NEW CISTICOLA DISCOVERED FOR NAMIBIA
Birding excitement at Camp Chobe, Caprivi
Photos and text by Stefan Rust
(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belongs to Stefan Rust)
The discovery of the Wing-snapping Cisticola ( Kleinste Klopkloppie / Zwergpinkpink / Cisticola ayresii) by Stefan Rust from BirdsConTour is a wonderful demonstration that Namibia has much to reveal in bird life to us yet.
However, this newly discovered species is probably at risk from human influence, because it may move locally away from burnt grassland in winter and early spring. Unfortunately the Caprivi region is well-known for its intensive burning practices by the local people. In its main distribution area in South Africa, the eastern Limpopo Province, western Mpumalanga, Gauteng, eastern Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the East Cape, the transformation of grasslands to croplands most probably reduces its available habitat.
The Caprivi Tour, jointly organized by Chamäleon Reisen and Pack Safari, was led by Stefan Rust who runs the BirdsConTour organization (Bird Conservation & Tourism). On 16 May 2013, Stefan Rust heard an unfamiliar call that drew his attention to a bird in the short grassland close to his luxury tent at Camp Chobe. This bird, identified as a Cisticola, looked similar to the Zitting, Desert, Cloud and Pale-crowned Cisticolas in non-breeding plumage. But it gave itself away as the Wing-snapping Cisticola by its ringing, high-pitched I’m-airs-airs-airs call interspersed with wing snaps, hence its descriptive name.
Spending two nights at the marvelous luxury tented Safari Camp Chobe, gave Rust the chance to return to this spot. This time, playback attracted the bird to within five meters of where he stood.
The Wing-snapping Cisticola is restricted to short grasslands, with some bare patches inbetween. On the ground of the Camp Chobe it seems to profit from the area where the grass is mowed. Keeping low down in the grass, foraging in it and on the bare ground inbetween for invertebrates is a typical habit of this species.
This discovery and the rich bird life in this area prove to the owner, managers, staff and neighbors of Camp Chobe to be on the right way in protecting birds and their habitat. For their efforts in bird conservation, BirdsConTour prepares a Bird & Birder Friendly Award qualification for this accommodation.