Friday, 29 November 2013

171 | BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT 02.11.'13 - 29.11.'13


BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (02.11.’13 – 29.11.’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):

A-little-Sossus Lodge (Namibia)
Annie’s Cottage (Spingbock, South Africa)
Blommenberg Guesthouse (Clanwilliam, South Africa)
Bloubergstrand (South Africa)
Bwabwata NP. (Namibia)
Canyon Roadhouse (Gondwana Collection, Namibia)
Cape of Good Hope (South Africa)
Cape Town (South Africa)
Chamäleon Reisen
Chobe NP. (Botswana)
Chobe Safari Lodge (Botswana)
Clanwilliam (South Africa)
Emanya@Etosha Game Lodge (Namibia)
Etosha NP. (Namibia)
Etosha Safari Camp (Gondwana Collection, Namibia)
Farm Gauchas (Argo Rust) (Namibia)
Fish River Canyon (Namibia)
Gondwana Canyon Park (Gondwana Collection, Namibia)
Gondwana Lodge Collections (Namibia)
Hakusembe River Lodge (Gondwana Collection, Namibia)
Ilala Lodge (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)
L’Avenir (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Namushasha River Lodge (Gondwana Collection, Namibia)
Pack Safari
Rust Argo (Farm Gauchas) (Namibia)
Rust Heidi (Windhoek, Namibia)
Schlipp (Namibia)
Solitaire Guest Farm (Namibia)
Sossusvlei (Namibia)
South Africa
Stellenbosch (South Africa)
Table Mountain (South Africa)
Usieto Luka (Namibia)
Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls NP, (Zimbabwe)
Villa Lutzi (Cape Town, South Africa)
West Coast NP. (South Africa)
Windhoek (Namibia)

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


Distance traveled: 7 617 km

02.11.'13  Windhoek, Namibia  Architecture for a better Bird Life  Heidi improved her bird friendly garden and organized BirdsConTour to install a Hornbill feeder. This is a platform with having dished a special Hornbill mix on it to attract these big birds to one’s garden. Also another nest was installed to offer nesting possibilities in her garden.

05.11.'13  Von Falkenhausenstr., Windhoek  Red-headed Finch (3 chicks) Part of an old White-browed Sparrow-weaver nest that was occupied by a Red-headed Finch pair was lying on the ground in the garden. With closer inspection, it was found of having three chicks in it. Fortunately they have not been found by any predator yet, so BirdsConTour came in and fixed the broken off part to the still hanging part of the nest with thin wire. Observation showed that the parents continued taking care of their helpless three chicks.

06.11.’13 Ludwigsdorf, Windhoek  Young Birders  Young Birder Luka Usieto, the youngest Bird & Birder Friendly Award awardee contacted BirdsConTour excitedly informing about two Monteiro Hornbills that visited his feeding station and asking what he can do to attract them as regular visiting bird guests. The next day BirdsConTour installed a special Hornbill platform with a special hornbill food mix regularly dished for them. Also a nest was added to the Usieto family garden in the hope that it attracts some birds to start breeding in it. It would be exciting for Young Birder Luka. See the detailed article “Enquiring Minds”, no. 160.

06.11.'13  Birds in Words  Sociable Weaver  A German article on the Sociable Weaver was written for the Allgemeine Zeitung. Find out more about this desert-dwelling specie in article no. 163.

08.11.'13  Farm Gauchas, Schlipp, Namibia  Southern Masked-Weaver (2) On the right time at the right place. After having arrived on Farm Gauchas, the farm worker called and informed us about a broken Southern Masked-weaver nest in the garden. The strong wind that came up would sooner or later break it completely. Surprisingly there was still a female sitting on three blue, dark spotted, eggs. By “sewing” the nest together again, three eggs were saved and the female happily continued incubating her eggs. Find more information in article no. 161.

08.11.'13  Farm Gauchas, Schlipp, Namibia  Birds in Words  BirdsConTour writes in an article “Five families under one roof” (article no. 161) about the bird friendly farming practices by Mr. Argo Rust.

09.11.'13  Turnoff B1/D1254, Schlipp, Namibia  BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat  This time, these regular cleaning sessions led to the corner of the B1/D1254, the turnoff to Schlipp. Text and photos in article no. 162.

09.11.'13  Van Rhynsdorp, South Africa  Black Harrier (2) This uncommon bird is an endemic species to southern Africa. It is regarded as the world’s most range-restricted continental harrier, in a range estimated less than 400 000 square km. It is classified as globally vulnerable, endangered in Namibia and near-threatened in South Africa.

10.11.'13  Clanwilliam, South Africa  Yellow Bishop (1) During non-breeding seasons they form family groups and then join small mixed flocks including sparrows, canaries, waxbills, weavers and other bishops.

10.11.'13  Villa Lutzi, Cape Town, South Africa  Red-winged Starling (2) Not only are these birds aggressive towards other starlings and attack predators, including African Harrier-Hawk, but in one incident one roosting pair on a farm veranda attacked people so heavily that the birds got shot.

11.11.'13  Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa  Orange-breasted Sunbird (1) The common and endemic Orange-breasted Sunbird is endemic to fynbos areas, mostly where dense stands of protea and Erica plants occur.

12.11.'13  Villa Lutzi, Cape Town, South Africa  Lemon Dove (1) Cape Town is the furthest west distribution of this species. Reduction of forest patches and the increasing utilization of understorey trees for medicinal uses are a cause for conservation concern.

12.11.'13  Cape of Good Hope  Sentinel Rock-Thrush (1) Although this endemic species is classified as not threatened, it seems as if their numbers have decreased in this area since the 1980’s. The reason/s are still unknown.

13.11.'13  Villa Lutzi, Cape Town, South Africa  Bird & Birder Friendly Award  A paradise for Table Mountain birds. BirdsConTour awarded Villa Lutzi for their bird and birder friendly practices, article no. 164.

13.11.'13  L’Avenir Country Lodge, Stellenbosch, South Africa  Red-eyed Dove (5) Human modifications to the habitat has contributed to the range expansion in Gauteng, Lesotho, some parts of the Free State, southern Karoo and West Cape, even further into some parts of the Namib Desert over the last 100 years.

14.11.'13  Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa  Black Kite (1) This regular road casualty is a long-lived bird. The oldest recaptured ringed bird was 23 years old.

14.11.'13  West Coast NP., South Africa  Osprey (1) Although known to interact aggressively with African Fish-Eagles, this individual bird was observed foraging in near neighborhood with three African Fish-Eagle.

14.11.'13  Blommenberg Guesthouse, Clanwilliam, South Africa  Cape Robin-Chat (1) It often joins mobbing behavior of other birds and reacts extremely aggressive when predators are nearby, especially during the time of development and care of its chicks. It has been observed attacking and driving away even Boomslangs Dispholidus typus by striking at the snake’s head and neck.

15.11.'13  Vanrhynsdorp, North Cape, South Africa  BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat  The Pied Crows have increased in range and abundance in the Karoo because of increasing numbers of roadkills on roads and because of adapting to build their nests in telephone and powerline poles. Before these man-made structures were there, there were no nesting possibilities, no big enough trees in the Karoo. The creativity of these birds results in them including wire, sometimes only wire, and often ropes (used to wrap grass blocks), as thick lining into the nest structure. This habit often is a deadly trap, birds get entangled in these ropes in their nest and can’t free themselves. Farmers often have to feed their stock with grass blocks that are wrapped with ropes. After untying the supplement grass, the ropes are left lying around in nature, being collected by birds and ending up in their nests. To make farmers aware of this danger, BirdsConTour arranged a BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat cleaning session alongside the Cape Namibia Route (N7) in front of a road construction site near Vanrhynsdorp. Litter was collected next to the road while many vehicles were stopping at the construction roadblock.

15.11.'13  Annie’s Cottage, Springbock, South Africa  Bird & Birder Friendly Award Annie’s Cottage in Springbock, North Cape, South Africa, received a two penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award mainly because of its bird friendly garden. More information in article no. 165.

16.11.'13  Canyon Roadhouse, Gondwana Collection, Namibia  Acacia Pied Barbet (3) The abundance of these birds in this area is linked with the abundance of Quiver Trees. They offer nesting sites, its wood is soft enough for the Barbet being able to excavate a nesting hole.

17.11.'13  Gondwana Canyon Park, Gondwana Collection, Namibia  Karoo Korhaan (2) This is an endemic bird to southern Africa and prefers stony ground in flat to undulating areas.

17.11.'13  A-little-Sossus Lodge, Namibia  Rüppell’s Korhaan (2) The Rüppell’s Korhaan species as such is near-endemic to western Namibia, but the subspecies Eupodotis rueppellii fitzsimonsii is endemic to Namibia. It lives in the gravel and sandy areas of the Namib Desert where the rainfall is less than 200 mm per year.

18.11.'13  Sossusvlei, Namibia  Black-chested Snake-Eagle (1) Snakes are one of its prey items. Snakes that are struck inaccurately by attacking bird fight back, sometimes resulting in death of both. Snakes are swallowed whole, directly into the stomach.

18.11.'13  Solitaire Guest Farm, Namibia  White-browed Sparrow-Weaver/Laughing Dove (1/1) An almost symbiotic behavior occurred between a White-browed Sparrow-Weaver and a Laughing Dove. A White-browed Sparrow-Weaver repeatedly plucked berries from a Shepherds-tree Boscia albitrunca, peeled them on the ground, picked off the juicy inside around the hard pits and left them behind because they are too large for the weaver to swallow. Then came the Laughing Dove, picked up the pits and swallowed them. It seemed as if the dove was waiting on the ground for the weaver to pick a berry from the tree, finish its part of feeding on each berry on the ground, to then rush in and pick the uneaten pit.

19.11.'13  Windhoek, Namibia  Red-headed Finch (3 Juveniles) The three almost dead chicks inside an old White-browed Sparrow-Weaver nest that was used by their parents and had fallen down because the nest broke apart, fledged successfully after the broken off part was “stitched” back onto the part that was still attached to the branch.

20.11.'13  Turnoff B1/D2404, Namibia  BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat  Again BirdsConTour took action in the effort to keep the country clean. Today, as quite a few times before, the site around this often visited termite mount was cleaned.

20.11.'13  Etosha Safari Lodge, Gondwana Collection, Namibia  White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (5) Usually a breeding pair builds its nest within average 10-18 days on the leeward side of a tree, favoring thorn trees. Sometimes they build their untidy, retort-shaped dry grass nest onto telephone poles and powerline poles and even more seldom into fences, such as one near the Etosha Safari Camp.

21.11.'13  Etosha N.P., Namibia  Lesser Grey Shrike (1) This time of the year is the main arrival of this non-breeding Palearctic migrant. Ever increasing bush encroachment leads to unsuitable habitat for this species, but it is well represented in protected areas in southern Africa.

21.11.'13  Emanya@Etosha Game Lodge, Namibia  Red-billed Hornbill () Replacement of natural game populations by livestock doesn’t bother this species, it adapted well to it. But they do react vulnerable to areas where wood collection reduces availability of suitable nest sites.

22.11.'13  Hakusembe River Lodge, Gondwana Collection, Namibia  Black Cuckoo (2) This intra-African breeding migrant usually gives itself away by its repetitive I’m so siiiiiick whistle.

23.11.'13  Namushasha River Lodge, Gondwana Collection, Namibia  Copper Sunbird (3) Namushasha River Lodge serves as a superb place to view quite a few of these uncommon birds. Especially when the water sprinklers on the lawn are switched on, they enjoy taking a ”shower”.

23.11.'13  Bwabwata NP, Namibia  Hadeda Ibis (1) One bird nesting about 2.5 m above water in thick bush. Originally these birds built their nests over water for protection against nest predators such as genets and monkeys. Prior to 1970, only very few nests were found away from water, but since invasion of suburban areas, such as in East London, East Cape, 17 of 33 nests are found in trees in suburban parks, streets and gardens away from water.

24.11.'13  Namushasha River Lodge, Gondwana Collection, Namibia  Klaas’s Cuckoo (1) Thought to be resident in Zimbabwe but it is possible that the non-breeding birds from further south migrate north to Zimbabwe coincidentally at the same time when the breeding population in Zimbabwe moves north after breeding.
With the high occurrence of the Copper Sunbird at the Namushasha River Lodge, it can well be possible that the Klaas’s Cuckoo parasitizes this species. Parasitism of this species has been recorded in other parts of Africa, but not yet in southern Africa.

24.11.'13  Bwabwata NP, Namibia  Black-bellied Bustard (1) Classified as Near-threatened only in South Africa, its status should get closer observation in other southern African countries as well. As such some reports from the Tuli Block in eastern Botswana require confirmation. Decreases in population sizes are due to habitat destruction, hunting and mismanagement of grassveld, as it favors tall dense grassland and grassy savanna.

25.11.'13  Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana  Just for clarity  Recently the Chobe Safari Lodge was awarded with a Bird & Birder Friendly Award from BirdsConTour. The launch of the BirdsConTour Bird & Birder Friendly Award project under the division Input gives Wings created a significant shift in bird awareness. The handover of Bird & Birder Friendly Awards to various establishments and people is seen by the awardees as a very concrete manifestation of BirdsConTours’ commitment to support bird conservation and to make a difference to peoples’ attitude towards birds. Read more in article no.170 under Birds in Words (

26.11.'13  Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana  Levaillant’s Cuckoo (2) This is a generally uncommon Intra-African breeding migrant species and arrives in southern Africa in October till November. As a brood parasite its major host is the Arrow-marked Babbler.

26.11.'13  Chobe NP, Botswana  Red-backed Shrike (14) The majority of this species arrive in southern Africa mid till late November. It seems as if the numbers have increased in the strip alongside the Chobe River within the Chobe NP because of an increase of preferred habitat caused by thornbush encroachment through overutilised vegetation by an overpopulation of elephants.

26.11.'13  Chobe NP, Botswana  Western Marsh-Harrier (2) Of an estimated 240 000-300 000 world population, about 50-100 of these Palearctic-breeding migrant birds reach southern Africa, giving it a rare status. Mainly the Western Marsh-Harrier favors marshes with lots of reeds.

27.11.'13  Victoria Falls NP., Zimbabwe  BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat  This year is the bicentenary year of David Livingstone’s birth and has been marked today with a special cleaning session celebrating the life and achievements of the iconic explorer. Inspired by Livingstone’s love of nature, BirdsConTour (Birds Conservation and Tourism) together with five German guests visited the Livingstone statue in the Victoria Falls National Park today, collecting litter around the statue with the goal to leave behind a clean area for visitors and a safe habitat for birds. Obviously also the Falls were marveled. If you wish to spend some time with the spirit of David Livingstone, visit the clean Victoria Falls NP. and combine it with some birding.

27.11.'13  Ilala Lodge, Zimbabwe  Bird & Birder Friendly Award  Many birds present in the Victoria Falls NP can easily be seen here in the bird friendly garden. In the mornings one wakens up by a cacophony of bird sound. Passionate about bird life, the Ilala Lodge manages a bird friendly garden, resulting not only in a heaven for birds, but also in a two penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award.

27.11.'13  Ilala Lodge, Zimbabwe  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.
Five German-speaking guests were rewarded with one penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Awards:

Artymiak Monika & Dieter
Krause Astrid-Stella
Warmbier Brigitte & Harald

This Namaqua Tour, organized by Pack Safari and Chamäleon Reisen, took place from the 09th of November until the 29th of November 2013.

28.11.'13  Bwabwata NP, Namibia  White-backed Vulture (1) In the last Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VIIth edition the status for this species is described as locally common but has now been changed to Endangered. In a recent incident 600 vultures were killed in a single event in this part of Namibia. The survival of every single vulture is important; therefore it is sad to have found this roadkill, another source of unnatural mortality.

29.11.'13  Windhoek, Namibia  Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler (1 adult, 1 juvenile) By surprise came an adult bird with a juvenile to the wild bird feeding station in the garden, feeding the young bird with the offered porridge. The juvenile bird lacks the whitish belly but has grey instead. These birds have an average 15-day incubating and a 15-day nestling period, meaning that the adults must have started nesting around middle of October.

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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