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.
Ben - www.ben-macdonald.co.uk
* 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.
Cape Verde Storm Petrel
White-faced Storm Petrel
Cape Verde Shearwater
Red-billed Tropicbird *
Black Heron *
Cape Verde Buzzard
Cape Verde Swift
Cape Verde Warbler
Black-crowned Sparrow Lark (nigriceps)
(Bourne's / Cape Verde Purple Heron)
(Cape Verde Peregrine) *
(Cape Verde Barn Owl)