Monday, 10 June 2013

085 | BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (21.05.'13 - 09.06.'13)


BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (21.05.'13 – 09.06.’13)

Text from Stefan Rust

(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belong to Stefan Rust)

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 together with BirdsConTour represents some of the ontour bird sightings and several other interesting birding aspects 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.


Have a quick look if you, your site or neighborhood is included in this scientific informational work (alphabetically arranged):

Airport Jagd & Gästefarm (Uwe & Janet Trümper)
A-little-Sossus Lodge
Camp Chobe (Mr. Johan Liebenberg)
Canyon Roadhouse (Gondwana)
Chamäleon Reisen
Damara Mopane Lodge (Gondwana)
Etosha NP
Etosha Safari Camp (Gondwana)
Fish River Canyon
Frans Indongo Lodge
Gillmann property (Regine & Martin)
Hähner Wilfried (Hitradio Namibia)
Hitradio Namibia (Wilfried Hähner)
Hohenstein Lodge
Kalahari Anib Lodge (Gondwana)
Klein Aus Vista (Gondwana)
Omandumba Farm (Harald & Deike Rust)
Onjala Lodge
Pack Safari
Republikein, jou land, jou taal, jou koerant (Francoise Steynberg)
Rust Harald & Deike (Farm Omandumba)
Smith Jana-Marie (Travel News Namibia)
Solitaire Guest Farm
Sperrgebiet NP.
Steynberg Francois (Republikein)
Travel News Namibia (Jana-Mari Smith)
Trümper Uwe & Janet (Airport Jagd & Gästefarm)
Voigtland Farm (Stephan & Gaby Voigts)
Voigts Stephan & Gaby (Farm Voigtland)
Walvisbay Bird Paradise

BirdsConTour Report (Namibia) Personal Highlights:


Distance traveled: 4 008 km

21.05.'13  Hitradio Namibia  Interview Wilfried Hähner von Hitradio Namibia führte heute morgen ein live Inteview mit Stefan Rust von BirdsConTour. Das Projekt Bird & Birder Friendly Award wurde in deutscher Sprache vorgestellt. Hierbei sucht BirdsConTour Personen, Gruppen und Unternehmen die sich in direkter oder indirekter Form, bewusst oder unbewusst um das Wohlergehen der Vogelwelt bemühen und verleiht diesen dann eine jeweils einjährig gültige Auszeichnung. Je nach Schutzbemühungen werden von eins bis maximum sechs Vogelsymbole vergeben.
Die Kriterien für die erhältlichen Vogelsymbole als Bird & Birder Friendly Award können unter in den Artikeln 67 und 71 nachgelesen werden.

23.05.'13  Republikein newspaper, Namibia  Wing-snapping Cisticola (1) Francois Steynberg, the chief reporter of the Republikein, wrote an interesting article about the first sighting of this species in Namibia. The article “Kleinste Klopkloppie by Camp Chobe” was published today. For further reading visit and in the article nr. 77.

23.05.'13  Travel News Namibia  Wing-snapping Cisticola (1) The news of the first official sighting of this species in Namibia went haywire. Jana-Mari Smith from Travel News Namibia also compiled a fantastic article about this happening. Have a look under in the article “Snap! … new bird species found in Namibia – Wing-snapping Cisticola”.

26.05.'13  Gillmann property, Auas Mountains, Windhoek  Orange River Francolin (5) This Francolin is severely sensitive to disturbance and unfavorable land management. A few successive years of unnatural land management through unfavorable grazing methods, burning of grasses or disturbance because of too much human activity leads to local extinction of this species. Extra care should be taken to avoid unnecessary stress not to loose the nice early morning call kibitele kibitele of this bird. But as Regine and Martin Gillmann say, house owners living here are aware about keeping nature in order. This is proven through the wild bird feeding station that was established on their property early this year.

27.05.’13  Otjiwarongo, 50 km south  Lappet-faced Vulture (2) In this area these big birds are particularly vulnerable to bush encroachment, having difficulties in landing and taking off.

27.05.'13  Frans Indongo Lodge  Shikra (1) A Shikra declared this most beautiful garden of this lodge as its territory. The first time I recognized this bird of prey when it dived into the fishpond next to the restaurant, trying to catch one of the fish. This behavior of this species was up to today unknown to me. It is also not mentioned that this species do occur in gardens in other countries except in Zimbabwe.

28.05.'13  Etosha Safari Camp  Cardinal Woodpecker (2) In case of danger it hides behind a branch. The reason that it probably is the most arboreal woodpecker in southern Africa might be that it uses a niche by foraging in very thin twigs that are not used by other woodpeckers.

28.05.'13  Etosha NP  Ludwig’s Bustard (2) The Ludwig’s Bustard is not often found in the Etosha NP, most common in the Namib Desert. These two birds were seen at the Okondeka waterhole, coming to drink water in the Etosha Pan.

29.05.'13  Etosha Safari Camp  White-crested Helmet-Shrike (12) This locally common bird can breed at two years but less than 50% breed before five years.

29.05.'13  Etosha NP, close to Gemsbokvlakte waterhole  Wahlberg’s Eagle (1) Usually members of this species migrate March and April to northern parts of the Equator for over wintering. It is mentioned that most probably some juveniles do overwinter in Zimbabwe. This individual is an intermediate morph, seemed like a juvenile. One does find the Wahlberg’s Eagle in three different morphs, the dark, intermediate and pale morph. In southern Africa about 88% of these birds are the intermediate morphs.

29.05.'13  Etosha NP, west of Okaukuejo waterhole  Tawny Eagle (1) In the Etosha NP the population density is averaged with 0,1 pairs per 100 square kilometer and in whole Namibia this species is provisionally classified as endangered. Therefore it is always positive to see a couple nesting, as this couple west of the Okaukuejo waterhole. The one bird was seen sitting on top of the nest that has been constructed with twigs on top of an acacia tree.

29.05.'13  Etosha NP, Okaukuejo  BirdsConTour for a cleaner bird habitat  This month on the 11th the initiative “BirdsConTour for a cleaner bird habitat” was officially launched. To celebrate this happening, Stefan Rust, founder of BirdsConTour, bird conservation and tourism, together with members of a tour group, chose to clean the big Sociable Weaver nest in Okaukuejo rest camp in the Etosha National Park from ropes after several birds already got entangled in the litter, which they found lying all over in the camp and incorporated in their nests.
Today, only seventeen days later, BirdsConTour visited the Okaukuejo Rest Camp again with the purpose of another activity in connection with “BirdsConTour for a cleaner bird habitat”. This time, again with members of a tour group, a cleaning session was organized. Seven guests and Stefan Rust from BirdsConTour picked up litter lying around in the camp. This cleaning session concentrated around the shaded viewing spot at the Okaukuejo waterhole.
For more information on the “BirdsConTour for a cleaner bird habitat” initiative please read the article nr. 75 under

30.05.'13  Twyfelfontein  Verreauxs’ Eagle (2) In the previous breeding season this pair successfully raised a chick. Mostly the territories have up to five alternative nest sites, although the favoured one may be used for decades. As egg laying dates peak July in Namibia, this pair is probably busy with breeding preparation. An indication hereof is their flying activity during these hottest hours of the day, usually they rest in shadows this time of day and are active during the morning and cooler afternoon hours.

30.05.'13  Damara Mopane Lodge  Red-headed Finch (12) This is a near-endemic species to southern Africa. At this Damara Mopane Lodge they associate with Southern Masked-Weavers and Southern Grey-headed Sparrows in the green garden.

31.05.’13  Farm Omandumba  Bird & Birder Friendly Award Harald and Deike Rust from Farm Omandumba were rewarded with a two bird rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award for their successful effort of reintroducing two of Namibias bird of the year 2013, the Common Ostrich, onto their farm after more than 40 years of absence of these animals. Read more about it in article nr.  under

31.05.'13  Hohenstein Lodge  Bird & Birder Friendly Award The success which the Bird & Birder Friendly Award initiative organized by the BirdsConTour “Input gives Wings” project enjoys confirms the belief that there is much interest in saving our birds. Today the Hohenstein Lodge has joined with a two bird rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award. More details in article no. under

01.06.’13  Swakopmund  Caspian Tern  (1) The movements of the Caspian Terns are not fully understood, possibly they are even resident. Also little is known about their moult. It is estimated that Namibia has around 40 breeding pairs of these near-threatened birds.

02.06.’13  Walvisbay Bird Paradise  Bird & Birder Friendly Award Congratulations to Walvisbay Bird Paradise. For their commitment in bird and bird habitat conservation and offering bird watching services, this initiative is rewarded with a three bird rated Bird & Birder friendly Award. Find out more in the articles no. 81, 71 and 59 under

02.06.'13  Solitaire Guest Farm  Hamerkop (2) These two birds took advantage of the small pond at the edge of the garden of the Solitaire Guest Farm. Obviously they find sufficient food resources but still it was an unusual sight finding these birds in this arid environment. It is known that they may be ‘resident’ in semi-arid areas for some months before then being absent for several years. This species probably benefited from being regarded in awe, featuring in Xhosa and other folklore, thus not being hunted.

03.06.'13  Sossusvlei  African Hoopoe (1) Although they are in winter and spring most abundant in eastern regions of southern Africa, this individual was seen between huge camelthorn trees in the Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. Above all it got freezing cold during the last few days in this area.

03.06.'13  Sossusvlei  Water for Sossus Birds  Today Stefan Rust, the owner of BirdsConTour, launched the project “Water for Sossus Birds” in Sossusvlei. This project underlies the division “Travel gives Wings” of BirdsConTour. It is scary what huge footprints guests cause with their visit to Sossusvlei. A research showed that every guest climbing the dune Dune 45, walking to the Death Vlei and back and/or walking in the surrounding of Sossusvlei unconsciously kills with his or her stay an average of ±50 small animals (ants, beetles etc.). With hundred guests per day this is a loss of 5 000 potential food items of in this case birds. Given the fact that most birds living in this hot and dry part of the Namib Desert prey on small animals to replenish their body moisture as an alternative to water, these footprints caused by the guests cause a big loss in possible moisture for the feathered animals. This results in a decrease of the natural bird population in this area.
To counteract this problem and to help the birds to replenish their body moisture, BirdsConTour together with Pack Safari and Chamäleon (German travel company) came up with a solution. Every tour guide who leads Chamäleon guests into the Sossusvlei area takes a portable water feeder along. When the tour bus is parked at the 4x4 parking area, the guide fills the water feeder and hangs it to a tree or puts it onto the ground. With peace of mind, the Pack Safari guide together with the Chamäleon guests can now go and discover and enjoy the Sossusvlei area, while the birds can refill their needed body moisture with water as an alternative for the small animals that are taken unconsciously by each visitor.
See article no. 86 under

03.06.'13  A-little-Sossus Lodge  Rüppell’s Korhaan (2) The biggest part of this near-endemic species to Namibia is found in the Namib Naukluft Park and in the Skeleton Coast Park. At the A-little-Sossus Lodge one can observe this interesting bird on the property of the lodge building.

04.06.'13  Maltahöhe  Jackal Buzzard (1) It is always a surprise to see this to southern Africa endemic species. This bird was resting on a telephone pole about 80 km west of Maltahöhe on the C14 road. In Namibia the Jackal Buzzard is fairly uncommon.

04.06.'13  Garub  Spike-heeled Lark (1) In southern Africa occur nine subspecies, differing mainly in color variation linked to soil and vegetation. Namibia presents three subspecies – Chersomanes albofasciata arenaria, C. a. erikssoni and C. a. boweni. The C. a. erikssoni forms an isolated population in the Etosha NP.

04.06.'13  Klein Aus Vista  Red-faced Mousebird (5) Being present at Klein Aus Vista the indicated distribution of this species should be changed further west. Although only plants are mentioned as food for these birds, findings of tape worms in guts of some Mousebirds prove that some animal food is eaten as well.

05.06.’13  Sperrgebiet NP.  Burchell’s Courser (1) A considerable rapid decrease in range and abundance and local extinctions in Botswana and South Africa in the past 50-150 years are a serious cause for concern. In the dry regions of Namibia is no evidence for decreases.

05.06.’13  Lüderitzbucht, Dias Point  African Black Oystercatcher (5) The small population size, low reproductive rate and human disturbance lead to this species globally and in South Africa being classified as near-threatened.

05.06.’13  Klein Aus Vista  Long-billed Crombec (1) At this lodge the Long-billed Crombec was found nesting in winter months, probably linked to winter rainfall in this area.

06.06.’13  Fish River Canyon  Tractrac Chat (1) The near-endemic to southern Africa Tractrac Chat often forages on gravel roads, where it eats beetles killed by passing vehicles.

06.06.’13  Canon Roadhouse, Gondwana  Rosy-faced Lovebird (2) In this part of Namibia, this lodge is the most western distribution area. Here they roost in the Sociable Weaver nests by night.

07.06.’13  Naute Dam area, 50 km south  White-backed Vulture (1) In this area the White-backed Vulture is very rare. During all the tours leading into this region, this was the first time that one was seen. The time of observation was before sunrise and it was roosting on the ground, which is also unusual for this species. Normally they roost during night on poles or trees and only during day on the ground.

07.06.’13  Kalahari Anib Lodge  Barn Owl (2) In the garden of this oasis in the Kalahari, these two Barn Owls make use of roosting in the dead leafs of the large palm trees. Their regurgitated pellets underneath the palm tree give their roosting site away.

08.06.’13  Bird & Birder Friendly Award  Onjala Lodge  At Onjala Lodge the first oversea guests ever received awards from bird conservation and tourism. A link between travelers to Namibia and Namibia has been established. Seven German guests have each been rewarded with a one penguin rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award by BirdsConTour for their special support of the “BirdsConTour for a cleaner bird habitat” project in cleaning the Okaukuejo Rest Camp in the Etosha NP. This project aims to clean the environment from litter to prevent accidents and deaths of birds and other animals caused by litter.

09.06.’13  Farm Voigtland  Bearded Woodpecker (2) A good show was delivered by a pair of this stunning and largest arboreal woodpecker in southern Africa right in front of a group of guests in the green garden of Farm Voigtland. While enjoying breakfast, the guests viewed this pair of Bearded Woodpeckers foraging on the stem of a palm tree. Used to people, especially the male with its bright red hind crown, draw the attention of everybody. Especially for photographing the early morning light was superb.
Interestingly this woodpecker species’ peak egg laying time is May till August. It is thus not impossible that this pair is nesting. Never both partners were seen at the same time, suggesting that the female, she was seen first and thereafter only the male, took over the incubation shift.
What a luck of having southern Africa’s biggest arboreal woodpecker right in front of your doorstep, in the garden for all guests to enjoy!

09.06.’13  Airport Jagd & Gästefarm  African Palm-Swift (2) Originally (historically) the Palm-Swift was confined to the lowland areas of tropical Africa. Due to human settlement and planting of palms as on the yard of the Airport Jagd & Gästefarm, the distribution range has expanded in the last 60 – 70 years.
This area is the furthest distribution range from Windhoek in eastern direction and it
is the most crepuscular (active primarily during twilight) swift.

Enjoy Birding, 
Stefan Rust
Please note: Most scientific information has been taken from Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, V11th edition!
(For further reading see
(For more information contact Stefan Rust on +264 (0)81 129 8415 or

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