The Jungle Babbler - Tropical Birding's newsletter

January 17th, 2017

We have an exciting 2017 ahead, with a bumper year for tours on the horizon, and some very exciting emerging destinations for both photographers and birders...

Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter!

Check out the tour spotlight on the NEW Israel birding tour below...

(We also have the usual tour status updates, new tours, new trip reports, and upcoming events).


ISRAEL: Migration Hotspot at the  Crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe

The spectacular Palestine Sunbird is a garden bird in Israel (photo: Steve Arlow)

Israel has long been considered one of the most impressive migration locales in the World; each spring thousands of raptors, shorebirds, and songbirds pass through this narrow strip of a country, making it the "High Island of the Middle East". It is located at the junction of the great avifaunas of Europe, Asia, and Africa, making for a heady mix of species present during this busy season. The scenery of Israel is often cruelly overlooked, as the mass of birds on the move is always the most conspicuous highlight, but stark, though stunning desert landscapes also await. These are home to colorful bee-eaters, subtle larks, flocks of hardy sandgrouse, and a profusion of handsome wheatears, including Hooded, Mourning, Finsch's, and White-crowned Wheatears, among other species too from this stellar group, which reaches the apex of its diversity in this wonderful country steeped in religious history.

Wheatear diversity reaches its peak in the deserts of Israel (photo: Mourning Wheatear, Peter Alfrey)

As well as the Negev Desert, and visiting the must-see Dead Sea, we will also visit the oasis of Eilat, on the coast, where waterbirds are added to the desert environment too, with salt pans holding a dizzy variety of terns, shorebirds and gulls at this time of year, while the surrounding vegetated wadis and scrub are magnets for songbirds passing through during springtime. While most of the birding will be done by day, focusing on the cooler mornings and evenings, when avian activity is at its zenith; there will also be time for nightbirding, as Israel is home to some stellar species after dark too, like Egyptian and Nubian Nightjars, Pallid Scops-Owl, and the charismatic Desert Tawny-Owl. Other species to entice you to join include, the odd Namaqua Dove, desert-dwelling Pale Rock Sparrow, multicolored Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, handsome Woodchat and Masked Shrikes, iridescent Palestine Sunbird, rose-tinted Sinai Rosefinch, and, of course, a mind-boggling variety, and number, of eagles, buzzards, hawks, falcons, and kites that overfly Eilat in this incredible migration season.

Israel is home to some of the best hawkwatches on Earth (photo: Steppe Buzzard Steve Arlow)

Add-ons to the multitude of cultural, historical, and religious sites in the country can also be provided, to places as revered as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Sea of Galilee, or even Petra in neighboring Jordan, if desired. Birds with a backdrop of extraordinary history and landscapes are the appeal of this tour, for which we are already taking bookings for the inaugural version of this trip in spring 2018.

We will run this trip with as few as 4 people.

Israel's spectacular desertscapes are often unfairly overlooked (photo: Simon Buckell)

Next tour dates:
Israel: Migration Hotspot at the Crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe 
11 - 22 March 2017 

All of these tours are confirmed and still have space available at the time of writing. 

Birding tours:
Thailand: Mystical Asia 27 Feb-15 March 2017 (6 spaces)*
*Tour confirmed with only 2 people; small, intimate tour!!!
Oaxaca Mexico: Legendary Birds and Temples (main tour) 15-26 March 2017 (1 space)
Oaxaca, Mexico: Isthmus Extension 26 March-2 April 2017 (1 space)
Jamaica: The Caribbean Introtour 25-30 March 2017 (4 spaces)
Colorado: Chasing Chickens 14-23 April 2017 (1 space)
THE Warbler Tour: 3 States; 38 Warblers! (USA) 11-22 May 2017 (6 spaces)*
*Tour confirmed with only 2 people; small, intimate tour!!!
China: Sichuan and the Tibetan Plateau 1-17 June 2017 (1 space)
Kazakhstan: Birding the Silk Road 5-17 June 2017 (4 spaces)*
*Links with Uzbekistan & Mongolia
Uzbekistan Extension 18-25 June 2017 (4 spaces)* 
*Links with Kazakhstan & Mongolia
Mongolia: The Great Asian Wilderness 26 June-3 July 2017  (4 spaces)*
*Links with Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan
Eastern Australia: From Top to Bottom (TOUR 1) 23 Oct-11 Nov 2017 (1 space)
Eastern Australia: From Top to Bottom (TOUR 2) 25 Oct-13 Nov 2017 (5 spaces)
Madagascar: The Eighth Continent (main tour) 3 - 19 November 2017 (5 spaces)

Photo tours:
Namibia Photo Journey 1-15 October 2017 (5 spaces)
Alaska Photo Journey 9-20 June 2017 (1 space)
Ecuador Photo Journey 15-24 July 2017 (4 spaces)
South Africa Photo Journey (main tour) 21 Oct-4 Nov 2017 (6 spaces)
South Africa: Big Cat Extension 4-7 Nov 2017 (6 spaces)

Birding tours:
Uganda: Shoebill and Albertine Rift Endemics 4-19 June 2017 (3 needed)
Ecuador: The Andes Introtour 18-25 June 2017 (2 needed)
Rwanda Extension (to Uganda) 20-24 June 2017 (3 needed)
Costa Rica: The Introtour 15-25 July 2017 (1 needed)
Ecuador: The Andes Introtour 5-12 August 2017 (2 needed)
Peru: Manu and Mach Picchu 26 Aug-12 Sept 2017 (3 needed)
South Africa: Fairest Cape to Kruger 8-24 September 2017 (1 needed)
South Africa: Drakensberg The Barrier of Spears Extension 24-30 September 2017 (1 needed)
Galapagos: Birding and Nature Photography Cruise 13-22 Oct 2017 (3 needed)
Ecuador: The Andes Introtour 23-30 October 2017 (2 needed)

Photo tours:
Galapagos: Birding and Nature Photography Cruise 13-22 Oct 2017 (3 needed)
Falklands Photo Journey 2-16 December 2017 (2 needed)

These are just some of the tours we offer; for the complete tour schedule, please see our website at Also don't forget that we run dozens of customized private tours every year to these and many other destinations; a custom tour can be an attractive option for groups that enjoy traveling together, for those who want to get off the beaten track, or for people whose work schedules make joining a set-departure tour difficult.

Birding tours:
Belarus: Unspoiled Europe 29 April-7 May 2017
Israel: Migration Hotspot at the Crossroads of Asia, Africa & Europe 11-22 March 2018

Photo tours:
Yellowstone Photo Journey  30 Sept-6 Oct 2017

Birding tours:
Lowland Jungles of Borneo: Broadbills and Bristleheads 7-17 Sept 2017
Highlands of Borneo: Mount Kinabalu Extension 17-22 Sept 2017
Ecuador: The Andes Introur 
14-21 January 2018
18-25 February 2018
15-22 July 2018
19-26 August 2018
18-25 November 2018
*We will run this tour with a minimum of only 3 people

Ecuador: High Andes Extension (to the Andes Introtour)
21-23 January 2018
25-27 February 2018
22-24 July 2018
26-28 August 2018
25-27 November 2018

Photo tours:

Ecuador Photo Journey 
28 January-6 February 2018
29 July-7 August 2018

Ecuador: Amazon Extension (to the Ecuador Photo Journey)
6-11 February 2018
7-12 August 2018

Costa Rica Photo Journey 5-16 February 2018 & 16-27 February 2018*
*Please note: We are offering these departures at 2017 prices if booked before the end of January 2017.

For more trip reports, click here.

Southeast Brazil (set departure tour) Oct-Nov 2016
Northwest Argentina with Iguazu Falls Extension (set departure tour) Dec 2016

Catch up with the Tropical Birding guides and staff at the following events.

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 25-30 Jan 2017. Sam and Desiree will be heading to this Florida event, a long established birding festival entering its 20th year.

NANPA Nature Photography Summit  2-4 March 2017. Iain will be attending this event in Jacksonville, Florida.

Just send us an email to or call us at (800) 348-5941 or +1-409-515-9110 to check availability and ask any questions you might have. We'll then send you a link to our online booking form. Once we receive your booking form, we'll send you invoice for the tour deposit.
Tropical Birding Tours
(800) 348-5941