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benmacdonald Tuesday 6th February 2018 09:45

Cape Verde clean-up: 1-9 April 2018
Dear all,

Last year I advertised for a trip I had planned to Azerbaijan, a difficult destination, where on a trip in June we found virtually all of the country's birds including locating caspian tit, for the first time since the late 1970s I believe. This year I'm planning another 'military style' trip in the Cape Verde Islands. Sadly the chances of Magnificent Frigatebird now seem remote, but I will certainly be allowing a full day, perhaps 2 days if others are keen, for that species, around Boa Vista. The other target species can be seen below.

I plan most of my trips many months before leaving, meaning that birders get the advantage of just bringing their good company and skills to the trip. April is a far better time to visit the Verde islands than March. There is a much greater chance of now-nesting red-footed booby, cape verde petrel and other seabirds, whilst Cape Verde purple heron now longer needs to be seen at its nest tree. This is why trips were traditionally run in March.

Whilst accommodation, internal flights and car hire are all reasonable on Verde, there are two more expensive ventures that in my mind are definitely worth it, and I'll be hoping other participants can share the costs for. That will be overnight stays in Branco and Il de Passaros for seabirds, the only sure-fire way to ensure white-faced and cape verde petrels but just an incredible experience in its own right. The order of islands visited will be decided by flight availability, which I would book soon, so please let me know any takers.

As far as I can see, for any WP birders keen for sun, easy birding and good adventure, Cape Verde offers around 18 or so species found reliably nowhere else, without any of the real hassle of more 'intrepid' destinations. That said, I'm not a relaxed birder - we'll be gunning hard for every single species.

You can find out a bit more about me on my website, I'm used to travelling with cameraman as part of my work and get on with all sorts of people. I'm happy to plan most of the trip, make sure we build in everyone else's plan too, and lead on the driving, but sharing it would be good.

Best wishes,

Ben -


* indicates lower probability. Brackets = IOC subspecies, not currently split. Birds at the bottom are local races that should prove relatively easy to see. In my view, the heron and barn owl are particularly distinctive and already under consideration for species status by IOC.

Fea's Petrel
Boyd's Shearwater
Cape Verde Storm Petrel
Bulwer's Petrel
White-faced Storm Petrel
Cape Verde Shearwater
Red-footed Booby
Red-billed Tropicbird *
Magnificent Frigatebird
Intermediate Egret
Black Heron *
Cape Verde Buzzard
Helmeted Guineafowl
Cape Verde Swift
Grey-headed Kingfisher
Raso Lark
Cape Verde Warbler
Iago Sparrow
Black-crowned Sparrow Lark (nigriceps)

(Bourne's / Cape Verde Purple Heron)
(Alexander's Kestrel)
(Neglected Kestrel)
(Cape Verde Peregrine) *
(Cape Verde Barn Owl)

Cream-coloured Courser
Hoopoe Lark
Bar-tailed Lark
Blackcap (gularis)

GWB77 Wednesday 7th February 2018 11:26

Hi Ben - have you crunched any figures yet for an approximate cost for this trip?

Eugeni Wednesday 7th February 2018 18:17

Hi Ben,

I'm interested in Cape Verde, but I cannot go this spring. Usually people go in march/april but some guide said that november can be best. Basicaly seem that endemics are easier in november, pelagic are better in spring. As you have harddly studied this place, what is your opinion going in november.

benmacdonald Thursday 8th February 2018 22:17

Hi Mark, I think 1000 would be fair at this stage, perhaps less with split costs, but no wish to lead you up the garden path. Perhaps DM me and we can talk it over in a bit more detail if you're keen?

Patudo Friday 9th February 2018 23:26

Hi Ben - interesting to see a mention of Cape Verde in the birding context. I've visited three of the islands for the (excellent) sport fishing and had the pleasure of seeing Cape Verde shearwater, brown booby, tropicbird, kestrel and buzzard. I've told myself that if I go back I need to bring a pair of binoculars and make a serious effort at finding the madens peregrine. I see you've noted this is a "lower probability" target - how difficult are they to see in your experience? I was able to see Barbarys reasonably well in the Canary Islands but obviously things might be different further south...


benmacdonald Monday 12th February 2018 14:25


Originally Posted by Eugeni (Post 3675661)
Hi Ben,

I'm interested in Cape Verde, but I cannot go this spring. Usually people go in march/april but some guide said that november can be best. Basicaly seem that endemics are easier in november, pelagic are better in spring. As you have harddly studied this place, what is your opinion going in november.

Hi Eugeni,

November could be possible of course, I'd be a little concerned about some seabirds having left the area, such as white-faced petrel, though of course the Big WP year went there in November with excellent results. I'll probably stick to April but wouldn't like to discount other months. B

DavidC Monday 12th February 2018 15:05

Hi I have visited Cape Verdi on a couple of occasions and was there a couple of weeks ago on Praia, I am a wildlife lecturer on cruise ships, Red tailed tropicbird can be seen from the ship whilst at berth. I was escort on a local tour so busy looking after passengers but had a lot of grey-headed kingfisher on telephone lines, also saw lots of blackcap and Cape Verdi warbler in the botanical gardens. A helmeted guineafowl whilst travelling on the coach. Iago sparrows were more difficult but if you go to Mindalo they are in the main square hopping around peoples feet. also saw osprey at Mindalo. Have seen the Cape Verdi shearwater on previous trip but out at sea and also the bulwers this trip about a day away from the island.

Stephen Dunstan Monday 12th February 2018 18:49


Originally Posted by benmacdonald (Post 3675075)


* indicates lower probability.

Red-billed Tropicbird *

Not sure if this is a typo, or a result of your itinerary, but I would have thought this species was a racing cert.


benmacdonald Thursday 15th February 2018 21:21

David, thank you very much indeed.

benmacdonald Thursday 15th February 2018 21:22

Stephen, well-spotted. The * should in fact refer to the now extinct, or at least very nomadic, 1-2 female Magnificent Frigatebirds on the island.

Paul Chapman Saturday 17th February 2018 15:19

5 Attachment(s)

I think that the WP Big Year's logistics of not returning to Sao Nicolau from Branco was an excellent idea. I would recommend that because we were stuck on Sao Nicolau for three days which scuppered our time on Boa Vista. That said, the delay did mean that we jammed in on Cape Verde Peregrine.

The local airline has a big reputation for unreliability particularly to and from Sao Nicolau.

A thoroughly recommended location.

All the best


benmacdonald Sunday 18th February 2018 18:33


Thank you very much indeed, yes, Big WP seemed to operate an amazingly tight ship throughout, so I'll follow your recommendations. If you feel willing, please do PM me locations for the Peregrine but understand if not.



Mike Hunter Sunday 4th March 2018 14:15


Originally Posted by benmacdonald (Post 3675075)
This year I'm planning another 'military style' trip in the Cape Verde Islands.

Hi Ben - I've long wanted to do Cape Verde but a trip to Georgia at the end of April prevents me teaming up with you on this trip.

I'd be very interested in knowing how you get on though - will you be doing any sort of report?



Paul Chapman Saturday 10th March 2018 19:16


Apologies for my oversight.

The peregrine sighting was 28.04.13:-

I think that this is a link to the spot from which it was seen - looking up towards the obvious cliffs:-!4d-24.3432891

All the best

Paul Chapman Thursday 15th March 2018 23:03

Recent news - the Reed Cormorant was still at Achada Fazenda Lagoon, Santiago on 4th March.

Good luck.

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