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Zambia & Northeast Namibia Birding Trip
11 – 31 October 2003
Zambia is rarely visited by Western birders despite having a lot to offer: it has a high diversity of habitats, many localised species, stable politics, reasonable infrastructure and is easily accessible. Much of the country remains covered in miombo woodland interspersed with grassy dambos along the drainage lines. Patches of moist evergreen forest, known as 'mushitus', are found north of about 14°S, a particularly good accessible area being the Mwinilunga district of the far northwest, where many species typical of the Congolese rainforests can be found in the mushitus. There are also superb wetlands (most notably Lochinvar National Park and the Bangweulu Swamps) and excellent montane forest and grassland birding on the Nyika Plateau. Over 750 bird species have been recorded, the only true endemic being Chaplin's Barbet, found in the south, but the mopane-dwelling Black-cheeked Lovebird is a near endemic and there are several species more easily seen here than anywhere else.
I was invited to join Tim and Laurel Osborne, ex-Alaskan residents who run a game farm in Northern Namibia, on their holiday birding and ringing tour of northwest Zambia. Tim and Laurel are biologists who have worked on birds and animals in Zambia and Namibia, as well as in Alaska, and offer ringers the opportunity to catch and ring a variety of species, based at their comfortable lodge in Namibia. The timing was such that I was able to combine this with a pre-arranged birding trip to Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe afterwards. Hence I flew to Jo'burg with Air Gabon, via Libreville, then on to Windhoek, Namibia where Tim collected me. We drove in his 4x4 through northern Namibia to Mwinilunga in northwest Zambia, with various stops along the way. After a week there, exploring the region and ringing, we returned most of the way back to Lusaka before heading north to Mutinondo Wilderness where we spent two full days. I had intended to return to Windhoek with Tim and Laurel, but news reached me that my mother had died, so I baled out at Lusaka and flew to Jo'burg a week early. There I had most of the day to bird southeast of town in Marievale and Suikerbosrand reserves, in a hire-car, then flew back to Gatwick with Air Gabon.
The trip went well as it allowed me to see an interesting new region and 30 new birds with delights such as Forbes's Plover, Chaplin's and Black-backed Barbets, Black-and-rufous Swallow, Fulleborne's and Grimwood's Longclaws, Black-collared Bulbul, Anchieta's and Bannerman's Sunbirds, Bar-winged Weaver and Locustfinch, as well as catching 16 new species, including Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo. My premature departure saved the long drive back but cost me more ringing, including Carmine Bee-eaters, and the chance to look for Black-cheeked Lovebird.
The rather tortuous route from UK to Namibia was devised because of the need to fly from southern Africa to Gabon afterwards, which is only possible from Jo'burg on Air Gabon. London to Jo'burg via Libreville is possibly the cheapest way of getting to South Africa, cheaper than just flying London to Libreville, but if you want to stop off en route, as I did, the cost goes up greatly. Had the flight been not overly late, I would have caught the last flight of the day from Jo'burg to Windhoek, but timekeeping does not seem to be a priority for Air Gabon. The other drawback on this route is that the flight is scheduled to leave Jo'burg for Libreville at 0540, so it is necessary to overnight in Jo'burg. It had been my intention to spend 2 nights in South Africa in order to see the breeding pair of Taita Falcon, but I had to abandon this idea. Fortunately, I was able to change my return flight and go straight home 4 weeks early at no extra cost, except for the Lusaka to Jo'burg leg. Then I was able to book a Gatwick to Libreville flight for a week later, after my mother's funeral, to go out with the others, and claim the extra flight cost on my travel insurance.
The roads in Namibia up to the Zambia border are excellent and there is no problem in travelling the length of the Caprivi Strip now. There is a new bridge being built across the Zambezi just over the border in Zambia, which should be open by mid 2004 and the road from there to Livingstone will have been repaved all the way by then. Apart from the 60 km of unpaved road along here, we found the main roads to be surprisingly good. It was only the final 70 km from Mwinilunga to Hillwood where the 4x4 was really necessary, although we were able to go faster than a normal car on the roads beyond Lusaka as pot-holes were an intermittent hazard.
Accommodation, Food & Cost
We stayed in comfortable lodges throughout, with the exception of the tented-camp at Greystone Park, which was fine, with good food. Tim and Laurel cooked at Hillwood and we mainly had picnic lunches. Beer was readily available.
Hillwood: Pete and Lynn Fisher nchila.at.uuplus.com
Mutinondo: Mike and Lari Merrett 2MWL.at.bushmail.net
Choma: Emma Bruce-Miller nansai.at.zamnet.zm
Greystone Park: Mike & Jan Fisher chisongo.at.zamtel.zm.
In Zambia it was difficult to change money, except US dollars cash or Rand in major cities. The only success with an ATM was at Barclay's Bank in Mazabuka.
Required for Zambia but not Namibia or South Africa. Best to obtain on arrival if coming overland as the officials are liable to find something wrong if you already have one, to ensure they get their cut. The single entry visa cost me £35, although this may have been more than it should have cost.
We had no security or health problems, although Lusaka is said to be somewhat dangerous. There is some malaria so I did take malaria prophylactics, but we saw few mosquitos. Police were much in evidence on the main roads, with many road blocks and requests for the third party insurance certificate, and some use of radar guns for speed-checks. Everyone appeared friendly.
Zambia is similar to most south-central African countries, in that the year can be broadly divided into a hot and rainy season (Nov-Apr), a cool and dry season (May-Aug) and a hot and dry season (Sept-Oct). There is good birding throughout the year, but between August and November is the best time in both miombo and forest as this is the main breeding season. The rainy season, which was just beginning, brings a diversity of migrants but more logistical problems and less comfortable camping. Road conditions may deteriorate, and several key sites (such as the Kafue Flats, South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks) retain only limited access.
The weather for us was quite good, mostly sun and cloud, hot at times, with some thundery rain, mainly in late afternoon. Timing a visit is tricky. We were there when the migrants were just arriving – quite a few eagles, buzzards and falcons passing, a single Dusky Lark on our last day at Hillwood, but no Blue Quail or Short-tailed Pipit for certain (though I thought I saw one in flight), and Bamboo Warbler was silent. Fortunately, Forbes's Plover, Black-and-rufous and Red-throated Swallows were still present – probably just about to depart. If African Pitta is a priority, you need to go in Dec or Jan when they are calling.
Birds of Africa: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Birds South of the Sahara. Sinclair I and Ryan P, 2003. This is the best book illustrating all the birds found in Zambia, the only other being Van Perlo's Southern Africa guide. It is very good for showing the range of all the sub-Saharan birds and although having limitations and inaccuracies like all fieldguides, it's portable (just), the text and illustrations are good, and the maps are valuable although mostly rather too small for Zambia.
Dylan R. Aspinwall & Carl Beel. A Field Guide to Zambian Birds Not Found in Southern Africa. (Zamibian Ornithological Society 1998). An excellent supplement to the above, with much more detail on the birds.
Could be useful to take a South African field guide too.
The tapes of Zambian birds by Bob Stjernstedt are very helpful, particularly 'Rare Birds of Zambia', which covers all the northern specials that are not covered by the southern African recordings.
There are few trip reports on the net, the only one of use from Western Zambia that I could find being Zambian Trip Report, 22 November to 7 December 1997. By Giles Mulholland.
Lupus Travel for Air Gabon flights.
Sylvia at Sky Travel, Windhoek, tel 00264 6124 5818 liandrab.skytravel.at.galileosa.co.za
Tim and Laurel Osborne, Tandala Ridge Wildlife Lodge, PO Box 22
I am very grateful for the assistance given by Carl Beel, Clide Carter, Michael Mills, Giles Mulholland, Esther Townsend and especially Pete Leonard who provided masses of information and checklists, identified my recordings and corrected errors in this report.
Much of the following information is taken with permission from the draft material of the Southern African BirdFinder: where to find 1400 species in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode, & Jonathan Rossouw, a new bird-finding guide to the southern third of Africa (Zambia to Cape Town), which will be published by Struik Publishers later this year.
The updated material, much of which was supplied by Pete Leonard, as well as colour maps of the areas, will be presented in this guide. For more details on the book, see birdingafrica.com.
If I'd had more time, I would certainly have visited Lochinvar National Park, which is said to offer some of the most exciting wetland birding anywhere (over 400 species have been recorded in the park).
Dambo - seasonally inundated grassland / marshland, often along a drainage line; Mushitu - moist evergreen forest; Mavunda - dry evergreen forest; Miombo - Brachystegia dominated woodland.
Nkanga River Conservatio Area, just north of Choma town, comprises a group of privately owned farms that have been protecting wildlife and the environment for several decades. It is one of the best places to see the endemic Chaplin's Barbet that occurs widely in open areas with scattered sycamore fig trees, the easiest spot being along the track to Lake Meg. We stayed at the Bruce-Miller farm 23 km from the town. A wide variety of birds are present (440 species recorded to date), such as Parasitic Weaver, which can be abundant at reedbed roosts in Oct-Dec, and Streaky-breasted Flufftail - common in the dambos in good rainy seasons.
Mwinilunga District, about a 10 hr drive from Lusaka, through the Copperbelt, offers the most exciting birding in Zambia. The best place to stay is Hillwood, reached by continuing through Mwinilunga town towards Ikelenge for some 60 km, before forking right for a few kilometres until Hillwood farm complex is reached. This is a private ranch with a protected area, Nchila Wildlife Reserve, offering accommodation and camping. Most birding can be done on foot from Nchila Camp, which is flanked by mushitu on one side, miombo on the other, and overlooks a beautiful plain holding Denham's Bustard, Natal Nightjar, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Angola Lark, Dambo Cisticola, Fülleborn's and Pink-throated Longclaws, Marsh Widowbird and Locust Finch, and in the wet season Blue Quail, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Great Snipe and Short-tailed Pipit. The mushitu alongside the camp is one of the richest, with Afep Pigeon, Ross's Turaco, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, African Broadbill, Cabanis's and Honeyguide Greenbuls, Bristlebill, Rufous Ant-Thrush, Grey-winged Robin, Laura's Warbler, Bamboo Warbler, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Bates's and Bannerman's Sunbirds and Splendid Glossy Starling. The smart Black-collared Bulbul is found in areas of scrub and regenerating vegetation.
Luakera Forest is a stretch of rich miombo woodland lying between Mwinilunga town and the Chitunta Plain. Bird parties may hold Thick-billed Cuckoo, Anchieta's Barbet, Black-collared Eremomela, Red-capped Crombec, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Sousa's Shrike and Bar-winged Weaver.
Chitunta Plain is a broad dambo, drained by a perennial stream and traversed by the T5 road, about half-way between Mwinilunga and Hillwood. At the two wooden bridges, about 50 m apart, Grimwood's Longclaw inhabits the wet centre of the dambo, while Rosy-breasted and Fülleborn's Longclaws tend to be on slightly drier ground. Resident species include Angola Lark, Sooty Chat, Stout, Ayres's and Dambo Cisticolas, Locust Finch and Black-chinned Quailfinch, and in the dry season, Black-and-rufous and Angola Swallows occur. From Aug to Oct Bocage's Weavers breed in bushes overhanging the Luakera River, reached by walking west along the north side of the dambo for about 3 km.
The Source of the Zambezi, north of Chitunta, is a popular tourist destination with good miombo along the 5 km of well-maintained track to the parking area, where a short walk takes you to the mushitu at the source. The area is said to hold similar birds to Hillwood, but was unrewarding for us apart from the only sighting of Black-necked Eremomela.
At the Zambezi Rapids, some 30 km north of Ikelenge, Forbes's Plover is usually present from Sept-Jan, along with Cassin's Flycatcher and Bamboo Warbler (if you are lucky).
For the adventurous, the Jimbe Drainage area holds species not found elsewhwere in Zambia, such as White-bellied Kingfisher, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Sooty Flycatcher, Shrike-Flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Spotted Thrush-Babbler and Orange-tufted Sunbird. However, as this region is close to the Congo border, security may be a problem and you should check with the police in Mwinilunga before attempting to go there. Deforestation is continuing apace so there is no guarantee that good habitat will continu to be accessible.
Nearby Sites: Between the Copperbelt and Mwinilunga, Red-throated Cliff Swallows breed from Apr to Nov under the Mutanda Bridge 30 km west of Solwezi; Bamboo Warbler has also been found here. The enigmatic White-chested Tinkerbird, still known only from the type specimen, should be searched for by taking the Kabompo road heading south from Mwinilunga town. After about 100 km, the landscape transforms into beautiful, tall and very dense mavunda (Cryptosepalum) forest which stretches for tens of kilometres, and holds a good selection of miombo and mushitu species, including Gorgeous Bush-Shrike (this form is split as Perrin's Bush-Shrike by Sinclair and Ryan) and Margaret's Batis, both in the dense understorey. There are no facilities so if planning to camp, ensure that you are self-sufficient.
En route to Mwinilunga, Greystone Park, a large farm near Kitwe, has extensive good miombo holding most of the central Zambian miombo birds, as does the better known Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, a large, private farm on the banks of the Kafue River west of Chingola, with a camp site near the river, chalets at the main farmhouse, and an education centre with two big dormitories. The latter is also a good area for the localised Sharp-tailed Starling.
According to Carl Beel, probably the best place to look for Margaret's Batis is Imanda Mushitu near Lake Kashiba. This is a large block of forest on the Copperbelt, holding most of the Zambian mushitu birds, including Margaret's Batis. To get there, drive to Mpongwe from Luanshya (nice tar road) and continue through Mpongwe onto the dirt road. Follow this road until just after a sharp bent to the left, you reach some shops. At the shops you turn right onto a small dirt road to St Anthony's Mission and Lake Kashiba (should be signposted). Lake Kashiba is a sunken lake and a national monument. When you reach the mission, turn left just before entering the grounds of the mission. After about 5 km this road goes along the edge of the forest. Park at a village and ask for a path into the forest. You can ask to camp in or near a village, to be in the forest early in the morning. Alternatively, camp near Lake Kashiba and drive the few km to the forest in the morning.
Mutinondo Wilderness, in northeastern Zambia is a privately owned 10,000 ha reserve perched just above the Muchinga escarpment, another prime site for miombo birding. Turn off the tarred Great North Road (T2) to Tanzania just south of the Kalonje railway siding, 72 km south of Mpika and 164 km north of Serenje. A good track with a hard sand surface leads for 25 km through miombo woodland to the camp in the wilderness area, where there is a well-maintained camp-site and good chalet accommodation (full board $45 a day single, $80 double). Mike, the camp owner, is very knowledgeable about the birds and will guide you if available.
Specialities here are Chestnut-headed/Long-toed Flufftail, Anchieta's Barbet, Souza's Shrike, Red-and-blue Sunbird, and Bar-winged Weaver. In areas of thin scrub around the hills, look carefully for double-collared sunbirds as there is a newly-discovered form that probably belongs to the Greater Double-collared complex; it is sometimes seen along with Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, but the male of the local form has a longer bill, broader red breastband, and a more strident song.
Forest Inn is a convenient and productive stopover en route to Mutinondo and / or sites further north, with good miombo birding right next to the Great North Road. It is clearly signposted on the southern side of the T2, 63 km from Kapiri Mposhi and 28 km from the Mkushi turn-off. A restaurant, clean, spacious camp with rondavels and a well-maintained camp site are available. The woodland outside the fenced area holds most of the sought-after miombo specials such as Black-collared Eremomela, Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-weaver, Souza's Shrike, Yellow-breasted and Southern Hyliotas, Spotted Creeper and White-tailed Blue Flycatcher.
Records of Interest
Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula
One in flight at Marievale BS.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
One at Popa Falls was a rare sight in Namibia, according to Tim.
Yellow-billed/ Black Kite Milvus aegyptius/migrans
These forms, regarded as separate species by African residents, are difficult to distinguish unless the bill can be seen well. Of the many seen, most appeared to be aegyptius but there were some migrans in the migrating parties of raptors.
Western/ African Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus/ ranivorus
Singles at Chitunta Plain on both visits were certainly ranivorus but 2 or 3 other birds on 20th were thought to be aeruginosus.
Gabar Goshawk Melierax gabar
One in the miombo near Mwinilunga town was the only record.
Ovambo Sparrowhawk Accipiter ovampensis
One perched in open miombo near Pioneer Camp, Lusaka, and an accipiter at Mutinondo was thought to be this sp.
[Black Goshawk Accipiter melanoleucus]
A large accipiter flying low through miombo at Mutinondo was thought to be this sp., rare here, although African Goshawk cannot be ruled out.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Surprisingly numerous in the Mwinilunga area, although many may have been passage migrants.
Lesser Spotted A. pomarina, Tawny rapax and Steppe Eagle nipalensis were all seen in the Mwinilunga area, with a few migrant parties on 19th-22nd; pomarina seemed to be the commonest.
African Hawk-Eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster
Two soaring over Tandala Ridge, Tim and Laurel's farm, was the only sighting.
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
A single bird was identified at Hillwood.
Secretary-bird Sagittarius serpentarius
Only a single, at Hillwood.
Dickinson's Kestrel Falco dickinsoni
One hawking termites with a party of Hobby at Luakera Forest and two singles perched in the Mutinondo area.
Greater Kestrel Falco rupicoloides
One in Namibia en route to Rundu.
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus
One near Kalene Hill, near two amurensis.
Amur Falcon Falco amurensis
Two near Kalene Hill, presumably on passage further south.
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
Seen almost daily in the Mwinilunga area, with a max of 12 hawking over Luakera Forest.
Hartlaub's Spurfowl Pternistes hartlaubi
3 at Tandala Ridge – even on the patio of one of the bungalows!
Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix nanus
One flushed on Chitunta Plain.
Chestnut-headed Flufftail Sarothrura lugens
2 heard, along with one Red-chested, at c.1730 in a big dambo at Mutinondo but could not be flushed into our nets, though one was eventually glimpsed briefly at dusk.
Grey-winged Francolin Francolinus africanus
2 at Suikerbosrand NR.
Denham's/ Stanley Bustard Neotis denhami
3 at Hillwood almost daily.
Great Snipe Gallinago media
One in flight at Hillwood on 20th.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
One at Zambezi Rapids was most unusual so far inland but had been present for at least several days.
Temminck's Courser Cursorius temminckii
4 at Hillwood on 25th only, moving out of Zambia at this time.
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni
One on a sandspit on the Zambezi at Kalizo Lodge, Namibia.
Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis
2 at Popa Falls.
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
One at Marievale BS.
Forbes's Plover Charadrius forbesi
A pair at Zambezi Falls acted as though breeding, with another 4 noisy birds on rocks a little way from the river. They are normally found on or near rocks at this their only known breeding site in Zambia.
Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus
One at Hillwood on 22nd.
White-headed Lapwing Vanellus albiceps
A few at Kalizo Lodge.
Afep Pigeon Columba unicincta
A few sightings at Hillwood and heard at Zambezi Rapids (seen by Tim).
Western Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba iriditorques
Only heard at Hillwood.
Rosy-faced Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis
One drinking at Roy's Camp.
Schalow's Turaco Tauraco schalowi
Commonly heard but only seen at Luakera Forest and Forest Inn.
Ross' Turaco Musophaga rossae
Common in small numbers at Hillwood and Mutinondo.
Black Cuckoo Cuculus clamosus
One or 2 daily at Mutinondo.
Common/ African Cuckoo Cuculus canorus/gularis
Singles at Popa Falls and Luakera Forest, the latter almost certainly gularis.
Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus
Heard daily at Hillwood and seen briefly once, with one caught.
African Grass/ Marsh Owl Tyto/ Asio capensis
One at late dusk at Suikerbosrand, capensis, being the more likely. Tim flushed a couple of the latter at Chitunta Plain.
African Scops-Owl Otus senegalensis
Heard at Jo'burg, Choma, Kitwe and Hillwood.
Spotted Eagle-Owl Bubo africanus
2 in flight at dusk at Mutinondo.
African Wood-Owl Strix woodfordii
Heard sporadically throughout.
Fiery-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis
Singles seen near Rundu and at Kitwe, and heard elsewhere.
Swamp Nightjar Caprimulgus natalensis
Heard daily at Hillwood.
Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma
Heard at Mutinondo.
Square-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus fossii
Heard at Kalizo Lodge.
Pennant-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius
2 males flushed at Mutinondo.
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba
One at Outjo, Namibia.
Common/ African Swift Apus apus/ barbatus
Fairly common in the Mwinilunga area, thought to be A. apus.
Bradfield's Swift Apus bradfieldi
A few north of Windhoek, Namibia.
African Pygmy-Kingfisher Ispidina picta
Singles caught at Hillwood and seen at Mutinondo.
Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica
Heard at Hillwood.
White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides
A few at Kalizo Lodge.
Blue-breasted Bee-eater Merops variegatus
A few at Hillwood.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus
30 on power lines at Pioneer Camp, Lusaka.
Southern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicoides
A huge nesting colony at Kalizo Lodge, of several 1000 birds, with holes in the sandy bank of the Zambezi and the adjacent flat sand above the bank.
Pale-billed Hornbill Tockus pallidirostris
Singles at Luakera Forest, Hillwood, Forest Inn and Mutinondo.
Southern Ground-Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri
2 at Kalizo Lodge and heard at Choma.
Miombo Pied Barbet Tricholaema frontata
One at Greystone was the only record.
Acacia Pied Barbet Tricholaema leucomelas
One at Roy's Camp.
Chaplin's Barbet Lybius chaplini
After a bit of a search, a pair was located at 0630 along the road to Lake Meg, Choma.
Black-backed Barbet Lybius minor
A pair was seen a few times in a line of trees along the stream near the rondovaals at Hillwood. On one occasion they chased a pair of Lesser Honeyguide, a bird that parasitises them, up and down the row for some time.
Scaly-throated Honeyguide Indicator variegatus
One at Mutinondo.
[Pallid Honeyguide Indicator meliphilus]
A small featureless honeyguide in miombo at Mutinondo was thought to be this species, unrecorded for certain here although another unconfirmed sighting had been made.
Green-backed (Little Spotted) Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii
Just one sighting at Hillwood.
Bennett's Woodpecker Campethera bennettii
One at Luakera Forest.
African Broadbill Smithornis capensis
Heard almost daily at Hillwood, with one seen displaying here and another displaying at Zambezi rapids.
Angola Lark Mirafra angolensis
A few at Chitunga Plain but surprisingly scarce at Hillwood where only one with a fledgling was identified, and that with difficulty (from Flappet Lark).
Dusky Lark Pinarocorys nigricans
I thought we had missed this but as we left Hillwood for the last time, we spotted one on the track out and were able to watch it well, a departing migrant.
Angola Swallow Hirundo angolensis
A few amongst a large gathering of hirundines at Chitunga Plain on 20th
Black-and-rufous Swallow Hirundo nigrorufa
6 at Chitunga Plain on 20th and one on 26th; none were seen for sure at Hillwood, so presumably they had left for their non-breeding grounds, wherever they may be.
Red-throated Cliff-Swallow Hirundo rufigula
There was a large breeding colony under the bridge at Mutanda on 18th, possibly 50 pairs, with Little Swifts, but by 26th only 2 were in evidence.
Fulleborn's Longclaw Macronyx fuellebornii
Common in the Mwinilunga area.
Grimwood's Longclaw Macronyx grimwoodi
Two pairs either side of the road near the bridges at Chitunta and one juv., but none elsewhere. It was very difficult to see them in the long wet grass but in flight, the white in the wing, not illustrated in the fieldguides (as with Rosy-breasted Longclaw), was a distinctive feature compared to Fulleborn's, along with its overall buffy colour and restricted pink.
Rosy-breasted Longclaw Macronyx ameliae
8 at Chitunta Plains but only one seen at Hillwood.
African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus
Common in the Mwinilunga area and probably overlooked elsewhere.
Woodland Pipit Anthus nyassae
Small numbers throughout in open miombo, or at its edge.
Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys
A few in the Mutinondo area but pipit identification at Hillwood was very difficult and I tentatively recorded just two singles.
Buffy Pipit Anthus vaalensis
Common in the Mwinilunga area but not recorded at Mutinondo.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Another tricky species to identify here but there seemed to be a few in the Mwinilunga area and at Kitwe.
White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike Coracina pectoralis
Only at Mutinondo where up to 4 a day were seen.
Black Cuckoo-shrike Campephaga flava
A few at the Mwinilunga and Mutinondo areas.
Grey Penduline-Tit Anthoscopus caroli
2 at Hillwood, Luakera Forest and Mutinondo.
Carp's Tit Parus carpi
2 at Tandala Ridge.
Rufous-bellied Tit Parus rufiventris
2 at Greystone, Kitwe on both visitswere the only ones seen.
Miombo Tit Parus griseiventris
Small numbers in miombo throughout.
Spotted Creeper Salpornis spilonotus
A few sightings at Hillwood and Mutinondo. One was watched perched on a big branch for a long time, preening and looking round; the camouflage was so good that I would never have spotted it had I not seen it climbing up the tree in the first place.
Black-faced Babbler Turdoides melanops
6 at Roy's Camp – a very localised species.
Yellow-throated Leaf-love Chlorocichla flavicollis
2 at Kitwe and heard at Hillwood.
Cabanis's Greenbul Phyllastrephus cabanisi
A few at Hillwood but more often heard than seen.
Black-collared Bulbul Neolestes torquatus
A pair was found with 2 young nestlings at Hillwood. The nest was c.120cm above ground in bracken, with a surprisingly open aspect, in ana area of unburnt long grassland with a scattering of bushes and trees. One of the young disappeared. Another pair had bred a few 100m away, apparently. A single bird was seen below Kalene Hill.
Red-tailed Bristlebill Bleda syndactylus
One was ringed at Hillwood.
Fraser's Rufous Thrush Neocossyphus fraseri
A few sightings of singles at Hillwood.
Miombo Rock-Thrush Monticola angolensis
The only record was of a singing male at Mutinondo.
Bocage's Akalat Sheppardia bocagei
One at Mutinondo.
Grey-winged Robin-Chat Cossypha polioptera
Common in mushitu at Hillwood but more often caught than seen.
Miombo Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas barbata
Heard in miombo throughout and observed with a bit of effort.
Capped Wheatear Oenanthe pileata
Although common at Suikerbosrand, the only one seen in Zambia was an imm. looking for all the world like a Northern Wheatear.
Arnott's Chat Myrmecocichla arnotti
4 at Kitwe on the edge of the miombo.
Mocking Cliff-Chat Thamnolaea coronata
A single bird at Mutinondo at the base of a kopje.
Moustached Grass-Warbler Melocichla mentalis
Two singles at Hillwood and heard at Mutinondo.
Broad-tailed Warbler Schoenicola brevirostris
A few in dambos at Mutinondo.
Dark-capped Yellow Warbler Chloropeta natalensis
One at Hillwood.
Laura's Woodland-Warbler Phylloscopus laurae
Regular in mushitu in the Mwinilunga area.
Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops
A few at Mutinondo.
Whistling Cisticola Cisticola lateralis
One at Hillwood.
Trilling Cisticola Cisticola woosnami
Fairly common in miombo throughout.
Lazy Cisticola Cisticola aberrans
A few at Mutinondo.
Neddicky Cisticola fulvicapilla
A few in the Caprivi Strip and at Choma.
Long-tailed Cisticola Cisticola angusticauda
A few in miombo throughout.
Short-winged Cisticola Cisticola brac
A few in wet grassland at Chitunta and Mutinondo.
Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chinianus
A few at Choma.
Chirping Cisticola Cisticola pipiens
Taped at Mutinondo, the first record for the site.
Stout Cisticola Cisticola robustus
A few in the Mwinilunga area.
Croaking Cisticola Cisticola natalensis
2 at Choma and Kazilo Lodge.
Dambo Cisticola Cisticola dambo
Daily sightings of a few at Hillwood.
Pale-crowned Cisticola Cisticola cinnamomeus
2 at Chitunta Plains.
Wing-snapping Cisticola Cisticola ayresii
Heard more than seen at Hillwood.
Buff-throated Apalis Apalis rufogularis
A couple of sightings at Hillwood but probably not uncommon.
Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica
One at Mutinondo.
White-chinned Prinia Prinia leucopogon
2 at Hillwood.
Salvadori's Eremomela Eremomela salvadorii
A couple of sightings at Hillwood.
Greencap Eremomela Eremomela scotops
One or 2 at Kitwe and Mutinondo.
Burnt-necked Eremomela Eremomela usticollis
One at Popa Falls and heard at Choma.
Black-necked Eremomela Eremomela atricollis
A single sighting at the Source of the Zambezi.
Red-capped Crombec Sylvietta ruficapilla
Fairly common at Hillwood.
Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta rufescens
One at Popa Falls and 2 at Kitwe.
Stierling's Wren-Warbler Calamonastes stierlingi
One at Popa Falls.
Pale Wren-Warbler Calamonastes undosus
One at Forest Inn; a Sinclair and Ryan split off the previous species.
Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster
One at Luakera Forest.
Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis
One at Mutinondo.
Boehm's Flycatcher Muscicapa boehmi
One at Forest Inn.
White-tailed Blue-Flycatcher Elminia albicauda
4 by the river at Mutinondo.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
A couple of sightings in the Mwinilunga area.
Souza's Shrike Lanius souzae
One at Mutinondo, and Tim had a couple of sightings at Hillwood.
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor
A few in the Mwinilunga area.
Magpie Shrike Corvinella melanoleuca
4 at Kalizo Lodge.
White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus
One at Tandala Ridge.
Black-fronted Bush-shrike Telophorus nigrifrons
One at Mutanda Bridge.
White Helmet-shrike Prionops plumatus
Parties at Roy's Camp, Machile River, Kitwe and Mutinondo, but not in the Mwinilunga area. I was mobbed by one at Mutinondo, a bird nearly hitting me twice, so presumably I must have been near to a nest.
Retz's Helmet-shrike Prionops retzii
I only saw 2 at Kitwe but Tim saw a few at Mutinondo.
Miombo Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis elisabeth
Only 2 at Hillwood.
Splendid Glossy Starling Lamprotornis splendidus
Quite common around Hillwood.
Anchieta's Sunbird Anthreptes anchietae
Fairly common at Mutinondo, including a few imm.s in dull olive plumage, undescribed in fieldguides. Rarely seen at Hillwood but Esther reported that a knowledgeable local farmer reported that they were often visible in his fields.
Western Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes longuemarei
Only one at Hillwood, one at Forest Inn and a few at Mutinondo.
Bannerman's Sunbird Cyanomitra bannermani
A few sightings at Hillwood and 6 trapped, making it the second most common species ringed.
Green-throated Sunbird Chalcomitra rubescens
Only one identified at Hillwood.
Bates' Sunbird Cinnyris batesi
A single sighting at Hillwood of this tiny, unobtrusive species.
Miombo Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris manoensis
2 at Kitwe and a few at Mutinondo.
Double-collared Sunbird sp. Cinnyris sp.
This different form recently discovered at Mutinondo is difficult to identify but I believe I saw at least one on the edge of the miombo.
Purple-banded Sunbird Cinnyris bifasciatus
Singles at Roy's Camp and Machile River.
Red-headed Finch Amadina erythrocephala
A pair at Tandala Ridge.
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser rufoscapulatus
I struggled to find this unobtrusive species, seeing nests but no birds at Forest Inn, but did locate one on the return visit to Kitwe.
Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus bicolor
One at Zambezi rapida.
Bocage's Weaver Ploceus temporalis
Brief sightings of 3 of this surprisingly elusive bird at Chitunta Plain. They nest along the river west of the road, but the one active nest site we saw was being plundered by local kids.
Bar-winged Weaver Ploceus angolensis
Single pairs at Luakera Forest, which I first identified as Hyliotas, and twice at Mutinondo.
Cuckoo Finch Anomalospiza imberbis
A singing male at Hillwood, only.
Marsh Widowbird Euplectes hartlaubi
Common in the Mwinilunga area and a few at Mutinondo.
Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula
Common at Kalizo Lodge only.
Grey Waxbill Estrilda perreini
2 at Hillwood.
Black-chinned Quailfinch Ortygospiza gabonensis
Common near the river at Chitunta Plain.
Locustfinch Ortygospiza locustella
Close views of a single pair in flight on the first full day at Hillwood – I expected more!
Magpie Mannikin Lonchura fringilloides
6 at Mutanda Bridge.
Black-faced Canary Serinus capistratus
4 at Kitwe and 2 at Luakera Forest.
Cabanis' Bunting Emberiza cabanisi
Singles at Hillwood and Kitwe.
Appendix: Birds ringed at Hillwood, Zambia, Oct 2003
1. Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx olivinus 1
2. African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Ispidina picta 1
3. Dark-capped Bulbul, Pycnonotus tricolor 1
4. Little Greenbul, Andropadus virens 10
5. Cabanis's Greenbul, Phyllastrephus cabanisi 1
6. Black-collared Bulbul, Neolestes torquatus 2
7. Red-tailed Bristlebill, Bleda syndactylus 1
8. Fraser's Rufous Thrush, Neocossyphus fraseri 1
9. Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Cossypha polioptera 6
10. Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Chloropeta natalensis 1
11. Short-winged Cisticola* 4
12. Tawny-flanked Prinia, Prinia subflava 4
13. Black-throated Wattle-eye, Platysteira peltata 1
14. Olive Sunbird, Nectarinia olivacea 1
15. Bannerman's Sunbird, Cyanomitra bannermani 6
16. Variable Sunbird, Nectarinia venusta 1
17. Red-collared Widowbird, Euplectes ardens 1
18. Grey Waxbill, Estrilda perreini 1
* netted at Mutinondo