Love finding birds with a top bird guide? Meet Martin and Australian Geographic

by | Jan 30, 2023 | Bird News, Guide Diaries

📷 Love finding birds? Meet Martin Maderthaner (pic: Paul Rushworth, Mt Korong AUSTRALIA)

Read time: 5 minutes

If you love finding [and photographing] birds, meet top bird guide Martin Maderthaner who leads Australian Geographic’s Mallee to Mungo tours. Not only did Martin research and design this trip for Australian Geographic, he also has close on 3 decades experience as a bird guide both in Australia and Africa.

We’re fortunate to have him working for us at Echidna Walkabout!

If you love finding birds you must meet Martin

For most of his adult life Martin Maderthaner has been a wildlife guide – that’s 27 years!

Martin’s special passion is birds and his knowledge of avifauna across two continents is remarkable. I know because I’ve seen him in action both here in Australia and in his home continent of Africa.

Must you love finding birds to be a top bird guide?

There’s a difference between being a birder and being a bird guide and a big jump to top bird guide.

Every birder I’ve met loves birds, it comes with the hobby. But to be a bird guide you need a lot more than a love of birds, you must love finding birds. That comes with the job.

Plus you need at least three other skills:

  • great eyes AND ears
  • an encyclopaedic memory
  • thousands of hours finding birds

But to be a top bird guide there’s three more absolute prerequisites :

  • an innate sense of timing and place about where birds might be
  • a love of people including knowing how to handle and care for them
  • boundless energy and enthusiasm at any time of day or night.

Having worked with Martin I can tell you that he fits neatly into the Top Bird Guide category! So how did that happen….

African connections

One of the most advanced and rigorous wildlife guide training courses in the world is provided by the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa. This is where Martin learnt his craft as a guide. (required standards in Africa for wildlife guides are considerably higher than in Australia)

He then went on to lead safaris across southern and east Africa — sometimes travelling for as long as 30 days at a time — before progressing to work as a guide at some of Africa’s top wildlife safari lodges.

As a result he has a comprehensive knowledge of wildlife across a mind boggling 14 countries in Africa: Botswana, Eswanti, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa,Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.

Love finding birds African Shoebill, Lake Victoria - Uganda Martin Maderthaner Echidna Walkabout
On safari, Lake Victoria – Uganda : African Shoebill

When it comes to birding, Africa is a birder’s paradise: Avibase cites at least 2,400 species. But can you imagine trying to remember and identify that many birds?

By comparison Australia has ~ 950 species.

Loving birds in Australia

In 2004 Martin visited Australia and undertook an 18,000 kms road trip with his Australian wife to be, Jennifer, to get to know the country and its wildlife. Looking at the place through the eyes of an experienced African wildlife guide he fell in love — especially with the birds of Australia — and set out to find as many as he could.

Luckily Martin moved to Australia and joined us at Echidna Walkabout in late 2008. He is now our Operations Manager and continues to work as a Senior Wildlife and Bird Guide.

Three of his favourite birding places are the Mallee of north-west Victoria, Mungo National Park in south-west New South Wales and East Gippsland.

Although he now lives in Australia, Martin continues to operate specially designed safaris into the wilderness regions of Southern and East Africa. Learn more about these here: Explore Nature.

As both his employer and as a safari participant on numerous visits to Africa, I can attest to his boundless energy and enthusiasm as a guide — he receives high praise from every tour he guides both here in Australia and in Africa.

Let Martin guide you : join one of his Australian Geographic bird tours

Martin guides Australian Geographic’s “Mallee and Outback Birds of Victoria and Mungo” tour. This trip starts in Melbourne and spends 8 days birding in Central and north-western Victoria and in south-west NSW including: Bendigo National Park, Lake Tyrrell, Mallee country, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, Lake Mungo National Park and Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area.

It’s a classic birders trip that Echidna Walkabout was asked to design especially for Australian Geographic Travel.

Martin used his considerable skill to research and design this unique birding trip. It operates twice a year — in Autumn and Spring — and is guided by Martin.

Find Mallee & Outback Birds with Martin:

Love photographing birds?

So does Martin. Here’s a magnificent gallery of photos from one of his recent tours in Mungo and Hattah-Kulkyne National Parks.

Love finding birds Pink Cockatoos Mungo National Park Martin Maderthaner Echidna Walkabout
Pink Cockatoos – Mungo National Park : click to view the gallery

Don’t miss these related stories:

Echidna Walkabout is a Founding Member of Australian Wildlife Journeys.
We also create, guide and operate tours for Australian Geographic Travel

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