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Botswana 2015 (1 Viewer)

Padraig

Well-known member
18.2.15
I spent the day exploring the riverine trees at Drotsky's Cabins and ouside the perimeter.
Birds seen:
Broad Billed Roller, Magpie Shrike, Spotted Flycatcher, White Browed Sparrow Weaver, Willow Warbler, Green Winged Pytilia, Dusky Indigobird, Marico Sunbird, Green backed Heron, Black Crake, Giant Kingfisher, Meve's Starling, Red Billed Francolin and Southern Brown Throated Weaver.
That evening I met a couple who were back from the eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe with lots of interesting stories of the birds they saw there.
I made an arrangement to met them at sun-rise to try and entice a certain bird from the papyrus beds.

At sun-up we sat on a bank of a narrow stream with papyrus on the other side and played a birdsong app (with speakers) of a Greater Samp Warbler. We could see a bird approaching us but only got the flimsiest of views.
In the meanwhile, a Chirping Cisticola began to call and we played that all back. The bird came right into the open in front of us and stayed there for a couple of minutes.
We tried the Swamp Warbler call again, and again the bird came towards us. This time we got two glimpses of the bird in the open, lasting 5 seconds each, before it retreated into the papyrus bed for the last time. 5 seconds can appear like a long time when it comes to warblers.
These were 2 birds I would never have seen on my own, and I was grateful to the couple for sharing it with me.
I also spotted a Crested Barbet overhead in the trees.

Although I was booked into Drotsky's for 4 nights, I decided to leave a day early to get back to Kasane where more birds awaited to be seen.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Drotsky's and hanging out with staff especially in the shade in the hot afternoons.

That evening, after a 6 hour drive, I headed to Mowana Lodge, downstream from Kasane and headed towards the Chobe rapids in search of Rock Pratincoles.
The evening was still hot, mosquitos were biting and acacia thorns scratched me as I tried to get downstream while there was still light.
I avoided standing by he river's edge as I had heard some gorey stories of crocodile attacks; there were hippos grunting in the river and I was on the lookout for any that emerged from the water at dusk.
Overall, the experience was slightly nerve-racking and I also failed to see the Pratincoles.
By way of compensation, I saw my first Copper Tailed Coucal.
Other birds I saw were Goliath, Greenbacked Herons, Black and Yellow Billed Egrets.
Back at Mowana Lodge there is a huge Boabab tree (Mowana) which is reportedly 800 years old. There were about 20 Trumpeter Hornbills roosting in the neighbouring trees just outside tourist's windows.
Not a bad sight for those who were paying a princely amount in US dollars to stay there.
Meanwhile I returned to my £10 a night campsite at Chobe Safari Lodge.
More birding tomorrow.
 

Padraig

Well-known member
photos:
Wire Tailed Swallows, Meve's Starling, Magpie Shrike
 

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Padraig

Well-known member
Good news about the visas at Victoria Falls - how much? Carmine Bee-eater is number one required in Africa!

Jon,, Susan , my other half says the visa cost $33 (US dollars..the currency they use most in Zimbabwe as they have lost their own currency). Not cheap for an afternoon there. If you were to go through the Caprivi strip like I did, there is no visa necessary for Namibia.

19.2.15
The next day I was picked up by Phil Zappala of Safari and Guide Services (www.sgsafrica.com)
He reckoned that there were still Rock Pratincoles near the Chobe rapids (Sasol reckons they are only present July to January), so we headed back to Mowana Lodge and went downstream in search
We found 8 Rock Pratincoles sitting on a flat rock, a good bit upstream from the rapids. They were silhouetted by the glare of the sun and I had to go downstream to see their markings. Success! Time to explore the grounds of Mowana Lodge.
Phil knew there was a Barn Owl which roosts in the upper timbers of the Lodge and right enough there was one looking right down at us.
Over by the start of the golf course we found a Bearded Scrub Robin, with very handsome markings. Another new species for me was Golden Weaver.
Other birds we saw included Green winged Pytilia, Red Faced Mousebird , Village Indigobird and Palm Swift.
We heard an African Goshawk calling in a tree and went to check it out. This turned out to be a lucky break because there was a Schalow's Turaco foraging around in the top of the same tree as the Goshawk. Seen from below it wasn't possible to see the entire bird through the leaves but it kept moving around and looking down at us so fortunately I got to see all the different parts, including the white spots dancing around on the extremely long crest.
This was not a bird I had expected to see. Again, Sasol states that it appears in 'riparian forest along the Zambezi River west of Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe, and into the eastern Caprivi'...no mention of the Chobe.
Phil was very pleased that we had managed to see one and I was very impressed too.

That afternoon, a friend of Phil's called Tim picked me up for a trip. We went out towards the sewage works. Birds were few and far between but we saw a European Roller, circling Marabou Storks and my first Levaillant Cuckoo.
We went down to the Chobe River, a good bit down- stream from Mowana Lodge. Again birds were hard to locate but we saw a Slaty Egret flying overhead. Its yellow legs were enough to see that it wasn't a Black Egret.
We looked hard for a Long Crested Eagle which likes to settle on telegraph poles in the late afternoon but it never showed up.
We then tried Mowana Lodge again. There was a juvenile hawk feeding on a lizard on the lawn and , after consulting the book we ID'ed it as a Shikra.
We headed downstream looking for the Rock Pratincoles but they had left the rock where I saw them in the morning.
Then Tim spotted a Half Collared Kingfisher, a bird I had dipped in the Western Cape. It sat for a long time giving good views.
Other birds we spotted included Little Rush Warbler (African Sedge Warbler) and Red Faced Mouse Bird.
This was a very satisfying day, being with birders who really know their stuff and seeing some local 'endemics' as well as birds I had hoped to see on previous trips.
 

Padraig

Well-known member
20.3.15
The 2 birders, Phil Zappala and Tim decided to take to take me to the Puku Flats, a grassy area by the river in Chobe National Park.
We started off at 5.45 and soon were queuing up at the entrance to the National Park with about 5 safari vehicles.
The first bird on Puku flats was a Luapala (Blackbacked) Cisticola.
Another new species for me was Rufous Naped Lark, which we saw a few times.
We were driving through grass that was up to a metre high. There were lots of African Stonechats. A Crake species flew up but it was impossible to say what it was (maybe Corn Crake or Spotted Crake).
Then a Small (Kurricane) Buttonquail flew up, a very small bird indeed.

We went on foot and saw a few Rosy- Throated Longclaw flying up with their pink throats lit up by the sun.
In the distance we could make out Black Coucal flying, but unfortunately couldn't get close.
Two African Wattled Lapwings flew away from a pool and later flew back in our direction. I didn't get to see them on the ground unfortunately.
A Lesser Kestrel was another new species,flying and later as we were leaving the Puku Flats a Black Kite circled overhead.
 

Padraig

Well-known member
20.2.15 Cont.
Still in the 4 by 4 with Phil Zappala and Tim, we did a trip through the teak woodland.
The first notable bird was a Kori's Bustard, the second of my trip. A Bradfield's Hornbill flew between trees beside the road. I also got to see an adult Shikra, also my second on on this trip.

There was a Gabar Goshawk in a tree near a pool of water. I wanted to get out of the vehicle to get a better look. There were 2 elephants on the far side of the pool but they looked relaxed. Just then a buffalo walked by the vehicle, made for the water and lay down. Maybe walking hadn't been such a good idea after all!
There were solar panels beside the pool to pump up water. I was told that in the dry season, this can pump enough water to cater for giraffes or buffalo but not enough for elephants , who have to go down to the river to satisfy their thirst.

Driving around, we got the following:
Brown Crowned Tcahagra, White Crested Helmet Shrike, a cuckoo species (unable to say whether it was Common (European) or African);
White Headed Vulture, African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene), Tawny Eagle, juvenile Bataleur, Long Toed Plover, Shelley's Francolin.
That was it for the morning drive.

In the afternoon I drove myself out the road towards Zimbabwe to search for a Long Crested Eagle which tends to feed by some road-side telegraph poles after 5pm.
The bird was not there so I went down to the river. There I found a Green Sandpiper. I was told that there was a single bird which was seen at the local sewage works. This must have been the same bird, now down by the river.
I refused to give up on the eagle and eventually I saw it flying in the distance. Then finally, towards sunset, I finally got it landed on a telegraph pole. My first ever Long Crested Eagle.
I headed to Mowana Lodge for a final look for Bat Hawk but again was unlucky.
I also hoped to see Retz's Helmet Shrike there but I spent too long looking for the Eagle and had missed the light. My last chance for both species was gone.
 

Padraig

Well-known member
Photos:
Rufous Necked Lark; Buffalo and Elephants: African Harrier Hawk; Long Crested Eagle
 

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Padraig

Well-known member
Hi Padraig. We saw Schalow's Turaco really well and photographed it above or chalet at Island View Lodge, Katima, Caprivi, Namibia if that helps anyone connect with this gorgeous bird. http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=523210

That's an amazing photo of the Schalow's Rick and Elis. Its wonderful to see the white dots on the crest dancing like a tassle in the sunlight. Did you see many of them where you were staying on the Zambezi River? I only got glimpses of one bird.
I'll be listing species below that I saw that are confined to northern Botswana/ Namibia and thereabouts. I wonder did you get to see these and/or others on your trip in 2013?

22.2.15
Last day of the trip. On the way to the airport (5 minutes from town) I got my last lifer, a Dark Chanting Goshawk on a telegraph pole.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip to Kasane and I hope the description here gives some pointers to others contemplating going to this neck of the woods.
I saw 72 new species for Southern Africa and was particularly pleased that
a number of species (16) I saw to this year are fairly localised (not widespread in distribution and can't be found further south in places like Kruger NP):

Swamp Boubou (common)
Collared Palm Thrush (common, also found in parts of Zimbabwe & Mozambique)
Copper Sunbird (also N. Zim)...uncommon localised breeding visitor
Brown Firefinch (common)
Northern Grey Headed Sparrow....highly localised
Long Toed Lapwing ( also parts of Zim and Mozambique)..locally common
Hartlaub's Babbler (common)
Southern Brown Throated Weaver...uncommon localised (also found in coastal northern SA and N Mozambique)
Chirping Cisticola (common localised)
Luapala Cisticola (locally common)
Greater Swamp Warbler (locally common in Okavango area)
Rock Pratincole ...breeding visitor ( locally common)
Schalow's Turaco...locally common
Slaty Egret...(uncommon resident Zambesi River and Okavango)
Rosy Longclaw (also parts of Zim and N. south Africa)..uncommon, patchily distributed
Bradfied's Hornbill (common resident)
 

Padraig

Well-known member
Photos:
Long Crested Eagle; Dark Chanting Goshawk: Impala
 

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Sal

Well-known member
Just read through your TR Padraig. You certainly saw some great birds and a good number of lifers; glad you managed to see several that you had particularly earmarked. Enjoyed looking at the photos.The White-backed Night Heron is the one I want to see . . . .
 

Padraig

Well-known member
Just read through your TR Padraig. You certainly saw some great birds and a good number of lifers; glad you managed to see several that you had particularly earmarked. Enjoyed looking at the photos.The White-backed Night Heron is the one I want to see . . . .

Thanks for that Sal.
I see from the Southern Africa thread that you recently got Cape Parrot as a lifer and that you are closing in on 500 species.
I bet you're wondering what the next few species will be. Here's hoping that you get White Backed Night Heron in Kruger this year.
Look out for Dwarf Bittern in Letaba. I think that's another bird you need.

Best,

Padraig.
 

Sal

Well-known member
Thanks Padraig. I will certainly look out for the Dwarf Bittern around Letaba - although I have it (Botswana) - I"ve only seen it once. Yup - holding thumbs for the WBNH . . . . Hope you will be planning another trip to the south soon!
 
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