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Wed, 02/06/2013 - 09:22 -- abc_admin
Gabela_Helmet_Shrike_Angola

Gabela Helmet-Shrike Prionops gabela near Bimbe, Angola. One of the first photos taken of this little known Angolan endemic species.

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

The following are largely unconfirmed records published originally in the ABC Bulletins for interest only.

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

An African Green Pigeon Treron calvus was photographed on an oil platform 80 km off the Angolan coast on 7 September 2015.

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

Noteworthy records from September 2014 include Finsch’s Francolin Scleroptila finschi at Tundavala, Blue Quail Synoicus adansonii, Pallid Honeyguide Indicator meliphilus, Brazza’s Martin Phedina brazzae, Black-necked Eremomela Eremomela atricollis, Margaret’s Batis Batis margaritae, Bocage’s Weaver Ploceus temporalis and Locust Finch Paludipasser locustella in the Huambo Highlands of Mount Moco and environs, and Bates’s Sunbird Cinnyris batesi north of Kalandula Falls (MM). A Pennant-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus vexillarius was photographed off Angola on 26 November 2014

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

Reports from February - May 2014 include the following. A Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata was observed in the Funda area, 30 km east of Luanda on 4 May. Three Common Redshanks Tringa totanus were at Mussulo Bay, Luanda, on 18 February 2014; this Palearctic migrant is quite scarce in Angola. On 21 May, the following were recorded 15 km east of Caxito: Monteiro’s Bushshrike Malaconotus monteiri, Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela, Angola Batis Batis minulla, White-fronted Wattle-eye Platysteira albifrons and Golden-backed Bishop Euplectes aureus in breeding plumage.

from ABC Bulletin 21.1

Reports from August - November 2013 include the following. An Orange River Francolin Scleroptila gutturalis (=levaillantoides) was observed near Luanda on 24 August - a very northerly record. A Blue Quail Synoicus (=Excalfactoria) adansonii was seen near Mount Moco, Huambo Province, on 9 November; this species’ status and distribution are poorly known and most records are from scattered localities in central and north-east Angola. A Pallid Honeyguide Indicator meliphilus and an African Pitta Pitta angolensis were encountered near Cambondo, Cuanza Norte, on 10 November.

from ABC Bulletin 20.2

Reports from January - early June 2013 include the following. A Grey-striped Francolin Pternistis griseostriatus was observed at Kaviombo Farm, near Chongoroi, Benguela Province, on 20 January; there are few records so far south. Also there on that date was a Chestnut Weaver Ploceus rubiginosus in breeding plumage. A Chestnut-banded Plover Charadrius pallidus was observed at Barra do Kwanza, Bengo Province, on 3 June; this species was previously known only from the extreme south-west. A Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis was seen near Caxito, Luanda, on 23 February. Near Quibaxi, Cuanza None, the most southerly records of Green Turaco Tauraco persa, Bristle-nosed Barbet Gymnobucco peli and Scaly-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis albipectus were made on 24 February. At Mount Moco, Huambo, a Tinkling Cisticola Cisticola rufilatus, a rare species here, was seen on 22 January. Three species were added to the site list on 27 May: Verreaux's Eagle Aquila verreauxii (a juvenile), a Buffy Pipit Anthus vaalensis (on recently burned ground) and Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah Vidua obtusa. Black-and-rufous Swallow Hirundo nigrorufa was still present, so is probably resident here, with Bocage's Sunbird Nectarinia bocagii also there. 

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

Reports from February - August 2012 include the following. The northernmost records of Monteiro’s Bushshrike Malaconotus monteiri and Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela were made in the Caxito area, Bengo, on 19 August. Pale Olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus fulviventris, White-fronted Wattle-eye Platysteira albifrons and Gabela Helmetshrike were found in the Muxima area, Bengo, on 12 February. Records from Cuanza Norte include Angola Lark Mirafra angolensis near Camabatela on 21 August and many breeding Golden-backed Bishops Euplectes aureus in the Dondo area on 8 May. In Cangandala National Park, Malanje, a Böhm’s Spinetail Neafrapus boehmi observed on 8 May and a Compact Weaver Pachyphantes superciliosus on 4 May were additions to the park’s list (cf. Mills et al. 2008. The avifauna of Cangandala National Park, Angola. Bull. ABC 15: 113–120); the spinetail was seen entering an old well, perhaps prospecting a breeding site. At Mount Moco, Huambo, a Greater Kestrel Falco rupicoloides observed on 29 August was a surprise find; the species is very rare away from the coastal plain. Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark Eremopterx leucotis, seen on 20 May, was new for the park.

from ABC Bulletin 19.2

A Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus was photographed with nesting material at Lake Arco, Namibe province, on 7 January 2012; this appears to be the first breeding record for Angola.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

During a visit on 10–30 September 2011 the following were observed. Three Long-toed Lapwings Vanellus crassirostris were found near Luanda on 27th. Approximately 1,000 Royal Terns Sterna maxima were at the Cuanza River mouth on 30th and a flock of 86 Namaqua Sandgrouse Pterocles namaqua near Namibe on 15th. A Western Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba iriditorques in Kumbira Forest on 20th constitutes the southernmost record in the country. Three African Grass Owls Tyto capensis were seen at Mount Moco on 18th; this is a rare species in Angola. A Red-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus atroflavus was noted at Damengola Forest, south of Uige, on 26th; although not recorded away from Cabinda prior to 2009, this species has since proved common and widespread in the northern scarp forests. Three Swamp Palm Greenbuls Thescelocichla leucopleura seen en route from Camabatela to Quitexe on 25th is the first claim outside Cabinda. At Mount Moco, five Black-and-rufous Swallows Hirundo nigrorufa were observed, including a pair apparently nesting in a mud bank. A pair of White-headed Robin Chats Cossypha heinrichi was found nesting on 24th at the known site of Kinjila, north of Calandula. The identity of three olivebacks Nesocharis sp. observed during the visit is still a matter of debate; whatever the outcome, they constitute a new species for the country.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

A Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos was seen off Angola at 07°55'S 12°03'E on 21 April 2011. Other birds observed 90 - 130 km off the coast include a Rufous-cheeked Nightjar Caprimulgus rufigena on 21 April, a Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis that stayed on board for three days from 1 May, a Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus that stayed on board for at least two days from 19 April, a presumed Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica on 8 April and a Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea on 21 April.

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A research and conservation trip to Angola in July - August 2010 recorded several Cinderella Waxbills Estrilda thomensis near Chibemba on 12 July. On 14 July Swierstra's Francolin Francolinus swierstrai was seen near Lubango, and Pale Olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus fulviventris near Catengue. A week was spent at Mount Moco (15–22 July) where several Swierstra's Francolins were observed. Other new and interesting sightings at this site included Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens, Barn Owl Tyto alba, Marsh Owl Asio capensis, Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum, African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus, and the first nest (with eggs) of Margaret's Batis Batis margaritae. En route to Mount Namba Brazza's Martin Phedina brazzae, Black-necked Eremomela Eremomela atricollis, Bocage's Sunbird Nectarinia bocagii and Bocage's Weaver Ploceus temporalis were seen. Noteworthy species at Mount Namba, which was visited on 24 - 26 July, included several Swierstra's Francolins, as well as Grey-striped Francolin Francolinus griseostriatus, Ruwenzori Nightjar Caprimulgus ruwenzorii, several Bar-tailed Trogons, Orange Ground Thrush Zoothera gurneyi, Laura's Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus laurae and Red-faced Crimsonwing Cryptospiza reichenovii. On 28 July, Angola Slaty Flycatcher Melaenornis brunneus was seen at Pungo Andongo, and on 29 July White-headed Robin Chat Cossypha heinrichi near Calandula. On 31 July - 1 August two groups of Black-tailed Cisticolas Cisticola melanurus were encountered near Cacolo.

In October, an Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus was heard in Kumbira Forest, where at least two pairs of Trumpeter Hornbills Bycanistes bucinator were observed on 18 - 20th. Five Gray's Larks Ammomanopsis grayi were found near Namibe on 22nd.

During a visit to some sites in Huambo province in November 2008, White-fronted Wattle-eye Platysteira albifrons and two groups of Gabela Helmetshrikes Prionops gabela were observed in the Bimbe area on 7th–8th. On Mt Moco, on 11th–13th, two groups of Swierstra’s Francolin Francolinus swierstrai, Laura’s Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus laurae and several Angola Slaty Flycatchers Melaenornis brunneus were noted, and on 14th Bocage’s Sunbird Nectarinia bocagii was recorded in the Galanga area.

The following were reported in January 2009. In the Lubango area, on 7th–18th: Red-capped Crombec Sylvietta ruficapilla, Angola Slaty Flycatcher, Damara Rockjumper (Rockrunner) Chaetops pycnopygius, Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca (Dean 2000, The Birds of Angola, mentions only a single possible record, from Cabinda), Oustalet’s Sunbird Cinnyris oustaleti and Perrin’s Bush-shrike Malaconotus viridis.

In Iona National Park, in the extreme south-west, at the border with Namibia, Ludwig’s Bustard Neotis ludwigii, Burchell’s Courser Cursorius rufus, Fawn-coloured Lark Mirafra africanoides, Stark’s Lark Eremalauda starki, Benguela Long-billed Lark Certhilauda benguelensis (particularly common) and Gray’s Lark Ammomanes grayi were observed on 19th–22nd.

East of Lubango, Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris, White-backed Duck Thallasornis leuconotus and Cuckoo Finch Anomalospiza imberbis were seen in Bicuari National Park on 24th–25th. At Baia dos Tigres, Greater Crested (Swift) Tern Sterna bergii and breeding Damara Tern S. balaenarum were recorded on 24th–25th.

A team of seven ornithologists led by Michael Mills and supported by the ABC Conservation Fund visited Angola’s largest collection of bird skins, housed in Lubango, Angola, for two weeks during June 2008. Little time was spent in the field, but several short outings were made. Fülleborn’s Longclaw Macronyx fuellebornii was seen between Lubango and Humpata. Leba produced the fourth Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus for the country, Angola Cave Chat  Xenocopsychus ansorgei, Angola Batis Batis minulla and Montane (Ludwig’s) Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris ludovicensis. At Tundavala another Booted Eagle was seen (fifth record).

An excursion to the Quipungo area, c.100 km east of Lubango, produced woodland species such as African Cuckoo Hawk Aviceda cuculoides, Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus, Little Sparrowhawk Accipiter minullus, Racket- tailed Roller Coracias spatulatus, Arnot’s Chat Myrmecocichla arnotti, Böhm’s Flycatcher Muscicapa boehmi, Sharp-tailed Starling Lamprotornis acuticaudus and Chestnut- backed Sparrow Weaver Plocepasser rufoscapulatus.

Other birds recorded in the area included Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris, Red-throated Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon rufigula, Hartlaub’s Babbler Turdoides hartlaubii and Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula.

A Pennant-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius was observed c.90 nautical miles offshore from Soyo, at the Congo River mouth, on 5 August 2008. This is much further out at sea than the one photographed c.10 km offshore from Cabinda on 26 July 2006.

A Pennant-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius was photographed c.10 km offshore from Cabinda on 26 July 2006.

Belated records from 2005 include the following. In the Mount Moco area, Huambo, visited on 11–17 August, Afromontane forests were found to be highly disturbed, and have almost certainly been reduced significantly in size since the 1970s. Still, birds seen here included endemic subspecies of Western Green Tinkerbird Pogoniulus coryphaeus, Bocage’s Akalat Sheppardia bocagei, Mountain Chat Oenanthe monticola, Evergreen Forest Warbler Bradypterus lopezi, Grey Apalis Apalis cinerea, African Hill Babbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica and Swee Waxbill Coccopygia melanotis. The call of a francolin was recorded and subsequently identified as belonging to Swierstra’s Francolin Francolinus swierstai. At a nearby mountain, a pair of Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii, not previously recorded this far north in Angola, was watched hunting along a ridge, and a pale-morph Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, apparently only the third country record, was seen. Three pairs of Swierstra’s Francolin were found.

The most interesting find in the Cassongue area, Cuanza Sul, on 18 August, was Brazza’s Martin Phedina brazzae, which was seen in two consecutive river valleys, a range extension of c.800 km. This species was again seen about two weeks later, c.100 km to the east, and is suspected to breed in the region at low densities.

Records of Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx mechowi, Least Honeyguide Indicator exilis and Mountain Chat at Kumbira Forest represented range extensions. Elsewhere in the Gabela area, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus was found to be fairly common; this species was previously known only from Cabinda. Another range extension in this area was Little Green Sunbird Anthreptes seimundi.

The first ABC sponsored conservation tour, organised and operated by Birding Africa, took place to Angola on the 9th - 16th October 2005 and recorded 14 Angolan endemics and several range extensions. The highlights of this tour are documented in ABC Bulletin 13(1) pp 6-7. Red-backed Mousebird Colius castanotus, Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush Cichladusa ruficauda, White-fronted Wattle-eye Platysteira albifrons, Bubbling Cisticola Cisticola bulliens, Angola Batis Batis minulla and Golden-backed Bishop Euplectes aureus were all found near the mouth of the Rio Longa. Red-crested Turaco Tauraco erythrolophus, Gabon Coucal Centropus anselli, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird Pogoniulus subsulphureus, Yellow-throated Nicator Nicator vireo, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush Neocossyphus fraseri, Black-throated Apalis jacksoni and Buff-throated Apalis A. rufogularis, Green Crombec Sylvietta virens, Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis and Red-headed Bluebill Spermophaga ruficapilla, were all found close to Gabela. The Sunbird family was well represented in this area and many species were seen such as Carmelite Chalcomitra fuliginosa, Green-headed Cyanomitra verticalis, Little Green Anthreptes seimundi, Superb Cinnyris superbus and Olive-bellied C. chloropygius.

Angola Cave-Chat Xenocopsychus ansorgei, Miombo Rock-Thrush Monticola angolensis, a single Damara Rockjumper Chaetops pycnopygius, several Oustalet’s Cinnyris oustaleti and Montane Double-collared Sunbirds C. ludovicensis and a party of Dusky Twinspots Euschistospiza cinereovinacea were all seen on the escarpment near the village of Conda. The Kumbira forest in the same area held African Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus, Least Honeyguide Indicator exilis, Petit’s Cuckoo-Shrike Campephaga petiti, Gabela Akalat Sheppardia gabela, Pulitzer’s Longbill Macrosphenus pulitzeri, Rufous-vented Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufocinerea, the trio of Gabela Laniarius amboimensis, Monteiro’s Malacanotus monteiri and Perrin’s Bush-Shrikes Telophorus (viridis) viridis, Pale-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta (rubricata) landanae and Black-faced Canary Serinus capistratus. In the area of Bimbe, eight Gabela Helmet-Shrikes Prionops gabela were seen in the tallest trees of what was essentially an area with grass and scrub. In the same area were African Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense, Bohm’s Neafrapus boehmi and Mottled Spinetails Telacanthura ussheri, Black Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus aterrimus and Pale-olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus fulviventris.

A visit to the north in January-February 2005 yielded the following interesting records. Five of the poorly known White-headed Robin Chat Cossypha heinrichii were found in fairly degraded gallery woodland 30 km north-east of Calandula, Malanje, on 1 February; this species, listed as Vulnerable, has a very limited range. Two Slender-tailed Cisticolas Cisticola melanurus, a Data Deficient species, were seen in pristine climax miombo woodland 26 km north-east of Calandula, Malanje, on 2 February. Three pairs of the Endangered Braun’s Bush-Shrike Laniarius brauni were duetting in a small patch of degraded forest 30 km south of Uíge, Uíge Province, on 31 January. The sighting of two male Bob-tailed Weavers Brachycope anomala in swampy, grassy habitat on a flooded area of the Luinha River, 2 km south of Luinha village, Cuanza Norte, on 1 February, appears to constitute the first record of this species for the country.

Grey-striped Francolin Francolinus griseostriatus, an Angolan endemic, was seen at Quiçama National Park (two, 18 March 2001; four, 10 May 2002) and Kumbira, a forest 7 km south of Conda, Cuanza Sul, on the road to Seles (several pairs, 6 February 2003). Allen’s Gallinule Porphyrio alleni was abundant on the Queve River floodplain on 26th. Fourteen Gull-billed Terns Sterna nilotica, a rare Palearctic visitor, were recorded at Luanda Bay on 9th, with six there on 28th. Red-crested Turaco Tauraco erythrolophus was found to be common in the Gabela and Kumbira areas. Two Gabon Coucals Centropus anselli were seen at Kumbira on 6th. In Quiçama National Park, Loanda Swifts A. (horus) toulsoni (usually treated as a dark-rumped morph of Horus Swift A. horus, but possibly constituting a separate species) were seen on 18 March 2001 (two) and 10 May 2002 (four). Records of Hairy-breasted Barbet Tricholaema hirsuta (fairly common at Kumbira), Long-legged Pipit Anthus pallidiventris (two at Sumbe, Cuanza Sul) and Slender-billed Greenbul Andropadus gracilirostris (one at Kumbira) on 25th apparently constitute southerly range extensions.

Gabela Akalat Sheppardia gabela, an endangered Angolan endemic, was observed at Kumbira on 6th (one) and 25th (one). The rare and local Pulitzer's Longbill Macrosphenus pulitzeri was found to be fairly common at Seles on 26th. White-fronted Wattle-eyes Platysteira albifrons were seen at Quiçama National Park on 18 March 2001 and 10 May 2002 (several), and at Seles on 26 February 2003 (two). Records of Damara Rockjumper Chaetops pycnopygius inland from Seles (one) and Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys inland from Sumbe (fairly common) on 26th constitute northerly range extensions. Monteiro's Bush-Shrike Malaconotus monteiri was fairly common at Kumbira on 6th and 25th. The little-known endemic Gabela Bush-Shrike Laniarius amboimensis was common at Kumbira. Seven Gabela Helmet-Shrikes Prionops gabela, another endangered Angolan endemic, were seen on the road between Kumbira and Seles on 6th. Southerly range extensions were noted for Slender-billed Weaver Ploceus pelzelni (common on the Queve floodplain on 25th) and Compact Weaver Pachyphantes superciliosus (small groups near Kumbira on 6th).

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