Working for birds in Africa

Hotspots

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 17:21 -- abc_admin
Namibia_birding_map

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Lilac_breasted_Roller_Namibia

Namibia Daan Viljoen Game Park. Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudatus in flight at dusk

Image Credit: 
John Caddick
Flamingos_Namibia

Namibia Walvis Bay. Greater and Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber and Phoeniconaias minor

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

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. 

Sossusvlei The picturesque red sands of the Namib dune sea at Sossusvlei are one of Namibia's premier tourist attractions, though surrounding gravel plains and rocky escarpments of the Namib-Naukluft Park are of equal interest to the birder. Specials: Ostrich Struthio camelus, Ludwig's Bustard Neotis ludwigii, Rüppell's Bustard Eupodotis rueppellii, Burchell's Courser Cursorius rufus, Dune Lark Certhilauda erythrochlamys.

Daan Viljoen Game Park Situated in the rugged Khomas Hochland overlooking Windhoek, this park makes a convenient base for further exploration of the Windhoek area and provides an excellent introduction to the birds of the dry west. In addition to its Namibian Escarpment endemics, such as Monteiro's Hornbill Tockus monteiri and Damara Rockjumper (Rockrunner) Chaetops pycnopygius, the rocky slopes also hold the elusive Orange River Francolin Francolinus levaillantoides, rarely recorded on birding trips elsewhere in Southern Africa. Specials: Orange River Francolin Francolinus levaillantoides, Maccoa Duck Oxyura maccoa, Monteiro's Hornbill Tockus monteiri, Short-toed Rock-Thrush Monticola brevipes, Carp's Tit Parus carpi, Barred Wren-Warbler Calamonastes fasciolatus, Damara Rockjumper (Rockrunner) Chaetops pycnopygius, Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis and Black-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda charmosyna.

Erongo The magnificent, granite domes of the Erongo Mountains lie 60 km to the east of the Spitzkoppe and offer quality endemics in one of Namibia's most atmospheric settings. Specials: Hartlaub's Francolin Francolinus hartlaubi, Monteiro's Hornbill Tockus monteiri, Damara Hornbill Tockus (erythrorhynchus) damarensis, Rüppell's Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii, Southern White-faced Owl Ptilopsis granti, Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma, White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus, Short-toed Rock-Thrush Monticola brevipes and Damara Rockjumper (Rockrunner) Chaetops pycnopygius.

Spitzkoppe Famous amongst birders as an accessible and reliable spot for the localised Herero Chat Namibornis herero, the Spitzkoppe also offer a superb supporting cast of Dry West specials and some of Namibia's most spectacular scenery. Specials: Herero Chat Namibornis herero, Monteiro's Hornbill Tockus monteiri, Rosy-faced Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis, Bradfield's Swift Apus bradfieldi, Rüppell's Bustard Eupodotis rueppellii, Augur Buzzard Buteo augur, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus and Dusky Sunbird Cinnyris fuscus.

Walvis Bay With its extensive mudflats, artificial salt pans and marine coastline, the Walvis Bay area is a Mecca for shorebird enthusiasts, and is also a convenient site to search for marine cormorants, Damara Tern Sterna balaenarum and the Namibian endemic Dune Lark Certhilauda erythrochlamys. Specials: Chestnut-banded Plover Charadrius pallidus, Damara Sterna balaenarum and Black Terns Chlidonias niger, vast numbers of Greater Phoenicopterus ruber and Lesser Flamingos Phoeniconaias minor, Dune Certhilauda erythrochlamys and Gray's Larks Ammomanes grayi, and regular sightings of migrant waders rare in Southern Africa: Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Common Redshank Tringa totanus, Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus, Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus and Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus.

Etosha Namibia's most famous game reserve, and the subject of many a wildlife documentary, is also a superb birding destination. The arid woodlands and grassy plains surrounding the vast Etosha Pan are home to a wide variety of northern Namibian specials. Specials: Ostrich Struthio camelus, Violet Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus damarensis, Rüppell's Bustard Eupodotis rueppellii, Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori, Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus, Caspian Plover (rare) Charadrius asiaticus, Pygmy Polihierax semitorquatus and Red-necked Falcons Falco chicquera, Black-faced Turdoides melanops, Southern Pied T. bicolor and Bare-cheeked Babblers T. gymnogenys, and Pink-billed Lark Spizocorys conirostris.

Ruacana Wild, remote and exotic, Ruacana's legendary status amongst birders is well deserved. One of the only sites on Earth for the localised and evocatively named Cinderella Waxbill Estrilda thomensis, and one of the few sites for Rufous-tailed Palm-Thrush Cichladusa ruficauda, the area was entirely closed to visitors during the long war with Angola. With the advent of peace, birders can again experience the avian treasures of this unique wilderness area. Specials: Cinderella Waxbill Estrilda thomensis, Rufous-tailed Palm-Thrush Cichladusa ruficauda, Hartlaub's Francolin Francolinus hartlaubi, Monteiro's Hornbill Tockus monteiri, Madagascar Bee-eater Merops superciliosus, Rüppell's Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii, Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus, White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus, Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys, Benguela Long-billed Lark Certhilauda benguelensis and Chestnut Weaver Ploceus rubiginosus.

Hobatere This 35,000 ha reserve immediately to the west of Etosha National Park straddles the endemic-rich Namibian Escarpment and is one of the premier sites for such localised birds as Rüppell's Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii, Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys and Violet Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus damarensis. Specials: Monteiro's Hornbill Tockus monteiri, Violet Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus damarensis, Rüppell's Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii, White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus, Short-toed Rock-Thrush Monticola brevipes, Carp's Tit Parus carpi, Damara Rockjumper (Rockrunner) Chaetops pycnopygius and Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys.

Rundu The woodlands and wetlands around Rundu, a small town on the Kavango River, are home to a number of northern specials, and are well worth birding en route to the Caprivi Strip. Specials: African Pygmy-Goose Nettapus auritus, Bradfield's Hornbill Tockus bradfieldi, Coppery-tailed Coucal Centropus cupreicaudus, Allen's Gallinule Porphyrio alleni, Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata, Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis, Dickinson's Kestrel Falco dickinsoni, African Hobby F. cuvierii, Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris, Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii, Swamp Boubou Laniarius bicolor, Arnott's Chat Myrmecocichla arnotti, Sharp-tailed Starling Lamprotornis acuticaudus, Rufous-bellied Tit Parus rufiventris, Levaillant's Cisticola Cisticola tinniens, Green-capped Eremomela Eremomela scotops, Hartlaub's Babbler Turdoides hartlaubii, Woodland Pipit Anthus nyassae and Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula.

Mahango This magnificent game reserve, lying along the Kavango River floodplain in the western Caprivi Strip, is one of Southern Africa's top birding spots. Although it covers only 25,000 ha it boasts a birdlist of over 400 species, including an impressive selection of Okavango specials. The fact that one is allowed to explore the reserve on foot, despite the presence of Lion, Elephant and Buffalo, only adds to the excitement of birding in this wild corner of Namibia. Soon, the reserve is expected to become part of the new Bwabata Reserve. Specials: Bradfield's Hornbill Tockus bradfieldi, Coppery-tailed Coucal Centropus cupreicaudus, Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus, Burchell's Sandgrouse Pterocles burchelli, Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis, Long-toed Lapwing Vanellus crasssirostris, African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris, Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens, Dickinson's Kestrel Falco dickinsoni, African Hobby Falco cuvierii, Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula, Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii, Swamp Boubou Laniarius bicolor, Rufous-bellied Tit Parus rufiventris, Levaillant's Cisticola tinniens and Chirping Cisticolas C. pipiens, Greater Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus rufescens, Green-capped Eremomela Eremomela scotops, Hartlaub's Babbler Turdoides hartlaubii, Rosy-throated Longclaw Macronyx ameliae, Woodland Pipit Anthus nyassae, Holub's Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops and Southern Brown-throated Weaver P. xanthopterus, Parasitic Weaver Anomalospiza imberbis and Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula.

See also the African Bird Club feature article Namibia Caprivi Strip by Christopher Hines, or read it in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club, volume 3.2, September 1996.

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