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.
Okavango Ontour Birdlife Report (Zimbabwe-Botswana-Namibia):
Personal Highlights: SOUZA'S SHRIKE, AFRICAN SNIPE, RED-CAPPED ROBIN-CHAT
22.11.'12 Inbetween Windhoek and Nunda River Lodge Greater Striped Swallow (plenty) Perhaps the most often seen bird on todays
22.11.'12 Otjiwarongo, 30km south Violet-backed Starling (3) Might have been intra-African migrants.
22.11.'12 Rundu Red-billed Oxpecker (1) One of estimated 1 600 individuals in Caprivi.
22.11.'12 Inbetween Rundu and Nunda River Lodge Black Kite (11) In the V11th Roberts edition of 2005 the Milvus migrans
parasitus and the Milvus migrans lineatus were only considered
as subspecies to the Black Kite
(Milvus migrans migrans). Then in the Roberts Field Guide of
2007 the Black- and Yellow-billed Kite were regarded as two
different species, named Milvus migrans and Milvus aegyptius.
And to top this the Roberts Geographical Variation
published in 2012 distinguishes between Black Kite (Milvus
migrans) and Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius) and even
splits the Black Kite (Milvus migrans) again into two: Namely the
Milvus migrans considered as an uncommon non-breeding
migrant and Milvus lineatus considered as a rare vagrant.
22.11.'12 Inbetween Rundu and Nunda River Lodge Yellow-billed Kite (±130) Huge flock followed termite emergence after local
22.11.'12 Inbetween Windhoek and Nunda River Lodge Steppe Buzzard (5) Summer arrivals.
22.11.'12 Nunda River Lodge Woodland Kingfisher (1) First summer arrival. As it had rained, he was bathing
while touching raindrop-wetted leaves during
repeated flights, causing his feathers to become
23.11.'12 Inbetween Nunda River Lodge and Katima Red-backed Shrike (1) Summer arrival.
23.11.'12 Inbetween Nunda River Lodge and Katima Yellow-billed Kite (±40) Following local rains.
23.11.'12 Katima Mulilo, 25km west Souza's Shrike (1) White wingbar on back erades confusion with similar Red-
backed Shrike. This little known bird is considered as a rare
resident or seasonal visitor to northern Namibia and this record
matches all sightings of single birds in the time from July to
23.11.'12 Inbetween Katima and Ngoma Border Post Bradfield's Hornbill (1) Carrying food to nest in tree cavity. Little is known about
23.11.'12 Inbetween Katima and Gorges Lodge (Zim) Red-billed Oxpecker (12) On this stretch of road only 2 were seen in Namibia, 7
in Botswana and 3 in Zimbabwe. The reason for this
might be that in the parts of Namibia and Zimbabwe that
I passed there are mainly only cattle to feed on whereas
on Botswanas stretch of road there was a variety of
different wild animals that are hosts to this bird.
23.11.'12 Gorges Lodge (Zimbabwe) Augur Buzzard (3) Adults accompanying their Juvenile on its "Learner" flights. In
this corner of Zimbabwe this species is not seen often,
although at Gorges Lodge there is a territorial couple, ideal to
view them from this marvelous Lodge.
23.11.'12 Gorges Lodge Verreauxs' Eagle (2) Although not even registered for this place, there lives a
couple. Debbie and Chris, the managers of the Gorges Lodge,
offer at least once a day the most spectacular scenes for
photographers and observers with their optional Verreauxs'
Eagle feeding activity. This is a must for any person with an
interest in wildlife traveling to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
24.11.'12 Gorges Lodge Little Sparrowhawk (1) With an abundance of one pair on 1 400 ha in average,
Gorges Lodge can be thankful to show this species on their
24.11.'12 Gorges Lodge Peregrine Falcon (1) Hopefully this area will stay as remote as now in future because
this species is sensitive to disturbance. Globally one only finds
±40 000 birds and in southern Africa an estimated population
of between 800 and 1 200 breeding pairs of this near-threatened
25.11.'12 Victoria Falls, 50km west of Vic.Falls Southern Ground Hornbill (1) High human population density and intensive farmig
causes a decrease in the Zimbabwe population.
25.11.'12 Kazungula White-backed Vulture (18) In South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho classified as
25.11.'12 Chobe N.P. African Fish-Eagle (±11) 5 Juveniles. Botswana boasts highest abundance of this
species of whole southern Africa, mainly in Okavango
Delta and rivers in northern Botswana.
25.11.'12 Kasane dumping site Marabou Stork (121) As a cooling mechanism this scavenger excretes urine onto its
legs, giving the legs the appearance of being white.
25.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Reed Cormorant (±28) Feeding on the emerged termites that fell into the water.
25.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Long-toed Lapwing (12) 2 newly hatched chicks. Taking into consideration that 73
% of laying takes place in the time July to September, the
timing of these two chicks is out of schedule.
25.11.'12 Chobe N.P. African Snipe (1) Until the 1940s it was regarded as a popular bird to hunt.
25.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Black-winged Pratincole (±150) There is uncertainty of the world population size of
this high regional conservation concerned species.
25.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Collared Pratincole (6) Associated with Black-winged Pratincole.
25.11.'12 Chobe Safari Lodge Wire-tailed Swallow (2) Mud cup nest built under the boat and they even continue
nesting while boat is cruising.
26.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Southern Ground Hornbill (13) Two Juveniles in group.
26.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Lesser Grey Shrike (1) Arrival of summer visitor.
26.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Hooded Vulture (2) This species was observed following Wild Dogs for foraging
26.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Red-backed Shrike (±250/100 ha) Although Roberts V11th mentions high arrival
rates in north-west of southern Africa and high
concentrations in north-east which gives idea of
loop migration, I observed plenty of birds during
this arrival time in the Chobe N.P. which is situated
in the middle of northern part of southern Africa.
26.11.'12 Chobe N.P. Yellow-billed Oxpecker (2) Foraging on Buffalo, associating with Red-billed
Oxpeckers, but on different Buffalo in same herd.
26.11.'12 Chobe N.P. White-backed Vulture (47) Although not classified as vulnerable in Botswana,
care must be taken of new method of game poachers,
who poison Vultures so that their living presence
does not give away their tracks of killed game such
26.11.'12 Gweta, 50km east Southern Ground Hornbill (3) Southern edge of distribution in Botswana.
26.11.'12 Planet Baobab Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver (6) Males are busy building nest of thorny twigs
(serving as protection) in Baobab tree.
26.11.'12 Planet Baobab Meyer's Parrot (4) Classified as endangered. Planet Baobab serves as an ideal
habitat for them due to the high Baobab trees on and around its
27.11.'12 Planet Baobab Spotted Flycatcher (1) Summer arrival.
27.11.'12 Mankwe Bush Lodge Red-billed Hornbill (2) Forages emerging termites on ground.
27.11.'12 Mankwe Bush Lodge Red-capped Robin-Chat (1) Out of registered distribution. Habitat here is dense
undergrowth with sandy soil, near garden of Lodge.
He emerged onto a path to forage in last hour of
light. Mr. Roux Wessels of the Mankwe Bush
Lodge confirmed this first official sighting for
Botswana and will gladly assist people that are
interested to see this speciality at Mankwe. He will
take special care that the bird does not get disturbed
because now it is its peak breeding season.
28.11.'12 Mankwe Bush Lodge African Cuckoo (1) From moonrise to moonset he called his song: coo-coo.
Repeated many times continuing almost the whole night
because it was the night before full moon.
28.11.'12 Moremi N.P. Marabou Stork (±350) Currently they find plenty of food, especially emerging
28.11.'12 Moremi N.P. Woolly-necked Stork (130) Considering the fact that this species is regarded as
generally uncommon with an estimated global
population of maximum 135 000 birds and with an
African population of maximum 100 000, seeing an
amount of 130 of these birds together in one flock is
an absolute positive record!
28.11.'12 Mboma Island African Skimmer (10) Due to habitat loss this species is classified as endangered
in southern Africa. In near proximity of the Mboma Island
with its truly African tented Camp is a good spot to view
them. Contact me if interested in an article about this
species and its conservation matters (in German).
28.11.'12 Okavango Delta White Stork (2) Different to most White Storks in southern Africa these two were
observed in the wetland and flood plain of the Okavango Delta.
Usually they stay in crop fields and pastures.
29.11.'12 Okavango Delta Black Coucal (2) The foraging behaviour of this generally scarce bird is
undescribed and in South Africa it is classified as near-
29.11.'12 Moremi N.P. Wattled Crane (2) Encountering two birds of this uncommon to rare species can
give a person, that is aware of the population number of birds
alive in the world, goosebumps. The global population is ±8
000, this is by far less than lions, leopards, cheetahs and similar
animals and therefore it is understandable if guests spend more
time admiring the Wattled Crane than for example the lion.
29.11.'12 Moremi N.P. Levaillant's Cuckoo (1) Arrival of summer visitor. The mating system of this
unobtrusive and secretive species is uncertain.
29.11.'12 Maun, about 100km west Common Ostrich (11) Nine about 20 days old chicks with the male and female
alongside road. Hopefully they don't get overrun by speeding
vehicles. With an incubation period of ±45 days, the adult
birds must have started incubating about beginning of
29.11.'12 Dqae Qare Fork-tailed Drongo (1) This bird is known to be kleptoparasitic, meaning it steals
food from other birds. I became witness of an incident where
a Drongo attacked a Yellow-billed Hornbill, carrying a lizard,
in flight. The frightened Hornbill let go of the lizard, it
dropped and the Drongo started feasting on the lizard on the
ground. It fascinates me time and again how many interesting
observations can be done basically in front of our doorstep,
because this incident occurred right in front of my chalet on
the Planet Baobab premises.
30.11.'12 Ghanzi Red-breasted Swallow (1) 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.
30.11.'12 Onjala Lodge Greater Striped Swallow (5) All five are in the process of moulting. This is
interesting because Roberts V11 presumes moulting of
this species to take place during winter on Equatorial
non-breeding grounds. This is definitely worth further
research. The Onjala Lodge with its bird-friendly
practices is situated 30 minutes drive east of the Hosea
Kutako International Airport.
30.11.'12 Onjala Lodge Rockrunner (13) This Lodge offers the last good chance of viewing the
Rockrunner while travelling east because Onjala is situated on the
eastern border of this species distribution range.
01.12.'12 Onjala Lodge Freckled Nightjar (1) Although on the eastern edge of its distribution one can be
assured of encountering this bird in close proximity of the
01.12.'12 Onjala Lodge Southern Masked-Weaver (3) After yesterdays rain it is interesting to see how
these birds catch emerging insects in flight, just like
the Flycatchers do.
01.12.'12 Onjala Lodge Common Ostrich (12) The first 10 chicks for this season in the Onjala
01.12.'12 Onjala Lodge Red-backed Shrike (1) Summer arrival.
01.12.'12 Onjala Lodge Lappet-faced Vulture (4) After yesterdays first rain a few small ponds of water
gathered in the earth dam north of the lodge where these
majestic birds came for bathing about 12:00 o'clock.
01.12.'12 Onjala Lodge Lesser Grey Shrike (1) This summer arrival is on time because main arrivals for
this species are in second half of November. Ever
increasing bush encroachment throughout southern
Africa through wrong grazing management results in habitat
destruction for these useful birds.
01.12.'12 Onjala Lodge Grey-backed Cisticola (1) This species consists out of six subspecies out of which
one carries the name of Namibia's capitol, Cisticola
subruficapilla windhoekensis. This race is endemic to
central and central western Namibia. Once again the C. s.
windhoekensis is found at Onjala on the eastern edge of
its distribution range.
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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org)