Birding Africa Black Harriers

Why will a group of African birding tour leaders travel to the Middle East? Because we’ve come to find out where “our” birds go, and to try and help save them. And we need a little help from you.

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Unconstrained by the limitations of passports, borders and airplane ticket prices, we can only marvel at the freedom of many birds’ movements from their northern breeding grounds to their African “wintering” areas. Yet their travels expose them to extreme dangers: along the flyways that connect the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, many are slaughtered by hunters. We really believe that these birds don’t belong to the hunters in any one country, but rather to unite all of us.

Birding Africa logoFewer and fewer arrive back in Africa each year, but what can we do? Despite the really tough challenges facing the Middle East at the moment, our friends and colleagues at Doğa Derneği (BirdLife Turkey) have stepped up to the task and are heading out into the field and making a real difference to reduce this hunting. Please help us support them them by clicking on the donate button to the right. 

And birders like nothing more than a bit of friendly competition and camaraderie, so this journey is going to take us to the Middle East to experience and promote this incredible migration firsthand – while competing against some of the world’s top birders! Even though the Birding Africa Black Harriers have never been to Israel before, we look forward to being welcomed by “our” birds as the plane touches down and to run with it from there….!

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Meet the Team

Callan Cohen

Callan Cohen

Callan Cohen 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 of walking in Africa’s largest rainforest in 2005, 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 led over 100 tours and expeditions to 23 African countries for Birding Africa (www.birdingafrica.com), a bird tour company he founded in 1997. Callan also founded Cape Town Pelagics (www.capetownpelagics.com) which runs weekly pelagic trips and donates all its profits to albatross conservation.
One of his main objectives is sharing Africa’s birds with others. 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. 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.

Dominic Rollinson

Dominic Rollinson has been birding for most of his life, since a school project in second grade ignited his passion. Growing up in Zuluand (South Africa) he spent most weekends birding the various game reserves and forests in the area, and has travelled extensively throughout southern Africa. He has since moved south to Cape Town for a PhD in seabird conservation at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. His PhD has meant he has spent many months onboard tuna longline vessels over the last few years aiming to reduce seabird mortality in tuna longline fisheries. He works as a part-time guide for Birding Africa (www.birdingafrica.com) and regularly guides pelagic trips off Cape Point for Cape Town Pelagics (www.capetownpelagics.com). One of his birding highlights was 3 weeks on the Shetland Islands (Scotland) during the autumn migration and he cannot wait to witness the spring migration in Israel.

Dominic Rollinson

Faansie Peacock

Faansie Peacock

As his name suggests, Faansie Peacock lives and breathes birds. He likes to describe himself as a professional birder: when he is not in the field studying bird biology or looking for rarities, he spends his time researching, painting and writing about birds. He has published a number of books, and is both author and illustrator of the best-selling Chamberlain’s LBJs – a ground-breaking guide to southern Africa’s ‘Little Brown Jobs’. The latter includes a number of migratory warblers, flycatchers and wheatears that are threatened by illegal bird trapping along the flyways connecting the Palearctic and Afrotropics.

Faansie’s latest book, Chamberlain’s Waders, is a reflection of his passion for migratory shorebirds. In fact, Faansie lives on the outskirts of the picturesque West Coast National Park – arguably South Africa’s top wader-watching hotspot – and he brags that he can watch knots, godwits and turnstones migrating over his house. However, Peacocks may be spotted in a variety of natural habitats throughout Africa.

Faansie is a prolific writer of popular and academic articles for magazines, journals and blogs. He is also a popular public speaker that has presented talks and courses on more than 30 topics. Faansie was previously a Curator of Birds at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History. He holds degrees in Environmental Science, Zoology and Ecology from the University of Pretoria.

Ethan Kistler

Originally from the United States, Ethan Kistler began birding at the ripe age of 10 when he literally woke up one morning and decided that he wanted to become a birder. Since then he’s worked field jobs from Ohio to Alaska, traveled to over 30 countries on 5 continents, and led birding trips throughout North America and Africa (where he now lives). When not leading tours, he’s chasing vagrants showing up in the Western Cape, off on spontaneous birding jaunts, and reviewing data as one of eBird’s data reviewers for much of the continent. Previously the Education and Outreach Specialist for Black Swamp Bird Observatory and director-at-large of the Ohio Ornithological Society, Ethan’s main focus now is guiding full-time for Birding Africa (www.birdingafrica.com) having fallen in love with the continent.

Ethan Kistler