

Alastair Kilpin
Principal Tour Leader
Alastair Kilpin, Birding Africa principal tour leader

Alastair has been attached to binoculars since the age of 10 and things do not appear to be changing soon. His wide-ranging interest in the natural world has developed whilst growing up on a farm in the Western Cape, and over the past 13 years living and working in the African bushveld from the Serengeti to the lowveld near the Kruger National Park. He is not only an experienced and knowledgeable guide, but has also managed a guide training school, as well as a number of safari lodges and private game reserves over the last 7 years.

Birding highlights are too numerous to mention, but in Africa, finding the first African Pitta for the Serengeti whilst trying to track a leopard must rank close to the top! Alastair has been an active atlasser with the Tanzanian bird atlas and the current South African SABAP2 project. He rates patience, persistence and an appreciation for the natural world as key to great birding. He has birded in the Americas, Europe and India. He currently leads bird and mammal tours throughout Africa, and while he is home in the Cape writing and looking after kids, he takes every opportunity to guide day trips and longer tours around Cape Town to show interested birders some of the trickier Cape endemics.

Dalton Gibbs
Principal Tour Leader
Dalton Gibbs, Birding Africa principal tour leader

Dalton Gibbs has long been a key person in the City of Cape Town's Nature Conservation and his various responsibilities have included running Rondevlei Nature Reserve, monitoring critically endangered flora, assessing biodiversity of reserves, monitoring bird breeding colonies and chasing down escaped hippos - which regularly graze on his lawn at night at his home on the edge of Rondevlei Nature Reserve! Dalton leads our tours across South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania, and has been leading Cape Town Pelagics trips for many years. Besides his birding skills, Dalton is a well-rounded naturalist with a deep interest in all aspects of ecology -- and history if you get him started!

Joe Grosel
Principal Tour Leader
Joe Grosel, Birding Africa principal tour leader

Joe grew up in northern South Africa and since a very young age showed a great passion for the natural environment around him, and has been leading bird and wildlife tours for over 20 years now. He is an exceptional birder and his team has set the record of over 300 bird species recorded in one day around his home town in South Africa. He is based in the Limpopo Province, were he has been instrumental in establishing birding routes, bird clubs and birding sites. Joe is qualified in conservation and wildlife management and has a Masters in ornithology. Joe has been involved in a vast array of wildlife related activities ranging from field research in the Kruger National Park, game capture and translocation, field guide training, management of large private game reserves and environmental management for local government.

Ethan Kistler
Tour Leader and United States Representative
Ethan Kistler, Birding Africa tour leader

Ethan moved from Ohio to Cape Town, where he is specializing in Africa's birds and leading tours for Birding Africa in South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Ethan studied biology at the University of Cape Town, gaining extensive knowledge of the ecology and birdlife in Southern Africa. He has traveled widely from Cape Town in South Africa to the Mount Kilimanjaro of East Africa, birding all the way. Ethan helped set up the outings for "The Biggest Week in American Birding" in Ohio where he represented Birding Africa as one of the sponsors of that event in 2014. Ethan is Southern Africa's eBird data reviewer and is on the board of the Ohio Ornithological Society.

Seth Musker
Tour Leader around South Africa and Cape Town Pelagics Guide
Seth Musker, Birding Africa & Cape Town Pelagics tour leader

Birding has been a major passion of Seth's since a young age. He has lived in both Namibia and South Africa and has birded widely in these countries as well as in Kenya, India and Ecuador. Seth has been working with Birding Africa for 5 years, initially helping in the office, then guiding around Cape Town, and now leads tours across the whole of South Africa. He also guides for Cape Town Pelagics, and his pelagic experience includes two-and-a-half months of seabird surveys to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Seth loves all natural history and has also studied the Cape flora. He's in the final stages of a master's degree at the University of Cape Town, investigating the evolution of the Succulent Karoo flora.

Barrie Rose
Tour Leader around Cape Town and Cape Town Pelagics Guide
Barrie Rose, Birding Africa & Cape Town Pelagics tour leader

Barrie is famous as the most experienced pelagic birder in Cape Town who has added tremendously to our knowledge of rare seabirds off South Africa. Born and bred Capetonian, Barrie's deep interest in nature started with his grandfather Walter Rose, a pioneering herpetologist after whom the endemic Table Mountain Ghost Frog (Heleophryne rosei) is named. Land birds and pelagic seabirds, the region's mammals, reptiles and frogs absorbed Barrie's fascination and led him to explore unsual places in Africa (Equatorial Guinea, Socotra and sub-Antarctic Islands), South America, Asia, the Antipodes and Antarctica.

Barrie's observations of dwindling seabird populations, while he worked at Marine and Coastal Management and I & J Fishing, led him to institute changes that reduce the impacts of fisheries on seabirds. He has consulted for the seabird portion of Sasol Birds of Southern Africa, the 'Seasonal Table for Seabirds' in Essential Birding and the Southern African Birdfinder, and the South African Rareties Committee for over ten years. Barry is a talented photographer (but a birder first and foremost) and has been guiding for local and international birding companies for over 30 years. Barrie now monitors conservation compliance in international fishing vessels and regularly leads trips for Cape Town Pelagics and Birding Africa.

Otto Schmidt
Tour Leader around Cape Town
Otto Schmidt, Birding africa tour leader

Otto's interest in natural history and birding was encouraged from an early age by his parents and school holidays were often spent in the Kruger National Park and the KwaZulu-Natal parks. His father Rudolf was Cape Bird Club vice-chairman and newsletter editor for many years, roles Otto has continued that tradition, being both both chairman of the Cape Bird Club for 10 years and editing the club's Promerops newsletter for even longer! His southern African species list stands at over 700 and he enjoys bird photography. His birding trips in Africa have included Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Madagascar.

Campbell Fleming
Tour Leader around South Africa
Campbell Fleming, Birding Africa tour leader

Campbell's interest in birds was sparked at the tender age of seven after seeing his first Lammergeier soaring above the majestic Drakensberg, and he has now birded across the whole country. Some of his best garden birds in Cape Town have included Knysna Warbler and Buff-spotted Flufftail. Campbell was a volunteer for Birding Africa for the 350 bird species photographed in one day project - see 350.birdingafrica.com. In addition to birding, he has studied biology at the University of Cape Town and his interests include hiking, photography, sport, and traveling.

Nick Fordyce
Tour Leader around South Africa and Cape Town Pelagics Guide


Nick grew up in Johannesburg and developed a passion for the natural world after numerous family trips to nature reserves in Mpumulanga and the Kruger National Park. The huge variety of lowveld birds opened his eyes to the wonderful world of birds and this has subsequently resulted in him pursuing a career focused on the conservation of the natural world. Nick completed his undergraduate degree in zoology and ecology at UCT and then did further studies (Honours in Botany and Masters in Environmental Law) also at UCT. Nick is also involved in research on urban raptors with the FitzPatrick Institute.

At the start of 2015 Nick embarked on 6 months of travel through South America and Antarctica where he pursued a number of iconic bird and mammal species. Upon returning to South Africa he joined Birding Africa where he now specialises in pelagic and day trips around Cape Town.

Andrew de Blocq
Tour Leader around South Africa and Cape Town Pelagics Guide


Andrew comes from a family passionate about nature and the outdoors, and was brought up with a bird book at his side. What was a passing interest in childhood has grown into an academic career trajectory, with Andrew having completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2013, majoring in Applied Biology and Ecology & Evolution. Andrew's Honours year saw him working on Spotted Hyenas in northern KwaZulu-Natal, before leading a research project for 4 months investigating the importance of birding tourism to national parks around South Africa. In 2015 Andrew began his Masters degree through the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at UCT, looking at the disturbance effects of boat-based tourism on the waterbirds of the Ramsar-designated De Hoop Vlei. While undergoing fieldwork Andrew has recorded in excess of 200 birds on the reserve, one of the most complete bird lists available for the area.

Andrew is passionate about sharing South Africa's biodiversity with everyone he meets, and is currently studying part-time towards his FGASA Level 1 Nature Guide course. His ultimate bird moment was assisting with the fitment of a GPS-tracking unit to a majestic Martial Eagle in Kruger National Park. Andrew founded the UCT Birding Club along with Birding Africa guides Seth Musker and Campbell Fleming, and was elected chairperson for its inaugural year in 2016.

Brenden Pienaar
Specialist Tour Leader in the Kruger National Park and surrounds
Brenden Pienaar, Birding Africa tour leader

Brenden Pienaar has always experienced a special magnetism towards natural spaces and their ecological functioning. Consequently, he has made a conscious effort to gain as much experience and understanding of these complex systems over the past thirteen years to better equip him for a life dedicated to their conservation and management.

He started with a National Diploma in Nature Conservation, which included an all important experiential year's placement in the world famous Kruger National Park. It was during this time that Brenden completed (separately) the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa's (FGASA) qualifications that would allow him to conduct primitive multi-day trails in potentially dangerous game areas.

Ten years down the line, Brenden is a passionate bird and nature guide based in the greater Kruger National Park. Equipped with a SKS (Special Knowledge and Skills) Savanna Birding qualification and an MSc degree in ecology, his calm nature and ability to interpret the inter-connectedness of the natural environment makes him a popular tour leader.

Japie Claassen
Specialist Tour Leader in the Karoo, South Africa and Namibia
Japie Claassen, Birding Africa tour leader

Japie has been birding for more than 30 years around his Karoo home area, where he has become the specialist in finding endemics from the spectacular bustards to the cryptic larks. He lives in Beaufort West which is well-situated for birding the Karoo National Park and surrounding areas. He has seen over 750 species in southern Africa while leading birding trips to all parts of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana over the last 10 years.


Claire Spottiswoode
Co-founder of Birding Africa and Expedition Leader
Claire Spottiswoode

Cape Town-born Claire is a co-founder of Birding Africa and is currently based for half the year in Cambridge where she completed her doctorate and now pursues her academic career: read about her amazing discoveries here: www.africancuckoos.com.

Birding is still a major passion for Claire and she leads expeditions to remotes places in Africa including Mozambique, Ethiopia and Zambia. She has co-authored three books on birding in Africa, including the Southern African Birdfinder, a guide to finding over 1400 species in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar, and Where to Watch Birds in Ethiopia.

Cliff Dorse
Tour Leader around Cape Town and Cape Town Pelagics Guide
Cliff Dorse, Birding Africa & Cape Town Pelagics tour leader

Cliff is fast developing a reputation as one of the top seabird guides in South Africa and regularly leads our pelagic trips from Cape Town. Cliff works for the City of Cape Town Nature Conservation and has been instrumental in securing new protected areas full of endangered plants and animals. He even found South Africa's first Snowy Egret near one of the reserves where he was working. Cliff is a very well-rounded naturalist and his interests range from amaryllid flora to snakes, and Cliff and his wife Suretha are among a small group of people ever to have found the beautiful Fisk's House Snake. He has birded across Africa and has co-led a Birding Africa tour to Cameroon.

Dominic Rollinson
Cape Town Pelagics Guide
Dominic Rollinson, Cape Town Pelagics tour leader

Dominic got hooked on birds at the age of eight and has not looked back since. He grew up in Zululand, where he spent many hours in the area's game reserves and become well-known for all his sightings. He has travelled extensively in southern Africa in search of the region's diverse birds and wildlife. Dom moved down to Cape Town to pursue doctorate on saving albatrosses, researching ways with Peter Ryan to reduce seabird bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery. This has given him many months at sea, with trips to Tristan da Cunha, Prince Edward Islands and Antarctica. Dominic frequently guides our Cape Town Pelagics trips and has found many rarities.

Vincent Ward
Cape Town Pelagics Guide
Grey-backed Storm Petrel

Vince has been guiding Cape Town Pelagics trips for a number of years and recently found one of the only records of Grey-backed Storm Petrel in South Africa on one of our trips. He is very interested in seabird conservation and is presently completing his doctorate in Conservation Biology at the University of the Western Cape. His main focus is on causes and scale of colonial seabird mortalities, with an eye on management and mitigation.

Rob Leslie
Cape Town Pelagics Guide
Immature Wandering Albatross © Rob Leslie

Rob has spent more days at sea observing seabirds in the Southern Oceans than just about anyone (well over 1000)! He's worked as a fisheries research scientist for decades and is also very interested in cetaceans. Rob recently found one of the only records of Grey-backed Storm Petrel in South Africa on one of our trips. Rob has birded widely in Africa and internationally.

Alvin Cope
Cape Town Pelagics Guide

A veteran Cape Town sport fisherman, also hooked on birds. Alvin has decades experience of Cape pelagic birding and is a very popular guide. Alvin has birded widely in Africa.


About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders. We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides' knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent. We've even written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

For feedback from our guests, please see our Client Comments. Please also browse our Latest News and Trip Reports.

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Please do not use any text, images or content from this site without permission.
Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
© Birding Africa 1997-2016 info@birdingafrica.com

[African Tailorbirding CC (CK2003/020710/23) trading as Birding Africa]
P.O. Box 22727, Scarborough, 7975, South Africa.


 

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