Monday, 24 December 2012


Dear birding friends, 

as birdwatching is a relatively new and one of the fastest growing and a most popular pursuit, it attracts people of all ages around the world. There can hardly be a better place than southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa) to nurture an interest in birds as it supports almost 1000 bird species, which is about 10 per cent of the world's entire bird. Taking birding to new heights Hobby-Ornithologist Stefan Rust represents some of the ontour bird sightings to showcase the fun of birding, promote citizen science, highlight conservation, indicate where to view what birds and raise awareness of southern Africa's (sometimes international) birds and their habitats. 

Christmas Party Ontour Birdlife Report (Namibia) 


Have a quick look if your site is included in this scientific informational work (alphabetically arranged): - Daan Viljoen N.P. 
- Finkenstein (Farm) 
- Gauchas (Farm) 
- Hoodia Desert Lodge 
- Kalkrand 
- Namib Desert Lodge 
- Onjala Lodge 
- Remhoogte Paß (Naukluft Mountains) 
- Seeis - Solitaire Guest Farm 
- Sonnleiten (Farm) 
- Voigtskirch (Farm) 
- Windhoek 
- Zebra River Lodge 

06.12.'12   Windhoek, Von Falkenhausen Str.   Southern Red Bishop (1)   This male has completed pre-breeding moult and it will be interesting when breeding starts. I assume before January and if so it will be earlier as what Roberts V11 mentions for Namibia. 

07.12.'12   Windhoek sports field, Pionierspark   Egyptian Goose (10)   Landowners welcome these useful animals because not are they only free of charge grazers (lawnmowers) but keep they the greens free from disturbing invertebrates, eg ants, termites, caterpillars, moths, crickets and beetles. Originally these animals were restricted to flood plains and bigger rivers accompanied by broad sandbanks. 

07.12.'12   Rehoboth   Purple Roller (1)   Although considered as the least common Roller in our area, he was seen unusually often during this tour. They might have been birds on passage, although peak abundance is recorded for March - April and September - October. November - January is considered as the lowest record season. 

07.12.'12   Zebra River Lodge   Mountain Wheatear (1 Juv.)   Having nesting Mountain Wheatears in your garden, one seldom will find the Common Fiscal in the neighborhood. These birds defend the small area around their nest against Common Fiscal. 

07.12.'12   Zebra River Lodge   Rosy-faced Lovebird (13)   Bird-friendly artificial water points on Zebra River Lodge help this noisy and gregarious species to increase in population in this arid surrounding. This Lodge is a superb place to study the Rosy-faced Lovebird. 

08.12.'12   Zebra River Lodge   White-tailed Shrike (1)   For travelers into this area, this is the most southern place where to find this near-endemic Namibian bird.

08.12.'12   Hoodia Desert Lodge   Rüppell's Korhaan (3)   This Lodge offers perfect opportunities to view this uncommon to locally common bird, classified as near-endemic to western Namibia, with its flat gravel plains (the optimum habitat for this bird). 

08.12.'12   Namib Desert Lodge   Lanner Falcon (1)   Classified as near-threatened in South Africa. It might well be possible that there are chicks on the Namib Desert Lodge park ground because this would be the time for having juveniles. The positive conservation efforts of the Gondwana group at NDL and its surrounding might as well be of advantage to the Lanner Falcon. 

09.12.'12   Namib Desert Lodge   African Hoopoe (1)   This Lodge is probably the most western chance of seeing the African Hoopoe close to the Namib Naukluft Park. It definitely profits from the bird-friendly garden of the lodge. 

09.12.'12   Solitaire Guest Farm   Lappet-faced Vulture (3)   It is of utmost importance that neighboring setups to the Namib Naukluft Park cooperate with the Lappet-faced Vulture conservation efforts, because worldwide there exist estimated only 8 500 birds. All over southern Africa only 3 000 and in the Namib Naukluft Park ±40-50 breeding pairs. Nonetheless these massive birds are an important tourist attraction and guests are always overwhelmed the moment they get a good chance of seeing and photographing these impressive animals. 

09.12.'12   Remhoogte Paß   Violet-backed Starling (1)   Surely this stunning looking bird takes advantage of the currently fruiting Shepherds Tree in this area.

09.12.'12   Remhoogte Paß   Purple Roller (4)   Although considered as the least common Roller in our area, he was seen unusually often during this tour. They might have been birds on passage, although peak abundance is recorded for March - April and September - October. November - January is considered as the lowest record season. 

09.12.'12   Remhoogte Paß   Hamerkop (6)   It has a unique ritual pairing display called False-mounting in which one bird gets onto the back of another bird giving idea as for copulating but instead standing there calling and beating its wings. Making its partner of choice jealous? 

10.12.'12   Windhoek, Von Falkenhausen Str.   Red-billed Quelea (3)   Breeding moult only now completed 

11.12.'12   Windhoek, church building in Von Falkenhausen Str.   Rock Kestrel (2)   Most probably they are nesting in this man-made cliff. The presence of these Kestrels in cities helps control wild dove populations which tend to become overpopulated because of artificial food resources. 

12.12.'12   Farm Finkenstein   Bokmakierie (1)   This is the first sighting for me of this species in this area. Closer observation will be interesting and it wouldn't be of too much surprise when there will be more records in future because I am aware of previous records of this species in the Bismarck mountain on Farm Sonnleiten.

12.12.'12   Seeis   Red-breasted Swallow (2)   Its range has expanded in southern Africa also because of provision of artificial nest sites through for example culvert construction. That is also the reason why they are seen often alongside roads. 

12.12.'12   Onjala Lodge   Lesser Masked-Weaver (1)   This male built its nest with its downward-pointed tunnel entrance in the Southern Masked-Weaver nest colony in a fir tree. They make use of human settlements to expand their distribution and it seems as if it favors colonizing human habitations (farms and other settlements) that are situated alongside riverbeds, even though they are dry riverbeds. 

12.12.'12   Onjala Lodge   Verreaux's Eagle-Owl (2)   Although it was afternoon, thus still daytime, this female bird and its juvenile were active because it was a cloudy day. This female and juvenile are the same ones I reported on in an earlier report (see Oryx OnTour Birdlife Report 16. November '12). In that report I did some exciting discoveries on types of food during raising the juvenile. Contact me if you did not receive that report. 

12.12.'12   Onjala Lodge   Freckled Nightjar (1)   The Lodge staff is proud of having this bird around. Mainly because one does not find it much further east within Namibia. 

13.12.'12   Onjala Lodge   Great Sparrow (2)   Here as well as on other sites observed, they like building their nests far up in cypress trees in gardens. Once the chicks of these sparrow parents hatch, they will have a paradise to live in because the aim of my visit to Onjala Lodge is to establish a wild bird sanctuary in this garden. 

13.12.'12    Onjala Lodge   White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (±48)   On a closer inspection I encountered 20 nest colonies on an area with a size of about 30 hectares which gives an idea of the abundance of this species in this habitat. 

14.12.'12   Onjala Lodge   Southern Red Bishop (3)   A fully moulted male into breeding plumage together with two females were the first visitors to the wild bird restaurant in the newly established wild bird sanctuary in the Onjala Lodge garden this morning. Not only is this sanctuary a heaven for wild birds but also a perfect opportunity for wildlife photographers and observers. 

14.12.'12   Voigtskirch   Kori Bustard (1)   Although usually seen on level and fairly open terrain, this bird was seen in a hilly area with dense blackthorn acacia vegetation, which might be an indication of a nesting pair, even though peak laying dates for Namibia are January till February. 

14.12.'12   Voigtskirch - Seeis   Lesser Grey Shrike (5)   For a relative short distance a road count gave a number of five birds within 10 minutes. Main arrivals of summer visitors are taking place. 

15.12.'12   Harmony Centre   Orange River Francolin (8)   Although not threatened, habitat manipulation, maize cultivation and overgrazing and veld mismanagement in general results in a decrease of population. 

16.12.'12   Windhoek   African Paradise-Flycatcher (6)   The population of this colorful summer visitor in Windhoek may be higher than expected. On the same day I identified him in Von Albertsstr. (Pionierspark), Von Falkenhausen Str. (Pionierspark), Burg Str. (Luxury Hill), Lotz Str. (Klein Windhoek) Freynstr. (Klein Windhoek) and in Jeannettestr. (Ludwigsdorf). 

18.12.'12   Kalkrand, 30 Km south   Martial Eagle (1)   Unfortunately is this majestic animal classified in Namibia as endangered. In a country where 42% of its surface is regarded as conservation area, this fact is not a good sign. 

18.12.'12   Kalkrand, 10 Km towards Schlip   African Hawk-Eagle (2)   This largely resident species seems to have its territory around the Kalf river in this area and this explains why there are almost no other raptors in the surrounding because they are aggressive towards other raptors. 

18.12.'12   Farm Gauchas   Scaly-feathered Finch (plenty)   More than once nests were found either finished or even in progress of building only a few centimeters away from wasps' nests. This seems to be more than coincidence and clearly visible the wasps' nests were there before the nests of the birds. Do the finches profit from the wasps functioning as protectors of predators? 

19.12.'12   Farm Gauchas   Barn Owl (2)   Since the end of 2011 this farm is managed environment-friendly under the practices of Holistic Management and a regular count in bird species and population numbers is done since then. It is overwhelming what positive changes have occurred. Finally Barn Owls came in and clearly they profit for example of high population of the Scaly-feathered Finch. The practice of Holistic Management means to set a goal and striving for healthy soil, plants and animal communities that in return are important for the survival and well-being of the human race. 

19.12.'12   Farm Gauchas   Swallow-tailed Bee-eater (3)   Although this bird is "nothing special", it becomes something special and worth writing about the moment it acts as an indicator of the wealth or positive change towards a progression in the wealth of a certain habitat, in this case of Farm Gauchas. Prior to the purchase of this farm at the end of 2011 by the owner, beehives for example were destroyed wherever found, wasp nests the same and obviously these birds preying on these kind of insects didn't find enough food to make a living here. About a year later nature is recovering, bees and wasps are found flying around which in return attracts birds such as Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters and that is good because an increase in variety of animal species is always good news. 

20.12.'12   Daan Viljoen N.P.   Red-billed Teal (±400)   Considered as southern Africa's most abundant duck, about 400 were counted at the Daan Viljoen lake. 

20.12.'12   Daan Viljoen N.P.   Squacco Heron (1)   This bird is not seen too often in central Namibia. 

20.12.'12   Daan Viljoen N.P.   African Jacana (1)   Incubation takes place by male only and on hot days it shades the eggs 84% of the time rather than incubating them. 

20.12.'12   Daan Viljoen N.P.   Orange River Francolin (30)   A fine place to spot this more often heard than seen bird 

20.12.'12   Daan Viljoen N.P.   Egyptian Goose (12)   Four half-grown chicks. The parents often nest in higher objects (trees, windmills etc.) that leads to chicks to jump or slide out of nests within 6 hours of hatching. After they dropped onto ground they are stunned for up to 4 minutes but recover soon. 

22.12.'12   Farm Sonnleiten   Cape Wagtail (2)   This bird enjoys protection in the Zulu, Xhosa, Khoi and San tribes, it appears in their folklore. The Xhosa call him the 'bird of cattle' and 'bird of good fortune'. The Cape Wagtail often uses human structures for nest building. In the Auto Hotel Park & Fly on Farm Sonnleiten one pair nests on top of the roof carrier of a camping vehicle in a bucket. 

23.12.'12   Windhoek, Corner Coetzee- Lardner Burke Str.   Pearl-spotted Owlet (2)   When hunting this small owl (17-21cm) turns its head abruptly to show first its real and then its false face. These interesting observations can be done in the middle of a capitol, right in front of your doorstep. 

23.12.'12   Windhoek, corner Coetzeestr. and Von Falkenhausen Str.   Pied Crow (1)   Seemingly this bird penetrates more often into the city of Windhoek. 

Make use of the holidays and enjoy the fun and challenge of birding, wishing you an exciting festive season with useful birding equipment gifts and a happy New Year, 

Stefan Rust

Please note: Most scientific information has been taken from Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, V11th edition! 

(For more information contact Stefan Rust on +264 (0)81 129 8415 or

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