Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 13:33 -- abc_admin

The following largely unconfirmed records have appeared in recent Bulletins of the African Bird Club and are for information only.

A small group of Karoo Scrub Robins Cercotrichas coryphaeus was located near Black Mountain above Sani Pass on 2 August 2010; this is well outside the known range of the species.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:19 -- abc_admin


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:18 -- abc_admin

BARNES, K. Lesotho chapter pp 465-471 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11).

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

COHEN, C., SPOTTISWOODE, C. & ROSSOUW, J. (2006) Southern African Birdfinder: where to find 1,400 birds in southern Africa and Madagascar. Struik Publishers. 

KOPIJ, G. (2012) Changes in numbers of Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni and Amur Falcons F. amurensis at a winter roost in Lesotho. ABC Bulletin 19(2) pp 160-165.

KOPIJ, G. (2015) Population expansion of Swee Waxbill Coccopygia melanotis, Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala and Karoo Scrub Robin Cercotrichas coryphoeus in Lesotho? ABC Bulletin 22(2) pp 196 - 199.

Lonely Planet Website, August 2004.

SINCLAIR, I. & RYAN, P. (2003). Birds of Africa South of the Sahara. Struik Publishers, ISBN 1-8687-2857-9.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:17 -- abc_admin

African Bird Club representative

The African Bird Club is seeking to appoint a representative in this region. If you are interested in supporting and promoting the Club, have any queries or require further information relating to the ABC representatives scheme, please contact the Membership Secretary at

Bird recorder and checklist compiler

Dr David Ambrose
National University of Lesotho
PO Roma 180


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:17 -- abc_admin

Only one area in Lesotho has been afforded National Park status under the 1975 National Parks Act. The Highlands Water Project, a major project to supply South Africa with water, has had a significant impact on Lesotho’s natural areas. The construction of access roads into previously inaccessible areas has changed land-use patterns, while the damming of rivers has affected Lesotho’s river systems negatively.

In common with many African countries, Lesotho has a number of environmental issues which include population pressure forcing settlement in marginal areas resulting in overgrazing, severe soil erosion, and soil exhaustion; desertification.

Lesotho is party to a number of international agreements which include Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation and Ozone Layer Protection.

Books & Sounds

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:16 -- abc_admin

With birding such a big pastime in southern Africa, there is a well established birding literature available. Not only are there great field and sound guides but also many second-level publications dealing with birds from particular species groups.

The major field guides for most of the southern Africa region are the SASOL and Newman's guides and various photographic guides with some specific ones for different countries. The SASOL guide is excellent - its illustrations are fantastic and the text succinct yet authoritative.

The Southern African Birdfinder: Where to find 1,400 bird species in southern Africa must rank as one of the best 'Where to' guides for a region. It contains detailed information on sites, clear maps and directions and great photos. With a very slick layout this book is an essential addition to any trip in southern Africa. Highly recommended.


Book image: 
Book info: 
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa (4th edition), Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton & Peter Ryan, Struik, Softback.
Book description: 

4th edition. The best field guide to the region with over 200 colour plates and numerous distribution maps. The Southern African region is Botwana, Lesotho, southern Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

This fourth edition has been greatly improved by the addition of group introductions, calendar bars showing species' occurrence and breeding periods, a section on 'how to use this book', as well as sonograms depicting the calls of tricky bird groups. The newly designed plates are meticulously illustrated, with labels pinpointing key differentiating features. Distribution maps show the relative abundance of a species in the region and also indicate resident or migrant status.

Written by top birders, this authoritative and comprehensive identification guide is invaluable to all birders. 464 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Newman's Birds of Southern Africa, Ken Newman, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Commemorative Edition.

Sadly, Ken Newman passed away in 2006. This commemorative edition of his book has been revised by Vanessa Newman, Ken's daugter and incorporates the latest taxonomic changes. 510 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Roberts Bird Guide, Hugh Chittenden, John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Softback.
Book description: 

At last! a field guide version of Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VIIth Edition featuring large, clear illustrations, distribution maps as well as a "breeding bar" indicating breeding season. Covers over 950 species including all the recent splits. 456 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.

Book image: 
Book info: 
A Photographic Guide to Birds of Southern Africa, Ian Sinclair, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Covers 500 species in a user-friendly format and includes distribution maps and an 'occurrence bar'. 144 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Complete Photo Field Guide Birds of Southern Africa, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, Struik, Softback.
Book description: 

Comprising the most comprehensive collection of photos of southern African birds in one volume, this field guide describes and illustrates all 958 bird species found in the region plus an additional 17 species from Antarctica, the Southern Ocean & associated islands. 432 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Sasol Birding Map of Southern Africa, Ian Sinclair and Trevor Hardaker, Struik, Map.
Book description: 

2002. Includes over 200 birding sites in Southern Africa, as well as many game and nature reserves, towns, and routes. Each site description gives details of habitat type and the birds it attracts. Includes in-depth profiles on 8 of the region's major sites.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Southern African Birdfinder: Where to find 1400 bird species in southern Africa, C Cohen & C Spottiswoode, assisted by J Rossouw, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

2006. The ideal companion to all the local bird field guides. After an introduction to birding in the southern African region, the authors identify and describe more than 330 birding sites and associated birds across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and, the little-documented but increasingly popular, areas of Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. All sites are ranked into one of three categories of priority: essential (the regions best); excellent (top sites but expendable to a time-limited visitor) and local interest (ideal for those looking for new areas to explore). All sites include practical details of access, best times to visit, habitat diversity and general natural history.

Includes a fold-out map of the entire region that features all routes. A quick guide to finding the region's top 100 birds and an annotated checklist conclude the book.

"Written by three of the most experienced birders in the region, they have poured their experience into its production and this really shows in the level of detail and coverage." - Martin Fowlie, BTO


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:09 -- abc_admin

Birding tours

We know of no tours advertised to Lesotho but it would be worth asking one of our sponsors who is based in South Africa.

Trip reports

Trip reports for Lesotho are hard to find, however it is worth searching through comprehensive South Africa reports as they may include areas of Lesotho.


The best way to visit Lesotho is by car as no commercial flights service the country and public transport is unreliable. A car hired in South Africa, if arranged, can be driven into Lesotho. A 2wd vehicle is adequate unless one is planning to enter Lesotho via Sani Pass, which in the dry season is drivable with a 2wd - however, this depends on your car hire company’s sense of humour


Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) be aware of the risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. See the following 2 websites or your local embassy website for the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:08 -- abc_admin

The following extracts are taken from "Southern African Birdfinder: where to find 1,400 birds in southern Africa and Madagascar" by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Jonathan Rossouw, released by Struik Publishers in 2006. 

Mafika-Lisiu Pass and Katse Dam This remote corner of Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains, once the sole domain of nomadic Basutus and their herds of livestock, is now reached easily by means of the spectacular Mafika-Lisiu Pass. The excellent tarred road, used during the construction of Lesotho Highlands Water Project, provides vehicle-bound birders with the most accessible highland birding in the Drakensberg. Specials: Grey-winged Francolin Francolinus africanus, Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus, Cape Eagle Owl Bubo capensis, Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus, Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres, Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus, Drakensberg or Orange-breasted Rockjumper Chaetops (frenatus) aurantius, Sentinel Rock-Thrush Monticola explorator, African Rock Anthus crenatus and Mountain Pipits A. hoeschi and Drakensberg Siskin Pseudochloroptila symonsi.

Sani Pass Although strictly speaking Sani Pass is in South Africa, it is used as a thoroughfare to gain access into Lesotho, hence its inclusion under this section. The spectacular Sani Pass is justly famous as the most accessible site in Southern Africa for the high-altitude specials of the Drakensberg massif and is an essential stop on any endemic-hunter’s birding route. A day trip up the pass in summer should almost guarantee sightings of such highly sought-after species as Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops (frenatus) aurantius, Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi and Drakensberg Siskin Pseudochloroptila symonsi. Specials: Grey-winged Francolin Francolinus africanus, Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus, Cape Eagle Owl Bubo capensis, Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus, Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres, Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus, Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops (frenatus) aurantius, Sentinel Rock-Thrush Monticola explorator, Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata, Barratt's Warbler Bradypterus barratti, Bush Blackcap Lioptilus nigricapillus, Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi, Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi and Drakensberg Siskin Pseudochloroptila symonsi.

Liqobong This site is located on the Mechachaneng Ridge, and consists of 60-90 m high cliffs which span approximately 1 km. The surrounding area consists primarily of cultivated land and montane grassland. This site is centred on a well-established Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres colony. Other cliff-nesting species found in the area include Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus, Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus, Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus and Black Stork Ciconia nigra. Range restricted Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops (frenatus) aurantius, Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi and Drakensberg Siskin Pseudochloroptila symonsi can also be found. Commonly occurring species restricted to Lesotho and South Africa include African Rock Pipit Anthus crenatus, Sentinel Rock-Thrush Monticola explorator and Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus.

Sehlabathebe National Park Lesotho’s only National Park, Sehlabathebe is located on the eastern border of Lesotho where it links with South Africa’s Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. All of Lesotho’s flagship montane species can be found in the park as well as the country’s only known population of Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris.


Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:07 -- abc_admin

Country checklist and status


We are delighted that our Corporate Sponsor iGoTerra has made its country checklists, including subspecies (IOC or Clements) as well as all other species groups like mammals, butterflies etc. available through the ABC website. The only thing required is a Basic membership / registration which is free of charge. Go to Lesotho checklists. If you are already a member of iGoTerra, you will be taken directly to the country page. In case you are not a member, you will be redirected automatically to the registration form and from there can go straight to the country page.​​​​​​​

Approximately 340 bird species are believed to have been recorded in Lesotho and it supports 13 globally threatened and near-threatened species. Significant species as well as those mentioned in the IBA section include Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus and Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris.

Endemic species

There are no endemic species in Lesotho.

Near endemic species (found in 3 countries at most)

Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus  
Grey-winged Francolin Francolinus africanus  
Karoo Bustard

Eupodotis vigorsii

Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus  
Large-billed Lark Galerida magnirostris  
Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi  
African Rock Pipit Anthus crenatus  
Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris  
Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata  
Sentinel Rock-Thrush Monticola explorator  
*Karoo Prinia Prinia maculosa N
Southern Grey Tit Parus afer N
African Pied Starling Spreo bicolor N
Drakensberg Siskin Pseudochloroptila symonsi  
Black-headed Canary Alario alario N

All of these species are also found in South Africa as well as N=Namibia.

* Note that some authorities consider Drakensberg or Saffron-breasted Prinia Prinia hypoxantha, found in Lesotho and South Africa only, to be a separate species. This is shown on the ABC checklist as a subspecies of Karoo Prinia Prinia (maculosa) hypoxantha.

Note that a number of authorities consider Drakensberg or Orange-breasted Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius, found in Lesotho and South Africa only, to be a separate species. This is shown on the ABC checklist as a subspecies of Rufous Rockjumper Chaetops (frenatus) aurantius.

Threatened species

Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus Vulnerable
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres Vulnerable
Black Harrier Circus maurus Vulnerable
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Vulnerable
Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris Vulnerable

The lists of endemic, near endemic and threatened species have been compiled from a number of sources including the African Bird Club, BirdLife International, and Birds of the World Version 2.0 ® 1994-1996, Dr. Charles Sibley and Thayer Birding Software, Ltd.

Important Bird Areas

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:06 -- abc_admin

There are 6 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) designated by BirdLife International in Lesotho (BARNES, K. 2001). They cover 2,168 km2 or some 7% of the land area of the country. The IBAs were selected on the basis of breeding colonies of Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres. Lesotho holds about 600 pairs of this species or 12% of the world population and the IBAs hold 64% of this number. The IBAs are as follows:

Upper Sengu River
Sehonghong & Matebeng
Sehlabathebe National Park
Upper Quthing Valley

BirdLife International consider that four restricted range species occur in Lesotho of which three, Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi, *Drakensberg or Orange-breasted Rockjumper Chaetops (frenatus) aurantius and Drakensberg Siskin Pseudochloroptila symonsi have between 60 and 80% of their global ranges in Lesotho, and together define the Lesotho Highlands Endemic Bird Area (EBA).

* See note in the Species section.

Lesotho also supports species from three biome restricted assemblages: Afrotropical Highlands; Zambezian; and Namib-Karoo.

The highlands are notable for supporting an isolated race of Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus with 122 breeding pairs, the nearest population occurring in Tanzania.

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.


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