John Dempsey (jdbirdman)
Namiba Trip Report
24th Oct - 7th Nov 2004
On the 23rd Oct Andrew Price and myself set off on 15 day birding trip to Namibia this is a fist hand account of the trip and of the fauna encountered throughout the duration of the trip.
The information set out below is as accurate as possible made in good faith and with the best intentions to aid anyone thinking of birding Namibia.
Not all the 275 birds species and 28 mammal species found will be mentioned below although some repeat species will be mentioned form time to time.
It was a conscious decision to time the trip to Namibia with the end of the dry season and hopefully to coincide with the first small rains. The reason for the decision was to maximise my chances of seeing the return of both Palaearctic and Intra- African migrant species that would follow the rains in.
Should the rains fail; a welcome distraction would be the added bonus of maximising our game viewing in Etosha. Large numbers of game would still be found around the camp waterholes before the rains disperse the animals further afield. Birding dries up during the heat of the day so what better way to spend the afternoon?
We flew with KLM via Amsterdam, £670 with an overnight stay at Johannesburg airport, (Holiday Inn £24 per night) before departing for Namibia’s capital Windhoek to meet up with another birder.
We were to concentrate our efforts on a well-trodden circuit taken by most first time birders to this part of southern Africa. The Capri strip was not to be included on this particular trip due to time restraints. .
Namibia is vast’ so to include the Capri within the two weeks would mean less time in other areas or missing them out altogether so would not do the trip justice.
As the other venues we needed to cover in order to find the one Namibian endemic and Southern Africa’s endemic species. This would more than make up for the forfeit imposed on us by missing the Caprivi. In any case with the exception of a few specials most of what could be found there I had seen during my trips to South Africa anyway. So I wasn’t too concerned.
We hired a high clearance vehicle, a Toyota Condor, which was hired for the fifteen days, and cost more than the flight!! Making this an expensive trip, yet it still worked out a fraction of the price compared with the costs charged by some of the well-known birding tour operators. There wasn’t really a need for a high clearance vehicle as vegetation was sparse but it did help from time to time in some sandy areas.
Distance covered from start to finish over the 15 days, 8,684 Km using 434.79 Litres at fuel at a cost of R1,811.09 = £162.00
Our birding field guide and reference books: "Sasol Birds of Southern Africa" Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa and “Newmans”
Sterling was not faring as well as last year. The rate of exchange was N$11.6 - £1.00
We change our Stirling for South African rand as it values the same in exchange as the N$ and can be used freely throughout Namibia.
A cost not taken into consideration was water! We drank our way through gallons of the stuff at a cost of. R383.65 = £34.00
Entrance fees for all three of us into the reserves came to R720=£65
All accommodation was self-catering with cost split three ways at the following rates shown in rand.
No major health problems were encountered We both took Anti-malarial precautions either in the form of Larium, Doxycycline or Malarone
Walvis Bay. S/C Challet. Three nights. R 1050.
Karibib. S/C Challet. One night. R 690.
Okaukuejo camp. S/C Hut. Two nights. R1260.
Halali camp. S/C Hut. Two nights. R1040.
Numutoni camp. S/C Hut. Two nights. R1080.
Waterberg. S/C.Challet. Two nights. R1040.
Daan Viljoan. S/C Challet. Two nights. R1120.
Walvis Bay. Oct. 24th 25th -26th
Spitzkop (overnight Karibib )Oct 27th
Etosha. (six nights)
Okaukuejo. Oct 28th 29th
Halali . Oct 30th 31th
Numutoni Nov1st 2nd
Daan Viljoan. Nov.5th-6th
Nov 7th Sewage works –Return flight to Manchester
Before the plane left the tarmac at Johannesburg birds were being counted. Black Shouldered Kite hovered over the airports perimeter fence line harassed by a couple of Grey headed Gulls while a Red collared Widow did its characteristic bounce display amongst the overgrown grass verge. Our final bird before departure was Black headed Heron. Not a bad start from an aeroplane.
It was 10.00 a.m. when we landed at Windhoek Namibia’s capital, and already it was quite hot. A taste of things to come! After meeting up with the third member of our party it took us another hour to sort out the car hire.
We decided it would be a good idea to familiarise ourselves with some of Namibia’s common species so we called in at Avis dam on the outskirts of the city before commencing the long drive to Walvis bay. On the way to the dam we ticked off our first raptors Rock Kestrel and Black breasted snake Eagle.
The dam itself gave us two lifers the first (if not unexpected) was the endemic Bradfield’s Swift. Followed by a second lifer Carps black Tit. The rest were some of the species we would encounter again throughout the remainder of our trip Ashy tit, Greater-striped Swallow, Kalahari Robin, Chestnut-vented Titbabbler and Pririt Batis. Flocks of Little Swift with the odd White-rumped Swift, hawked for insects over the dam and a lone Eastern-White Pelican, on the dam itself, mingled with a few Cape Teal, Dabchick, and White-breasted Cormorant.
All were scoped from the dam wall from below which a few Rock Martins wheeled in and out. White-browed Sparrow Weavers, and Grey headed Sparrow could be seen in the surrounding thornveld along with a few Cape Sparrows and Cape Glossy Starlings
It was already approaching 1.00 O’clock and the heat of the day slowed birding down quite a bit so we decided it was time to leave. Leaving Windhoek behind us we headed for Walvis Bay.
Various stops en-route gave us the first of many Pale chanting Goshawk, Purple Roller, Lilac breasted Rollers and Pale winged Starling on the telegraph wires. A Southern Yellow Hornbill was ticked and the silhouette of a possible but not agreed upon Monterio’s Hornbill went unconfirmed.
As the landscape gradually became more baron and temperatures soared new birds were few and far between albeit not entirely absent. The road between Okahandja and Karibib gave us our first sighting of Ruppell’s Korhaan (another lifer) and through the heat haze several lark species were also observed scurrying about. We didn’t stop to identify them, as we were eager to make Walvis before the fading light would prevent any more birding.
A stop for water at Karibib gave us chance to stretch our legs and tick off a hunting male Gabar Goshawk and a pair of the very pale Tractac Chat.
With regular birding stops including a last stop at Swokupmond a few miles north of Walvis the journey took 5 hours.
Swokupmund gave us the expected Hartlaub's Gull, Kelp Gull a few Turnstone and Grey Plover
Our arrival at Walvis bay was met with immense approval as we found our accommodation was literally metres away from the beach which held throngs of waders feeding along the receding tide line and hundreds of Greater and Lesser Flamingos sifting through the shallows in synchronisation.
We were now loosing light but we still managed our first bonus bird, Terek Sandpiper an almost annual rarity for Walvis bay. The bird was lost and again found several times as it mingled in among thousands of Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stint, and Sanderling. Of the plover species White-fronted, Kittlitz, Ringed and Grey Plover could be picked out but it was another lifer Chestnut banded Plover which gave us the most satisfaction. Namibia holds 90% of the world’s population and most seemed to be right here!!
With the frustration of the diminishing light we retired to our accommodation in the knowledge that we would have two more full days to explore this wonderful area.
Greeted again by the sights and sounds of displaying Flamingo’s tempted us to bird the bay area but a mist coming in from the sea made us change our plans. The consensus was to bird the lagoons and salt works later in the morning after a try for one of our target birds (Namibia’s only endemic) Dune Lark. By which time “hopefully” the mist may have lifted
A reliable site given to us for the Dune Lark was at Rooibank some 20km inland.
Unfortunately despite intensive searching we came away empty handed. If the birds were here they were not showing. We were told early morning would be our best chance and according to our info the birds usually perch up on the dunes, NOT on this morning! Deserts are cold places early morning! Perhaps it was just too cold for the larks to be singing.
Although somewhat disappointed we were philosophical and made the most of the time spent in this desolate area. Other birds ticked were African Hoopoe, Black breasted Snake Eagle, White-backed Mousebirds, Dusky Sunbird, Pied Crow, Black Crow, Cape Sparrow, Familiar Chat and Southern Grey tit,
The mist had all but lifted by the time we arrived back at Walvis and new trip birds were found within minutes. Common and Wood Sandpiper, Bar tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Greenshank were feeding only yards away.
A few Caspian Terns roosted on a sandbank in one of the lagoons beside the road and the highly sought after Damara Terns frantically called and chased each other overhead. A look at the reed bed behind our accommodation gave us African Reed Warbler also a flock of Common Waxbills and Red knobbed Coot.
We then set off for the local water treatment works on the outskirts of town this place had lots of potential with hundreds of birds mulling about. The ponds held a couple of Mocoa Duck (lifer) and from a shaky tower hide we were able to get a birds eye view of even more flamingos. Three Purple Gallinule’s fed close to the reed bed along with Marsh Sandpiper and Three banded Plover. Our first Palearctic migrant European Swallow skimmed the water and squadrons of White Pelican came into feed causing the Common Moorhens to make way in the open water. The only new birds at the sewage works was, Cape Shoveler, Black winged Stilt, and Little Egret
A quick drive to dune seven for larks produced lots of Red capped Larks but no Gray’s Lark. They R.C.L seemed much paler than those I’d observed in Wakkerstroom, South Africa.
It was decided we would return tomorrow morning to try again for Gray’s Lark. The drive back produced a Whalberg’s Eagle and the ever-present Marico Flycatcher, along with Burnt-necked Eremomella
This morning gave us one of our other target birds Gray’s Lark, another lifer for me. A pair feeding along the railway track that runs parallel with the desert road to Rooibank. We were close to giving up the search as each sighting of lark turned out to be yet another Red capped Lark. The birds found were among some sparse vegetation. A pair of Tractac Chat a Greater Kestrel and a Fiscal Shrike were the only other birds of note.
It was still only 8.30 so we set off back to the beach at Paaltjies for a sea watch. It turned out a well-timed move despite more early morning sea mist. As we drove to the beach the salt flats and tidal lagoons were teaming with birds. A shout of STOP had us screeching to a halt beside a small flock of Curlew Sandpipers but it was a Red necked Phalarope that caused us to come to a stop. As we watched the bird feeding in its characteristic spinning jizz another appeared as if from nowhere then another then another then a fifth bird in summer plumage. It was interesting to see all five birds at different moult stages. After photographing the birds we moved onto the beach.
A scan of the ocean revealed an African Penguin, preening on the water just behind the breakers. Two White chinned Petrels, skimmed the waves and an Arctic Skua, harassed a Grey headed Gull. Two-cape fur seals entertained us in the surf and a large flock of Black Terns could be seen just off shore as passing Swift Terns competed with, Common and Sandwich Terns in the shallows. Cape Gannet flew bye throughout the morning as did hundreds of Cape Cormorants with the odd few Bank Cormorants. It turned out to be a productive sea watch but all good things come to an end so we headed back.
A brief stop to see if the Phalaropes were still there gave us more birds. Ruff, Avocet and a raft of Black necked Grebe.
Next we headed for the Guano platform at Mile 4 north of Swokupmund. Not before doing another sea watch just north of Swakupmund. Another Arctic Skua, a Great Crested Grebe on the sea and a lone pup cape fur seal asleep on the beach were our only sightings.
According to the officials who collect the guano, the Platform holds 1.5 million Cape Cormorants. We took his word for it I wasn’t ready to count them! We hadn’t come for the cormorants but for Black Oystercatcher of which there were twelve birds roosting among the throngs of Sandpipers, Black winged Stilts and the ever-present flamingos. With light fading we returned to our accommodation.
We left Walvis bay at 4.00.a.m. to be at Spitzkoppen for first light in the hope of bagging another target species Herero Chat. Engulfed in thick mist and in pitch darkness it was a slow drive. Eventually some 40-km inland we were out of the mist and making haste to get there for sunrise. We just made Spitzkop in time to see the rays of the sun hit the granite massifs. It was a stunning scene as the sun began turning them into amazing shades of red, orange and gold.
We were told Spitzkop was no longer a reliable site for Herero chat due to the excessive use of tapes by birders looking for the birds. This proved to be the case as no birds were found despite our best efforts. The other target species Rosy faced Lovebirds (lifer) squawked from the canopy of the acacia trees and were quite easy.
Namibia’s national bird the gorgeous Crimson breasted Shrike, called from the tangles, as did Bokmakeri, while Dusky Sunbird sang from exposed perches.
Cape Bunting, Mountain Chats hoped about the boulders and Red headed Finch, Red eyed Bulbul, and Pied Barbet was also ticked. Of the raptors Augur Buzzard posed nicely. Rock Kestrel, Booted Eagle, and Black breasted Snake Eagle took advantage of the now warming air thermals and soared overhead.
We eventually located our other target species the attractive White tailed Shrike that set about mobbing a Pearl spotted Owl.
On the exit road from spitzkop we encountered numerous larks and pipits. The most abundant was Red capped Lark followed by Spike heeled Lark, Sabota (bradfields) Lark, and one or two Long billed (benguella) Larks. I’m sure we overlooked Stark’s Lark.
Most Pipits were Grassveld Pipits but we did locate Buffy Pipit. The road between Spitzkop and Uis produced a party of Burchell’s Courser standing along the road verge giving great views (another lifer for us).
It was now mid day and stifling so we headed to our accommodation in Karibib. Due to the good birding we stayed a little later than planed causing us to arrive at our accommodation with just an hour of light left. After checking in we checked out a local golf course complete with club restaurant and bar!
The grounds had Carps Black Tit which was a good find. Other new trip birds included Sociable Weaver, Golden breasted Bunting, Scaley feathered Finch, Scimitar Woodhoopoe, Pearl breasted Swallow, and Red headed Finch.
After a good nights rest we followed up some documented info written by Callen Cohan about a local airstrip, 11 km east of Karibib. Apparently this was a good bet for a number of target birds. We found the airstrip quite easy only to find out it was now in fact a military airstrip. We were promptly halted by two rather unkempt military personnel and ordered to the barracks to explain ourselves to their senior officer. Fortunately for us he accepted the explanation that we were simply birding and we were excused our unintentional trespass. For any one reading this report be warned!
We beat a hasty retreat to begin the long drive to Etosha ticking off an unexpected Short toed Rockthrush out of habitat and a Spotted Eagle Owl that was occupying a Sociable Weavers nest just off the road.
Stopping en-route again this time at the dry Kahn riverbed we parked the car under the road bridge. Within seconds we heard the squawk of a Ruppell’s Parrot and piled out in time to get great views of a male bird perched high up in a acacia.
Other birds ticked were Red billed Woodhoope, Alpine Swifts, Southern Pied Babbler, Damara Hornbill, Burchell’s Starling, Red billed Franklin, and Grey backed Bleating warbler.
Yet another Purple Roller and a Gabar Goshawk were also observed
As we approached the outskirts of the park Grey-backed Finchlarks perched on posts and Crowned Plover hid in the shade of an acacia tree. Small coveys of Namaqua Sandgrouse (the commonest of the Sandgrouse ) took flight and landed again in the same field where Ant eating Chats appeared like sentinels on top of termite mounds..
The road from the gate to the Okaukuejo camp showed the first of many Kori Bustards as well as more Crimson breasted Shrikes. A stop at reception to pick up directions to our hut gave us Streaky headed Canary, Lesser Masked Weaver and Scaly feathered Finch coming to drink at a dripping tap. The short drive to our hut, gave us Groundscraper Thrush, African Hoopoe, Grey headed Sparrow and Great Sparrow.
Our accommodation could not have been better located being only metres from the camps waterhole. A Sociable weaver’s nest in the tree right outside our hut was a hive of activity, with many birds gathering grass stems to add to an already huge nest. Pearl Spotted Owls took up residents in the nest and perched conspicuously above onlookers at the waterhole.
The waterhole itself had birds coming into drink in mixed flocks. Red capped Larks, Grey backed Finchlark Red headed Finch, Chestnut backed Finchlark, an assortment of sparrows and a Shaft tailed Wydah. A Gabar Goshawk, sent everything scattering, leaving only the Egyptian geese at the waters edge. A party of European Bee-eaters hawked insects from an adjacent tree and Red breasted and European Swallows, joined the Greater striped Swallows over the waterhole.
It was a hard decision to pull ourselves away from the waterhole but while we had an hour of daylight left we decided to explore with a drive out to Etosha pan, which was as expected dry. The edge of the pan held Double banded Courser and more Namaqua Sandgrouse.
Back at the waterhole we settled to watch the floodlit theatre unfold. Rufus cheeked Nightjar could also be seen catching moths in the floodlights.
Of the animals that appeared from out of the dark to drink, it was the three Black rhino that caused most excitement among the onlookers.
We awoke to find Jackals hanging around our hut scavenging and looking for handouts and Palm Swifts buzzed overhead. Oryx came to drink along with herds of Springbok, Zebra Wildebeests, Giraffe, and five magnificent buck Kudu, but no elephant. A Dwarf Mongoose working its way along the wall went unnoticed or was of little interest to warrant any attention.
An immature Pigmy Falcon perched just outside the camp gates and the drive to the pan gave us Lappet faced Vulture, and the endangered Cape Griffin Vulture, as well as White backed Vulture, Ostrich, Red Crested Korhaan and Northern Black Korhaan. The usual array of Larks and Pipits included Pink billed Lark, Long Billed Pipit. The pipit sized Chat Flycatcher was conspicuous.
Another drive outside the camp produced more raptors Tawny Eagle, Bataleur, the obligatory Pale Chanting Goshawk, and another Pigmy Falcon. Northern Black Korhaan where two a penny and Marico Flycatcher seemed to be perched on every tree. Eurasian Swift was a good sign that Palaearctic migrants were returning. It was mid-day already and it was beginning to dawn on me how the time spent with photography and digi-scoping ate away at our birding time! It was time we headed back to camp.
Grey Hornbill and Black breasted Prinia were conspicuous in the campgrounds when we arrived back along with the usual array of birds. The night at the waterhole gave us Double banded Sandgrouse, Spotted Dikkop and more Rufus Cheeked Nightjar
Setting out for Halali camp we called in at Goas waterhole where a bull Elephant sprayed and splashed it huge body before submerging its bulk into a replenished waterhole. Egyptian geese preened on a log at a safe distance and the usual waders Ruff, Wood Sandpiper Three banded Plover and Red billed Teal fed along the edge.
The dusty road gave us our second batch of Burchell’s Coursers and Fawn coloured Lark. Raptors included Martial Eagle, and Shikra.
On arrival a few White crowned Shrikes and Glossy Starlings greeted us at our accommodation. The dawn to dusk birding was beginning to catch up with us so we decided a mid day siesta would be a good idea. After recharging both our biological and camera batteries we were back on track a couple of hours later.
Outside a family of Bare cheeked Babblers a speciality of Halali and one of our target birds was just too easy as they posed for photographs with Red billed Hornbill.
The news of elephant at the waterhole was good enough reason to head there after our photo-shoot. A herd of about 30 individuals bathed and gave out rumbles, which could be heard from the camp. Another Gabar Goshawk put in an appearance with Rock Bunting, and Red billed Buffalo Weaver, being additional trip ticks.
After filling the car up with petrol we negotiated a meet up with one of the wardens who had agreed to show us the whereabouts of an African Scops Owl roost (for a small fee). The White-faced Owls had apparently moved on and this was a disappointment, as I needed this species.
After a short drive, which produced plenty of game and birds but only two new trip birds Marabou Stork and Wattled Starling , we returned for the Scops Owls. The tiny Owls were using a tree only metres away from our hut but my guess is we would never have known they were there due to their excellent camouflage. Unable to take a photo due to a flat battery pack meant I had a frustrating wait until morning, if they were still using the same tree!!
After an early morning look for the owls with no luck we took a look in at the waterhole and walked up a track to the koppie behind the waterhole that produced very little. On our return one of the wardens was looking for the White faced Scops owls unfortunately without success although he did point to a tree, which had the roosting African Scops Owl much to my relief. I was now able to get my shots.
Our next drive gave us a large pride of Lions. A distraction but worth a stop even though they did little more than laze around during the time we watched them. A few km or so further on and a change of habitat from the flat arid stony landscape gave us our first Lesser Grey Shrike, Gymnogene and a pair of Secretary Birds walking in unison through the parched grass. Greater blue eared Starling and Cattle Egret were also added to the trip list. The sparse bushveld and grasses produced Desert Cisticola.
Rattling Cisticola was also ticked, before we were halted by a puncture. It was decided we wouldn’t tempt fate by driving without a spare so we returned to camp to have the tyre mended. To preoccupy us while we waited for our tyre to be returned I managed a little more photography with shots of African Hoopoe, Namaqua Dove, Grey Hornbill and the usual starlings.
The night at the waterhole was an exciting one as six Black Rhino were bullied from their night time bathing by a heard of noisy elephants. Both Freckled Nightjar and Rufous cheaked Nightjar hawked through the beams of the spotlights that lit up the waterhole and a drama unfolded as a Giant Eagle Owl dropped from a tree to take a Blacksmith Plover chick, much to the despair of their protective parents.
A last look at the waterhole produced a few Double banded Sandgrouse but no new birds so we set off for our last camp Numatoni.
The drive to Numutoni produced nothing new other than, Pallid (mouse coloured) Flycatcher and numerous White browed Scrub Robin. A toilet stop had a large flock of Red headed Finch, and a single Rock Bunting.
A detour to the waterholes at Choeb on the way to the camp gave us a good view of Spotted Hyena feeding on a carcass.
On our arrival a stop at the reception produced a mixed flock at a sprinkler pool, Blue Waxbill, Violet eared Waxbill, Melba Finch and Lesser masked Weavers, while the larger Grey Lourie, Red billed Bufflo Weaver caused the birds to scatter nervously. Banded Mongoose dug into the earth looking for food and Red billed Franklin ran about the camp.
Unloading our cases to the familiar sound of chattering Woodhoopoes had us scurrying outside to find a target species we thought would be a little more difficult Violet Woodhoopoe. The jury was still out for a short while as views were brief but the birds returned and showed well confirming the birds were Violet Woodhoopoes! White crowned Shrike, came looking for handouts and the walk to the camps less productive waterhole produced a surprise in the shape of a pair of Blue Crane. A surprise because Etosha’s local population of Blue Crane was a species we expected to have to search for! Burchell’s Starlings were common in the camp.
With only an hours light left we opted for the six km Dik dik loop drive which produced nothing new other than a Yellow billed Kite and family of the Damara Dik Dik. A nearby waterhole gave us Lanner Falcon, Tawny Eagle and, Knob billed Duck
A drive to Springbokfotain gave us Greater Kestrel feeding fledged juveniles another photo-shoot!!. On arrival the smaller Temmink’s Courser our third Courser species showed well at the side of the road. As did more Blue Cranes.
Back at the camp the thickets along the fence line held Three streaked Tchagra, Spotted and Paradise Flycatcher, Rattling Cisticola, Black cheeked Waxbill, A huge flock of Red billed Quelea and another two Palaearctic migrants Icterine Warbler and Willow Warbler,
A early morning drive to Adoni was planned to get us to the plain early but too many photographic distractions en-route at Tsumcor delayed our arrival until 10.00 a.m. Northern Black Korhaan Red Crested Korhaans, Kori Bustard, European and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Tawny Eagle to name but a few all served to hold us up.
Eventually we arrived to find Blue Crane in with the game animals at the waterhole, and plenty of Lark species. Flappet, Lark, Clapper Lark, Stark’s Lark and Pink billed Lark. Another new species Black winged Pratincoles were hawking over the waterhole and a few Greenshank and Kittlitz Plover fed along the mud pools churned up by the game.
Across the grass plain a magnificent Bull elephant headed for the waterhole so we waited and just sat there watching as the bull went through the ritual of cooling down something we had seen before but couldn’t help being in awe of. Back in the bush Rufous naped Lark gave us our tenth Lark species for the trip.
On the return journey back to camp we stopped at Fishers Pan. As expected the pan was dry and disappointingly bird less. The last hours of daylight at the camp produced Brubru, Yellow White Eye.
The drive to Waterberg plateau produced only one new bird Steppe Buzzard. The Waterberg was an anti-climax as birds were not in the profusion experienced at our previous venues maybe we were just spoilt. After all during the two days we were here it did produce the target birds we wanted.
Outside our chalet Ruppell’s Parrot and Rosy faced Lovebirds called and allowed some decent photographic opportunities. White browed Scrub Robin also put in an appearance. Some large and intimidating looking baboons around our building caused us to lock our door before we started out on the steep hike to the top of the plateau. On the way up wasps painfully stung two of us after inadvertently disturbing a nest. So the ascent was delayed while we went back for antihistamine
The steep hike up to the top revealed little other than Alpine Swifts, Kestrel and Rock Martins. But we did get us our first Rockrunner as we descended.
A guided dawn walk half way up the western side of the Plateau produced (for me) the bird of the trip Hartlaub’s Franklin in fact two adults with juviniles. To add to my satisfaction I managed to get photographs of these elusive birds.
Another Rockrunner and Short toed Rockthrush, was added as was Alpine Swift, and Monterio’s Hornbill to complete a successful early morning.
African Hawk Eagles soared over the pool area. A stop at the gate before the walk around the campsite gave us a colony of weavers, drinking at a pool. We were surprised to see none were in breeding plumage and wondered why! But left it at that! We had obviously not done our homework thoroughly at the time these were dismissed as female weaver sp. I was glad I had taken a photograph of one individual. As two days later a local birder looking at photographs on my laptop nonchalantly proclaimed “oh nice Chestnut Weaver! An embarrassing armchair tick!
Bradfield’s Hornbill was ticked off but not entirely agreed upon by one out of the three who didn’t get a good enough look at the bird. But all three managed a pair of displaying Black Eagles.
As we watched a pair of Purple Rollers a Little Sparrowhawk flew in and perched in a tree a new one for the trip.
With the specials of Waterberg safely tucked under our belts we headed for our last stay at Daan Viljoan reserve. A HammerKop Standing in the middle of a road was a trip tick. On entering the reserve late afternoon we were a little disappointed to have timed our visit with hordes of noisy music playing teenagers on a school trip. Night Heron showing itself after the hordes had gone home was our only new bird. African Hoopoe, Lilac breasted Roller, Dabchick, Rock Martin, Three banded Plover, Swallow tailed Bee-eater Mountain chat White browed Sparrow-weaver were common in the reserve.
It was our last morning before departure and it was decided a walk up one of the hilltops might produced some new birds this wasn’t to be but we had great views of Windhoek and another Monterio’s Hornbill and Rockrunner.
A visit to the sewage works was a good idea producing some new trip birds, among lots of other water birds and waders. Little Bittern,(3) Squaco Heron, Southern Pochard, Jacana and. Black Crake.
Our last hours at Daan Viljoan produced our only cuckoo Diedrik Cuckoo a stunning calling male and a fitting end to our trip! African Cave Swallow was also found at the airport.
As it turned out we were possibly a week too early as not all the Intra-African migrants had arrived with a noticeable absence of late arrivals. Cuckoos, kingfishers etc so I suppose given those facts 275 species was respectable.
In hindsight time allowed for digi-scoping and photography may have been a little excessive and the reason we failed in our quest to see two of our target endemic species Dune Lark, and Southern Africa’s endemic Herero Chat. This could have been minimised allowing us more time to track down the aforementioned, but then again we did return with some excellent images and it gives me a good enough reason to return one day.
Burchell’s Plains Zebra
Blue Wildebeest (Gnu)
Black faced Impala
Cape Fur Seals
The nomenclature and taxonomy follows The Birds of Southern Africa, 3rd edition by Sinclair, J.C., Hockey, P.A.R. and Tarboton, W.R. 2002. Struik.
Namibian escarpment endemics in bold. Other regional specialities in italics.
Great White Pelican
Yellow Billed Kite
African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)
Common Ringed Plover
Great Crested Tern
African Mourning Dove
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
African Gray Hornbill
E. Clapper Lark
African Cave Swallow
Red eyed Bulbul
African Yellow White-eye
Orange River White-eye
Lesser Gray Shrike
Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling
S. Grey-headed Sparrow
Red collared widow