After having been off-limits for about three decades due to the civil war, Angola finally opened up to birders again a few years ago. Unsurprisingly, no commercially available sound recordings dedicated to the birds of Angola, to help the visiting birder find the country's endemics and near endemics, were available. With the present collection, Michael Mills has now largely filled that gap. He has spent several months in the field in Angola and made extensive recordings of bird vocalisations. This CD presents a selection of 111 species, including many Angolan specialties, such as Grey-striped Francolinus griseostriatus and Swierstra's Francolins F. swierstrai, Red-crested Tauraco Tauraco erythrolophus, Angola Cave Chat Xenocopsychus ansorgei, Gabela Akalat Sheppardia gabela, White-headed Robin Chat Cossypha heinrichi, Pulitzer's Longbill Macrosphenus pulitzeri, Angola Slaty Flycatcher Melaenornis brunneus, White-fronted Wattle-eye Platysteira albifrons, Monteiro's Bush-shrike Malaconotus monteiri, Gabela Bush-shrike Laniarius amboimensis and Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela. Most of these species had not previously been sound-recorded.
The recordings, which are generally of good quality, vary in length from very short (e.g. 7 seconds for Red-capped Crombec Sylvietta ruficapilla) to reasonably long. Appropriately, most tracks of specialties are more than one minute in length, with some, e.g. White-headed Robin Chat and Monteiro's Bushshrike, even occupying more than two minutes. Individual species are unannounced but are given a specific track number; however, the space between the different tracks is usually so short (the silence between different recordings of the same species is often longer) that one always has to remain vigilant as to the track currently playing.
Regrettably, there is no accompanying booklet with useful recording details, such as date, locality, length of the recording and background sounds: only a species list (without scientific names) and track numbers. Although the lack of such information on collections of sound-recordings is always to be deplored, this is particularly so in the present case, as the CD contains a few intriguing tracks that beg explanation. For example, three tracks are marked as being of'swift species' (14-16) and another of a 'hyliota species'(73). It would be interesting to know the recordist's comments on these. Several species appearing, sometimes quite clearly, in the background lack their own separate track - it would therefore be useful to identify them. An easy and economical way of providing all the above-mentioned details would be to place them on the website of'Birds Angola', one of the publishers, at www.birdsangola.org, where much information on the country's birds can be found.
One final remark: this CD is in MP3 format; to be played on a CD player or a computer, a recent model or appropriate software is needed.
Michael Mills is to be congratulated with this fine collection of bird sounds, which is warmly recommended to all those who plan to visit Angola, or are interested in vocalisations of African birds. This CD is presented as 'Volume 1' - we thus eagerly await the next volume of recordings from this interesting and ornithologically under-explored country.
from ABC Bulletin 15.2 September 2008 page 285.
Vocalisations of Angolan Birds. Vol. 1
In my review of Michael Mills' CD in MP3 format, Vocalisations of Angolan Birds. Vol. 1 (Bull. ABC 15: 141) I expressed regret that there was no accompanying booklet with useful recording details, such as date, locality, length of the recording and background sounds. It has since been brought to my attention that this information, as well as notes on specific taxa, is provided on the CD itself in an html file 'Accompanying notes'. The absence of any indication of the existence of this file is apparently due to an oversight.