Thursday, 4 July 2013

107 | BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (25.06.'13 - 03.07.'13)


BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (25.06.'13 – 03.07.’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):

Allgemeine Zeitung (Tourismus Namibia)
Bwabwata N.P.
Chobe NP.
Chobe Safari Lodge
Degener Paul Josef
Grimm Brigitte
Grimm Reiner
Hahl Gerhard
Hosea Kutako International Airport
Intercontact (Kirsten Schlimm & Vera Stehle)
Koch Jörg
Kuhn Joachim
Mahango Lodge
Mahangu N.P.
Markin’ Africa (Mark Wiechmann)
Mazambala Island Lodge
Okapuka Ranch
Rust Joachim & Caroline (Waterberg Wilderness Lodge)
Schlimm Kirsten
Schulte Josef
Sellin Dietrich
Stehle Vera
Tischler Peter
Tourismus Namibia (Allgemeine Zeitung)
Victoria Falls NP.
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
Waterberg Wilderness Lodge (Joachim & Caroline Rust)
Wiechmann Mark

BirdsConTour Report (Namibia, Botswana & Zimbabwe) Personal Highlights:


Distance traveled: 3 806 km

25.06.'13  Hosea Kutako International Airport  Cape Crow (4) Ten percent of 159 researched nests in southern Africa were parasitized by the Great Spotted Cuckoo.

25.06.'13  Okapuka Ranch  Egyptian Goose (±500) The artificial water bodies with their open shorelines  on Okapuka Ranch serve as optimal wetland areas for this species. Early mornings and late afternoon hundreds of groups are flying in formation over the establishment following their typical daily cycle: in the early morning they leave the water bodies to foraging areas and return after about 90 minutes, preening, resting and sleeping until late afternoon. Then they embark to a second foraging trip, returning after about 30 minutes. Altogether they spend about 7% of daytime feeding.

26.06.'13  Waterberg Wilderness Lodge  Lesser Honeyguide (2) This brood parasitic Honeyguide species does not guide to honeybee nests but does as well feed on beeswax and is interestingly remarkably fond of dry honeycombs. From all six subspecies that do occur in Africa, one finds three of them in southern Africa. These two that were seen on the grounds of the lodge belong to the Indicator minor damarensis subspecies.

28.06.'13  Mahango Lodge  White-backed Night-Heron (1) This generally rare bird shows its greatest numbers in and along the Okavango River and –Delta. It is considered as vulnerable only in South Africa, threatened by habitat destruction and degradation.

28.06.'13  Mahango Lodge  White-browed Coucal (1) Only recently it gained specific status, previously it was considered as conspecific with the Burchell’s Coucal. They often forage close to flames, thus being attracted to fires. Because of this habit the intense burning in the Caprivi Strip might be of convenience to this species.

28.06.'13  Mahangu N.P.  White-headed Vulture (1) Today two of the only ± 1 000 pairs in southern Africa have been observed. Africa has about 7 000-12 500 birds of this uncommon species.

28.06.'13  Mazambala Island Lodge  Long-toed Lapwing (1) These long living birds, at least 17 years, are naturally rare in southern Africa because of its specialized habitat requirements. The spread of alien water weeds supports their population increase.

29.06.'13  Mazambala Island Lodge  African Pygmy Goose (2) Because of degradation and loss of limited habitat the Pygmy Goose is classified as near threatened in South Africa.

29.06.'13  Mazambala Island Lodge  Southern Carmine Bee-eater (1) They overwinter in Equatorial savannas of Angola, Zambia, Malawi, southern Democratic Republic of Congo and western Tanzania. Only a very few individuals overwinter in the absolute northern parts of southern Africa.

29.06.'13  Mazambala Island Lodge, Namibia  Brown-throated Martin (2) About 96% of all birds at Mazambala Island Lodge are the pale morph and 4% represent the brown morph of this species.

30.06.'13  Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana  Orange-breasted Waxbill (3) These 9-10 cm small birds rarely build their own ball-shaped nests with a side entrance but usually, 80-90% of time, lines unused nests of Southern Red Bishops (70-80%). Sometimes they use nests of widowbirds, weavers, cisticolas or prinias.

01.07.'13  Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana  Grey-headed Bush-Shrike (1) A very creative bird when it comes to feeding. It is known that it holds large prey with one foot or wedges it into a forked twig or crevice to tear it to pieces with its beak. And exactly this was observed today on the Chobe Safari Lodge premises. One bird flew with a cocoon onto a branch and tried to wedge it into a crevice with the aim to then tear it apart to extract the pupae. Unfortunately the cocoon dropped onto the path with pedestrians and it lost interest to pick it up again.

01.07.’13  Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana  Collared Palm-Thrush (3) In the southern Africa region Kasane seems to be the most western distribution of this species. Here it lives in the garden of the Chobe Safari Lodge, three birds were counted.

01.07.'13  Chobe N.P., Botswana  Green-backed Heron (2) A flimsy platform of sticks, twigs and reeds is built on the horizontal branches of a dry shrub one meter above the water of the Okavango River. After the nesting adult had left, three pale greenish eggs were visible.

01.07.'13  Chobe N.P., Botswana  Southern Ground-Hornbill (6) Numbers are decreasing in southern Africa, especially in areas of high human population density and/or intensive farming. Here in the northeastern part of Botswana they are widespread but not common. Conservation efforts include hand-rearing of the second-hatched chicks (otherwise redundant), captive breeding and reintroduction.

02.07.'13  Victoria Falls N.P., Zimbabwe  Trumpeter Hornbill (8) Today eight of these birds have been observed in the tall trees in the Victoria Falls NP. Not often seen in rural areas but in this protected park they seem to be safe. Little is known about their breeding behavior. Not only are the Victoria Falls a UNESCO World Heritage Site but is the Victoria Falls NP. a Ramsar Site. The Ramsar Convention (The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat) is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands. It aims to stem progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future and it recognizes the significance of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.

02.07.'13  Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe  Hooded Vulture (±125) This species often arrives first at a food source. It is observed to readily dart between the legs of hyenas to grab scraps and then flies away to eat it elsewhere. This behavior is easily observable at the vulture restaurant at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge where these scavengers get fed every day at one o’clock. Regularly about 125 of these elsewhere uncommon vultures are easy to be seen here and about twice as much White-backed Vultures. If possible, visiting this lodge around vulture feeding time is a must.

02.07.'13  Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe  Bird & Birder Friendly Award  After a successful incentive tour, led by Stefan Rust from BirdsConTour and organized by Intercontact and Markin’ Africa (Mark Wiechmann), having started in Windhoek Namibia and having ended in Victoria Falls Zimbabwe, every participant received a one penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award from BirdsConTour (bird conservation and tourism). The aim of the division “Travel gives Wings” from BirdsConTour is to encourage travel agents and guests to make use of traveling with BirdsConTour and thereby supporting bird conservation in those respective areas. A certain amount of the funds generated through tourism, BirdsConTour use for bird conservation. Meaning that everybody who makes use of the BirdsConTour services, supports bird conservation and therefore the following guests were rewarded with this award:
Mr. Degener Paul Josef
Mrs. Grimm Brigitte
Mr. Grimm Reiner
Mr. Hahl Gerhard
Mr. Koch Jörg
Mr. Kuhn Joachim
Mrs. Schlimm Kirsten
Mr. Schulte Josef
Mr. Sellin Dietrich
Mrs. Stehle Vera
Mr. Tischler Peter

Read more in article 109 under

02.07.'13  Tourismus Namibia  Publication  In the Tourismus Namibia, Namibia’s biggest tourism publication, the article about the Yellow-billed Hornbill was published in German language. Read more in the article 108 under

03.07.'13  Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe  Ovambo Sparrowhawk (1) Here in Zimbabwe one can find 2-8 pairs in 620 square kilometer at the Matopa Hills and about 7 pairs in 512 square kilometer along the Save River. This species is considered as the most falcon-like of the accipiters. The observed bird was perching while overlooking the waterhole most probably waiting for prey to fly in to drink.

03.07.'13  Zimbabwe (nearby Kazungula), Chobe NP.(Botswana), Bwabwata NP.(Namibia)  Ground Hornbill (Zimb.4, Zimb. 3, Chobe NP. 6, Bwabwata NP. 4) For the first time such positive high numbers were recorded by BirdsConTour on the way back to Windhoek. See more info about this interesting bird on the 1st of July.

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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