Walvis Bay Bird Paradise
Text and photos from Stefan Rust
(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belong to Stefan Rust)
In recent years the town of Walvis Bay has transformed from harbor mecca to trendy tourist hotspot with a good complement of restaurants, shops, guesthouses and activities offered.
A visit to Walvis Bay Bird Paradise, located in the eastern periphery of Walvis Bay, along the main road to the airport, is a must.
Given a sufficiently early start, it is quite possible to squeeze in an hour and a half or more of prime birding in your itinerary, visiting Walvis Bay's most accessible birding site. The Walvis Bay Bird Paradise is possibly the most picturesque birding site anywhere in the Dorob National Park. Here, the guided walking trail leads onto some sand dunes and dives into water filled valleys with green rhizome-reeds (Phragmitis australis) flanked by spectacular red dunes that tower into blue sky.
This oasis in the Namib Desert forms an important wetland supporting about 2 000 birds. Lots of Lesser Flamingo feed here, and careful scanning should reveal African Purple Swamphen, Hottentot Teal, Maccoa Duck and even Great-crested Grebe, and perhaps a Jackal Buzzard circling above. The shoreline of the water ponds is Lapwing and Plover habitat, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the differences between the Plovers beforehand. Listen to the metallic 'tink, tink, tink' alarm call that gives the Blacksmith Lapwing its name. About 90% of the world population of the near-threatened Chestnut-banded Plover is found here in the central area of the Namib Desert coastline. The small Kittlitz's Plover forages in this paradise. These freshwater wetlands are patrolled by Little Egret, Grey Heron and since recently the Glossy Ibis. The dense stands of reeds are an excellent bet for African Reed-Warbler, Icterine Warbler and Southern Masked-Weaver.
The Walvis Bay Bird Paradise is a birding hotspot in the heart of the Namib Desert and it offers moments of incomparable beauty and provides unparalleled opportunities for bird photography.