BIRDING AROUND THE WORLD

Subtitle

Zambia & NE Namibia:11-31 October  2003

INTRODUCTION

Zambia is rarely visited by Western birders despite having a lot to offer: it has a high diversity of habitats, many localised species, stable politics, reasonable infrastructure and is easily accessible. Much of the country remains covered in miombo woodland interspersed with grassy dambos along the drainage lines. Patches of moist evergreen forest, known as ‘mushitus’, are found north of about 14°S, a particularly good accessible area being the Mwinilunga district of the far northwest, where many species typical of the Congolese rainforests can be found in the mushitus. There are also superb wetlands (most notably Lochinvar National Park and the Bangweulu Swamps) and excellent montane forest and grassland birding on the Nyika Plateau (which Zambia shares with Malawi). Over 750 bird species have been recorded, the only true endemic being Chaplin’s Barbet, found in the south, but the mopane-dwelling Black-cheeked Lovebird is a near endemic and there are several species more easily seen here than anywhere else.

I was invited to join Tim and Laurel Osborne, ex-Alaskan residents who run a game farm in Northern Namibia, on their holiday birding and ringing tour of northwest Zambia. Tim and Laurel are biologists who have worked on birds and animals in Zambia and Namibia, as well as in Alaska, and offer ringers the opportunity to catch and ring a variety of species, based at their comfortable lodge in Namibia. The timing was such that I was able to combine this with a pre-arranged birding trip to Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe afterwards. Hence I flew to Jo’burg with Air Gabon, via Libreville, then on to Windhoek, Namibia where Tim collected me. We drove in his 4x4 through northern Namibia to Mwinilunga in northwest Zambia, with various stops along the way. After a week there, exploring the region and ringing, we returned most of the way back to Lusaka before heading north to Mutinondo Wilderness where we spent two full days. I had intended to return to Windhoek with Tim and Laurel, but news reached me that my mother had died, so I baled out at Lusaka and flew to Jo’burg a week early. There I had most of the day to bird southeast of town in Marievale and Suikerbosrand reserves, in a hire-car, then flew back to Gatwick with Air Gabon.

The trip went well as it allowed me to see an interesting new region and 30 new birds with delights such as Forbes's Plover, Chaplin's and Black-backed Barbets, Black-and-rufous Swallow, Fulleborne's and Grimwood's Longclaws, Black-collared Bulbul, Anchieta's and Bannerman's Sunbirds, Bar-winged Weaver and Locustfinch, as well as catching 16 new species, including Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo. My premature departure saved the long drive back but cost me more ringing, including Carmine Bee-eaters, and the chance to look for Black-cheeked Lovebird.

Jon Hornbuckle        jonathanhornbuckle at yahoo.co.uk

LOGISTICS
The rather tortuous route from UK to Namibia was devised because of the need to fly from southern Africa to Gabon afterwards, which is only possible from Jo’burg on Air Gabon. London to Jo’burg via Libreville is possibly the cheapest way of getting to South Africa, cheaper than just flying London to Libreville, but if you want to stop off en route, as I did, the cost goes up greatly. Had the flight been not overly late, I would have caught the last flight of the day from Jo’burg to Windhoek, but timekeeping does not seem to be a priority for Air Gabon. The other drawback on this route is that the flight is scheduled to leave Jo’burg for Libreville at 0540, so it is necessary to overnight in Jo’burg. It had been my intention to spend 2 nights in South Africa in order to see the breeding pair of Taita Falcon, but I had to abandon this idea. Fortunately, I was able to change my return flight and go straight home 4 weeks early at no extra cost, except for the Lusaka to Jo’burg leg. Then I was able to book a Gatwick to Libreville flight for a week later, after my mother’s funeral, to go out with the others, and claim the extra flight cost on my travel insurance.
The roads in Namibia up to the Zambia border are excellent and there is no problem in travelling the length of the Caprivi Strip now. There is a new bridge being built across the Zambezi just over the border in Zambia, which should be open by mid 2004 and the road from there to Livingstone will have been repaved all the way by then. Apart from the 60 km of unpaved road along here, we found the main roads to be surprisingly good. It was only the final 70 km from Mwinilunga to Hillwood where the 4x4 was really necessary, although we were able to go faster than a normal car on the roads beyond Lusaka as pot-holes were an intermittent hazard.
ACCOMMODATION, FOOD and COST

We stayed in comfortable lodges throughout, with the exception of the tented-camp at Greystone Park, which was fine, with good food. Tim and Laurel cooked at Hillwood and we mainly had picnic lunches. Beer was readily available.

Hillwood: Pete and Lynn Fisher nchila@uuplus.com

Mutinondo: Mike and Lari Merrett 2MWL@bushmail.net

Choma:EmmaBruce-Millernansai@zamnet.zm
Greystone Park: Mike & Jan Fisher chisongo@zamtel.zm

In Zambia it was difficult to change money, except US dollars cash or Rand in major cities. The only success with an ATM was at Barclay’s Bank in Mazabuka.  

VISAS

Required for Zambia but not Namibia or South Africa. Best to obtain on arrival if coming overland as the officials are liable to find something wrong if you already have one, to ensure they get their cut. The single entry visa cost me £35, although this may have been more than it should have cost.

MISCELLANEOUS

We had no security or health problems, although Lusaka is said to be somewhat dangerous. There is some malaria so I did take malaria prophylactics, but we saw few mosquitos.  Police were much in evidence on the main roads, with many road blocks and requests for the third party insurance certificate, and some use of radar guns for speed-checks. Everyone appeared friendly.

Climate

Zambia is similar to most south-central African countries, in that the year can be broadly divided into a hot and rainy season (Nov-Apr), a cool and dry season (May-Aug) and a hot and dry season (Sept-Oct). There is good birding throughout the year, but between August and November is the best time in both miombo and forest as this is the main breeding season. The rainy season, which was just beginning,  brings a diversity of migrants but more logistical problems and less comfortable camping. Road conditions may deteriorate, and several key sites (such as the Kafue Flats, South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks) retain only limited access.

The weather for us was quite good, mostly sun and cloud, hot at times, with some thundery rain, mainly in late afternoon. Timing a visit is tricky. We were there when the migrants were just arriving – quite a few eagles, buzzards and falcons passing, a single Dusky Lark on our last day at Hillwood, but no Blue Quail or Short-tailed Pipit for certain (though I thought I saw one in flight), and Bamboo Warbler was silent. Fortunately, Forbes’s Plover, Black-and-rufous and Red-throated Swallows were still present – probably just about to depart. If African Pitta is a priority, you need to go in Dec or Jan when they are calling.

REFERENCES

Birds of Africa: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Birds South of the Sahara. Sinclair I and Ryan P, 2003. This is the best book illustrating all the birds found in Zambia, the only other being Van Perlo’s Southern Africa guide. It is very good for showing the range of all the sub-Saharan birds and although having limitations and inaccuracies like all fieldguides, it’s portable (just), the text and illustrations are  good, and the maps are valuable although mostly rather too small for Zambia

Aspinwall & Beel's Zambian field guide is an excellent supplement to the above, with much more detail on the birds.


Could be useful to take a South African fieldguide too.

The tapes of Zambian birds by Bob Stjernstedt are very helpful, particularly 'Rare Birds of Zambia' which covers all the northern specials that are not covered by the southern African recordings.

There are few trip reports on the net, the only one of use from Western Zambia that I could find being ZAMBIAN TRIP REPORT: 22 November to 7 December  2000? By Giles Mulholland

RECOMMENDED CONTACTS

Lupus Travel for Air Gabon flights www.lupustravel.com tel 0207 3063000.

Sylvia at Sky Travel, Windhoek, tel 00264 6124 5818 liandrab.skytravel@galileosa.co.za

Tim and Laurel Osborne, Tandala Ridge Wildlife Lodge, PO Box 22
Okaukuejo via Outjo, Namibia. Tel 264-67-333408 kori@iway.na

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am very grateful for the assistance given by Carl Beel, Clide Carter, Michael Mills, Giles Mulholland, Esther Townsend and especially Pete Leonard who provided masses of information and checklists, identified my recordings and corrected errors in this report.

ITINERARY

11 October

20.30 flight from Gatwick to Libreville, Gabon.

12

07.50 flight to Joburg, arrived 17.00. Overnight at Birchwood Hotel.

13

07.45 flight to Windhoek, Namibia, arrived 09.30. Shopped in town then drove N for 90 min, when the vehicle broke down. 13.00-22.30 tried to get vehicle repaired, then towed to Outjo, arriving at 02.00.

14

Slept in workshop till 07.00, vehicle ready at 10.00. Reached Tandala Ridge at 11.30. Left NE for Rundu at 14.30, arriving at Roy’s Camp, W of Rundu, at 19.00

15

06.15 birded at Roy’s, 08.00-12.30 to Popa Falls; 13.30-17.00 to Kalizo Lodge, 50km beyond Katima Malilo. Birded for an hour on banks of Zambezi River

16

05.30-07.00 birding. Left for Katima Malilo at 08.15, drove to Zambia border, crossed Zambezi on pontoon, drove 80km to Machile River, arriving 11.30. Explored mopane woodland till 13.00 then drove to Choma via Livingstone, arriving at the Bruce-Miller farm at 17.00. Birded the track to Lake Meg after tea. Dinner with Emma, Neil and John Colebrook-Robjent.

17

05.15-06.45 birded the grassland. 07.45-17.45 drove to the Fishers’ Greystone Farm, Kitwe, via Livingstone and Lusaka.

18

05.45-07.15 birded the miombo. 08.00-12.25 drove to Mutanda Bridge; 13.15-17.30 to Hillwood Farm 70km N of Mwinilunga; stayed at Nchila Wildlife Reserve for next 7 nights.

19

All day at Nchila Wildlife Reserve.

20

08.00 drove to Chitunta Plain, then 3 km on plain to river valley; most of day there and near road bridge, before going N to Source of the Zambezi and on to Hillwood at 17.30.

21

All day at Nchila Wildlife Reserve.

22

08.45 drove to Zambezi rapids, birded here till mid afternoon when left for Kalene Hill. Returned to Hillwood at 17.30.

23

Nchila Wildlife Reserve till 16.00; tea at the farm, then to airstrip with Esther.

24

All day at Nchila Wildlife Reserve except for a short sortie to look for Red-throated Wryneck.

25

All day at Nchila Wildlife Reserve.

26

07.00 started long drive S then E, stopping at Chitunta Plain, Luakera Forest and Mutanda Bridge, reaching Greystone Farm, Kitwe at 18.00.

27

05.30-08.30 in the miombo, drove to Mutinondo Wilderness, stopping at Forest Inn 11.50-12.50, arrived 16.30. Sundowners overlooking granite kopjes.

28 & 29

All day at Mutinondo Wilderness.

30

05.00-06.45 birding. Left at 07.45, reaching Forest Inn at 11.15. After 30 mins birding, drove to Lusaka and reached Pioneer Camp at 15.15. 15.45-17.45 birded scrappy miombo.

31

05.40-06.00 taxi to airport. 07.40-09.40 flight to Joburg. Collected car and drove to Marievale BS, staying 4 hr. Drove to Suikerbosrand NR, birding inside 16.00-18.00, outside till 19.15. Reached Joburg airport at 20.00, ate, then dossed in car till 04.15.

1 November

06.00 flight left at 06.35 to Libreville. 12.30-18.30 flight to Gatwick on time!

SITES

Much of the following information is taken with permission from the draft material of the "Southern African BirdFinder: where to find 1400 species in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar" by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode, Jonathan Rossouw, a new bird-finding guide to the southern third of Africa (Zambia to Cape Town), which will be published by Struik Publishers later this year.

The updated material, much of which was supplied by Pete Leonard, as well as colour maps of the areas, will be presented in this guide. For more details on the book, see www.birdingafrica.com

If I’d had more time, I would certainly have visited Lochinvar National Park, which is said to offer some of the most exciting wetland birding anywhere (over 400 species have been recorded in the park).

Terminology: DAMBO - seasonally inundated grassland / marshland, often along a drainage line, MUSHITU - moist evergreen forest, MAVUNDA - dry evergreen forest, MIOMBO - Brachystegia dominated woodland.

NKANGA RIVER CONSERVATION AREA, just north of Choma town, comprises a group of privately owned farms that have been protecting wildlife and the environment for several decades. It is one of the best places to see the endemic Chaplin's Barbet that occurs widely in open areas with scattered sycamore fig trees, the easiest spot being along the track to Lake Meg. We stayed at the Bruce-Miller farm 23 km from the town. A wide variety of birds are present (440 species recorded to date), such as Parasitic Weaver, which can be abundant at reedbed roosts in Oct-Dec, and Streaky-breasted Flufftail - common in the dambos in good rainy seasons.

MWINILUNGA DISTRICT, about a 10 hr drive from Lusaka, through the Copperbelt, offers the most exciting birding in Zambia. The best place to stay is Hillwood, reached by continuing through Mwinilunga town towards Ikelenge for some 60 km, before forking right for a few kilometres until Hillwood farm complex is reached. This is a private ranch with a protected area, Nchila Wildlife Reserve, offering accommodation and camping. Most birding can be done on foot from Nchila Camp, which is flanked by mushitu on one side, miombo on the other, and overlooks a beautiful plain holding Denham's Bustard, Natal Nightjar, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Angola Lark, Dambo Cisticola, Fülleborn's and Pink-throated Longclaws, Marsh Widowbird and Locust Finch, and in the wet season Blue Quail, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Great Snipe and Short-tailed Pipit. The mushitu alongside the camp is one of the richest, with Afep Pigeon, Ross's Turaco, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, African Broadbill, Cabanis's and Honeyguide Greenbuls, Bristlebill, Rufous Ant-Thrush, Grey-winged Robin, Laura's Warbler, Bamboo Warbler, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Bates's and Bannerman's Sunbirds and Splendid Glossy Starling. The smart Black-collared Bulbul is found in areas of scrub and regenerating vegetation.

Luakera Forest is a stretch of rich miombo woodland lying between Mwinilunga town and the Chitunta Plain. Bird parties may hold Thick-billed Cuckoo, Anchieta's Barbet, Black-collared Eremomela, Red-capped Crombec, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Sousa's Shrike and Bar-winged Weaver.

Chitunta Plain is a broad dambo, drained by a perennial stream and traversed by the T5 road, about half-way between Mwinilunga and Hillwood. At the two wooden bridges, about 50 m apart,  Grimwood's Longclaw inhabits the wet centre of the dambo, while Rosy-breasted and Fülleborn's Longclaws tend to be on slightly drier ground. Resident species include Angola Lark, Sooty Chat, Stout, Ayres's and Dambo Cisticolas, Locust Finch and Black-chinned Quailfinch, and in the dry season, Black-and-rufous and Angola Swallows occur. From Aug to Oct Bocage's Weavers breed in bushes overhanging the Luakera River, reached by walking west along the north side of the dambo for about 3 km.

The Source of the Zambezi, north of Chitunta, is a popular tourist destination with good miombo along the 5 km of well-maintained track to the parking area, where a short walk takes you to the mushitu at the source. The area is said to hold similar birds to Hillwood, but was unrewarding for us apart from the only sighting of Black-necked Eremomela.

At the Zambezi Rapids, some 30 km north of Ikelenge, Forbes's Plover is usually present from Sept-Jan, along with Cassin's Flycatcher and Bamboo Warbler (if you are lucky).

For the adventurous, the Jimbe Drainage area holds species not found elsewhwere in Zambia, such as White-bellied Kingfisher, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Sooty Flycatcher, Shrike-Flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Spotted Thrush-Babbler and Orange-tufted Sunbird. However, as this region is close to the Congo border, security may be a problem and you should check with the police in Mwinilunga before attempting to go there. Deforestation is continuing apace so there is no guarantee that good habitat will continue to be accessible.

NEARBY SITES: Between the Copperbelt and Mwinilunga, Red-throated Cliff Swallows breed from Apr to Nov under the Mutanda Bridge 30 km west of Solwezi; Bamboo Warbler has also been found here. The enigmatic White-chested Tinkerbird, still known only from the type specimen, should be searched for by taking the Kabompo road heading south from Mwinilunga town. After about 100 km, the landscape transforms into beautiful, tall and very dense mavunda (Cryptosepalum) forest which stretches for tens of kilometres, and holds a good selection of miombo and mushitu species, including Gorgeous Bush-Shrike (this form is split as Perrin's Bush-Shrike by Sinclair and Ryan) and Margaret's Batis, both in the dense understorey. There are no facilities so if planning to camp, ensure that you are self-sufficient.

En route to Mwinilunga, Greystone Park, a large farm near Kitwe, has extensive good miombo holding most of the central Zambian miombo birds, as does the better known Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, a large, private farm on the banks of the Kafue River west of Chingola, with a camp site near the river, chalets at the main farmhouse, and an education centre with two big dormitories. The latter is also a good area for the localised Sharp-tailed Starling.

According to Carl Beel, probably the best place to look for Margaret's Batis is Imanda Mushitu near Lake Kashiba. This is a large block of forest on the Copperbelt, holding most of the Zambian mushitu birds, including Margaret's Batis. To get there, drive to Mpongwe from Luanshya (nice tar road) and continue through Mpongwe onto the dirt road. Follow this road until just after a sharp bend to the left, you reach some shops. At the shops you turn right onto a small dirt road to St Anthony's Mission and Lake Kashiba (should be signposted). Lake Kashiba is a sunken lake and a national monument. When you reach the mission, turn left just before entering the grounds of the mission. After about 5 km this road goes along the edge of the forest. Park at a village and ask for a path into the forest. You can ask to camp in or near a village, to be in the forest early in the morning. Alternatively, camp near Lake Kashiba and drive the few km to the forest in the morning.

MUTINONDO WILDERNESS, in northeastern Zambia is a privately owned 10,000 ha reserve perched just above the Muchinga escarpment, another prime site for miombo birding. Turn off the tarred Great North Road (T2) to Tanzania just south of the Kalonje railway siding, 72 km south of Mpika and 164 km north of Serenje. A good track with a hard sand surface leads for 25 km through miombo woodland to the camp in the wilderness area, where there is a well-maintained camp-site and good chalet accommodation (full board $45 a day single, $80 double). Mike, the camp owner, is very knowledgeable about the birds and will guide you if available.

Specialities here are Chestnut-headed/Long-toed Flufftail, Anchieta's Barbet, Souza’s Shrike, Red-and-blue Sunbird, and Bar-winged Weaver. In areas of thin scrub around the hills, look carefully for double-collared sunbirds as there is a newly discovered form that probably belongs to the Greater Double-collared complex; it is sometimes seen along with Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, but the male of the local form has a longer bill, broader red breastband, and a more strident song.

Forest Inn is a convenient and productive stopover en route to Mutinondo and / or sites further north, with good miombo birding right next to the Great North Road. It is clearly signposted on the southern side of the T2, 63 km from Kapiri Mposhi and 28 km from the Mkushi turn-off. A restaurant, clean, spacious camp with rondavels and a well-maintained camp site are available. The woodland outside the fenced area holds most of the sought-after miombo specials such as Black-collared Eremomela, Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-weaver, Souza’s Shrike, Yellow-breasted and Southern Hyliotas, Spotted Creeper and White-tailed Blue Flycatcher.

RECORDS OF INTEREST

Slaty Egret       Egretta vinaceigula

One in flight at Marievale BS.

Osprey                     Pandion haliaetus

One at Popa Falls was a rare sight in Namibia, according to Tim.

Yellow-billed/ Black Kite Milvus aegyptius/migrans

These forms, regarded as separate species by African residents, are difficult to distinguish unless the bill can be seen well. Of the many seen, most appeared to be aegyptius but there were some migrans in the migrating parties of raptors.

Western/ African Marsh-Harrier  Circus aeruginosus/ ranivorus

Singles at Chitunta Plain on both visits were certainly ranivorus but 2 or 3 other birds on 20th were thought to be aeruginosus.

Gabar Goshawk            Melierax gabar

One in the miombo near Mwinilunga town was the only record.

Ovambo Sparrowhawk     Accipiter ovampensis

One perched in open miombo near Pioneer Camp, Lusaka, and an accipiter at Mutinondo was thought to be this sp.

[Black Goshawk            Accipiter melanoleucus]

A large accipiter flying low through miombo at Mutinondo was thought to be this sp., rare here, although African Goshawk cannot be ruled out.

Common Buzzard          Buteo buteo

Surprisingly numerous in the Mwinilunga area, although many may have been passage migrants.

Aquila eagles

Lesser Spotted A. pomarina, Tawny rapax and Steppe Eagle nipalensis were all seen in the Mwinilunga area, with a few migrant parties on 19th-22nd ; pomarina seemed to be the commonest.

African Hawk-Eagle       Hieraaetus spilogaster

Two soaring over Tandala Ridge, Tim and Laurel’s farm, was the only sighting.

Booted Eagle              Hieraaetus pennatus

A single bird was identified at Hillwood.

Secretary-bird            Sagittarius serpentarius

Only a single, at Hillwood.

Dickinson's Kestrel        Falco dickinsoni

One hawking termites with a party of Hobby at Luakera Forest and two singles perched in the Mutinondo area.

Greater Kestrel            Falco rupicoloides

One in Namibia en route to Rundu.

Red-footed Falcon        Falco vespertinus

One near Kalene Hill, near two amurensis.

Amur Falcon               Falco amurensis

Two near Kalene Hill, presumably on passage further south.

Eurasian Hobby            Falco subbuteo

Seen almost daily in the Mwinilunga area, with a max of 12 hawking over Luakera Forest.

Hartlaub's Spurfowl      Pternistes hartlaubi

3 at Tandala Ridge – even on the patio of one of the bungalows!

Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix nanus

One flushed on Chitunta Plain.

Chestnut-headed Flufftail  Sarothrura lugens

2 heard, along with one Red-chested, at c.1730 in a big dambo at Mutinondo but could not be flushed into our nets, though one was eventually glimpsed briefly at dusk.

Grey-winged Francolin      Francolinus africanus

2 at Suikerbosrand NR.

Denham's/ Stanley Bustard  Neotis denhami

3 at Hillwood almost daily.

Great Snipe               Gallinago media

One in flight at Hillwood on 20th.

Ruddy Turnstone          Arenaria interpres

One at Zambezi Rapids was most unusual so far inland but had been present for at least several days.

Temminck's Courser       Cursorius temminckii

4 at Hillwood on 25th only, moving out of Zambia at this time.

Black-winged Pratincole   Glareola nordmanni

One on a sandspit on the Zambezi at Kalizo Lodge, Namibia.

Rock Pratincole            Glareola nuchalis

2 at Popa Falls.

Three-banded Plover      Charadrius tricollaris

One at Marievale BS.

Forbes's Plover            Charadrius forbesi

A pair at Zambezi Falls acted as though breeding, with another 4 noisy birds on rocks a little way from the river. They are normally found on or near rocks at this their only known breeding site in Zambia.

Caspian Plover             Charadrius asiaticus

One at Hillwood on 22nd.

White-headed Lapwing    Vanellus albiceps

A few at Kalizo Lodge.

Afep Pigeon               Columba unicincta

A few sightings at Hillwood and heard at Zambezi Rapids (seen by Tim).

Western Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba iriditorques

Only heard at Hillwood.

Rosy-faced Lovebird      Agapornis roseicollis

One drinking at Roy’s Camp.

Schalow's Turaco         Tauraco schalowi

Commonly heard but only seen at Luakera Forest and Forest Inn.

Ross' Turaco              Musophaga rossae

Common in small numbers at Hillwood and Mutinondo.

Black Cuckoo              Cuculus clamosus

One or 2 daily at Mutinondo.

Common/ African Cuckoo Cuculus canorus/gularis

Singles at Popa Falls and Luakera Forest, the latter almost certainly gularis.

Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo  Cercococcyx olivinus

Heard daily at Hillwood and seen briefly once, with one caught.

Marsh Owl                 Tyto/ Asio capensis

One at late dusk at Suikerbosrand. Tim flushed a couple at Chitunta Plain.

African Scops-Owl        Otus senegalensis

Heard at Jo’burg, Choma, Kitwe and Hillwood.

Spotted Eagle-Owl        Bubo africanus

2 in flight at dusk at Mutinondo.

African Wood-Owl        Strix woodfordii

Heard sporadically throughout.

Fiery-necked Nightjar    Caprimulgus pectoralis

Singles seen near Rundu and at Kitwe, and heard elsewhere.

Swamp Nightjar           Caprimulgus natalensis

Heard daily at Hillwood.

Freckled Nightjar         Caprimulgus tristigma

Heard at Mutinondo.

Square-tailed Nightjar   Caprimulgus fossii

Heard at Kalizo Lodge.

Pennant-winged Nightjar  Macrodipteryx vexillarius

2 males flushed at Mutinondo.

Alpine Swift               Tachymarptis melba

One at Outjo, Namibia.

Common/ African Swift   Apus apus/ barbatus

Fairly common in the Mwinilunga area, thought to be A. apus.

Bradfield's Swift         Apus bradfieldi

A few north of Windhoek, Namibia.

African Pygmy-Kingfisher Ispidina picta

Singles caught at Hillwood and seen at Mutinondo.

Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica

Heard at Hillwood.

White-fronted Bee-eater  Merops bullockoides

A few at Kalizo Lodge.

Blue-breasted Bee-eater  Merops variegatus

A few at Hillwood.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  Merops persicus

30 on power lines at Pioneer Camp, Lusaka.

Southern Carmine Bee-eater  Merops nubicoides

A huge nesting colony at Kalizo Lodge, of several 1000 birds, with holes in the sandy bank of the Zambezi and the adjacent flat sand above the bank.

Pale-billed Hornbill       Tockus pallidirostris

Singles at Luakera Forest, Hillwood, Forest Inn and Mutinondo.

Southern Ground-Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri

2 at Kalizo Lodge and heard at Choma.

Miombo Pied Barbet       Tricholaema frontata

One at Greystone was the only record.

Acacia Pied Barbet        Tricholaema leucomelas

One at Roy’s Camp.

Chaplin's Barbet          Lybius chaplini

After a bit of a search, a pair was located at 0630 along the road to Lake Meg, Choma.

Black-backed Barbet      Lybius minor

A pair was seen a few times in a line of trees along the stream near the rondovaals at Hillwood. On one occasion they chased a pair of Lesser Honeyguide, a bird that parasitises them, up and down the row for some time.

Scaly-throated Honeyguide  Indicator variegatus

One at Mutinondo.

[Pallid Honeyguide         Indicator meliphilus]

A small featureless honeyguide in miombo at Mutinondo was thought to be this species, unrecorded for certain here although another unconfirmed sighting had been made.

Green-backed (Little Spotted) Woodpecker      Campethera cailliautii

Just one sighting at Hillwood.

Bennett's Woodpecker    Campethera bennettii

One at Luakera Forest.

African Broadbill          Smithornis capensis

Heard almost daily at Hillwood, with one seen displaying here and another displaying at Zambezi rapids.

Angola Lark               Mirafra angolensis

A few at Chitunga Plain but surprisingly scarce at Hillwood where only one with a fledgling was identified, and that with difficulty (from Flappet Lark).

Dusky Lark                Pinarocorys nigricans

I thought we had missed this but as we left Hillwood for the last time, we spotted one on the track out and were able to watch it well, a departing migrant.

Angola Swallow            Hirundo angolensis

A few amongst a large gathering of hirundines at Chitunga Plain on 20th 

Black-and-rufous Swallow                        Hirundo nigrorufa

6 at Chitunga Plain on 20th and one on 26th; none were seen for sure at Hillwood, so presumably they had left for their non-breeding grounds, wherever they may be.

Red-throated Cliff-Swallow                      Hirundo rufigula

There was a large breeding colony under the bridge at Mutanda on 18th, possibly 50 pairs, with Little Swifts, but by 26th only 2 were in evidence.

Fulleborn's Longclaw      Macronyx fuellebornii

Common in the Mwinilunga area.

Grimwood's Longclaw      Macronyx grimwoodi

Two pairs either side of the road near the bridges at Chitunta and one juv., but none elsewhere. It was very difficult to see them in the long wet grass but in flight, the white in the wing, not illustrated in the fieldguides (as with Rosy-breasted Longclaw), was a distinctive feature compared to Fulleborn’s, along with its overall buffy colour and restricted pink.

Rosy-treasted Longclaw   Macronyx ameliae

8 at Chitunta Plains but only one seen at Hillwood.

African Pipit              Anthus cinnamomeus

Common in the Mwinilunga area and probably overlooked elsewhere.

Woodland Pipit            Anthus nyassae

Small numbers throughout in open miombo, or at its edge.

Plain-backed Pipit         Anthus leucophrys

A few in the Mutinondo area but pipit identification at Hillwood was very difficult and I tentatively recorded just two singles.

Buffy Pipit                Anthus vaalensis

Common in the Mwinilunga area but not recorded at Mutinondo.

Tree Pipit                 Anthus trivialis

Another tricky species to identify here but there seemed to be a few in the Mwinilunga area and at Kitwe.

White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike Coracina pectoralis

Only at Mutinondo where up to 4 a day were seen.

Black Cuckoo-shrike       Campephaga flava

A few at the Mwinilunga and Mutinondo areas.

Grey Penduline-Tit        Anthoscopus caroli

2 at Hillwood, Luakera Forest and Mutinondo.

Carp's Tit                 Parus carpi

2 at Tandala Ridge.

Rufous-bellied Tit        Parus rufiventris

2 at Greystone, Kitwe on both visitswere the only ones seen.

Miombo Tit                Parus griseiventris

Small numbers in miombo throughout.

Spotted Creeper           Salpornis spilonotus

A few sightings at Hillwood and Mutinondo. One was watched perched on a big branch for a long time, preening and looking round; the camouflage was so good that I would never have spotted it had I not seen it climbing up the tree in the first place.

Black-faced Babbler      Turdoides melanops

6 at Roy’s Camp – a very localised species.

Yellow-throated Leaf-love  Chlorocichla flavicollis

2 at Kitwe and heard at Hillwood.

Cabanis's Greenbul        Phyllastrephus cabanisi

A few at Hillwood but more often heard than seen.

Black-collared Bulbul     Neolestes torquatus

A pair was found with 2 young nestlings at Hillwood. The nest was c.120cm above ground in bracken, with a surprisingly open aspect, in ana area of unburnt long grassland with a scattering of bushes and trees. One of the young disappeared. Another pair had bred a few 100m away, apparently. A single bird was seen below Kalene Hill.

Red-tailed Bristlebill      Bleda syndactylus

One was ringed at Hillwood.

Fraser's Rufous Thrush   Neocossyphus fraseri

A few sightings of singles at Hillwood.

Miombo Rock-Thrush     Monticola angolensis

The only record was of a singing male at Mutinondo.

Bocage's Akalat           Sheppardia bocagei

One at Mutinondo.

Grey-winged Robin-Chat  Cossypha polioptera

Common in mushitu at Hillwood but more often caught than seen.

Miombo Scrub-Robin      Cercotrichas barbata

Heard in miombo throughout and observed with a bit of effort.

Capped Wheatear         Oenanthe pileata

Although common at Suikerbosrand, the only one seen in Zambia was an imm. looking for all the world like a Northern Wheatear.

Arnott's Chat             Myrmecocichla arnotti

4 at Kitwe on the edge of the miombo.

Mocking Cliff-Chat       Thamnolaea coronata

A single bird at Mutinondo at the base of a kopje.

Moustached Grass-Warbler  Melocichla mentalis

Two singles at Hillwood and heard at Mutinondo.

Broad-tailed Warbler     Schoenicola brevirostris

A few in dambos at Mutinondo.

Dark-capped Yellow Warbler  Chloropeta natalensis

One at Hillwood.

Laura's Woodland-Warbler  Phylloscopus laurae

Regular in mushitu in the Mwinilunga area.

Red-faced Cisticola       Cisticola erythrops

A few at Mutinondo.

Whistling Cisticola        Cisticola lateralis

One at Hillwood.

Trilling Cisticola           Cisticola woosnami

Fairly common in miombo throughout.

Lazy Cisticola             Cisticola aberrans

A few at Mutinondo.

Neddicky                  Cisticola fulvicapilla

A few in the Caprivi Strip and at Choma.

Long-tailed Cisticola      Cisticola angusticauda

A few in miombo throughout.

Short-winged Cisticola    Cisticola brac

A few in wet grassland at Chitunta and Mutinondo.

Rattling Cisticola          Cisticola chinianus

A few at Choma.

Chirping Cisticola          Cisticola pipiens

Taped at Mutinondo, the first record for the site.

Stout Cisticola            Cisticola robustus

A few in the Mwinilunga area.

Croaking Cisticola         Cisticola natalensis

2 at Choma and Kazilo Lodge.

Dambo Cisticola           Cisticola dambo

Daily sightings of a few at Hillwood.

Pale-crowned Cisticola    Cisticola cinnamomeus

2 at Chitunta Plains.

Wing-snapping Cisticola   Cisticola ayresii

Heard more than seen at Hillwood.

Buff-throated Apalis     Apalis rufogularis

A couple of sightings at Hillwood but probably not uncommon.

Bar-throated Apalis       Apalis thoracica

One at Mutinondo. 

White-chinned Prinia     Prinia leucopogon

2 at Hillwood.

Salvadori's Eremomela    Eremomela salvadorii

A couple of sightings at Hillwood.

Greencap Eremomela      Eremomela scotops

One or 2 at Kitwe and Mutinondo.

Burnt-necked Eremomela  Eremomela usticollis

One at Popa Falls and heard at Choma.

Black-necked Eremomela  Eremomela atricollis

A single sighting at the Source of the Zambezi.

Red-capped Crombec      Sylvietta ruficapilla

Fairly common at Hillwood.

Long-billed Crombec      Sylvietta rufescens

One at Popa Falls and 2 at Kitwe.

Stierling's Wren-Warbler  Calamonastes stierlingi

One at Popa Falls.

Pale Wren-Warbler       Calamonastes undosus

One at Forest Inn; a Sinclair and Ryan split off the previous species.

Yellow-bellied Hyliota     Hyliota flavigaster

One at Luakera Forest.

Southern Hyliota          Hyliota australis

One at Mutinondo.

Boehm's Flycatcher       Muscicapa boehmi

One at Forest Inn.

White-tailed Blue-Flycatcher  Elminia albicauda

4 by the river at Mutinondo.

Red-backed Shrike        Lanius collurio

A couple of sightings in the Mwinilunga area.

Souza's Shrike            Lanius souzae

One at Mutinondo, and Tim had a couple of sightings at Hillwood.

Lesser Grey Shrike        Lanius minor

A few in the Mwinilunga area.

Magpie Shrike             Corvinella melanoleuca

4 at Kalizo Lodge.

White-tailed Shrike      Lanioturdus torquatus

One at Tandala Ridge.

Black-fronted Bush-shrike  Telophorus nigrifrons

One at Mutanda Bridge.

White Helmet-shrike     Prionops plumatus

Parties at Roy’s Camp, Machile River, Kitwe and Mutinondo, but not in the Mwinilunga area. I was mobbed by one at Mutinondo, a bird nearly hitting me twice, so presumably I must have been near to a nest.

Retz's Helmet-shrike     Prionops retzii

I only saw 2 at Kitwe but Tim saw a few at Mutinondo.

Miombo Blue-eared Starling  Lamprotornis elisabeth

Only 2 at Hillwood.

Splendid Glossy Starling  Lamprotornis splendidus

Quite common around Hillwood.

Anchieta's Sunbird       Anthreptes anchietae

Fairly common at Mutinondo, including a few imm.s in dull olive plumage, undescribed in fieldguides. Rarely seen at Hillwood but Esther reported that a knowledgeable local farmer reported that they were often visible in his fields.

Western Violet-backed Sunbird  Anthreptes longuemarei

Only one at Hillwood, one at Forest Inn and a few at Mutinondo.

Bannerman's Sunbird      Cyanomitra bannermani

A few sightings at Hillwood and 6 trapped, making it the second most common species ringed.

Green-throated Sunbird  Chalcomitra rubescens

Only one identified at Hillwood.

Bates' Sunbird            Cinnyris batesi

A single sighting at Hillwood of this tiny, unobtrusive species.

Miombo Double-collared Sunbird  Cinnyris manoensis

2 at Kitwe and a few at Mutinondo.

Double-collared Sunbird sp.  Cinnyris sp.

This different form recently discovered at Mutinondo is difficult to identify but I believe I saw at least one on the edge of the miombo.

Purple-banded Sunbird    Cinnyris bifasciatus

Singles at Roy’s Camp and Machile River.

Red-headed Finch         Amadina erythrocephala

A pair at Tandala Ridge.

Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Weaver                Plocepasser rufoscapulatus

I struggled to find this unobtrusive species, seeing nests but no birds at Forest Inn, but did locate one on the return visit to Kitwe.

Dark-backed Weaver      Ploceus bicolor

One at Zambezi rapida.

Bocage's Weaver          Ploceus temporalis

Brief sightings of 3 of this surprisingly elusive bird at Chitunta Plain. They nest along the river west of the road, but the one active nest site we saw was being plundered by local kids.

Bar-winged Weaver       Ploceus angolensis

Single pairs at Luakera Forest, which I first identified as Hyliotas, and twice at Mutinondo.

Cuckoo Finch              Anomalospiza imberbis

A singing male at Hillwood, only.

Marsh Widowbird         Euplectes hartlaubi

Common in the Mwinilunga area and a few at Mutinondo.

Brown Firefinch           Lagonosticta nitidula

Common at Kalizo Lodge only.

Grey Waxbill              Estrilda perreini

2 at Hillwood.

Black-chinned Quailfinch Ortygospiza gabonensis

Common near the river at Chitunta Plain.

Locustfinch                Ortygospiza locustella

Close views of a single pair in flight on the first full day at Hillwood – I expected more!

Magpie Mannikin          Lonchura fringilloides

6 at Mutanda Bridge.

Black-faced Canary       Serinus capistratus

4 at Kitwe and 2 at Luakera Forest.

Cabanis' Bunting          Emberiza cabanisi

Singles at Hillwood and Kitwe.

            Appendix: Birds ringed at Hillwood, Zambia, Oct 2003

1.     Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx olivinus             1          

2.     African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Ispidina picta                     1

3.     Dark-capped Bulbul, Pycnonotus tricolor                       1

4.     Little Greenbul, Andropadus virens                               10

5.     Cabanis's Greenbul, Phyllastrephus cabanisi                 1

6.     Black-collared Bulbul, Neolestes torquatus                   2

7.     Red-tailed Bristlebill, Bleda syndactylus                      1

8.     Fraser's Rufous Thrush, Neocossyphus fraseri             1

9.     Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Cossypha polioptera               6

10.   Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Chloropeta natalensis     1

11.   Short-winged Cisticola*                                               4

12.   Tawny-flanked Prinia, Prinia subflava                           4

13.   Black-throated Wattle-eye, Platysteira peltata            1

14.   Olive Sunbird, Nectarinia olivacea                                1

15.   Bannerman’s Sunbird, Cyanomitra bannermani               6

16.   Variable Sunbird, Nectarinia venusta                           1

17.   Red-collared Widowbird, Euplectes ardens                   1

18.   Grey Waxbill, Estrilda perreini                                                1

 

* netted at Mutinondo

 

 

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