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Zimbabwe updates? (1 Viewer)

Jens Thalund

Well-known member
Hello,
I'll be heading to Zimbabwe in January, primarily visiting sites in the east of the country, as my main focus will be on the Eastern Highlands, wetlands in and around Harare and Miombo birds in this general area.
There is not a lot of recent information on birding in Zimbabwe, and though I'll be relying on the Southern African Birdfinder, I wonder if anyone has some useful updates to the sites mentioned in the book, as it's now been a few years since it got published.
I'm hoping to visit Bvumba Highlands and Honde valley in the east, stopping off at Great Zimbabwe on my way there, before going towards Harare and some (hopefully) interesting dambo-birding, as well as Haka Park and Gosho Park for Miombo birds.
I would appreciate any information regarding access, possible camping sites and naturally any interesting sightings of the special birds.

Jens
 

amears

Well-known member
Jens, I keep an eye on this forum and there's rarely a post - so it's quite a coincidence that your message appeared just a few days before I head out to Zim, i.e. this Saturday 30th. I'll be birding most of the sites you mention (with 2 friends and a guide) and will post an update later in December.
All the best,
Andy.
 

Jens Thalund

Well-known member
Thanks Andy,
reading recent travel updates on backpacking fora it seems, that the country is just in the early stages of getting the tourist trade going again, so every bit of gen would be valuable to me.
Look forward to hear more from your trip - enjoy

Jens
 

Rosey#1

Peter Rosewarne
E highlands and Gosho Park birding

Hi There Jens
I have birded those areas a few times and will be going back to Harare, Gosho Park and E highlands at the end of January 2014. Might see you there! The bird guide was pretty accurate still for those places and I have got many lifers there, 12 on one memorable two day stay at Seldom Seen, Bvumba area. We basically had the place to ourselves. You need a local guide to get the best out of these areas in my opinion. Most of the lodges will have such a guide. I am using someone from Harare, Tony Wood, who I've teamed up with twice before. What are your intended dates?
Cheers
Peter

Thanks Andy,
reading recent travel updates on backpacking fora it seems, that the country is just in the early stages of getting the tourist trade going again, so every bit of gen would be valuable to me.
Look forward to hear more from your trip - enjoy

Jens
 

Jens Thalund

Well-known member
Hi Peter,
I'll be in Zimbabwe in the first half of January, so unfortunately will probably not bump into you along the way.

I usually don't use guides, as I get a big kick out of finding the birds myself, relying on a relaxed itinerary which allows for extra time at sites, where I feel I could do better.

What's the rains been like in Southern Africa so far this year? I see you're from Cape Town, which is a world away from Zim I know, but Denmark is even further away. Just wondering, what the wetlands will be like around Harare, and if Nylsvlei would perhaps be a worthwile place to visit on my way to/from Jo'burg.

Cheers

Jens
 

Jens Thalund

Well-known member
Trip report from when I visited in March / April this year, which included some time in the Eastern Highlands.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=254989

Hi Mark,
very nice tripreport you've posted, especially your close encounters with the Wild Dogs. They will have to wait for another trip, as I'm skipping lowveld and bushveld this time around.

In your search for Zambesi Indigobirds in Burma Valley, did you merely make random stops along the road, or was there a more specific area where you looked for them?

BirdlifeZimbabwe has a good section on birdingsites on there website, including the Cecil Kop reserve, which I'm planning to visit.

Cheers

Jens
 

Mark Harper

World Birder
In your search for Zambesi Indigobirds in Burma Valley, did you merely make random stops along the road, or was there a more specific area where you looked for them?

BirdlifeZimbabwe has a good section on birdingsites on there website, including the Cecil Kop reserve, which I'm planning to visit.

Cheers

Jens

It was pretty much a case of stopping and scanning around for Indigobirds and then chasing them down. Fortunately in the early morning they like to sit up in dead trees.
 

Rosey#1

Peter Rosewarne
Hi Jens
I've just come back from a trip through Namibia via the Caprivi to Vic Falls. Most areas were very dry with only patchy green areas from rain but superb birding. When we left Vic Falls on 23 November the rains had just 'broken' I'm not sure what the situation is like in Harare re the dambos but by January they should have started filling up. Miombo should be good anytime. Not sure about Nylsvlei. Will see what I can find out.
Cheers
Peter
 

dcw

Well-known member
I now someone who just got back from birding there I can give you his email if you wish. if so send private message.
 

amears

Well-known member
Jens - just back and here's the itinerary we did for starters (birding sites and: accommodation) - will post more detail soon but do ask if you have specific Qs in the meantime,
Andy.


Cecil Kop, Mutare: Zim - Torksey Guest House, The Bvumba
Bvumba (Torksey) and Chicamba Dam loop: Mo - Nhambita Camp, Gorongosa
Gorongosa mountain: Mo - Mphingwe Lodge, Catapu
Coutada 12 - long day! Mo - Mphingwe Lodge, Catapu
Coutada 12 & village areas close by: Mo - Mphingwe Lodge, Catapu
Zambesi & village areas: Mo - Mphingwe Lodge, Catapu
Mphingwe Lodge :Mo - Mphingwe Lodge, Catapu
Mphingwe Lodge and Nhambita Camp: Mo - Nhambita Camp, Gorongosa
Gorongosa NP: Zim - Seldomseen Guest House, The Bvumba
Bvumba (Seldomseen) and Honde Valley: Zim - Aberfoyle Lodge, Honde Valley
Gleneagles and Mutarazi Falls: Zim - Far and Wide Cottages, Nyanga
Goshso Park - long day! Zim - Crake Cottage, Harare
Christon Bank and Harare lakes: fly home
 

Jens Thalund

Well-known member
Hi Andy -
I look forward to hear more from your trip, though I won't head into Mo (at least not this time around), but it will be very interesting to hear some up-to-date birdnews.

Jens
 

amears

Well-known member
Cecil Kop, Mutare
Torksey Guest House, The Bvumba
Seldomseen Guest House, The Bvumba
Honde Valley
Aberfoyle Lodge, Honde Valley
Gleneagles and Mutarazi Falls
Far and Wide Cottages, Nyanga
Gosho Park
Crake Cottage, Harare
Christon Bank and Harare lakes

Jens,
Here are a few notes on the Zim sites above:

Cecil Kop – we only had a short afternoon visit, longer would have been better and early morning. Our itinerary made several visits to decent, roadside miombo but most were not early morning. If you’re birding the miombo, make sure you make some early morning visits as activity will be so much better.

Torksey Guest House – a nice place to stay and we birded from the back garden and into the local forest. Very nice and gave good views of Swynnerton’s Robin and Orange-ground Thrush amongst plenty of others. Hopefully the guest house details can be found on the web.

Seldomseen – another nice place to stay and here we had the well-known guide Bulawesi. His main task was to show us crimsonwing, which he did. He’s quite expensive at USD5 per person per hour but good and can be booked through the guest house. We came close to Buff-spotted Flufftail but Bulawesi saw them recently with chicks so it’s not surprising that they were difficult to temp out.

We didn’t try for the indigobird being assured they were out of plumage and very hard to ID or locate…

Aberfoyle Lodge is a nice place to stay. There’s a local guide there, Mason, also very good – and also expensive. He came up to Gleneagles with us (long drive in 4x4) for Blue Swallow (seen well) and Striped Flufftail (only heard briefly). We’d have had more chance with the flufftail if we’d made it to Gleneagles earlier than mid-morning on a sunny day. Lots of nice birding on the way up though (2 twinspot sps, BF Bushshrike, crimsonwings again, etc). The flufftails are in the damp, open valley bottom in the upland grasslands but we suspect they may now have young and are extra elusive much like the Buff-spots.

We also made a quick attempt for S Flufftail late in the afternoon at Mutarazi Falls. Walk back from the car park and down across the heathland to a damp, open valley about 400m away (carefully cross the river). The flufftails are in the rank, damp vegetation but we had no joy (not even heard here).

Far and Wide – the owners have the flufftail in their garden – worth asking if they could help you see it – we’d run out of time by then.

Gosho Park – good birding during a long day’s visit but we later discovered that in a recent intensive survey, only 2 Cinnamon-breasted Tits were found in the entire Park. We missed it completely, and we’d wished we’d had those early morning miombo sessions away from Gosho. Our only dip of a miombo speciality for the trip. The park seems to be open 24/7 but there’s a day charge at the gate and a night charge from 6pm.

Boulder Chats were silent and invisible in the Park (nesting?). A dawn visit to Christon Bank biological gardens nature reserve did the job though and a bird was calling and seen well on our last morning in Zim.

We then failed to find Rosy-throated Longclaw when quickly visiting a couple of the local lakes near Harare. Dorothy from Crake Cottage knows the local birds well and it could be worth trying to get in touch with her for gen prior to your trip.

I hope you can get location details and contacts from the web or from the Birdfinder book. If you struggle, let me know and I may be able to get specific details from our ground agent.

Hope this is of some use,
Andy.
 

Jens Thalund

Well-known member
Hi Andy,
that's a lot of very useful information - I owe you a beer if we ever manage to bump into each other.

I'm planning to stay for one or two nights at Gosho Park, depending on my luck with the Miombo birds, but perhaps even a week wouldn't be enough to stumble across the Cinnamon-breasted Tits?

I also recently found this excellent trip report/blog from early 2013, covering most of my intended sites.

Jens
 

amears

Well-known member
Jens, if I were you, I would do some research to ID a reliable site for CB Tit away from Gosho. Josh from Far and Wide would be a good starting point contact to try to do this: http://www.farandwide.co.zw/ ...or Dorothy from Crake Cottage: Crakecottage AT yoafrica.com
I would try both if I were you!

Best of luck and I look forward to hearing how you get on.

The Buckham Birding report certainly is a nice one.

Andy.
 

Jens Thalund

Well-known member
Andy, I tried googling CB Tit, and an image popped up, that was taken at Cecil Kop a few months back, so they are out there, but maybe rather thinly spread.

I've also emailed Crake cottage.

Jens
 

Jon Gallagher

Well-known member
Hi Jens,

Just back from Zim, last stop in the Vumba. If you're planning on camping I'd recommend the Vumba Botanical Gardens since all three specialities (Swynnerton's Robin, Robert's Prinia/Warbler, and Chirinda Apalis) are there on site, plus much more, and only $7 per person per night plus a $10 entrance fee that covers the whole time you are there. Toilets functional, but no hot showers (wood was wet!)

As for CB Tit, in the miombo downslope near the turnoff for the White Horse Inn...

Plus if your itinerary allows for it, African Pitta is available at Masoka village in the north. Contact Mackenzie who runs the camp there at [email protected] +263779807261

As for transport to Vumba I used a bus out of the Mbare bus station in Harare which was a mistake as it took 7 hours to do Harare-Mutare. I took kombis on the way back and it was much faster.

PM me if you need more info.

Cheers,

Jon
 

Jens Thalund

Well-known member
Hi Jon,

I'll be picking up a rental car in Jo'burg on my arrival, so won't have to deal with public transport this time around. Too bad that I don't have enogh time to go for the Pitta, but it usually seems that there is a very limited window of opportunity (few weeks?) to catch up with them, when they start calling after the first rains.

Good to have one more site for Cinnamon-breasted Tit, as it will improve my odds of catching up with it.

cheers

Jens
 
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