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Southern African Birdfinder

Buy it from, or collect it from co-author Callan Cohen at the Birding Africa office in Cape Town.

Second Printing!
Southern African Birdfinder:
Where to Find 1400 Bird Species in Southern Africa and Madagascar

Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Jonathan Rossouw
ISBN: 1868727254
Language: English
Format: 210mm x 148mm
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 448
Colour photographs and maps throughout.
Published: 2006-04-07
Imprint: Struik

Now in its second print run, this best-selling book has become the essential companion to all local bird field guides. The Southern African Birdfinder fills a gap in the book market for a comprehensive guide to the regionís top birding destinations and to finding southern Africa and Madagascarís most desirable birds. The authors outline and describe 39 key bird routes and more than 330 birding sites (and their associated birds) across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and the little-documented but increasingly popular areas of Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. All sites are ranked into one of three categories of priority: essential (the regionís best); excellent (top sites but expendable to a time-limited visitor) and local interest (ideal for those looking for new areas to explore). Sites include practical details of access, best times to visit, habitat diversity and the birds that occur there and general natural history; the more important sites feature a detailed map. A guide to finding the regionís top 150 birds and an annotated checklist conclude the book.

Book reviews:

Beautifully-produced and superbly designed this is THE essential “bird finder” book for southern Africa. If a better or more attractive “Where to Find…” guide has been produced I’ve never seen it…and for birding the region it is indispensable.

Perhaps a better title for this book would be “How to see 1400 bird species in Southern Africa in the least possible time!”. The first thing you think when picking up this book is “How on earth did they gather all this material?”. This really is a tour de force and packs an enormous amount of information into a very compact book and any previous site guide for the region is now truly redundant. Covering 335 birding sites in South Africa (193), Namibia (27), Botswana (14), Zimbabwe (27), Mozambique (21), Malawi (16), Zambia (18), Angola (5) and Madagascar (13). A helpful aspect is that these sites are divided up into 38 birding routes that allow the reader to plan trips that may last several days or a week. Each site is described and in many cases a map is included. Key target species for each are highlighted in red and are supported by a cast of commoner species. Many of these are illustrated. For a number of sites the description is very detailed with step-by-step guidance around the area. Some 150 species are selected for special treatment in a separate chapter where tips are given on where and when to find them. A full checklist list of the 1400 species covered indicates each bird’s status and a list of sites where they may be found, cross-referenced back to the main text. Other introductory chapters include useful information about the region including a section on pelagic birding with a helpful month-by-month species list. This is a great book that really does justice to a fantastic part of Africa and its birds.
Keith Betton.

... First and foremost, you need the South African Birdfinder . A site-guide par excellence, this is a mine of pin-sharp information, and a delight to use, especially to anyone brought up on those dreary ‘Where to watch Birds in…’ from the UK. Makes trip reports like this one (almost!?) redundant. ... The South African Birdfinder, unquestionably the best site guide ever written (and I stated that in one of my trip reports!!)
Oscar Campbell


Essential Birding: Western South Africa - Key Routes from Cape Town to the Kalahari

Buy it directly from co-author Callan Cohen at the Birding Africa office in Cape Town or buy it from our stand UK Birdfair. Please email to enquire about availability first.

Essential Birding: Western South Africa - Key Routes from Cape Town to the Kalahari
Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode
ISBN: 1-86872-524-3
Language: English
Format: 210mm x 148mm
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 136
Colour photographs and maps throughout.
Published: 2000
Imprint: Struik

Western South Africa is one of the world's greatest biodiversity hotspots and is legendary among international and local birders alike for the remarkable suite of birds that are found here and no-where else.

This guide details how and where to find these species, as well as other eco-tourism attractions such as big game, whales and flowers.

Authors Callan Cohen and Claire Spottiswoode, research students at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, link over 100 birding sites into practical routes that encompass the whole of southern and western South Africa.

These birding routes range from the mountainous environs of Cape Town to the West and South coasts and inland to the famed desert regions of the Kalahari, Bushmanland and Namaqualand.

The routes are well served with detailed, full colour maps, and photographs illustrating the most sought-after birds and their environments. The time-limited visitor is informed of exactly how to get to each of the regions' most rewarding birding sites, as well as what one can expect to see there, and the best times and seasons to visit. Also included are practical suggestions for trip planning and a comprehensive annotated bird list.

Book reviews:

...this really is an essential guide for any birder visiting the Cape...a real delight to read...not only clear and easy to follow, but spot-on for locating the specialties...I recommend that you buy a copy, you may well be tempted to make plans to visit this outstanding region.
By Ron Johns, Birding World

... an absolutely fantastic book...I don"t go anywhere without consulting the book beforehand… I"m already over-dependent on it.

By John Maytham, Cape Talk Radio

No serious birder should even consider stepping onto the Cape without this guide. Martin Birch, Surfbirds

Essential reading.
Bo Beolens, Fat Birder

...takes you by the hand and shoves new species in front of your binoculars...hard to imagine birding without this book.
Cameron Ewart-Smith, Getaway

...excellent tips for finding and identifying species...a standard tool, for local and visiting birders alike
James Harrison, SA Bird Atlas, Veld & Flora

… linked to practical routes which encompass the whole region
Mark Johnston, SA4x4 magazine

Essential Birding was raffled by Bill Oddie during his South Africa trip in association with Africa Birds & Birding

...possibly the best 'Where to find' I've ever read...
Gruff Dodd, Wales, United Kingdom

Link here to read full online reviews on Surfbirds and The Fat Birder

Where to obtain a copy

In South Africa: Essential birding is out of print and can only be obtained from the authors, but the Southern African Birdfinder has been stocked by
Exclusive Books, Wordsworth and Bushwillow stores throughout South Africa. It has also been available at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens bookshop, any bookshop in the V&A Waterfront, international airports, at evening meetings of certain bird clubs (including the Cape Bird Club, the Eastern Cape and Tygerberg Bird Clubs), from the BirdLife South Africa store, or from the authors directly (see below).

In the United Kingdom and Europe: Essential birding is out of print and can only be obtained from the authors, but the Southern African Birdfinder has been stocked by a number of mail order bookstores. We recommend purchasing a copy with Wildsounds although it is also available at the Natural History Bookstore, Subbuteo Books and and worldwide online orders are accepted by these suppliers.

In North America: Essential birding is out of print and can only be obtained from the authors, but the Southern African Birdfinder is available from Wildsounds (a highly recommended source) although it is also available at the Natural History Bookstore, Subbuteo Books and and worldwide online orders are accepted by these suppliers. We hope that American Birding Association Sales will carry this title shortly.

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.

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