Tuesday, 16 May 2017

156 | BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (20.10.'13 - 02.11.'13)


BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (20.10.’13 – 02.11.’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):

Amadeus Garden Guesthouse (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)
Bwabwata NP. (Namibia)
Chobe NP. (Botswana)
Chobe Safari Lodge (Botswana)
Karl Monika & Andreas
Lianshulu Lodge (Namibia)
Madikubu Houseboat (Sepupa, Botswana)
Mahangu NP. (Namibia)
Mathias Harald
Moremi NP. (Botswana)
Mudume NP. (Namibia)
Nata Bird Sanctuary (Makgadikgadi Saltpans, Sua Pan, Botswana)
Nata Lodge (Botswana)
Nunda River Lodge (Namibia)
Okavango Delta (Botswana)
Schwestka Antje
Thamalakane River Lodge (Botswana)
Tsodilo Hills (Botswana)
Türk Judith & Klaus
Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
Victoria Falls NP. (Zimbabwe)
Weber Barbara & Maik
Windhoek (Namibia)
Xaro Lodge (Botswana)

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


Distance traveled: 3 526 km

20.10.'13  Amadeus Garden Guesthouse, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe  BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat  The “BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat” project was recently founded under the conservation and tourism divisions of BirdsConTour after realizing that there is a need for cleaning nature from litter and creating an awareness in the society. In the short and medium term the idea is to assist the government in collecting litter by improving the environment for the bird- and wildlife. Education plays a key factor in this drive. Today cleaning took place in the Reynard Street in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The roadside at the Amadeus Garden Guesthouse was perfectly clean but in the neighboring area a cleaning session was needed.

20.10.'13  Victoria Falls NP., Zimbabwe  Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike (1) This fairly common but shy bird is more often heard than seen. It gives itself away with its often-repeated call phrase what-to-to-dooo.

21.10.’13 Lianshulu Lodge, Namibia  Black-collared Barbet (1) Dead wood being removed in rural areas for firewood, building material or through forest burning as means of grazing management decreases the availability of natural nest sites and therefore possibly causing a population decrease.

21.10.'13  Mudume NP, Namibia  Goliath Heron (1) Being very wary of humans this species avoids man-made constructions. Therefore controlled tourism activities are of utmost importance not to disturb these shy animals.

22.10.'13  Mudume NP, Namibia  Red-necked Falcon (1) Often a pair hunts cooperatively whereby the larger female flies into a tree canopy and the smaller male then hunts down the flushed prey. Probably the population is impacted by the destruction of palm trees through elephants.

22.10.'13  Lianshulu Lodge, Namibia  Greater Blue-eared Starling (5) Many of these birds in the garden such as in the Bird & Birder Friendly registered Lianshulu Lodge are very useful insect controllers. Not only do they feed on insects but even on frogs, small lizards and baby mice.

23.10.'13  Nunda River Lodge, Namibia  Arrow-marked Babbler (6) Flock sizes can be up to 15 birds, usually 4-8 and flocks are very territorial, defending it against other flocks by calling continuously from canopy of tall tree. Both groups call on their respective sides of the boundary line. After 1-2 minutes the calling ends and the groups return to their territories. I the case of one group being larger, then this group can cross the boundary while chasing the smaller group deep into its own territory.

24.10.'13  Mahangu NP., Namibia  Wattled Crane (2) This uncommon to rare species is classified as globally vulnerable. A recent global estimation of the population size was 13 000-15 000 birds but in the matter of fact is only 8 000 birds with 2 185 in southern Africa (Namibia 250, Botswana 1 200, Zimbabwe 200, Mozambique 300 and South Africa 235).

24.10.'13  Xaro Lodge, Botswana  Bird & Birder Friendly Award  According to UNWTO statistics, Africa had the second highest tourism growth in 2012. Worldwide tourism numbers reached the one billion mark with travelers to Africa exceeding 50 million. Prospects for Africa are fantastic, with a scheduled 4-5% growth in 2013. The challenge is getting a slice of that pie. That is one of the reasons why the Xaro Lodge also concentrates on the birdlife. It is unbelievable how many different species are found here. For their efforts in conservation and offering guests good birding opportunities, BirdsConTour (birds conservation and tourism) awarded Xaro Lodge with a two penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award.

25.10.'13  Tsodilo Hills, Botswana  Yellow-billed Oxpecker (1) Its food consists of arthropod ectoparasites that are found on mammals and drinks blood from wounds. Also hawks insects while perching on the host. One bird can consume up to 13 000 tick nymphs or 100 engorged adults per day. Impala that are visited by these oxpeckers reduce their own grooming activities by 36%.

25.10.'13  Madikubu Houseboat, Okavango Delta, Botswana  Montagu’s Harrier (1) These uncommon birds have an estimated world population of 100 000+ pairs. Main southern African concentrations are found in Botswanan grassland.

26.10.'13  Madikubu Houseboat, Okavango Delta, Botswana  African Skimmer (2 adults, 3 chicks) Unique to Africa, the total African population is estimated at 10 000, with only 800-1 200 birds in southern Africa. The average breeding success of the African Skimmer is less than 0.32 young ones per pair per year. In areas of southern Okavango birds have disappeared between 1975 and 1985. Today Botswana’s Okavango Delta shows a major population decrease. Causes are disturbance, habitat loss and exploitation.

27.10.'13  Thamalakane River Lodge, Botswana  Bird & Birder Friendly Award  With having received a two penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award from BirdsConTour, it means that Thamalakane River Lodge gets now known to many birders around the globe. With almost 1 000 hits on its webpage, this means serious exposure.

28.10.'13  Moremi NP., Botswana  Rock Pratincole (4) In captivity these big birds can reach an age of up to 15 years. Sometimes they give a loud cackling sound after making a kill and can be heard up to 5 km away. They are regarded as vulnerable because of their large size (male 58-61 cm and female 62-65 cm), low density and low reproduction (rearing one chick in 4 successive years, or only breed every 2-3 years).

28.10.'13  Thamalakane River Lodge, Botswana  Black-headed Oriole (1) Besides its own liquid piping and bubbling notes, it mimics other species such as Jackal Buzzard, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Dark-capped Bulbul, drongos, robin-chats, starlings, sunbirds and white-eyes.

29.10.'13  Nata Lodge, Botswana  Bird & Birder Friendly Establishment  Nata Lodge is an oasis for birds and birders set among the Mokolwane palms on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, the largest area of salt pans in the world covering some 37 000 sq km in overall extent. It is ideally situated at the junction to the Okavango Delta, Chobe NP and Francistown.

29.10.'13  Nata Bird Sanctuary (Sua Pan), Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana  Great White Pelican (100’s) Out of an estimated global population of 250 000 birds, the total breeding population in southern Africa is about 7 000-8 000 pairs. At Sua Pan breeding figures were as follow: 1974 – 130 pairs, 1979 – several thousand breeding birds, 1989 – 6 000, 1996 – 2 000. Laying dates are from March till October. Usually two eggs are laid and are incubated under spread feet for a period of 38-45 days. Chicks that are 20-25 days old gather in pods. After 56-70 days they leave the pods and are free-swimming and their first flight is at about 70-75 days. A walking young chick recognizes its parent at a distance, runs to meet it while weaving its head and waving and biting its own wings.

30.10.'13  Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana  Collared Flycatcher (1) As a rare summer visitor this species has previously been recorded in Zimbabwe, northeastern Namibia, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, and Augrabies Falls, North Cape. This sighting on the lodge property results in the first sighting for Kasane, Botswana.

30.10.'13  Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana  Bird & Birder Friendly Award  Livingstone in Zambia and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe were both hosting the UNWTO 20th General Assembly recently which caused a frenetic booking for the Chobe Safari Lodge with guests combining their stay with a trip into the Chobe NP. It is positive to see that this lodge not only takes excellent care of its valued guests but also takes extra care of the wild birds on its property through having a bird friendly garden. This gave Birds conservation and tourism (BirdsConTour) reason to award the Chobe Safari Lodge with a two penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award.

31.10.'13  Chobe NP., Botswana  White-headed Vulture (1) This species is exceptional vulnerable to poisoning because it is dominant over many other vulture species, except the Lappet-faced Vulture, and frequently arrives first at a carcass. Classified as uncommon, the African population consists of about 7 000-12 500 birds, of which only estimated 500 pairs live in southern Africa. Therefore it is quite exciting to find a breeding nest of this species.

31.10.'13  Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana  Bird & Birder Friendly Award  By traveling directly with BirdsConTour or making use of a guide from BirdsConTour you support bird conservation and create an economic platform for local livelihoods. Sometimes travelers also participate in other BirdsConTour projects. To say THANK YOU, every tour participant receives a Bird & Birder Friendly Award at the end of the tour.
Eight German-speaking guests were rewarded with one penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Awards:

Karl Monika & Andreas
Mathias Harald
Schwestka Antje
Türk Judith & Klaus
Weber Barbara & Maik

This Moremi Tour, organized by Pack Safari and Chamäleon Reisen, took place from the 20th of October until the 02nd of November 2013.

01.11.'13  Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe  Martial Eagle (1) The Martial Eagle is, in comparison with the other big eagles of Africa (Verreaux’s-, African Crowned-, and African Fish Eagle), more of a generalist. He feeds on a wider variety of animals, including small antelope, hares and rabbits, mongooses, gamebirds and even large reptiles such as monitor lizards. This feeding habit allows the Martial Eagle to live in a wider variety of habitats. It feels even comfortable in any open, flattish environment provided it includes one or two large objects suitable to build their massive stick nest in. This eagle requires very large foraging ranges and highly territorial breeding pairs consider hundreds of square kilometers as their territory, leading to the fact that Martial Eagles are thinly spread over their extensive range. Therefore only very few reserves are big enough to support even one breeding pair. The construction of thousands of kilometers of high tension power lines across the seemingly inhospitable habitat of the Karoo has benefited the local eagles. Over the last 30-40 years, many pairs of Martial Eagles took nesting residence in the tall, steel lattice pylons, as well as Tawny Eagles and a growing number of Verreaux’s Eagles.

01.11.'13  Bwabwata NP., Namibia  Southern Ground Hornbill (3) Southern Ground Hornbills are the largest of all 58 hornbills and live together in groups of between two and eleven individuals, mostly three to five, and defend territories of as much as 100 square kilometers. In a group one finds a dominant breeding pair and helpers of various ages. The female, easy to identify thanks to the violet blue patch below her bill, usually lays two eggs a couple of days apart, but starts incubating when the first egg is laid. Inevitably the older sibling outcompetes the younger for food, resulting in the death of the second chick. In South Africa these birds are classified as endangered and in an effort to save the species, second eggs or young chicks are being removed from known nest sites to be hand reared and then released to strengthen wild populations.

02.11.'13  Windhoek, Namibia  Blue Waxbill (3) Around human habitation these birds are tame and confiding. Human habitations also serve as strongholds for populations because drought and overgrazing in arid areas may reduce populations by reduced food availability and nesting material. Unfortunately in Botswana this species is extensively exploited for the cage-bird trade.

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

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