Summer 2010 in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

For any twitcher, the first step to amass a decent world-list is to make sure you build a sizeable lifelist at home. My formative years in southern Africa was rather productive in this regard, as birder friends frequently invited me on the odd twitching trip. In the process, I even managed to tick a few species hard on a global scale, such as Asiatic Dowitcher and White-winged Flufftail. Somehow however, the desert riches of Namibia remained unexplored, and, being a student residing in the United States, seemed somewhat out of my reach at least in the near future. Some unexpected potential to visit Namibia started to develop towards the end of 2010, because I decided to skip my customary birding trip between connecting flights in route to my annual visit to family in South Africa. My biggest obstacle remained finding trip companions, since most of my South African birder friends already twitch Namibia, and I didn’t really know the newer generation of South African twitchers. An email to a long-time birding friend Dewald Swanepoel therefore led to a protracted episode of euphoric hysteria when Dewald not only expressed interest in joining the trip, but also dragged Justin Nicolau into the fold. What followed was three birders counting the days until the trip started. After getting all but three of our Namibian targets with five days to spare, our unbridled spirit for adventure subsequently took us through Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Top top it all, we walked straight into the maelstrom of rarity mayhem back in South Africa, and finished off with a regional whopper in the form of Golden Pipit. This report chronicles our two-week bumper birding trip during which we saw over 450 bird species!

Background

Namibia is often considered synonymous with the oldest desert in the world, the Namib Desert This desert mostly traces Namibia’s western boundary along the Atlantic Ocean, and includes the inhospitable Skeleton Coast, famous red dunes at Sossusvlei, and Namib Naukluft Park (the largest game park in Africa).  Rainfall increases as one moves east, but the sandy soil still limits surface water in eastern Namibia, characterized by the more timid Kalahari Desert. But you move north, the deserts start making way for a  progressive savannas landscape, especially after you cross the Brandberg Mountains (rising to 2606m, the highest in Namibia) and Ugab River in central Namibia, ending with subtropical woodlands and riverine forest fringing the Kunene River in far northern Namibia. Though Namibia boasts only one truly endemic bird species (the Dune Lark), it offers 17 near-endemic bird species. Specifically aimed at twitchers, Adam Riley identified 15 key bird species occurring in Namibia (of which we only missed Barlow’s Lark, occurring much farther south). In addition to these range-restricted birds, Namibia also offers 14 near-endemic mammal species (e.g. Mountain Ground Squirrel, Kaokoland Rock Dassie, Black Mongoose, and Black-faced Impala) and 30 endemic reptile species.


LOGISTICS
Key birding resources

  • Newman, K. 2002. Newman’s birds of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.
  • Sinclair, I., Hockey, P & Tarboton, W. 2002. SASOL Birds of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.
  • Cohen, C., Spottiswoode, C & Rossouw, J. 2006. South African Birdfinder. Struik, Cape Town.
  • Gibbon, G. Southern African Bird Sounds (6-CD series). SA Birding, Westville. Calls were converted to mp3s and uploaded onto my Iphone for playback.
  • Some good trip reports (many from SABirdnet) included those by Rihann GeyserFaansie PeacockTrevor Hardaker and Dominic Rollinson.
  • Help from a few extremely friendly and knowledgeable local birders, notably Mark Boorman (at Swakopmund), Peter Morgan (Kunene River Lodge, also offering bird walks), Bruce Millar (Nkanga River Conservancy) and Buluwezi Murambiwa (resident bird guide at Seldomseen Cottages). Even though our interaction with a very greedy Mark Paxton (Shamvura Lodge in the Caprivi) was quite unpleasant (see day 6-7), he might be your best bet to connect with Souza’s Shrike, Great Snipe, African Hobby, Sharp-tailed Starling, and other western Caprivi birds if you don’t have the energy to look for them yourself (though, I also provide explicit directions in the retrospect section). Etienne Marais also kindly shared some of his experiences from a recent trip.

 

Transport, visas and border fees

Dewald kindly offered his Mitsubishi Subaru for the trip. Dewald’s car was an all-wheel station wagon that allowed us to be a bit more daring a few times. Even so, road conditions (even the gravel roads in northern Namibia) were mostly in superb condition so people restricted to sedans should be just fine twitching Namibia. (But do check retrospect section on road conditions, especially near the Kunene River)

As South Africans, we did not require visas to visit any of the countries on our original (and extended) itinerary. Visitors from outside SADC countries should however confirm their own visa requirements.

While we saved on visa fees, we did not escape the gluttonous wrath of cross-border charges. Here is a breakdown of the charges we had to pay (more information hereherehere, and here; take especially note how these fees changes over time and for different vehicles):

Namibia

  • Cross-border charge: N$200 (payable for each entry, and valid for three months)

 

Botswana

  • Third-party insurance: BWP50 (valid for 3 months, called Vehicle Accident Fund Permit)
  • Road levy: BWP40 (single entry); BWP90 (return trip)
  • Roads fund/token: BWP20 (valid for one year)

 

Zimbabwe (some info for Beitbridge here)

  • Third-party insurance: US$40 (valid for three months)
  • Carbon tax: US$20 (valid for one month, based on engine capacity)
  • Road Access/Toll fees: US$10 (supposed to be valid for one entry – I think we errored by paying again while exiting at Beitbridge)
  • Temporary Import Permit (TIP): Free

 

Zambia

  • Third-party insurance: ZMK150,000 (valid for three months)
  • Carbon tax: ZMK150,000 (valid for one year; based on engine capacity)
  • Shesheke (Council) road levy: ZMK30,000 (valid for one entry)
  • Road tax: US$20 (must be paid in US$, valid for one entry)
  • Temporary Import Permit (TIP): Free

Needless to say, make sure your car is roadworthy. When crossing borders, also have at hand either original or certified copies of car registration documents, and a letter of support for cross-border movements of the car if it’s not yours (such as a rental). Many countries require you to have two red emergency triangles in the car at all times, and a sticker identifying the country of origin.

 

Accommodation

Accommodation is freely available throughout the regions we visited (less so in Zambia but still manageable e.g. Kafue National Park and Masuku Lodge). Apart from feeling forced to overnight at Shamvura Lodge in the western Caprivi, we continued with my driving by night, birding by day, and sleeping in the car as needed strategy (but do check retrospect on night driving below). If you decide to do a more traditional trip (i.e. not sleeping in a car), prior bookings may be necessary for Botswana’s Kasane area, and elsewhere during local school holidays.


Disease

While Africa is known for its diseases, southern Africa is furtunately rather tame in this regard.  The biggest health risk the average tourist is malaria. Though malaria is Africa’s biggest killer, most deaths are due to the lack of medical facilities, or neglecting the disease by those with access to hospitals. Rather than living off malaria prophylactics, residents usually avoid mosquito bites through e.g. long-sleeve clothes, nets over beds, and insect repellant. Tourists should utilize both strategies during short-term visits. A number of prophylactics prophylactics options are available; those taken once a week, such as Larium, Mefliam, and Malarone are usually very effective but harsh on the body, including side effects such as hallucinations and nightmares. Alternatively, one can also take a daily dose of broad-spectrum antibiotics such as Doxicyclin, Doxycil and Cyclidox; these are usually less effective but not as harsh on the body, and more suitable for people with health risks, or in areas where some Plasmodium species shows resistance to dedicated drugs. Because I wanted to give my immune system an additional boost to avoid contracting bilharzia (while wading through swamps in search of frogs or rallids), tickbite fever, or some nasty nematode/bacterial infection (from eating contaminated food with dirty hands – washing hands an be a luxury at times), I opted for Cyclidox during this trip. (More comprehensive information on disease prevention during travels available here)

Note that contracting malaria is NOT a death sentence. I’ve already had malaria twice, and can tell the story without recalling any harrowing experiences. The key is to be attuned to your body; if you feel fatigued, feverish and/or nauseous (essentially flu-like symptoms) 7-14 days after visiting a malaria region, pay your doctor a visit IMMEDIATELY to avoid a possible medical emergency. Malaria tests aren’t 100% reliable (it dependant on the parasite’s cycles), so even if tests come back negative, its often prudent to take the recommended dose of Artemisinin and/or Quinin, as the consequences of neglecting Malaria significantly outweigh taking precautionary measures. Catching the disease early means, at least in my experience, the symptoms abate within two days or so, and you avoid hospitalization. Whatever you do, never try to fight Malaria without proper medicine because, unless you have sickle-cell anemia, you will most likely lose by a significant margin.

Access to locations

Finding and accessing to most birding locations on this trip were straightforward. Prior-arranged permits were required to access the Namib Naukluft Park (obtainable through Namibia Wildlife Resorts), and both the Walvisbay and Swakopmund Salt Refinery (Mark Boorman organized these). There are also nominal entrance fees at SpitzkoppeHobatere Lodge, Mahango Game Reserve, and Gosho Park. Elsewhere, birding on communal land and private property was a pleasure after gaining permission from friendly-without-exception residents.


DAILY LOG

Day 1: Nov 30, 2010

Commute day. We left Johannesburg at 2:30am, and made excellent progress through Botswana until we ran out of fuel between Kang and Tshobotsha. This adventure cost us five hours while Dewald hitch-hiked to Ganzi for fuel, while Justin and I saw Fawn-colored Lark and Cape Penduline-tit while looking for reprieve from the grueling Kalahari heat converting our car into a convection oven. Fortunately the Trans-Kalahari border crossing was open until midnight, allowing is to cross into Namibia on schedule. Before crossing the border, we spent the last few daylight hours birding a wetland opposite the petrol station in Tshobotsha where we found an out-of-range flock of Black-winged Pratincole and some White-winged Terns. Tired from our epic 26-hour commute we managed a couple hours of sleep at Rooibank before daylight heralded birding hour.


Day 2: Dec 1, 2010

We started a fantastic birding day with Dusky Sunbird, the pale-bellied form of the Yellow-bellied Eremomela, and cracking views of a very obliging Dune Lark at Rooibank, before meeting local birding legend Mark Boorman. Mark first took us to the Walvisbay Salt Refinery where we saw Cape Teal, Great White Pelican, Eared GrebeGreater Flamingo and Lesser Flamingo, Damara Tern, Chestnut-banded Plover, and 3 southern African rarities (~19 Red-necked Phalarope, 1 Common Black-headed Gull, 2 Eurasian Oystercatcher) in a matter of minutes. We then picked up a flock of about 75 Bar-tailed Godwits and a regional rarity (Little Tern) at the Walvisbay Lagoon and Bradfield’s Swift in Walvisbay, before heading to Dolfynstrand (producing Red Knot and Crowned Cormorant) and Mile-4 Saltworks (seeing two Common Redshanks and completing a clean sweep of the area’s remaining cormorantsBank, Great, Cape). The gravel plains north of Swakopmund completed a fantastic day of twitching by produced Gray’s Lark and a pale morph Tractrac Chat. Before heading to bed, we had the pleasure of helping our host ringing Common Terns and Black Terns at the Mile-4 Saltworks.

 

Day 3: Dec 2, 2010

Our hottest day. We started with a short detour through the Namib Naukluft Park’s Welwitchia Plains, which was rather poor bird-wise but spectacular for scenery. Birding picked up on the way to Spitzkoppe, with notably Karoo Chat (pale-rumped form) and Karoo Eremomela (in desert scrub) along the main M36 highway, and Spike-heeled Lark, and Benguela Long-billed Lark (the latter a little further south than distribution maps indicate) on the Trekkoppies mine road leading to Spitzkoppe.

As the day heated up, we finally arrived at Spitzkoppe where we located White-tailed Shrike (what a pretty bird!), Monteiro’s Hornbill, Ruppell’s Korhaan, both Layard’s Tit-babbler and Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, White-backed Mousebird, Acacia Pied Barbet, Bokmakierie, White-throated CanaryRosy-faced LovebirdVerraux’s Eagle, and Karoo Long-billed Lark. Herero Chat however remained elusive at its traditional twitching location throughout the day, so we opted to head towards the mountains north of Uis (a lesser-known Herero Chat location) before sunset, with Double-banded Courser, Pale-winged Starling, more Ruppell’s Korhaan, and Red-billed Francolin seen en route. At the Tsiseb Conservancy, 10km north of Uis, we found more Aghulas Long-billed Lark (at the more traditional twitching spot), a seemingly lost Marsh Owl among montane desert scrub, and a lone Stark’s Lark. Despite the flurry of activity at sunset we frustratingly continued dipping on the Chat. After sunset we drove about 40km farther north (highlight being a rufous-morph Spotted Eagle-Owl and Cape Fox) before settling for the night on the roadside just outside the Onverwag village.


Day 4: Dec 3, 2010

Started the day looking for Herero Chat in the hills on the banks of the Ugab River near Onverwag. Within an hour we bagged Bare-cheeked BabblerDamara Hornbill and Ruppell’s Parrot but still no Herero Chat. So we decided to head back towards the White Lady Lodge (near Uis). Finding Herero Chat then turned out easier than expected; we did not even drive 5km from the Ugab River before picking up a couple of Herero Chats on the first hill within scanning distance from the road. After spectacular views of this supposedly shy and difficult species, we headed north towards Hobatere Lodge. Ironically Herero Chat then became a trash bird immediately past the Ugab as multiple individuals (easily identified by their flycatcher gizz and thin tails) were seen on roadside telephone wires (I now believe people struggle with this bird because they search at Spitzkoppe). Other highlights en route to Hobatere included Burchell’s Courser (about 20km south of the Khorixas turnoff), Carp’s Tit, Barred Wren-warbler, more Stark’s Lark, and Madagascar Bee-eater (the latter starting 82km south of Kamanjab).

We arrived at Hobatere Lodge around mid-day where we picked up more Ruppell’s Parrot and Damara Hornbill, as well as Pygmy Falcon and Violet Wood-hoopoe on the road leading to the lodge. Hobatere also boosted our trip’s mammal list with Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Dassierat, Kaokoland Rock Hydrax, Striped Tree Squirrel, and a Mauritian Tomb Bat (which, according to our references, should not occur anywhere near Namibia). We spent the last hour before sunset hunting down Rockrunner and calling Hartlaub’s Spurfowl in the hills around Hobatere Campsite before heading towards the Kunene River, amazed that we essentially cleaned Namibia in three days. Upon reaching RuaCana we celebrated our successes by sleeping a couple hours at the Hippo Pools campsite near the Angolan border.

 

Day 5: Dec 4, 2010

Our birding luck seemed to have no end. Usually found by waiting at suitable drinking spots at mid-day, our day started with a bang as a Cinderella Waxbill pair came to look for us at roadside bushes next to the RuaCana power station. This first pair of waxbills was amazingly the first birds I put my binoculars on even before the sun’s rays hit the ground, while a second pair of Cinderella Waxbills came looking for us at the RuaCana Falls a couple hours later. Our entire day now freed up to look for Grey Kestrel, Chestnut Weaver (supposed to be more common up north) and a few Angolan strays (notably Bocage’s Waxbill). In the process we picked up Red-necked Spurfowl (kunenensis race), Common House-martin (by the thousands, at the RuaCana border post), Temmick’s Courser, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Hartlaub’s BabblerWhite-browed Coucal, and Swamp Boubou in the vicinity of RuaCana. Sadly however, we failed on all accounts looking for our remaining targets, so we decided to head west towards the Kunene River Lodge to call on lodge owner Peter Morgan’s help. En route to Kunene River Lodge we found Rufous-tailed Palm-thrush, Buys’s Woodpecker, Grey-hooded Kingfisher, more Violet Wood-hoopoe, and a few Malbroucks at a palm grove where local Herero people got very excited when we showed them a drawing of Grey Kestrel at the same time as when a White-tailed Shrike mimicked the Kestrels’ call superbly in the background. But, still, amazingly, no Grey Kestrel. After arriving and appreciating Rufous-tailed Palm-thrush and Striped Tree-Squirrel at Kunene River Lodge, Peter Morgan kindly took us to his Cinderella Waxbill spot hoping to locate Chestnut Weaver. Failing in this quest, Peter pointed us in the direction of a few Grey Kestrel stakeouts at Swartbooisdrif, where we spent close to 3 hours waiting in vain for the raptor to make an appearance. As darkness approached (literally and figuratively speaking), we decided to push on with our itinerary, finding Black-faced Impala a few kilometers south of Swartbooisdrif. Fatigued and disappointed with our first dips of the trip, we spent the night on the roadside just east of Oshakati, which wasn’t too bad considering we were about an hour’s drive from our final destination (Andoni Plains, bordering northern Etosha National Park).


Day 6: Dec 5, 2010

Our primary goal at the Andoni Plains was waterbirds. Despite summer 2010 bringing lots of rain elsewhere in the subregion, the Andoni Plains resembled a grassy desert rather than the waterbird haven. So after picking up Great-spotted CuckooPink-billed Lark, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, and Eastern Clapper Lark, we decided to head east to try and maximize daylight hours in the Rundu area. En route we stopped at Roy’s Camp near Grootfontein (but sadly not making time for the Hoba meteorite site) where the “thousands of Chestnut weavers seen in December 2009″ was nowhere to be found. Roy’s Camp did at least produce White-browed Scrub-Robin (Ovamboensis race, without chest streaking), while Black-faced Babbler was a garden bird.

At Rundu we first stopped for a quick tour through the Rundu radiotower woodlands where we saw African Yellow White-eye, African Cuckoo, Green-backed Honeybird AND Brown-backed Honeybird, Pale Flycatcher, and Tinkling Cisticola, but failed to locate our main target, Rufous-bellied Tit.  Then we hit the Rundu Sewage Treatment Plant, where we saw Hottentot Teal, Lesser Jacana, Senegal Coucal, and quite a few Greater Painted Snipe, but failed to locate any Great Snipe. Our spirits lifted considerably at our next destination, George Mukoya Conservancy, after finding a Souza’s Shrike pair attending a nest presumably with eggs. After appreciating for a few hours a species that was a figment of my imagination the last time I was in the area (2002), our attention once again turned to the radiomast where we finally managed to tick Rufous-bellied Tit. Then it was time to meet Mark Paxton, Shamvura lodge owner and local birder who was due to arrive from Botswana around dusk. Over the last few years the shrikes have become somewhat of a goldmine for Mark, but it was still a bit of a shock to experience his angry reaction after hearing that we found the shrikes ourselves rather than using his services. With both Barred Owl and African Wood-Owl calling in the background, the tense interaction between Mark and us turned a bit more relaxed when Mark finally took us up on our original offer to show him the shrike nest the next day, and after we agreed to spend the night at the lodge. And so, while looking at a beautiful male Sigatunga across the river, we were off to bed rather surprised by Paxton’s antagonistic attitude towards us.

 

Day 7: Dec 6, 2010

Spending the night at Shamvura turned into a blessing in disguise. With a bit of the same luck that befell us during our Cinderella Waxbill experiences, African Hobby became the first bird I ogled through my binoculars that day. The first sighting was of a hobby chasing a African Wattled Lapwing over the Kunene River, while the second was presumably the same falcon banking beautifully over the river to display its rufous belly. With the Hobby in the bag, we proceeded to show Mark Paxton the Souza’s Shrike nest (picking up Pale Flycatcher , Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, and more Rufous-bellied Tit in the process) before heading towards Mahango Game Reserve to look for Sharp-tailed Starling. Amazingly, even after showing Mark the shrike’s nest (being under no illusion that he’ll make money off our find), he was only willing to sell us, for ZAR1000, information on where to get Sharp-tailed Starling. Needless to say, we politely declined the offer on a species even Paxton acknowledged he had not seen in the last few weeks (this guy seriously seemed to have only one drive, and that’s money).

At Mahangu Game Reserve we picked up a number of mammals (notably Red Lechwe and Common Reedbuck), as well as Wattled Crane, Rufous-bellied HeronLong-toed PloverGreater Swamp Warbler, and multiple Lesser Spotted Eagles. Nevertheless, as dusk approached we started to fear the worst for our Sharp-tailed Starling ambitions as we turned our attention to Poppa Falls, where we saw notably Winding Cisticola and Rock Pratincole. At dusk approached we also had some decisions to make. The original plan was to head south from Mahango tracing the Okavango Panhandle through Botswana towards South Africa. But with five days to spare we started toying with the idea of cleaning up on Zimbabwean/Mozambican species Dewald and I still had to see while Justin continued to feast on his first real twitching experience. Consequently, our party heading east through the Caprivi (recording European Hobby and Bradfield’s Hornbill en route) towards Katima Mulilo where we slept on the roadside near Kalizo Lodge.

 

Day 8: Dec 7, 2010

Even though the friendly owners of Kalizo Lodge said that Shelley’s Sunbird (our main target for the day) was always around, Lady Luck seemed to have left us again. Breaking our unsuccessful search for the sunbird in half we visited some wetlands surrounding Kalizo where we notably picked up a flock of 100s of Southern Carmine Bee-eaters, while Kalizo itself produced some more Hartlaub’s Babblers, African Skimmer, and Brown Firefinches. We left Kalizo Lodge hoping for some waterbirds at Katima’s sewage works, but failed to find our destination. A stop to regroup over brunch at the TUTWA Tourist Center in Katima proved productive: the center happened to be manned by some well-versed birders. These birders shared than the sewage works are so overgrown you won’t see the ponds, but also took us to their private residence to see Scallow’s Touraco. Pleased, we proceeded to cross the border into Botswana (in record time, maybe less than 30 mins!) before driving through Chobe National Park (seeing some Southern Ground Hornbill and road-kill Grey-hooded Kingfisher). Our main aim was to reach Kasane’s Mowana Safari Lodge (where I recorded Botswana’s first Shelley’s Sunbird in 2002) before dark. Sadly we didn’t see my sunbird (maybe we arrived too late in the day :) but did see Collared Palm Thrush and heard Coppery-tailed Coucal before nightfall.

In our revised trip itinerary, we would head from Mowana to Zambia via Victoria Falls and Livingstone, as this seemed the shortest route to get the Lower Zambezi Valley (targeting Lillian’s Lovebird) and beyond. But this part of the trip also marked the period where our trip turned challenging. First, we needed to know the cross-border changes from Botswana to Zimbabwe, as we didn’t want to to get stuck with a whole wad of Botswana currency. Sadly no one at Mowana could provide any info on cross-border charges, so we ended driving to the border (~15km from Kasane) to hear first-hand from the officials (en route we found our only snake for the trip, a Mozambique Spitting Cobra). Back at Kasane however, we discovered that Botswana’s ATM’s also keep to official business hours, and that the one ATM alive did not accept South African bankcards, While we eventually had success withdrawing cash with my American credit cards, the precious minutes we lost trying to find a functioning ATM and figuring out which bank card actually worked, made us miss the border with less than a minute. We ended spending the night outside the border post, rather irritated and thus not in the least interested to head to nearby Lesoma Valley to look for Pennant-winged Nightjar or Three-banded Courser.

Day 9: Dec 8, 2010

Crossing the border from Botswana to Zimbabwe proceeded relatively smoothly. But our plan to withdraw US Dollars in Victoria Falls encountered another unplanned issue when we realized that Zimbabwe also did not accept South African bankcards. This was now getting irritating because, while I was the only one among us with working bank cards, I virtually cleaned my bank balance with plane tickets and paying for the trip’s groceries. I nevertheless extracted the last few dollars from my bank balance, which was enough to get us through Zambia but not enough to get back into Zimbabwe (but hoping some money will be deposited into my account that night). We finally managed to cross into Zambia around 9am (not reminding ourselves that we’ve already lost more than 12 hours just sitting around at borders).

Because of the time lost at borders, and our financial woes, we decided to skip looking for Black-faced Lovebird (at the southern end of Kafue National Park) and only focus on the other Zambian endemic, Chaplin’s Barbet. En route to our Chaplin’s Barbet stakeout (at the Nkanga River Conservancy) it started to rain heavily which made finding the Zambian miombo specials a tad difficult, but we managed to pick up a Mashona Hyliota during a lull in the rain. Spirits lifted again briefly at the Nkanga River Conservancy when Justin recognized a classmate from Rhodes University (what are the chances!!!). What followed was us enjoying a lovely Bushpig carvery with our hosts while waiting for the rain to stop. As the rain seemed to clear up Bruce Millar asked one of his workers (Sylvester) to take us to a spot for the Chaplin’s Barbet. During the drive we picked up Ayres’ Eagle, Croaking Cisticola, Secretary Bird, Eurasian Hobby, a melanistic Gabar GoshawkOribi, and some introduced Puku. The barbet however remained elusive, until the sun showed itself for a brief moment and Sylvester instantly recognizing Chaplin’s Barbet calling, allowing us brief views of a few birds hiding among thick canopy foliage of a nearby Sycamore Fig. Back at Bruce Millar’s house we picked up our first Coppery Sunbird of the trip before the rain started again. And so, with the rain putting an end to our Zambian birding adventure, we decided to head to the Chirundo border post with empty wallets, hoping that a combination of Lady Luck’s goodwill and multiple-entry border papers will enable us to proceed. Our march to Zimbabwe ended at Chirundo as we missed the border’s open hours, forcing us to spend another night in front of the border post’s gates rather than being on our way to the next day’s birding location.


Day 10: Dec 9, 2010

Day 10 started off as a contender for the most miserable day of the trip. We woke up with the knowledge that, like the previous day, we will spend prime birding time crossing borders. We did however not loose all hope on the Lillian’s Lovebird (easiest found early morning or late afternoon in riparian vegetation on the Zambezi River’s banks) as the border would open at 6am. Crossing this border was however easier said than done. Lady Luck made a brief appearance when the one border official we asked for helped was THE (one) guy who checked passports of departing visitors. Turned out he was late for his job, so in exchange for a lift to his workstation, he put us in front of a VERY long cue of people. Our march into Zimbabwe was however cut short as we indeed lacked funds. In addition, even though my bank balance was fed overnight, there were no ATMs (i.e. petrol money) on the Zimbabwean side of Chirundo, meaning we will have to wait until 8am so we can get US$ inside a bank, rather than emptying the available ATMs of Kwatchas that will be useless outside Zambia.

Getting US$ from the bank was equally challenging. First, the FOREX official didn’t want to help us before 9am because the day’s rates were not yet posted. After I negotiated with the bank manager to get the previous day’s rates, the FOREX official then asked me to withdraw from the ATM I think 370,000 Kwatchas (equivalent to the US$200 we wanted). Upon returning from the ATM I was directed to a cashier, who then shared with me that the bank only had $155 available, and that I should wait a few minutes for more US$ to arrive. At this time the bank manager called me to his office sharing that “they overlooked the small fact that they sent all their FOREX to Lusaka the previous night”, and that I best go to one of the other nearby banks to get the rest of the US$ we wanted. At the bank next door, I was however told I needed to wait another few minutes for their FOREX person to arrive. Knowing from previous and now very recent experiences how long a few minutes can last in Africa, we opted to follow the dreadful illegal means of getting rid of our Kwatchas by exchanging them with hawkers at the border post (the border police seemed oblivious to this practice – which was a first for me – but I hated every moment of the process). Either way, with US$200 finally in hand, we crossed into Zimbabwe around 11am.

The next challenge of the trip involved getting fuel. Getting fuel in Chirundo never concerned us too much as I knew from previous experience there is a petrol station in Chirundo, confirmed by people on the Zambian side of the border. Turned out, however, that there was no fuel at the station in Chirundo. This was rather ironic since this station was one of a few places in Zimbabwe during my previous trip to the area – in 2004 – where I found fuel. Without a means to continue our journey, we were forced to abandon any Angola Pitta or Lillian’s Lovebird aspirations (well, these birds were now simply not on our radars). We departed for Karoi, which, we were guaranteed by the people in Chirundo, had fuel. But, as it turned out, we had a now all-familiar feeling of déjà vu at Karoi when the attendant shared with us that station was also without fuel. This was no trivial matter, as we simply did not have enough fuel to drive another 86km to Chinhoyi, so we had little choice but consider setting up camp under the petrol station’s roof waiting for better days. Upon realizing our plans, the station attendant nonchalantly switched on the pump. I don’t think Dewald or Justin even noticed the attendant switching on the pump (they will probably only realize what happened when they read this report) as they continued pleading with the attendant for a few drops of fuel. Either way, their pleas were answered, and we ended up getting US$15 of fuel that was enough to get us to Harare (I am sure there were more fuel in the pump, not that we cared anymore, but these experiences also conjures memories of people trying to solicit bribes on prior trips to the area).

At Harare we decided to spend a few moments hitting Monovale Marsh and Malborough Vlei in search for Striped Crake and Streaky-breasted Flufftail. In the process we heard Red-chested Flufftail, and saw Yellow-mantled WidowbirdDark-capped Yellow-warbler, and Croacking Cisticola. But flushing Small Buttonquail was an ominous sign for birders hoping to see elusive rallids associated with flooded grassland, so we decided to head towards Marondera hoping to pick up some Miombo specials such as Spotted Creeper and Collared Flycatcher at Gosha Park. Once again we failed to locate our main targets, but did pick up notably Wood Pipit, Cabanis’ BuntingMiombo Double-collared Sunbird, and Whyte’s Barbet before spending an hour looking for Nightjars (none seen) and frogs (seeing Guttural Toad, Painted Reed Frog, Long Reed Frog, and Bubbling Kassina). We left Gosha Park for the Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands, where we slept on the roadside near the Seldomseen Cottages.


Day 11: Dec 10, 2010

We started our day birding with Buluwezi, the legendary resident birder at Seldomseen who helped us find a whole host of eastern Highland specials. Just to list some of the highlights, we recorded Lemon Dove, Livingstone’s Touraco, White-eared Barbet, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Barratt’s Warbler, Chirinda Apalis, Singing Cisticola, Robert’s Prinia, Orange Ground-thrush, Western Olive Sunbird,  Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Stripe-cheeked Bulbul, Swynerton’s Robin, and Eastern Saw-wing. Afterwards, at the rundown Ndundu Lodge, Dewald saw a female Eurasian Blackcap. Being an absolute mega for southern Africa, we decided to spend a few hours hoping that Justin and I can also get views of the Blackcap. In the process we saw a male Buff-spotted Flufftail very well, as well as Tropical Boubou, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Variable Sunbird, and a healthy number of Garden Warbler but no more Blackcap. Taking a break from the Blackcap search, a quick visit to nearby Leopard Rock Hotel yielded a single African Black Swift among African Palm Swift while we enjoyed some coffee and Chocolate Mouse Cake. Calling it the day on the Blackcap back at Ndundu Lodge, we headed to the Christmas Pass outside Mutare where we pick up Augur Buzzard, White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike, Miombo Wren-warbler, Piping Cisticola, Miombo Rock-thrush, Boulder Chat, Striped Pipit, Black-eared Seed-eaterMiombo Tit, Cinnamon-bellied Tit, and Tree Pipit, but none of our main targets (Pallid Honeyguide and Collared Flycather). As dawn approached we left towards Birchenough Bridge where a number of Eleonora’s Falcons has been seen over the last while. About 20km from Mutare we indeed saw a Peregrine-sized Falcon that with its long tail and wings reminded us of what we think Eleonora’s Falcon should look like. Unfortunately at that time it was so dark that we could not make out any color, making all three birders write the individual off as not identifiable.

The final harrowing experience of our trip came around 11pm that night about 70km before Beitbridge when a truck not dimming its headlights and driving over both lanes pushed us from the road. While Dewald did extremely well to avoid a head-on collision, we ended up popping two tires on the road’s shoulder while avoiding the truck. A man who identified himself as a policeman (and showed us a card – without us asking – that actually identified himself as a Zimbabwean war veteran) stopped soon afterwards and offered help. And so Dewald with a wheel in each hand left with the war veteran (his name, ironically, was Inyoni, which is the local name for bird), while Justin and I tried to sleep in front of the car right next to the road in what was our most exposed night on the trip. I must say feeling the ground vibrate as trucks speed towards you on a curve made sleep hard, but probably better than trespassing on property claimed by Zimbabwean war veterans, or sleeping in a car held up by wheel jacks.


Day 12: Dec 11, 2010

The entire adventure fixing the tire was quite the rip-off. First, after filling Inyoni’s car with petrol (US$70) and him deciding to keep the change (US$10), he also demanded, after the fact, a service fee of US$100. Fixing the one (tubeless) wheel was interesting but remarkably effective, and involved a simple ($25) plastic shopping bag pressed between the rim and tube (we also got a $45 extra wheel that ended not fitting on the car). Despite the remarkable rip-offs fixing the one tire and putting the spare on the other wheel, we continued our journey, thankful that the trip’s end was in sight. And yes, we gave a collective sign of relief after crossing the border into South Africa, where 24-hour help was a phone-call away, bank cards works, and petrol was freely available. Oh yes, the last bird of our trip was an Eleonora’s Falcon about 10km before BeitBridge, but with all the drama the magnanimity of the situation (seeing this rare falcon, which was a lifer for all of us) passed us by almost instantaneously.


RETROSPECT

The people

I feel obliged to mention the incredible friendliness of the people of Namibia, and the Herero people of northern Namibia in particular. Traditional-living tribes are somewhat of a rarity in southern Africa these days. Even the bushman (which is what they prefer to call themselves rather than San) we saw on the trip have been integrated into the comfortable western culture, with folks posing in traditional clothes restricted to touristy cultural villages. It was therefore a pleasure to meet the Herero people: in towns you often see woman with their hair caked in traditional red mud, while the pro-active birder will surely meet more traditional folk that was also extremely helpful in helping us with directions to birds and locations.

While we felt rather harassed at the Victoria Falls – Livingstone border, I also take my hat off for Zimbabweans. Much like Mozambicans, they do not really show their suffering (greedy war veterans aside, see Day 11 above). It was indeed a pleasure to see Zimbabwe’s rebuilding program in action. Surely they will struggle bouncing back from the harm done by Zanu-PF. But the progress since 2005 (my previous visit) was tangible, which affected the quality of our visit substantially.


Water

Despite traveling through desert and dry country for much of our trip, water was freely available even if we didn’t stay at lodges or hotels (we often filled at petrol stations if our supplies became depleted). Water was nevertheless a valuable resource, as many locals asked us for water (especially in southern Namibia), and offering water to locals came in handy when we tried to get a lift to a petrol station in Botswana (Day 1), or obtained access onto communal land while looking for Grey Kestrel in northern Namibia (Day 5).

 

The rain!!

While Namibia is mainly a dry country, birders should not under-estimate the effect of rain on the region’s biodiversity. Desert environments are generally inhabited by nomadic species that move around depending on environmental conditions. Namibia seemed to be no exception. While I’m no expert in the movement of Namibian species, I can confirm that we ended empty-handed at a number of known spots for two of the species we missed – Grey Kestrel, and Chestnut Weaver. Local birders reckon that we were out of luck because the birds dispersed after the rains that fell a week or so before our visit. Point is, if you end up visiting Namibia at the start of the rainy season, be sure to obtain up-to-date information preferably from the resident birders rather than relying on out-dated information from email groups.


Border crossings

As usual, crossing borders into Namibia was an absolute pleasure (crossing at the Trans-Kalahari border into Namibia can only be described as a very pleasant experience). We were a bit confused by the Cross Border Charge (CBC) office signs outside Katima Mulilo en route to the Ngoma border – we paid these charges when we entered Namibia so did not need to stop at this office to pay the fees again. Though Botswana’s border officials are known to throw their weight around, we had little issues this time and found the crossings highly efficient.

Crossing South African and Zimbabwean borders was a mixed bag: Skilpadhek (SA-Botswana) was swift and efficient, while Beitbridge was chaotic not only because of the amount of people present, but also seemingly clueless officials at both sides. Crossing into Zambia was a pain both times. At Livingstone we ended up getting send back by border police first because the customs official didn’t put some (standard procedure) stamp on our papers, and then again because one of our clearance certificates (issued that day) expired the day before (I can’t help to wonder whether the lack of bribing played a role in some of our issues).

Crossing from Zambia into Zimbabwe must surely rank as one of the most chaotic border crossings in the subregion (with a few exceptions, I’ve crossed them all). First, the stampede of trucks (at spectacular speed) and people (hundreds-strong) was a sight to behold, from a distance (how no-one got hurt is above me). I think the ultimate cause for the chaos was the way the border-post was manned. Usually one would first visit the departing country’s customs buildings before proceeding to the destination country’s customs building. The problem here is that Zambian and Zimbabwean customs are under one roof. What would usually be the Zambian customs buildings became the processing center for people arriving in Zambia while the buildings on the Zimbabwean side processes people arriving in Zimbabwe. (We only figured this out after the entire stampede passed, and we waited in vain for custom officials to help us what turned to be the wrong building – see Day 10).

I would add that, in general, your ease in crossing borders will depend on your attitude, as Tony Weaver summarized in his comprehensive article on crossing African borders. Tony also touches on bribery, which is a practice I detest. You see, you are doing no one any favors with bribing; you just create expectations from the locals, and misery to the tourists after you (who get harassed and sometimes even extorted by those who solicit bribes).

Fuel

Petrol was, in general, freely available on our trip, though some petrol stations kept to office hours. We had some worries during two sections of our trip. The first was the epic stint between Sekoma and Tshobotsha (Botswana). We learned the hard way that forgetting to get petrol in Kang may end in misery if you are not equipped with a long-range tank or jerry cans. The second section of nervousness was around Chirundo (see day 10). We opted not to buy petrol in cans from the locals as I’ve bought petrol mixed with water on a previous occasion. So, for us, the closest petrol station on the Zambian side was in Lusaka, 92km away. On the Zimbabwean side, Chirundo should have petrol, but unfortunately the situation seem a bit unpredictable. Credit cards are not freely accepted at petrol stations – you should carry enough cash in the local currency. Namibia provides somewhat of a respite as they accept South African “Garage Cards”, while a number of countries also accept South African Rands (but take note of the exchange rate during the transaction).


Money

ATMs are freely available throughout, even in minor cities (sometimes inside shops). Note however that you cannot use MASTERCARD or South African bankcards everywhere. Namibia accepts South African Rand freely (at 1:1 exchange rate), while Botswana and Zimbabwe also accept South African Rand. Botswana and Zambia also accepts US Dollars, which is the official currently in Zimbabwe (the Zim dollar is now defunct, but you can buy them as souvenirs). Kwatcha and Pula are the official currency in respectively Zambia and Botswana– if you don’t want to be stuck with these currencies make sure you plan ahead when you withdraw money from ATMs.

 

Safety

We felt safe everywhere we traveled, even while sleeping on roadsides and at border posts. While Botswana and Namibia are considered some of safest countries in Africa, I also felt rather safe in Zimbabwe. During our roadside night naps we were disturbed only once, but police near Kasane, who asked us to sleep closer to the well-lit border post. Petty crime however remains a problem at Zimbabwe’s more touristy destinations – after I got back in SA I heard a friend was robbed at Great Zimbabwe at the time we were in the Caprivi.  Our biggest safety concern during the entire trip was therefore not crime but the roads (see section on night-driving below).


Road conditions/night-driving

Roads were, in general, in superb condition throughout the trip. Sure, some areas where we opted to do a bit of off-roading things got a bit tight, but our car was also quite over-loaded. So I would say you really don’t need a four-wheel vehicle for a trip such as ours, unless you plan to take the 60km road tracing the Kunene that connects RuaCana with the Kunene River Lodge during the rainy season. In fact, this road often becomes impassible during the rainy season, forcing people traveling from Kunene to Ruacana onto the 270km commute via Opuwo. Even though we did not get stuck during our visit (just after the first rains), Peter Morgan mentioned three cars he had to help the week or so prior to our visit. Before visiting, it’s therefore best to enquire about road conditions by calling Kunene River Lodge. The quality of roads also made night driving easier than it could be. There were however four major sections of road during the trip that provided some angst while driving at night, discussed below.

The first issue was driving through Namibia at night. Our first night-driving stint was when we entered Botswana from the Namibian side, towards Walvisbay. This stint was our easiest, as the Kudu present on the road did not give us much trouble. But that is where it ended. Cattle and donkeys are common on northern Namibian roads. To make life difficult, their eyes don’t shine in a car’s headlights, so you see the animals only when you’re virtually on top of them. We also came dangerously close to an elephant standing on the road’s shoulder in the Caprivi, which we once again only saw when we were virtually on the behemoth. But really, driving slowly and being alert made driving northern Namibia at night almost pleasant (and much cooler than during the day).

The second difficult stint was driving from Mutare to Beitbridge at night. Zimbabwe’s roads were a pleasure to drive at night, as the roads are in general well maintained and animals rare. The latter aspect I guess is sadly a consequence of poaching and the collapsed economic situation in the country – I struggled driving Zimbabwe at night on previous occasions due to animals, notably Kudu, on the road. The biggest issue on Zimbabwean roads at night is the truck drivers of whom many simply refuses to dim their headlight, despite us repeatedly flashing our headlights. This aspect unfortunately also gave our Zimbabwean experience a rather unpleasant ending (see day 11-12). Because the trucks drive at quite high speed, you really fear for your safety while driving between Mutare and Beitbridge, and I am consequently not sure I want to drive this road again at night. (At roughly the same time as our trip, a birding friend counted 23 fresh car wrecks between Beitbridge and Mutare, prompting him to call night driving in Zimbabwe suicide!!)

Our third and hardest commute was driving Zambia at night. One of South Africa’s more prominent birders recently spent a harrowing three days in a Zambian prison after he killed a pedestrian at night. The ease at which such an accident can happen was apparent during our stint on the road. Simply put, pedestrians were everywhere. Wearing mostly dark clothes, these pedestrians also seemed oblivious to traffic on the T1 highway, as the very thin shoulder notably between Choma and the T2-highway intersection, that seemed to be the party spot of the night. This despite our birding colleague not being the only person hitting pedestrians; we saw some gruesome scenes of a dismembered pedestrian killed by a truck mere seconds before we arrived at the scene. As one entered the Zambezi valley on the T2, pedestrians made way for a road in very bad condition. All the potholes and rocks that fell from the roadside mountain were more reminiscent of a real-life obstacle course. Quite a few truckers clearly failed this obstacle course if one considers the amount of broken-down trucks ON the road (i.e. not parked on the side). Justin at some stage aptly noted how the approach to the Chirundo border seemed to be the setting of a thrilling movie or tv-game (the reality, of course, not so thrilling).


Trip extension through Zambia and Zimbabwe

For all the border/financial challenges during the second leg of our trip, two lifers for me (Eleonora’s Falcon and Chaplin’s Barbet) over the last rather expensive 5 days was a hard pill to swallow. Much of our woes can be attributed to time availability and for that I put the blame primarily the banks. No, I do not believe that a lack of planning played a role as Dewald and I knew the spots for the targeted birds. And don’t tell me we aimed to do too much – if we were able to get money from the ATMs we would have crossed all the borders in time. Yes we did not have enough money but surely one would expect South African bank cards to work at ATMs of neighboring countries. I also believe that without our bank issues, the popping tires (at the trip’s end anyway) would probably not had such a big impact on how we felt about the trip. After all, we covered almost 12,000km on the trip so tire-issues are not totally unexpected. In other words, apart from noting the experience, I don’t think we could have provided for the challenges that hampered our trip (and the experience is of questionable value anyway as I don’t recall bank cards problems in Zimbabwe or Botswana on previous occasions). Bottom-line: birding in Africa is like the birds themselves – unpredictable. You just have to take it as it comes.

 

Location of Souza’s Shrike

The decimal coordinates where we found the Souza’s Shrike nest are S18.04950 E20.90280. To explain the spot, if you’re coming from the Mahango side, driving towards Rundu on the B8, about 1km before you get to the gravel road turning right to Shamvura, there’s a little settlement with a few huts and a kraal. The birds are in the area behind those huts. We’ve been told not to go any further in than the power lines (which run parallel to the road, almost exactly 500m from the road) as we’d then be outside of their area but we eventually found the birds just beyond the power lines. The area might change quite rapidly, as the little settlement logs the surrounding area quite heavily. But we also understand there’s quite a few Souza’s Shrikes around (our birds were unknown to Mark Paxton), and we originally picked the area up by having an understanding of preferred Souza Shrike habitat – open, semi-disturbed broadleaved woodland with mostly short trees (about the height of a 1-level house). Best would thus to start looking at the area where we’ve seen the birds, and then continue outward looking for suitable habitat.

 


ID Issues

Long-billed Lark: Current field guides do not indicate Benguela Long-billed Lark occurring as far south as Swakopmund, where we photographed seen them. To easy identification there seem to be some habitat segregation among the two species in the south, with Karoo (that we saw at Spitzkoppe) preferring grassy areas and Benguela preferring desolate plains. The key difference between the two species is however the grey nape and longer bill present in Karoo Long-billed Lark.

Damara Hornbill: I don’t think people have sorted out the taxonomy of this bird yet. Birdguides recommend separation on the white neck and dark eye (Southern Red-billed Hornbill has a yellow eye and dark smudges on the neck). We saw some birds good for Damara Hornbill at Hobatere Lodge. However, birds near RuaCana had dark eyes with dark smudges in the neck, making me suspect a hybrid zone, which birders should be careful of.

Mosque swallow: Birders need to be aware that the Red-breasted Swallows around RuaCana had ligher throats and underwings, reminiscent of Mosque Swallows (not shown in bird guides). We finally saw Mosque Swallows near Mahangu, with the underwing coverts pure white rather than off-white.

Angola Swallow: Some birders reckon this is an extreme vagrant in the Caprivi, while others believe its an annual visitor. From the birdguides it indeed looks difficult to separate between these two species, with Angola Swallow having darker under-wing coverts. So maybe they are easier to see early summer, before Barn Swallows arrive. Certainly something to keep an eye out for!

 

ANNOTATED BIRDLIST

  1. Ostrich Common Struthio camelus: A few at Mahango and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  2. Grebe Great Crested Podiceps cristatus: One individual at Mile-4 saltworks
  3. Grebe Black-necked Podiceps nigricollis: A few individuals at waterfeatures around Walvisbay and Swakopmund
  4. Grebe Little Tachybaptus ruficollis: At the Swakopmund and Rundu Sewage Works, and flooded field near Rundu
  5. Pelican Great White Pelecanus onocrotalus: Common at waterfeatures around Walvisbay and Swakopmund
  6. Cormorant White-breasted Phalacrocorax lucidus: At the Walvisbay and Mile-4 Saltworks, and Shamvura Lodge
  7. Cormorant Cape Phalacrocorax capensis: Common at waterfeatures around Walvisbay and Swakopmund
  8. Cormorant Bank Phalacrocorax neglectus: A few individuals at Mile-4 Saltworks
  9. Cormorant Reed Phalacrocorax africanus: Common and widespread at waterbodies in the Caprivi and beyond
  10. Cormorant Crowned Phalacrocorax coronatus: A few individuals at Dolfynstrand north of Walvisbay
  11. Darter African Anhinga rufa: One individual at Mahango Game Reserve
  12. Heron Grey Ardea cinerea: A few individuals seen at wetlands throughout Namibia
  13. Heron Black-headed Ardea melanocephala: Individuals at Spitzkoppe, Ruacana and Marlborough Vlei
  14. Heron Purple Ardea purpurea: Individuals at Shamvura, Kalizo and Mowana Safari Lodges
  15. Egret Great Egretta alba: One at Walvisbay Logoon, and a few at Mahango
  16. Egret Little Egretta garzetta: Seen at virtually every waterbody in Namibia
  17. Egret Yellow-billed Egretta intermedia: One at the Tshobotsha wetlands, and one at Mahango
  18. Egret Cattle Bubulcus ibis: Common and widespread throughout
  19. Heron Squacco Ardeola ralloides: Common and widespread at waterbodies in the Caprivi; one also seen at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  20. Heron Green-backed Butorides striatus: Individuals at Hippo Pools, Poppa Rapids, and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  21. Heron Rufous-bellied Ardeola rufiventris: Individuals at Shamvura Lodge, Mahango, and Kalizo Lodge wetlands
  22. Night-Heron Black-crowned Nycticorax nycticorax: Two seen at the Rundu Sewage Works
  23. Hamerkop Scopus umbretta: Widespread at waterfeatures throughout
  24. Stork Abdim’s Ciconia abdimii: Flocks at Poppa Rapids and Monovale Marsh
  25. Stork Woolly-necked Ciconia episcopus: A few at Mahango Game Reserve
  26. Openbill African Anastomus lamelligerus: Abundant in the Caprivi; encountered in flocks of >50 individuals. Also at Mowana Safari Lodge and Vic Falls
  27. Stork Marabou Leptoptilos crumeniferus: A flock seen outside Katima Mulilo
  28. Stork Yellow-billed Mycteria ibis: A few at Mahango Game Reserve
  29. Ibis African Sacred Threskiornis aethiopicus: Flocks at Mowana Safari Lodge and Victoria Falls
  30. Ibis Glossy Plegadis falcinellus: Common in the vicinity of the Zambezi River of Namibia and Botswana
  31. Ibis Hadeda Bostrychia hagedash: A flock near Hippo Pools
  32. Flamingo Greater Phoenicopterus ruber: Common at waterfeatures around Walvisbay and Swakopmund
  33. Flamingo Lesser Phoenicopterus minor: Common at waterfeatures around Walvisbay and Swakopmund
  34. Duck White-faced Dendrocygna viduata: Flocks scattered throughout the Caprivi
  35. Goose Egyptian Alopochen aegyptiacus: Groups at Swakopmund Sewage Works, Hobatere Lodge, and Mahangu
  36. Teal Cape Anas capensis: Common around Walvisbay and Swakopmund; also seen at the Rundu Sewage Works
  37. Teal Hottentot Anas hottentota: Individuals at the Rundu Sewage Works and Kalizo Lodge wetlands
  38. Teal Red-billed Anas erythrorhyncha: A few at Tshobotsha and Kalizo Lodge wetlands, Swakopmund and Rundu Sewageworks, and the Andoni Plains
  39. Shoveler Cape Anas smithii: A few individuals at the Swakopmund Sewage Works
  40. Pochard Southern Netta erythrophthalma: A few at the Swakopmund and Rundu Sewage Works
  41. Duck Comb Sarkidiornis melanotos: 45 seen at the Kavango River Bridge
  42. Goose Spur-winged Plectropterus gambensis: Seen at Samvura Lodge and Mahango Game Reserve
  43. Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius: Two at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  44. Vulture White-backed Gyps africanus: Individuals scattered throughout southern Botswana and northern Namibia
  45. Vulture Lappet-faced Torgos tracheliotus: Individuals at Mahango, Tsumeb, and southern Botswana
  46. Kite Yellow-billed Milvus aegyptius: Common and widespread from the Caprivi onwards. Flocks of thousands of individuals were observed around Divundu
  47. Kite Black-shouldered Elanus caeruleus: Scattered thoughout the trip beyond the Ugab River
  48. Eagle Verreaux’s Aquila verreauxii: One individual at Spitzkoppe
  49. Eagle Lesser Spotted Aquila pomarina: Multiple individuals (perhaps the most common brown eagle)at Mahango Game Reserve
  50. Eagle Wahlberg’s Aquila wahlbergi: Common at Mahango Game Reserve
  51. Hawk-Eagle Ayres’s Hieraaetus ayresii: One at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  52. Eagle Long-crested Lophaetus occipitalis: Various individuals in eastern Zimbabwe (incl. Marondera)
  53. Eagle Martial Polemaetus bellicosus: One at Mahango Game Reserve
  54. Snake-Eagle Brown Circaetus cinereus: A few individuals around Rundu, and a single bird near Livingstone
  55. Snake-Eagle Black-chested Circaetus pectoralis: Scatttered throughout central/northern Namibia, and Zambia
  56. Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus: A few in northern and southern Botswana, the Caprivi, and the Zambezi Valley
  57. Fish-Eagle African Haliaeetus vocifer: Common along the Kunene, Kavango and Zambezi Rivers, and a single individual at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  58. Buzzard Steppe Buteo vulpinusvMultiple individuals beyond the Ugab River
  59. Buzzard Augur Buteo augur: Two individuals at Christmas Pass
  60. Shikra Accipiter badius: One between Ruacana and Swartbooisdrif, and another at the Rundu radiomast
  61. Goshawk Gabar Melierax gabar: One at the Andoni Plains, and another (melanistic) individual at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  62. Goshawk Southern Pale Chanting Melierax canorus: Two individuals in southern Botswana, and another between Swakopmund and Spitzkoppe
  63. Goshawk Dark Chanting Melierax metabates: One between Rundu and Shamvura Lodge
  64. Falcon Peregrine Falco peregrinus: A possible individual circing over the Walvisbay Lagoon
  65. Falcon Lanner Falco biarmicus: One at Mahango Game Reserve
  66. Hobby Eurasian Falco subbuteo: Common in the Caprivi, also seen in northern Botswana and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  67. Hobby African Falco cuvierii: Two observations, possibly the same individual, at Shamvura Lodge
  68. Falcon Eleonora’s Falco eleonorae: One individual about 20km from Beitbridge, and another possible individual about 20km south of Mutare
  69. Falcon Amur Falco amurensis: Flocks at Kaloma and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  70. Kestrel Rock Falco rupicolis: One between Swakopmund and Spitzkoppe, and another near the Ugab River Bridge
  71. Kestrel Greater Falco rupicoloides: One between Jwaneng and Sekoma, and another between Swakopmund and Spitzkoppe
  72. Falcon Pygmy Polihierax semitorquatus: One at Hobatere Campsite
  73. Francolin Coqui Peliperdix coqui: Heard at the Rundu Radiomast and George Mukoya Conservancy
  74. Francolin Crested Dendroperdix sephaena: A small flock at the Andoni Plains
  75. Spurfowl Red-billed Pternistis adspersus: Seen between Osakos and Uis, at the Ugab River, and at Hobatere Lodge
  76. Francolin Natal Pternistis natalensis: A small covey at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  77. Spurfowl Hartlaub’s Pternistis hartlaubi: A small covey at sunset in the hills behind Hobatere Campsite
  78. Spurfowl Red-necked Pternistis afer: Two individuals of the distinct Kunene race near the Ruacana Hydrostation
  79. Spurfowl Swainson’s Pternistis swainsonii: One near Kolomo
  80. Guineafowl Helmeted Numida meleagris: Widespread at scattered from the Ugab River onwards
  81. Buttonquail Small Turnix sylvatica: One flushed at Monovale Marsh
  82. Crane Wattled Grus carunculatus: Two individuals at Mahango Game Reserve
  83. Rail African Rallus caerulescens: Heard at Malborough Vlei
  84. Crake Black Amaurornis flavirostris: Frequently encountered between, and including Hobatere Lodge and Rundu Sewage Works
  85. Flufftail Red-chested Sarothrura rufa: Heard at Malborough Vlei
  86. Flufftail Buff-spotted Sarothrura elegans: A male seen well at Ndundu Lodge
  87. Swamphen African Purple Porphyrio madagascariensis: Multiple individuals at the Rundu Sewage Works
  88. Moorhen Common Gallinula chloropus: A few individuals at the Swakopmund Sewageworks
  89. Coot Red-knobbed Fulica cristata: At the Swakopmund and Rundu Sewage works, and Andoni Plains.
  90. Korhaan Rüppell’s Eupodotis rueppellii: Coveys at Spitzkoppe, and between Usakos and Uis
  91. Korhaan Red-crested Eupodotis ruficrista: Widespread in wooded habitats of northern Namibia and Botswana
  92. Korhaan Northern Black Eupodotis afraoides: One between Usakos and Uis, and another on the Andoni Plains
  93. Jacana African Actophilornis africanus: Common in the Caprivi and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  94. Jacana Lesser Microparra capensis: One at the Rundo Sewage Works
  95. Painted-snipe Greater Rostratula benghalensis: Two at the Rundo Sewage Works
  96. Oystercatcher Eurasian Haematopus ostralegus: Two individuals at the Walvisbay Saltworks. A national rarity
  97. Oystercatcher African Black Haematopus moquini: At Walvisbay and Mile-4 Saltworks
  98. Plover Common Ringed Charadrius hiaticula: A few individuals at Walvisbay Saltworks
  99. Plover White-fronted Charadrius marginatus: Individuals (incl. a nest with 2 eggs) at Mile-4 Saltworks
  100. Plover Chestnut-banded Charadrius pallidus: At the Walvisbay and Mile-4 Saltworks,and at Andoni Plains
  101. Plover Kittlitz’s Charadrius pecuarius: Common at woterbodies in southern Botswana and Namibia
  102. Plover Three-banded Charadrius tricollaris: Widespead at waterbodies in Namibia
  103. Plover Grey Pluvialis squatarola: Common at waterbodies around Walvisbay and Swakopmund, and a single individual at a flooded grassland near Rundu
  104. Lapwing Crowned Vanellus coronatus: At scattered locations in Namibia north of the Ugab River
  105. Lapwing Blacksmith Vanellus armatus: Common and widespread at waterbodies throughout the trip, but absent in Namibia south of the Ugab River
  106. Lapwing White-crowned Vanellus albiceps: One in front of Kalizo Lodge
  107. Lapwing African Wattled Vanellus senegallus: Common in the Caprivi and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  108. Lapwing Long-toed Vanellus crassirostris: Common at Mahango Game Reserve
  109. Turnstone Ruddy Arenaria interpres: At Walvisbay Saltworks and Dolfynstrand
  110. Sandpiper Common Actitis hypoleucos: Regular at waterbodies throughout Namibia
  111. Sandpiper Wood Tringa glareola: Regular at freshwater features of southern Botswana and Namibia
  112. Redshank Common Tringa totanus: One individual at Mile-4 saltworks. A national rarity
  113. Sandpiper Marsh Tringa stagnatilis: At the Walvisbay Saltworks, Andoni Plains, and Rundu Sewage Works
  114. Greenshank Common Tringa nebularia: Common around Walvisbay and Swakopmund; one individual at Kalizo Lodge
  115. Knot Red Calidris canutus: A few individuals at Dolfynstrand north of Walvisbay
  116. Sandpiper Curlew Calidris ferruginea: Seen at Dolfynstrand, Rundu Sewage Works, and both Walvisbay Saltworks and Lagoon
  117. Stint Little Calidris minuta: Regular at wetlands throughout Namibia
  118. Sanderling Calidris alba: A few individuals at Walvisbay Saltworks, Walvisbay Lagoon, and Dolfynstrand north of Walvisbay
  119. Ruff Philomachus pugnax: Common at waterbodies of Namibia and southern Botswana
  120. Godwit Bar-tailed Limosa lapponica: A flock of approximately 85 at Walvisbay Lagoon
  121. Curlew Eurasian Numenius arquata: One individual at Walvisbay saltworks
  122. Whimbrel Common Numenius phaeopus: Individuals at Walvisbay Lagoon and Mile-4 Saltworks
  123. Phalarope Red-necked Phalaropus lobatus: More than 30 individuals at Walvisbay saltworks. A national rarity
  124. Avocet Pied Recurvirostra avosetta: Multiple individuals around Walvisbay, Swakopmund and the Andoni Plains
  125. Stilt Black-winged Himantopus himantopus: Multiple individuals around Walvisbay, Swakopmund, the Andoni Plains and Katima Mulilo
  126. Thick-knee Spotted Burhinus capensis: One between Oshakati and the Andoni Plains
  127. Thick-knee Water Burhinus vermiculatus: A few at Hobatere Lodge, Ruacana and Poppa Rapids
  128. Courser Burchell’s Cursorius rufus: Multiple individuals in a fallow field 20km south of Khorixas turnoff (C35)
  129. Courser Temminck’s Cursorius temminckii: Multiple individuals in a fallow field 5km west of Ruacana
  130. Courser Double-banded Rhinoptilus africanus: Two between Usakos and Uis, and again between Oshakati and the Andoni Plains
  131. Pratincole Collared Glareola pratincola: A few seen at Mahango Game Reserve
  132. Pratincole Black-winged Glareola nordmanni: A flock (out of range) at the Tshobotsha wetlands
  133. Pratincole Rock Glareola nuchalis: Common at Poppa Rapids
  134. Gull Kelp Larus dominicanus: Common at waterbodies around Walvisbay and Swakopmund
  135. Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus: Singletons at Walvisbay Saltworks
  136. Gull Hartlaub’s Larus hartlaubii: Common at waterfeatures around Walvisbay and Swakopmund
  137. Gull Common Black-headed Larus ridibundus: One individual at Walvisbay saltworks. A national rarity
  138. Tern Caspian Sterna caspia: A few at Walvisbay Lagoon
  139. Tern Swift Sterna bergii: A few individuals at Walvisbay Saltworks, Walvisbay Lagoon, and Mile-4 Saltworks
  140. Tern Sandwich Sterna sandvicensis: A few individuals at Walvisbay Saltworks and Walvisbay Lagoon
  141. Tern Common Sterna hirundo: Caught in mistnets at Mile-4 Saltworks
  142. Tern Damara Sterna balaenarum: Common at Walvisbay Saltworks
  143. Tern Little Sterna albifrons: One individual in the tern roost at Walvisbay Lagoon. A regional rarity
  144. Tern Black Chlidonias niger: Caught in mistnets at Mile-4 Saltworks
  145. Tern Whiskered Chlidonias hybridus: A flock at an flooded grassland near Rundu
  146. Tern White-winged Chlidonias leucopterus: Flocks at Tsobotsha wetlands, Walvisbay Saltworks and Kalizo Lodge wetlands
  147. Skimmer African Rynchops flavirostris: Seen roosting on sandbanks at Shamvura Lodge and Kalizo Lodge
  148. Sandgrouse Namaqua Pterocles namaqua: Common and widespread between Uis and Hobatere Lodge
  149. Sandgrouse Double-banded Pterocles bicinctus: A pair seen at Spitzkoppe
  150. Dove Rock Columba livia: A few at the Swakopmund Sewage Works, and a few scattered thoughout Zambia
  151. Pigeon Speckled Columba guinea: A few at Tshobotsha
  152. Dove Red-eyed Streptopelia semitorquata: Common and widespread in the Caprivi; individuals also seen between Ruacana and Swartbooisdrif
  153. Dove African Mourning Streptopelia decipiens: Seen at Swartbooisdrif and Kalizo Lodge
  154. Turtle-Dove Cape Streptopelia capicola: Regular throughout the trip, mostly in Botswana and Namibia
  155. Dove Laughing Streptopelia senegalensis: Regular throughout the trip
  156. Dove Namaqua Oena capensis: Frequent in southern Botswana and Namibia
  157. Wood-Dove Emerald-spotted Turtur chalcospilos: Scattered throughout the trip from the Ugab River onwards
  158. Dove Tambourine Turtur tympanistria: Seen at Seldomseen
  159. Dove Lemon Aplopelia larvata: Seen at Seldomseen, and heard at Ndundo Lodge
  160. Green-Pigeon African Treron calva: A flock at the Ruacana Falls, and between Pemba and Monze (Zambia)
  161. Parrot Rüppell’s Poicephalus rueppellii: A small flock at the Ugab River, and at Hobatere Lodge
  162. Parrot Meyer’s Poicephalus meyeri: Seen multiple times in the vicinity of the Shamvura Lodge
  163. Lovebird Rosy-faced Agapornis roseicollis: Common between Ruacana and Kunene River Lodge, with another flock at Spitzkoppe
  164. Turaco Livingstone’s Tauraco livingstonii: Seen at Seldomseen
  165. Turaco Schalow’s Tauraco schalowi: One in a garden at Katima Mulilo
  166. Go-away-bird Grey Corythaixoides concolor: Common and widespread in wooded regions throughout the trip
  167. Cuckoo African Cuculus gularis: One individual at the Rundu Radiomast. A few other individuals were also seen from Rundu onwards but positive ID was not possible.
  168. Cuckoo Red-chested Cuculus solitarius: Regularly heard in the Caprivi, and at Seldomseen
  169. Cuckoo Black Cuculus clamosus: A few individuals heard in the Caprivi
  170. Cuckoo Great Spotted Clamator glandarius: One seen at the Andoni Plains
  171. Cuckoo Jacobin Clamator jacobinus: Regular in Namibia north of the Ugab River; also at Chirundu, and a melanistic individual in South Africa just before crossing into Botswana
  172. Cuckoo African Emerald Chrysococcyx cupreus: One heard at Victoria Falls, and another at Seldomseen. Cannot discount possibility of Robin-Chat mimicry though
  173. Cuckoo Klaas’s Chrysococcyx klaas: One calling at the Rundu Radiomast, and another near Shamvura Lodge
  174. Cuckoo Diderick Chrysococcyx caprius: One seen at the Rundu Radiomast
  175. Coucal Coppery-tailed Centropus cupreicaudus: One heard at Mowana Safari Lodge
  176. Coucal Senegal Centropus senegalensis: One individual at the Rundu Sewage Works
  177. Coucal White-browed Centropus superciliosus: One individual between Ruacana and Swartbooisdrif
  178. Owl Barn Tyto alba: Singletons at the Trans-Kalahari Borderpost, Rundu, and Rundu Sewage Works
  179. Wood-Owl African Strix woodfordii: One at Shamvura Lodge
  180. Owl Marsh Asio capensis: Seemingly out of place where we flushed one in mountainous region 10km north of Uis, and on the road north of Hobatere Lodge
  181. Owlet Pearl-spotted Glaucidium perlatum: Scattered throughout Namibia from the Ugab River northwards; also at Mowana Safari Lodge
  182. Owlet African Barred Glaucidium capense: Seen at Shamvura Lodge
  183. Eagle-Owl Spotted Bubo africanus: A rufous-morph individual at the Tsiseb Conservancy
  184. Swift Common Apus apus: Multiple individuals at the Rundu Sewage Works
  185. Swift African Black Apus barbatus: One mixed between Palm Swifts at Leopard Rock Hotel
  186. Swift Bradfield’s Apus bradfieldi: A flock between Kang and Tshobotsha, and a flock in Walvisbay
  187. Swift White-rumped Apus caffer: At the Skilpadnek borderpost, Kamanjab, Grootfontein and Kalizo Lodge
  188. Swift Little Apus affinis: Common and widespread from Kamanjab onwards
  189. Swift Alpine Tachymarptis melba: Seen 10km north of Kamanjab, and at Hobatere Lodge
  190. Palm-Swift African Cypsiurus parvus: Regular throughout the trip from the Ugab River onwards. Particularly common in Zimbabwe
  191. Mousebird White-backed Colius colius: Seen at the Namib Naukluft Park and Spitzkoppe
  192. Mousebird Red-faced Urocolius indicus: Scattered throughout Namibia, mostly north of the Ugab River
  193. Kingfisher Pied Ceryle rudis: Regular at water features in northern Namibia, and one individual at Leopard Rock Hotel
  194. Kingfisher Giant Megaceryle maxima: At Hippo Pools (Ruacana), Kalizo Lodge, and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  195. Kingfisher Malachite Alcedo cristata: One at Mahango Game Reserve
  196. Kingfisher Woodland Halcyon senegalensis: Scattered throughout northern Namibia; also seen at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  197. Kingfisher Grey-headed Halcyon leucocephala: One individual between Ruacana and Swartbooisdrif, and another picked up as a roadkill in Chobe National Park
  198. Kingfisher Striped Halcyon chelicuti: A pair was heard at the Rundu Radiomast
  199. Bee-eater European Merops apiaster: Regular in southern Botswana, Zambia, northern Zimbabwe
  200. Bee-eater Madagascar Merops superciliosus: Frequent from Khorixhas to Ruacana/Swartbooisdrif
  201. Bee-eater Blue-cheeked Merops persicus: Common and widespread in the Caprivi
  202. Bee-eater Southern Carmine Merops nubicoides: Seen at Divundu, Mahango Game Reserve, and hundreds outside Kalizo Lodge
  203. Bee-eater White-fronted Merops bullockoides: Flocks at Mahangu, Kalizo Lodge and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  204. Bee-eater Little Merops pusillus: Common in northern Namibia, also at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  205. Bee-eater Swallow-tailed Merops hirundineus: Scattered throughout southern Botswana and Namibia up to the western Caprivi
  206. Roller Lilac-breasted Coracias caudata: Scattered thoughout the trip north of the Ugab River
  207. Roller Purple Coracias naevia: Common and widespread in savanna regions of Namibia and southern Botswana
  208. Roller Broad-billed Eurystomus glaucurus: Seen at Victoria Falls, outside Kalomo, and between Pemba and Monze (Zambia)
  209. Hoopoe African Upupa africana: Scattered throughout southern Botswana and Namibia
  210. Wood-Hoopoe Green Phoeniculus purpureus: Flocks near Shamvura, Camp Ndurukoro (Kavango River), and Chobe National Park
  211. Wood-Hoopoe Violet Phoeniculus damarensis: Flocks at Hobatere, Ruacana, and Kunene River Lodge
  212. Scimitarbill Common Rhinopomastus cyanomelas: Seen in Acacia woodlands on southern Botswana and Mahangu; also at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  213. Hornbill Trumpeter Bycanistes bucinator: A few individuals at Mowana Safari Lodge
  214. Hornbill African Grey Tockus nasutus: Common and widespread in Namibia north of the Ugab River. An individual was also seen outside Livingstone
  215. Hornbill Red-billed Tockus erythrorhynchus: Seen near Kunene River Lodge
  216. Hornbill Damara Tockus damarensis: Seen at the Ugab River, and Hobatere Lodge. A possibly hybrid near Ruacana
  217. Hornbill Southern Yellow-billed Tockus leucomelas: One seen at the Ugab River Bridge
  218. Hornbill Bradfield’s Tockus bradfieldi: A pair in the Caprivi en route to Katima Mulilo, and a pair at the Gazangula borderpost
  219. Hornbill Monteiro’s Tockus monteiri: Regular from Spitzkoppe to the Kunene River
  220. Ground-Hornbill Southern Bucorvus leadbeateri: Small flocks at Chobe National Park, and the Zambezi National Park
  221. Barbet Black-collared Lybius torquatus: A few individuals in the vicinity of Katima Mulilo, and in the Nkanga River Conservancy
  222. Barbet Acacia Pied Tricholaema leucomelas: Seen at Spitzkoppe, and 20km south of Khorixas turnoff (C35)
  223. Barbet White-eared Stactolaema leucotis: A flock at Seldomseen
  224. Barbet Chaplin’s Lybius chaplini: A small flock at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  225. Barbet Whyte’s Stactolaema whytii: Two at Gosho Park
  226. Tinkerbird Yellow-fronted Pogoniulus chrysoconus: A few individuals in the western Caprivi, and the Christmas Pass
  227. Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped Pogoniulus bilineatus: Seen at Seldomseen and Ndundu Lodge
  228. Barbet Crested Trachyphonus vaillantii: One at the Kavango River Bridge
  229. Honeyguide Scaly-throated Indicator variegatus: Seen at Seldomseen, and heard at Ndundo Lodge
  230. Honeyguide Lesser Indicator minor: One seen at Christmas Pass
  231. Honeybird Brown-backed Prodotiscus regulus: One at the Rundu Radiomast, and another at Shamvura Lodge
  232. Honeybird Green-backed Prodotiscus zambesiae: One seen at the Rundu Radiomast
  233. Woodpecker Buys’s Campethera bennettii: Common along the Kunene River between Ruacana and the Kunene River Lodge
  234. Woodpecker Golden-tailed Campethera abingoni: At Hobatere Lodge and Mahango Game Reserve
  235. Woodpecker Cardinal Dendropicos fuscescens: Regular in northern Namibia; also at the Christmas Pass
  236. Woodpecker Bearded Dendropicos namaquus: Scattered throughout Namibia north of the Ugab River
  237. Lark Monotonous Mirafra passerina: Seen at Kalizo Lodge
  238. Lark Rufous-naped Mirafra africana: Regular around Ruacana
  239. Lark Eastern Clapper Mirafra fasciolata: Common at the Andoni Plains
  240. Lark Flappet Mirafra rufocinnamomea: Heard outside Shamvura Lodge
  241. Lark Fawn-coloured Calendulauda africanoides: An individual seen between Kang and Tshobotsha while stuck without petrol
  242. Lark Bradfield’s Calendulauda bradfieldi: One at Spitzkoppe, and another at Hobatere Lodge
  243. Lark Karoo Long-billed Certhilauda subcoronata: A small flock seen at Spitzkoppe
  244. Lark Benguela Long-billed Certhilauda benguelensis: Seen on the Trekkopjes road between Swakopmund and Windhoek, and at the Tsiseb Conservancy north of Uis
  245. Lark Short-clawed Certhilauda chuana: A possible individual on the roadside just west of Lobatse.
  246. Lark Dune Calendulauda erythrochlamys: Two individuals at Rooibank
  247. Lark Spike-heeled Chersomanes albofasciata: A flock between Swakopmund and Spitzkoppe
  248. Lark Red-capped Calandrella cinerea: A large flock on the gravel plains north of Swakopmund, and a few on the Andoni Plains
  249. Lark Pink-billed Spizocorys conirostris: A few on the Andoni Plains
  250. Lark Stark’s Spizocorys starki: One individual at the Tsiseb Conservancy, and another 20km south of the Khorixas turnoff (C35)
  251. Lark Gray’s Ammomanopsis grayi: A few individuals on the gravel plains north of Swakopmund
  252. Sparrowlark Grey-backed Eremopterix verticalis: A few on the Andoni Plains
  253. Swallow Barn Hirundo rustica: Common and widespread everywhere except the dryest areas in Namibia
  254. Swallow White-throated Hirundo albigularis: One at Malborough Vlei
  255. Swallow Wire-tailed Hirundo smithii: Near Ruacana and Victoria Falls
  256. Swallow Pearl-breasted Hirundo dimidiata: Scattered throughout Namibia north of the Ugab River; also at Livingstone
  257. Swallow Red-breasted Hirundo semirufa: At scattered woodland locations throughout, notably northern Namibia
  258. Swallow Mosque Hirundo senegalensis: Individuals seen at the Rundu Sewage Works, Divundi, and Mahango Game Reserve
  259. Swallow Greater Striped Hirundo cucullata: Seen between Lobatse and Kanye
  260. Swallow Lesser Striped Hirundo abyssinica: At scattered locations throughout the trip from Grootfontein onwards
  261. Martin Rock Hirundo fuligula: Seen at scattered localities throughout Namibia, often at mountainous regions
  262. House-Martin Common Delichon urbica: Common and widespread between Khorixhas and Ruacana. There were literally thousands on the telephone wires at the Angolan Borderpost near Ruacana. Also a few individuals around Kalizo Lodge
  263. Martin Banded Riparia cincta: Scattered from Ruacana to Rundu
  264. Saw-wing Eastern Psalidoprocne orientalis: A few in a forest clearing at Seldomseen
  265. Cuckooshrike Black Campephaga flava: Regular in the Rundu area; also at Christmas Pass
  266. Cuckooshrike White-breasted Coracina pectoralis: One at Christmas Pass
  267. Drongo Fork-tailed Dicrurus adsimilis: Common and widespread in savanna areas throughout the trip (in Namibia north of the Ugab River)
  268. Oriole African Golden Oriolus auratus: One near the Ruacana Hydrostation and another at the George Mukoya Conservancy
  269. Oriole Black-headed Oriolus larvatus: One at Gosho Park
  270. Crow Cape Corvus capensis: A few seen between Sekoma and Kang, and from Kang to Tshobotsha
  271. Crow Pied Corvus albus: Widespread and common in South Africa, Botswana. Zimbabwe and Zambia; also seen between Swakopmund and Spitzkoppe,
  272. Tit Miombo Parus griseiventris: A pair at Christmas Pass
  273. Tit Southern Black Parus niger: At Shamvura Lodge, and a number of locations in Zambia
  274. Tit Carp’s Parus carpi: A few seen 1.6km south of Khorixas turnoff (C35)
  275. Tit Rufous-bellied Parus rufiventris: Pairs seen at the Rundu Radiomast and George Mukoya Conservancy
  276. Tit Cinnamon-breasted Parus pallidiventris: A pair at Christmas Pass
  277. Penduline-Tit Cape Anthoscopus minutus: Flocks between Kang and Thsobotsha, and along the Swakop River in the Namib Naukluft Park
  278. Babbler Black-faced Turdoides melanops: A gardenbird at Roy’s Camp
  279. Babbler Hartlaub’s Turdoides hartlaubii: Common in the Caprivi and northern Botswana
  280. Babbler Bare-cheeked Turdoides gymnogenys: Flocks were frequently encountered from the Ugab River north to Ruacana/Swartbooisdrif
  281. Bulbul African Red-eyed Pycnonotus nigricans: Widespread and common in southern Botswana and dryer areas in Namibia
  282. Bulbul Dark-capped Pycnonotus tricolor: Common and widespread from the Caprivi onwards
  283. Brownbul Terrestrial Phyllastrephus terrestris: At Shamvura Lodge and Kalizo Lodge
  284. Greenbul Yellow-streaked Phyllastrephus flavostriatus: Seen at Ndundo Lodge
  285. Greenbul Sombre Andropadus importunus: Seen at Seldomseen
  286. Greenbul Stripe-cheeked Andropadus milanjensis: Seen at Seldomseen and Ndundu Lodge
  287. Greenbul Yellow-bellied Chlorocichla flaviventris: Regular in northern Namibia and northern Botswana
  288. Thrush Olive Turdus olivaceus: Common at Seldomseen and Ndundu Lodge
  289. Ground-Thrush Orange Zoothera gurneyi: Seen at Seldomseen
  290. Thrush Groundscraper Psophocichla litsipsirupa: Multiple pairs seen in the Ruacana-Swartbooisdrift region, and a pair seen at the Rundu Radiomast
  291. Rock-Thrush Miombo Monticola angolensis: One at Christmas Pass
  292. Wheatear Mountain Oenanthe monticola: A few individuals at Spitzkoppe, and at the Tsiseb Conservancy
  293. Wheatear Capped Oenanthe pileata: Various individuals in southern Botswana, and near Khorixhas
  294. Chat Familiar Cercomela familiaris: At scattered locations in central Namibia, and one near Ruacana
  295. Chat Tractrac Cercomela tractrac: Pale form seen on the gravel plains north of Swakopmund, and in the Namib Naukluft Park
  296. Chat Karoo Cercomela schlegelii: The white-rumped form was seen between Swakopmund and Spitzkoppe, and at Spitzkoppe
  297. Chat Anteating Myrmecocichla formicivora: A few at Spitzkoppe, and between Kang and Tsobotsha
  298. Stonechat African Saxicola torquata: Individuals near Poppa Rapids, Kalizo Lodge and Monovale Marsh
  299. Robin-Chat White-browed Cossypha heuglini: Regular in the Caprivi, and Seldomseen
  300. Robin-Chat Cape Cossypha caffra: One called at Ndundo Lodge
  301. Palm-Thrush Collared Cichladusa arquata: An adult and subadult seen at Mowana Safari Lodge
  302. Palm-Thrush Rufous-tailed Cichladusa ruficauda: A few shy individuals between Ruacana and Kunene River Lodge, and a more habituated individual at Kunene River Lodge
  303. Robin White-starred Pogonocichla stellata: One seen at Seldomseen
  304. Robin Swynnerton’s Swynnertonia swynnertoni: Seen at Seldomseen and Ndundu Lodge
  305. Chat Boulder Pinarornis plumosus: A pair at Christmas Pass
  306. Scrub-Robin White-browed Cercotrichas leucophrys: The Ovamboensis race seen at Roy’s Camp, and in the Rundu/Shamvura region, and heard at the Andoni Plains
  307. Scrub-Robin Kalahari Cercotrichas paena: One near Ruacana, and another between Kang and Tsobotsha
  308. Chat Herero Namibornis herero: Multiple individuals from 5km south of the Ugab River further north in the Brandberg region
  309. Warbler Garden Sylvia borin: A few seen at Seldomseen and Ndundo Lodge
  310. Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla One female at Ndundo Lodge (seen only by Dewald)
  311. Tit-Babbler Chestnut-vented Parisoma subcaeruleum: individuals between Kang and Tshobotsha, and in the Namib Naukluft Park
  312. Tit-Babbler Layard’s Parisoma layardi: One at the Namib Naukluft Park and one at Spitzkoppe
  313. Hyliota Southern Hyliota australis: One seen at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  314. Warbler Icterine Hippolais icterina: One in the Shamvura area
  315. Swamp-Warbler Lesser Acrocephalus gracilirostris: At Hippo Pools, Rundu Sewage Works, and Marlborough Vlei
  316. Swamp-Warbler Greater Acrocephalus rufescens: Two at the Mahango Game Reserve, and two at the Poppa Rapids
  317. Warbler Dark-capped Yellow Chloropeta natalensis: Seen at Malborough Vlei and Seldomseen
  318. Rush-Warbler Little Bradypterus baboecala: One heard at Malborough Vlei
  319. Warbler Barratt’s Bradypterus barratti: Seen well at Seldomseen and Ndundo Lodge
  320. Warbler Willow Phylloscopus trochilus: Regular in wooded habitats from the Ugab River onwards
  321. Woodland-Warbler Yellow-throated Phylloscopus ruficapilla: Seen in forest canopy at Seldomseen and Ndundu Lodge
  322. Apalis Bar-throated Apalis thoracica: Common at Seldomseen, Ndundu Lodge and Christmas Pass
  323. Apalis Chirinda Apalis chirindensis: Common at Seldomseen and Ndundu Lodge
  324. Apalis Yellow-breasted Apalis flavida: Scattered throughout the Caprivi Strip
  325. Crombec Long-billed Sylvietta rufescens: Scattered throughout northern Namibia
  326. Eremomela Yellow-bellied
  327. Eremomela icteropygialis: Pale form seen regularly from Rooibank to Hobatere Lodge
  328. Eremomela Karoo Eremomela gregalis: Two on the Trekkopje road between Swakopmund and Windhoek
  329. Eremomela Burnt-necked Eremomela usticollis: A small flock at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  330. Camaroptera Grey-backed Camaroptera brevicaudata: Scattered throughout Namibia north of the Ugab River
  331. Wren-Warbler Barred Calamonastes fasciolatus: One seen 1.6km south of Khorixas turnoff (C35)
  332. Wren-Warbler Stierling’s Calamonastes stierlingi: One at Christmas Pass
  333. Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius: One at Hobatere Campsite
  334. Cisticola Zitting Cisticola juncidis: Seen at the Rundu Sewage Works and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  335. Cisticola Desert Cisticola aridulus: Recorded at Hobatere Lodge, the Andoni Plains, and between Sartkopmund and Spitzkoppe
  336. Cisticola Tinkling Cisticola rufilatus: Seen at the Rundu Radiomast
  337. Cisticola Rattling Cisticola chinianus: Common and widespread from northern Namibia onwards
  338. Cisticola Singing Cisticola cantans: One at Seldomseen
  339. Cisticola Red-faced Cisticola erythrops: One calling at the Kavango River Bridge
  340. Cisticola Luapula Cisticola luapula: One at Camp Ndurukoro (Kavango River), and one at the Poppa Rapids
  341. Cisticola Levaillant’s Cisticola tinniens: One at Malborough Vlei
  342. Cisticola Croaking Cisticola natalensis: A pair at the Nkanga River Conservancy, and one at Monovale Marsh
  343. Cisticola Stout Cisticola robustus: Two individuals (out of range) seen at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  344. Neddicky Cisticola fulvicapillus: Seen at the Rundu Radiomast, and Christmas Pass
  345. Prinia Tawny-flanked Prinia subflava: Common and widespread from the Caprivi onwards
  346. Warbler Robert’s Oreophilais robertsi: Common at Seldomseen and Ndundu Lodge
  347. Prinia Black-chested Prinia flavicans: Regular throughout southern Botswana and Namibia
  348. Flycatcher Spotted Muscicapa striata: Regular in Namibia north of the Ugab River; also at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  349. Flycatcher African Dusky Muscicapa adusta: One at Seldomseen, and one on the Christmas Pass
  350. Flycatcher Ashy Muscicapa caerulescens: Regular around Ruacana and Mowana
  351. Flycatcher Southern Black Melaenornis pammelaina: Seen on the Nkanga River Conservancy
  352. Flycatcher Marico Bradornis mariquensis: Seen at Spitzkoppe and northern Namibia
  353. Flycatcher Pale Bradornis pallidus: Regular in broadleaved woodlands of the Caprivi and Gosho Park
  354. Batis Cape Batis capensis: A few seen at Seldomseen and Ndundo Lodge
  355. Batis Chinspot Batis molitor: Seen at Rundu, the Nkanga River Conservancy, and Christmas Pass
  356. Batis Pririt Batis pririt: Multiple individuals at the Swakop Riverbed in the Namib Naukluft Park
  357. Flycatcher White-tailed Crested Elminia albonotata: A few seen at Seldomseen and Ndundo Lodge
  358. Paradise-Flycatcher African Terpsiphone viridis: Scattered throughout northern Namibia and Botswana
  359. Wagtail Cape Motacilla capensis: A few at the Walvisbay Lagoon, and at the Swakopmund Sewageworks. Two individuals without a breast band (northern subspecies) were also seen at the wetlands outside Kalizo Lodge
  360. Pipit African Anthus cinnamomeus: Seen at Tshobotsha, the Andoni Plains, and near Shamvura
  361. Pipit Wood Anthus nyassae: One at Gosho Park
  362. Pipit Buffy Anthus vaalensis: One just outside Kalizo Lodge
  363. Pipit Striped Anthus lineiventris: One at Christmas Pass
  364. Pipit Tree Anthus trivialis: One at Christmas Pass
  365. Shrike Lesser Grey Lanius minor: Seen in southern Botswana, Hobatere, and near Rundu
  366. Fiscal Common Lanius collaris: Individuals seen from Rooibank to Spitzkoppe were Lakatoo Shrikes. Note individuals at Spitzkoppe had grey napes. Normal morph shrikes were seen in southern Botswana
  367. Shrike Red-backed Lanius collurio: Widespread throughout the trip, except the dryest areas in Namibia
  368. Shrike Souza’s Lanius souzae: A pair attending a nest in the George Mukoya Conservancy
  369. Shrike Magpie Corvinella melanoleuca: Common and widespread in the Caprivi; also seen between Sekoma and Kang
  370. Boubou Tropical Laniarius aethiopicus: One called at Ndundo Lodge
  371. Boubou Swamp Laniarius bicolor: Widespread in northern Namibia
  372. Shrike Crimson-breasted Laniarius atrococcineus: Widespread in southern Botswana and throughout Namibia
  373. Puffback Black-backed Dryoscopus cubla: Scattered throughout the trip from Ruacana onwards
  374. Brubru Nilaus afer: Common around Rundu; also at Hobatere
  375. Tchagra Brown-crowned Tchagra australis: One heard near Shamvura Lodge
  376. Tchagra Black-crowned Tchagra senegala: Seen near Rundu, and at the Christmas Pass
  377. Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus: One at Spitzkoppe
  378. Bush-Shrike Orange-breasted Telophorus sulfureopectus: Regular in the Caprivi
  379. Bush-Shrike Black-fronted Telophorus nigrifrons: One called at Seldomseen
  380. Bush-Shrike Olive Telophorus olivaceus: A few seen at Seldomseen and Ndundo Lodge
  381. Shrike White-tailed Lanioturdus torquatus: Common from Spitzkoppe north to the Kunene River area
  382. Helmet-Shrike White-crested Prionops plumatus: Flocks were regularly encountered in the Caprivi, and once at Hobatere Lodge
  383. Helmet-Shrike Retz’s Prionops retzii: One flock seen near Shamvura Lodge
  384. Shrike Southern White-crowned Eurocephalus anguitimens: One at the Ugab River Bridge, and another at Hobatere Lodge
  385. Myna Common Acridotheres tristis: Common in South Africa, getting rarer into Botswana up to Sekoma
  386. Starling Violet-backed Cinnyricinclus leucogaster: Widespread throughout Namibia; also at Christmas Pass
  387. Starling Burchell’s Lamprotornis australis: Seen at Tshobotsha, and at various locations in the western Caprivi
  388. Starling Meves’s Lamprotornis mevesii: Regular from Hobatere to Mahango, and again at Chirundu
  389. Starling Cape Glossy Lamprotornis nitens: Scattered throughout southern Botswana and Namibia
  390. Starling Greater Blue-eared Lamprotornis chalybaeus: Common at Mahango Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, and the Zambezi National Park
  391. Starling Miombo Blue-eared Lamprotornis elisabeth: A small flock seen at Gosho Park
  392. Starling Red-winged Onychognathus morio: Widespread in Zimbabwe; also at the Skilpadnek Border Post
  393. Starling Pale-winged Onychognathus nabouroup: Flocks at Namib Naukluft Park, Spitzkoppe, and Uis
  394. Oxpecker Yellow-billed Buphagus africanus: A few seen foraging on donkeys 5km west of Ruacana
  395. Oxpecker Red-billed Buphagus erythrorhynchus: A few at Camp Ndurukoro (Kavango River)
  396. Sunbird Copper Cinnyris cuprea: A few individuals at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  397. Sunbird Marico Cinnyris mariquensis: Seen between Uis and Khorixhas, at Grootfontein, and in Katima Mulilo
  398. Sunbird Purple-banded Cinnyris bifasciata: Multiple individuals at Kalizo Lodge
  399. Sunbird Miombo Double-collared Cinnyris manoensis: Seen at Seldomseen and Gosho Park
  400. Sunbird Variable Cinnyris venusta: One seen at Ndundo Lodge
  401. Sunbird White-bellied Cinnyris talatala: Widespread in northern Namibia
  402. Sunbird Dusky Cinnyris fusca: Common in Central Namibia
  403. Sunbird Western Olive Cyanomitra obscura: A few seen at Seldomseen and Ndundo Lodge
  404. Sunbird Scarlet-chested Chalcomitra senegalensis: Common around Rundu, and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  405. Sunbird Amethyst Chalcomitra amethystina: Seen at Kanye, Katima Mulilo, and Gosho Park
  406. Sunbird Collared Hedydipna collaris: Seen at Kalizo Lodge and Seldomseen
  407. White-eye Orange River Zosterops pallidus: A few small flocks seen in the Swakopriver bed in the Namib Naukluft Park
  408. White-eye African Yellow Zosterops senegalensis: Widespread and common in Zimbabwe, but also seen at the Rundu Radiomast
  409. Buffalo-Weaver Red-billed Bubalornis niger: Scattered throughout Namibia north of the Ugab River to Mahangu; and at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  410. Sparrow-Weaver White-browed Plocepasser mahali: Colonies scattered throughout Namibia
  411. Sparrow House Passer domesticus: Seen sporadically throughout the trip
  412. Sparrow Great Passer motitensis: Seen at Spitzkoppe, Uis, and the Goantagab River Crossing
  413. Sparrow Cape Passer melanurus: Seen at Rooibank, around Swakopmund and the Namib Naukluft Park
  414. Sparrow Southern Grey-headed Passer diffusus: Widespread in southern Botswana and throughout Namibia
  415. Sparrow Northern Grey-headed Passer griseus: Seen inside Victoria Falls town
  416. Petronia Yellow-throated Petronia superciliaris: One seen in the teak woodland near Katima Mulilo
  417. Finch Scaly-feathered Sporopipes squamifrons: Flocks seen between Kang and Tshobotsha, and at Spitzkoppe
  418. Weaver Thick-billed Amblyospiza albifrons: Seen at Shamvura Lodge and Poppa Rapids
  419. Weaver Spectacled Ploceus ocularis: Breeding at Kunene River Lodge
  420. Masked-Weaver Southern Ploceus velatus: Scattered throughout Namibia to Ruacana, and then again at Marlborough Vlei
  421. Masked-Weaver Lesser Ploceus intermedius: Seen at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  422. Weaver Golden Ploceus xanthops: Seen at various locations in northern Namibia in association with large reedbeds
  423. Weaver Southern Brown-throated Ploceus xanthopterus: Common at Kalizo Lodge
  424. Weaver Red-headed Anaplectes rubriceps: Seen at the Ruacana Hydrostation and the teak woodland outside Katima Mulilo
  425. Quelea Red-billed: Quelea quelea: Flocks seen between Kang and Tshobotsha, and 5km west of Ruacana
  426. Bishop Southern Red Euplectes orix: Flocks at Livingstone, Malborough Vlei, and Seldomseen
  427. Bishop Yellow Euplectes capensis: Seen at Kalomo and Seldomseen
  428. Widowbird Fan-tailed Euplectes axillaris: A few individuals in the wetlands outside Kalizo Lodge
  429. Widowbird Yellow-mantled Euplectes macrourus: Common at Malborough Vlei
  430. Pytilia Green-winged Pytilia melba: Seen at Hobatere Lodge, and various localities in the Caprivi
  431. Crimsonwing Red-faced Cryptospiza reichenovii: Heard and briefly seen at Seldomseen. We would not have picked them up without Buluwezi’s help
  432. Firefinch African Lagonosticta rubricata: A pair seen at Seldomseen
  433. Firefinch Jameson’s Lagonosticta rhodopareia: Seen at Kalizo Lodge
  434. Firefinch Red-billed Lagonosticta senegala: Scattered throughout northern Namibia in the viscinity of the Kunene, Kavango and Zambezi Rivers
  435. Firefinch Brown Lagonosticta nitidula: A few individuals at Kalizo Lodge mixed with Common Waxbill
  436. Waxbill Blue Uraeginthus angolensis: Common and widespread in northern Namibia; sporadically seen elsewhere in Zimbabwe and Zambia
  437. Waxbill Violet-eared Granatina granatina: In southern Botswana, Hobatere Lodge and the Rundu Radiomast
  438. Waxbill Common Estrilda astrild: At waterfeatures in northern Namibia, and Marlborough Vlei
  439. Waxbill Cinderella Estrilda thomensis: Pairs at the Ruacana Hydrostation and Ruacana Falls
  440. Waxbill Yellow-bellied Estrilda quartinia: A small flock at Seldomseen
  441. Waxbill Orange-breasted Amandava subflava: Small flocks outside Kalizo Lodge, at Malborough Vlei and Monovale Marsh
  442. Mannikin Bronze Lonchura cucullata: Small flocks at the info center of Katima Mulilo, Nkanga River Conservancy, and Malborough Vlei
  443. Whydah Pin-tailed Vidua macroura: A few at Kalizo Lodge
  444. Whydah Shaft-tailed Vidua regia: Common in the Rundu/Shamvura region; also seen near Khorixhas and at Hobatere Lodge
  445. Paradise-Whydah Long-tailed Vidua paradisaea: Large flocks outside Hobatere Lodge
  446. Canary Yellow-fronted Serinus mozambicus: Scattered throughout the Caprivi; also seen at Christmas Pass
  447. Canary Cape Serinus canicollis: Seen at Seldomseen
  448. Canary Brimstone Serinus sulphuratus: One at Malborough Vlei, and another at Ndundo Lodge
  449. Canary White-throated Serinus albogularis: One at Spitzkoppe
  450. Seedeater Black-eared Serinus mennelli: One at Christmas Pass
  451. Bunting Cabanis’s Emberiza cabanisi: A few seen at Gosho Park and Christmas Pass
  452. Bunting Golden-breasted Emberiza flaviventris: Common in the Rundu region; also at Hobatere Campsite
  453. Bunting Cape Emberiza capensis: A few at Spitzkoppe
  454. Bunting Lark-like Emberiza impetuani: A few individuals at Hobatere Campsite

 

ANNOTATED MAMMAL LIST

  1. Grant’s Golden Mole: A few tunners seen at Rooibank
  2. Arend’s Golden Mole: A few tunnels seen in the forest at Seldomseen Cottages
  3. Round-eared Shrew: One at the Swakop River in the Namib Naukluft Park (ID unconfirmed)
  4. Western Rock Elephant Shrew: One individual seen near the Ugab River
  5. Mauritian Tomb Bat: One out-of-range individual at Hobatere Lodge. Supposed to not occur in Namibia.
  6. Chacma Baboon: Widespread in the northern part of our trip. Some of the northern baboons (e.g. at Victoria Falls) resembled Yellow Baboons, but as far as I’m aware the furthest south they get is central Mozambique.
  7. Malbrouck: Common on the Kunene River between Ruacana and Swartbooisdrif.
  8. Sykes’ Monkey: Common at Seldomseen.
  9. Scrub Hare: Common and widespread throughout the east – seen while driving at night.
  10. Savanna Hare: Common and widespread throughout northern Namibia (e.g. Tsiseb Conservancy north of Uis) – seen while driving at night.
  11. Mountain Ground Squirrel: One individual a few kilometers east of Kunene River Lodge. Identification based on range and habitat (rocky and mountainous)
  12. Common Ground Squirrel: A few at Spitskoppe (Identification based on habitat – sandy soils)
  13. Striped Tree Squirrel: Common and widespread from the Ugab River northwards. Very easy at Hobatere Lodge and Kunene River Lodge.
  14. Sun Squirrel: Two individuals at Seldomseen Cottages
  15. Dassie Rat: At the Ugab River north of Uis, and at Hobatere Campsite
  16. Springhare: A few at Tsiseb conservancy north of Uis
  17. Cape Fox: One between Windhoek and Swakopmund, and another at the Tsiseb conservancy north of Uis
  18. Honey Badger: One dead individual on the road just outside Chirundo
  19. Spotted Hyena: One dead individual on the road just outside Chirundo
  20. Banded Mongoose: A group at Christmas Pass
  21. Black Mongoose: One seen between Kamanjab and Hobatere Lodge
  22. Yellow Mongoose: One individual between Swakopmund and Spitskoppe
  23. African Elephant: One individual on the road in the Caprivi Strip, and a few in Chobe National Park
  24. Kaokoland Rock Hydrax: A few seen at the Hobatere Campsite
  25. Burchell’s Zebra: Herds in Chobe National Park and Gosha Park
  26. Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra: A herd at Hobatere Lodge
  27. Warthog: At Mahango Game Reserve and Chobe National Park
  28. Hippopotamus: A few at Mahango Game Reserve
  29. Southern Giraffe: Herds at Chobe National Park
  30. Smoky Giraffe: Herds at Hobatere campsite
  31. Eland: An individual at Gosha Park
  32. Greater Kudu: Individuals between the Trans-Kalahari Border Post and Windhoek, at Mahango Game Reserve, and at Gosha Park
  33. Nyala: One at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  34. Sigatunga: One male seen from the deck at Shamvura Lodge, on the Angolan side of the Kunene River
  35. Sable: A small herd seen at Gosha Park
  36. Red Lechwe: Herds at Mahango Game Reserve
  37. Puku: Introduced individuals at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  38. Common Reedbuck: Two groups at Mahango Game Reserve
  39. Blue Wildebeest: Herds Mahango Game Reserve and Gosha Park
  40. Common Impala: Herds at Mahango Game Reserve. Chobe National Park, Gosha Park and the Nkanga River Conservancy
  41. Black-faced Impala: A small herd between Swartbooisdrif and Opuwo
  42. Springbok: Widespread and common both in reserves (e.g. Hobatere) and wild (e.g. outside Spitskoppe, the gravel plains north of Swakopmund, and the Andoni Plains)
  43. Klipspringer: One at the Hobatere Campsite
  44. Steenbok: Sporadically throughout the trip, especially Namibia
  45. Oribi: One individual at the Nkanga River Conservancy
  46. Duiker: One at Gosha Park

 

HERP LIST (those we were able to identify)

  1. Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica): One near Gazangula
  2. Speke’s Hindged Tortoise (Kinixys spekii): One at Mahangu Game Reserve
  3. Common Flapnecked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepsis): In Rundu town, and near the Rundu Radiomast
  4. Rock Monitor (Varanus albigularis): One near Grootfontein
  5. Common Ground Agama (Agama aculeata): Widespread in Namibia
  6. Anchieta’s Agama (Agama anchietae) Photographed at Hobatere
  7. Namibian Rock Agama (Agama planiceps): Common on the Namibian Escarpment
  8. Ovambo Tree Skink (Trachylepis binotata): A few individuals in northern Namibia
  9. Wedge-snouted Skink (Trachylepis acutilabris): photographed at Spitzkoppe
  10. Western Three-striped Skink (Trachylepis occidentali): photographed at Spitzkoppe
  11. Wahlberg’s Striped Skink (Trachylepis wahlbergii): Photographed near the Ugab River
  12. Husab Sand Lizard (Pedioplanis husabensis): photographed at Spitzkoppe
  13. Namaqua Sand Lizard (Pedioplanis namaquensis): photographed at Spitzkoppe and near Hobatere
  14. Black-lined Plated Lizard (Gerrhosaurus nigrolineatus): One photographed at Hobatere
  15. Ornate Rough-scaled Lizard (Ichnotropis capensis): A few individuals seen around Rundu
  16. Carp’s Barking Gecko (Ptenopus carpi.): Calling at duks north of Uis (ID not confirmed)
  17. Boulton’s Namib Day Gecko (Rhoptropus boultoni): Photographed at the Gugab River
  18. Painted Reed Frog (Hyperolius marmoratus): Seen at Gosho Park
  19. Long Reed Frog (Hyperolius nasutus): Seen at Gosho Park
  20. Guttural Toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis): Seen at Gosho Park
  21. Bubbling Kassina (Kassina senegalensis): Seen at Gosho Park

 

BIRDS WE MISSED (As Botswana/Zimbabwe/Zambia. was not part of the original trip, I am not going to address all the specials we missed in those countries. I will rather only address the specific targets we aimed for during the second phase of our trip)

  1. Orange-river Francolin: We never really put an effort trying to see the isolated population of northern Namibia.
  2. Pallid Honeyguide: A riparian species also occurring in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. Seen at Christmas Pass outside Marondera two days before our visit. A disappointing dip.
  3. Olive Woodpecker: There is an isolated and distinct population on Impalila Island near Gazangula (Botswana). As we did not visit the island we never really went looking for this population.
  4. Black-faced Lovebird: One of the main reasons we entered Zambia. Border crossings however made us loose too much time to still attempt to look for this species.
  5. Black Coucal: Widespread in the Caprivi and Harare wetlands. Alas, we did not see this species which is probably my biggest bogeybird in southern Africa
  6. Lillian’s Lovebird: Another major reason why we transited through Zambia. Border crossings and petrol worries rendered us temporary insane, so this bird was sadly very low on our radar while we were in the Zambezi Valley. If I just looked up at the Chirundo petrol station I would probably have seen the tree I saw a few individuals back in 2004.
  7. Loanda Swift: A possible split from the Horus Swift (with dark rump), which has to my knowledge been seen twice at the Ruacana Falls.
  8. Streaky-breasted Flufftail: Harare’s Malborough Vlei and Monovale Marsh are the traditional spots for this      flooded grassland specialist. Despite all the rain elsewhere in the subregion we found those marshes to be so dry we even flushed Small Buttonquail.
  9. Great Snipe: Disappointing dip, though not many reports of this species come from the Caprivi these days.
  10. Grey Kestrel: Personally my most disappointing dip of the trip.
  11. African Pitta: Due to all the rain this year was possibly one of the best years to see the Pitta in the subregion. Back in the Caprivi we toyed with the idea of using the extra days to hit the Catapo area in Mozambique looking for Pitta. Alas, border crossings made us change our plans, while a birder friend of ours enjoyed several Pitta at Catapo while we traveled through in Zimbabwe. Another birder also saw Pitta in the Zambezi Valley the week prior to us driving through, but the roads to Mishumbi Pools were impassible with Sedan during our visit. Sadness…
  12. Grey-headed Bush-shrike: The yellow-bellied form from Angola has been seen at the Ruacana falls in the past. It remains a rarity.
  13. Collared Flycatcher: Seen at Christmas Pass outside Marondera two days before our visit, while they are also frequently recorded at Gosha Park. A disappointing dip.
  14. Thrush Nightingale: Despite being common around Kasane and the Zambezi valley, this species is always a tough customer early in the season when they’re not yet calling.
  15. Angola Swallow: According to some apparently annual in the Caprivi. Others call this bird an extreme rarity. Either way, we did not see the species.
  16. Reed Warbler: Apparently common in the Caprivi, and possibly outnumbering African Reed Warbler. Two problems: (1) those two species are difficult to separate in the field and (2) we never saw a Reed Warbler. The Kwando River is apparently the best place, but we passed there at night.
  17. European Blackcap: Now annual in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. Dewald saw one while he was meters away from me/Justin. Sadly, neither Justin nor I saw the individual again.
  18. Shelley’s Sunbird: Supposed to breed at Kalizo Lodge at Katima Mulilo, but we did not see it there. A party of birders we met in Kasane tried Kalizo two days prior to our visit also without success. In addition, since I found Botswana’s first Shelley’s Sunbird at Mowana in 2002, this species has become a regular feature at the lodge – alas not this time.
  19. Sharp-tailed Starling: I saw this species at Mahango Game Reserve in 2002. Since then the population has crashed so much so that this species has become arguably the most dipped bird on a trip to Namibia or northern Botswana.
  20. Chestnut Weaver: Are there words to explain the phenomenon when you miss a species after visiting multiple locations where previous birders reported “thousands of individuals” or “active colonies”? Yes it is a nomad, but we essentialy transected the entire range of this species!
  21. Bocage’s Waxbill: A vagrant from Angola seen at Ehomba in 2009. We had high hopes.
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One Response to Summer 2010 in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

  1. Dewald Swanepoel says:

    Nice one Johnny. Somehow I only stumbled upon this post just now. Brings back great memories.

    I just thought I’d point out something which you (or other readers) might find of value for future reference.

    The indigenous people that we had dealings with in the Kunene region and of whom you’ve posted a picture are Himba, not Herero. You might recall that we did see some Herero ladies in their cultural dress around the Walvis Bay and Swakopmund area but I don’t recall us having any dealings with them.

    I will second your appraisal though that the Namibian people were very friendly, be it border officials, local Swakopmund birders or, indeed, the Himba people of the north.

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