Working for birds in Africa


Wed, 02/06/2013 - 16:00 -- abc_admin

Shoebill Balaeniceps rex. Two month old chick on the nest deep in the Papyrus of the Bangweulu Swamps, Zambia.

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

The following largely unconfirmed records are taken from the Bulletin of the African Bird Club for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 25.1

Sightings from January–August 2017 include the following. A Redbilled Francolin Pternistis adspersus at Sentinel, Trident Project site, Kalumbila, on 2 April, represents a substantial extension of the species’ known range; previous records are all from the south-west and along the Zambezi up to the Lukulu area. A pair of Woolly-necked Storks Ciconia episcopus was seen at its nest along the Lufupa River, Kafue National Park (=NP), in late June; there are very few known nesting locations for the species in Zambia, and this appears to be the southernmost. A juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius was being fed by a Meves’s Longtailed Starling Lamprotornis mevesii in Nsefu Sector, South-Luangwa NP, in May; there are few data on timing of breeding and host species in Zambia. Having been recorded for the first time in the country in early November 2016, in Lower Zambezi NP (see Bull. ABC 24: 251), Whistling Yellowbill (Green Malkoha) Ceuthmochares [aereus] australis, has been observed in Munyamadzi Game Reserve, lower Luangwa Valley, where at least two males were present from 14 June onwards, suggesting that the species is colonising the southeast. Surveys of the Kafue Flats, on 10–16 August, found 49 nests of White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus and one nest of Lappetfaced Vulture Torgos tracheliotos. A Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon indicator observed near the Trident Project site, Kalumbila, on 2 April, represents a substantial extension to the south-east of the species’ known range. The first Bocage’s Akalat Sheppardia bocagei for Kalwelwa Forest was photographed when it responded aggressively to playback of Grey-winged Akalat (Grey-winged Robin Chat) S. polioptera, which was known to occur at the site; this raises the question as to whether the two species occur alongside each other here or if the 2017 drought has caused a shift in their ranges (per BirdWatch Zambia 25(5): 1–9).

from ABC Bulletin 24.2

The first Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis for the country, a juvenile, was photographed in Liuwa Plains National Park on 3 May 2016; the species ranges from West Africa south into Angola, but has been recorded in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa in recent years. The first confirmed Whistling Yellowbill (Green Malkoha) Ceuthmochares [aereus] australis for Zambia was seen at Mwambashi River Lodge, in Lower Zambezi National Park, in early November 2016; possibly the same bird was subsequently photographed on 15 and 21 November. Following this discovery, it has come to light that the species has been present at more than one location in the park since November 2013 (per BirdWatch Zambia 47(1): 1–5).

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

Two White-throated Bee-eaters Merops albicollis were recorded on Mutondwe, an island in Lake Tanganyika, north of Mpulungu, on 17 October 2015, with one still present on 28 October; Dowsett et al. (2008. The Birds of Zambia) mention just one certain record for Zambia, of up to six birds at Uningi Pans, from 11 December 1999 to 13 January 2000.

from ABC Bulletin 22.2

The first Hartlaub’s Duck Pteronetta hartlaubii for the country was reported at a dam on a new mine development in the north-west on 10 January 2015; this record is well south of its known range. 

from ABC Bulletin 19.2

A Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus was photographed in the Bangweulu Swamps on 11 November 2011; this is the second record for the country, the first being from 1985.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

A visit to northernmost Mwinilunga District, and notably Jimbe Drainage Important Bird Area, in August - September 2011, yielded the third Zambian record of Shrike Flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus, as well as the rarely recorded Brown-eared Woodpecker Campethera caroli and Chestnut Wattle-eye Dyaphorophyia castanea.

Records from elsewhere, in September - November 2011, include the following. A group of 12 Pink-backed Pelicans Pelecanus rufescens were circling over Nchila Wildlife Reserve on 17 September; this appears to be a new square vs. The Birds of Zambia: An Atlas and Handbook but adjacent to previous records. An Abdim’s Stork Ciconia abdimii over the Zambezi Rapids on 19 September is an early sighting of this intra-African migrant - the earliest arrival date given in the Atlas is 10 October. African Cuckoo Hawks Aviceda cuculoides were observed on the Chitunta Plain on 18 November. A Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera seen over Luakera Forest on 16 September represents a new square and a significant in-country range extension. A Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis was at a small pool on the Chitunta Plain on 18 November. Little Stints Calidris minuta were seen on the Chitunta Plain on 18 November. A small flock of Sharp-tailed Starlings Lamprotornis acuticaudus flew through Nchila Wildlife Reserve on 17 November.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

In January 2011, large numbers of Corn Crakes Crex crex, African Crakes C. egregia and Striped Crakes Aenigmatolimnas marginalis appeared on farms around Choma, in the south, with for example four Striped Crakes being flushed in half an hour. Several Collared Flycatchers Ficedula albicollis were observed in miombo at the Nkanga River Conservation Area, just outside Choma, with two, both still in breeding plumage, being seen in less than an hour.


A Whinchat Saxicola rubetra was seen at Chisamba, near Lusaka, on 28 and 30 December 2010 at the southern limit of its normal wintering range.

In 2009 the following were reported. Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis were found breeding at Siansowa Crocodile Farm, 40 km west of Sinazongwe, on 21 November; this is the first confirmed breeding record for Zambia.  A roost of c.100 Slaty Egrets Egretta vinaceigula was found in reeds on the Lingongole River, Simungoma Important Bird Area (=IBA), on 11 August. A pair of Cape Shovelers Anas smithii at Chisamba IBA, on 12 - 16 July is the seventh record for the country. A Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus was at Lion Camp, South Luangwa National Park, on 17–22 August; this is the most southerly record in Zambia of this rapidly spreading species. About 12 Black Saw-wings Psalidoprocne pristoptera of the eastern race orientalis at Katombora Rapids, near Livingstone, on 28 July constitute the most westerly Zambian record by c.250 km. A Red-rumped Swallow Cecropsis daurica of the Palearctic race rufula was mist-netted near Kabwe on 27 January; this is the most southerly confirmed record in Africa of this race.

A Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea which found its way inside the Livingstone Museum on 23 March 2009 was the fourth confirmed record for the country.

On 8 October 2008, a tagged White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus was seen in South Luangwa National Park, 1,945 km from the Askham District of Northern Cape, South Africa, where it was ringed and tagged as a pullus on the nest on 30 October 2007; this is the furthest north that any of the birds tagged in South Africa has been recorded. A ringed Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina was recovered in Southern Province, north of the town of Choma, around 23 November 2008, 7,770 km from Olsztynek, Olsztyn, Poland, where it had been ringed on 10 July 1992, 5,980 days (or more than 16 years and four months) previously. This is the oldest recovery for Zambia and one of the oldest individuals of the species ever recovered, the record being 26 years for a bird ringed in Latvia in 1931. Average longevity of this species is c.10.5 years.

Following at least four separate records in Livingstone and Choma in 2004–06, Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea has been admitted to the Zambian list, which rises to 753 species.

A  Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was found at Kasanka National Park, on 20 January 2006, and a Yellow-bellied Waxbill Coccopygia quartinia at Mutinondo Wilderness, on 23rd. Both are new site records. On 3 February 2006 a Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis schistacea was found near Kafunta River Lodge, near Luangwa National Park, and stayed for several days. This has been accepted as a first for the country.

In December 2004, a Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was flushed at Nkanga conservation area on 17th. The sighting of a male Oustalet’s Sunbird Cinnyris oustaleti on Ntumbachushi Hill appears to be a slight range extension for this species. In 2005, at least 4,000 (and perhaps up to 10,000) Amur Falcons Falco amurensis descended to roost in a gum tree in the middle of Choma on 26 March. A Chestnut-headed Flufftail Sarothrura lugens was calling at Mutinondo, but defied observation despite eight people intensively searching right next to it. Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris proved easy to see at Mununshi, 25 km south of Kawambwa, in January. Although an indigobird Vidua sp. at Maluka, Katombora, along the Zambezi 60 km west of Livingstone, has been declared a Village Indigobird V. chalybeata on genetic evidence, it was mimicking Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula, as did its male parent, who was ringed in the same tree in 2000, and not Red-billed Firefinch L. senegala - could it be a new species in the making?.

Three new species for South Luangwa National Park were recorded at Chunyu Lagoon on 4 December 2003: Little Rush-Warbler Bradypterus baboecala, Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris and Spotted Crake Porzana porzana. A European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus was in the Mfuwe gate area of the park on 22 March 2004.

The following records are taken from ABC Bulletin Vol 10 No 2 and cover the period January to June 2002.

In January, Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentotus, Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus and Short-tailed Pipit Anthus brachyurus were reported from Mwinilunga. African Hobby Falco cuvierii was seen in Mweru Wantipa National Park and a Shoebill Balaeniceps rex at Lake Tondwa on the 1st. An Osprey Pandion haliaetus and three Spur-winged Lapwings Vanellus spinosus were at Kasaba Bay on the 2nd. White-winged Starlings Neocichla gutturalis were near Nsama on the 3rd. A group of about 25 Amur Falcons Falco amurensis was reported near Muyombe with another group the next day along with Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis and a Shelley’s Sunbird Cinnyris shelleyi. A Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus was seen in the centre of Lusaka on the 6th. Cardinal Quelea Quelea cardinalis was seen near South Luangwa National Park on the 7th and a Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis was found there on the 12th.

Bird counts in Lochinvar on the 10th produced massive numbers with 465 Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus, 2,020 Squacco Herons Ardeola ralloides, 1,490 Black Egrets Egretta ardesiaca, 21 Slaty Egrets E. Vinaceigula, 1,732 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, 425 Wattled Cranes Bugeranus carunculatus, 651 Long-toed Lapwings Vanellus crassirostris, 23,670 Ruff Philomachus pugnax and 370 Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. Also seen were a European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, African Blue Quail Coturnix adansonii, Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentotus, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, seven Eurasian Curlew N. arquata, a Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, two Grey Plover P. squatarola and two Corncrake Crex crex. On the 16th, there was also a Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus and an Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum. A long-staying Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula was present at Livingstone sewage ponds on the 17th and a boat trip produced African Finfoot Podica senegalensis and White-backed Night Heron Gorsachius leuconotus: on the 18th, European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus and Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus were seen. In Western Province, Southern Brown-throated Weavers Ploceus xanthopterus were found breeding on the 13th and on the 26th, 11 Lesser Kestrels Falco Naumanni and Red-footed Falcon F. vespertinus were found.

In February, Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor and a Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis were found on the 4th and 10th respectively. In Western Province, there were reports of two Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni, nine Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus, a Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti, two Shelley’s Sunbird Cinnyris shelleyi and a Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor on the 9th. A white-morph Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus was in Lusaka on the 15th and a displaying Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens near Choma on various dates was unusual.

In March in Western Province, a huge concentration of waterfowl was found with thousands of Fulvous Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna bicolor, White-faced Whistling Ducks D. viduata, Knob-billed Ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos and Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha as well as hundreds of Spur-winged Geese Plectropterus gambensis, Yellow-billed Ducks Anas undulata and Hottentot Teals A. hottentota. A Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus was observed in the Luangwa Valley on the 20th and Cape Teals Anas capensis in Livingstone reached a total of six near the end of the month. The last days of the month saw widespread reports of Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor and on the 30th, a Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos was photographed near Ndola.

In April, a Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus was seen on the 22nd near Lake Tanganyika, Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus was near Batoka on the 14th and Dusky Lark Pinarocorys nigricans was common at Livingstone on the 30th. Both Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio and Lesser Grey Shrike L. minor were still passing through on the 20th. In May at Bangweulu, there were a good number of Shoebill Balaeniceps rex and a Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres was seen on 16th and 17th. In June, a Chestnut-vented Warbler Parisoma subcaeruleum was in Choma on the 3rd. There were about 100 Slaty Egrets Egretta Vinaceigula, 35 Saddle-billed Storks Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, about 250 Wattled Cranes Bugeranus carunculatus and 400 Grey Crowned Cranes Balearica regulorum in Liuwa National Park. In addition, good numbers of Rufous-crowned Rollers Coracias naevius arrived in June.

The following reports were compiled by Pete Leonard for the period July to December 2001

In July, 3 Palm-nut Vultures Gypohierax angolensis were seen together in the Luangwa Valley where the species used to be very scarce. Nearby were two late migrants, a Black Coucal Centropus grillii and an Allen's Gallinule Porphyrio alleni, and a Pel's Fishing-owl Scotopelia peli was seen with a freshly killed small (50-60 cm) crocodile. High waterbird counts in Lochinvar NP included 17,900 White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata, 9,360 Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha, 345 Wattled Cranes Bugeranus carunculatus and 220 African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris. A Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula was recorded there and 2 others were found in Kafue NP and near Solwezi.

In August, Angola Swallows Hirundo angolensis were discovered in Luanshya early in the month, the first Copperbelt records for some time. The same species was found breeding in good numbers in Luapula Province. Bar-winged Weavers Ploceus angolensis were found nest building and Chestnut-headed Flufftails Sarothrura lugens calling both near Mkushi and Mpika and an unidentified sunbird was found which may prove to be an undescribed taxon. In the far north the poorly known Lusenga Plain NP was explored and species present included Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus, African Blue Quail Coturnix adansonii and Cassin's Flycatcher Muscicapa cassini. Further north still, large numbers of Orange-cheeked Waxbills Estrilda melpoda and the occasional Spotted Thrush-Babbler Ptyrticus turdinus were found along the Luao River, both of which have very small ranges in Zambia. Joyful Greenbul Chlorocichla laetissima was known from a single locality in Zambia but virtually all the forest had been cleared when this was visited and this species probably no longer occurs. Lesser Black-winged Lapwings Vanellus lugubris were found breeding near Lake Tanganyika and a nominate Long-toed Lapwing Vanellus crassirostris was seen at Lake Tondwa along with drumming African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis and very large numbers of White-backed Ducks Thalassornis leuconotus, Red-knobbed Coots Fulica cristata and Lesser Jacanas Microparra capensis. More Lesser Black-winged Lapwings Vanellus lugubris were in the Luangwa Valley along with an off-season African Pygmy Kingfisher Ceyx pictus.

In September, breeding Angola Swallows Hirundo angolensis were found near Solwezi and in Mwinilunga District were several White-bellied Bustards Eupodotis senegalensis, Angola Larks Mirafra angolensis and regular Thick-billed Cuckoos Pachycoccyx audeberti. A Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (rather uncommon in Zambia) on the Kafue floodplains was an interesting suggestion of local breeding and an African Hobby Falco cuvierii was on the Busanga Plains. Zanzibar Sombre Greenbul Andropadus importunus was found in Mazabuka for the first time and in Livingstone a Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula arrived for what turned into a long stay.

In October, near Livingstone, an African Yellow Warbler Chloropeta natalensis was the first confirmed record for the area and in Lochinvar NP, interesting sightings included Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica, Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata and Denham's Bustard Neotis denhami. The long forgotten Isangano NP was visited and amongst the interesting species found were White-backed Night Heron Gorsachius leuconotus and Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus. A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea near Mpika was only about Zambia's fifth.

In November, an African Pitta Pitta angolensis spent a few days poking around a workshop in the Luangwa Valley. A new big day record of 302 species was set on the 11th and highlights included sightings of Chaplin's Barbet Lybius chaplini, Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens and a roost of c250,000 Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica in Choma, and Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola and Sanderling Calidris alba in Lochinvar National Park. A Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica with a British ring was caught in Choma and in the same reedbed was a roost of several thousand Parasitic Weavers Anomalospiza imberbis. A Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla was also flushed there and the first Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons for Choma District was found. A very early Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis was found in Livingstone where up to four Baillon's Crakes Porzana pusilla were also present along with the occasional Spotted Crake Porzana porzana. An Anchieta's Barbet Stactolaema anchietae was found just south of its known range near Mongu and large numbers of Slaty Egrets Egretta vinaceigula and Black-winged Pratincoles Glareola nordmanni were recorded in Liuwa Plain National Park.

In December, a Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius being chased by Burchell's Starlings Lamprotornis australis in Sioma Ngwezi National Park suggests that another Zambian host awaits discovery. Several groups of Black-and-White Mannikins Spermestes bicolor appeared in Choma (where the species was hardly known) and stayed for a few weeks in what seemed to be some sort of invasion. Both Corncrake Crex crex and Spotted Crakes Porzana porzana were there as well as a Eurasian River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis. In the Zambezi Valley Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx montanus, African Pitta Pitta angolensis and Mottled Spinetail Telacanthura ussheri were all found. A European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus was near Kafue and a Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans was near Lusaka. Relatively large numbers of Short-tailed Pipits Anthus brachyurus were found displaying in Mwinilunga and other interesting species found there included Bannerman's Sunbird Cyanomitra bannermani, Black-collared Bulbul Neolestes torquatus and Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus. A pair of Spur-winged Lapwings Vanellus spinosus were found in the Bangweulu basin illustrating the continuing spread of this species that was only found for the first time in Zambia in 1999. A wandering Shoebill Balaeniceps rex was at Kasanka National Park and several European White Storks Ciconia ciconia were, once more, being tracked by satellite across the country helping to add dots to the atlas map without the need for binoculars. A wide selection of montane species were found on the Nyika Plateau such as Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk Accipiter rufiventris, Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis, Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum, Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea , Olive-flanked Robin-Chat Cossypha anomala, Sharpe's Akalat Sheppardia sharpei, Cinnamon Bracken-Warbler Bradypterus cinnamomeus, Mountain Yellow Warbler Chloropeta similis, Fülleborn's Boubou Laniarius fuelleborni and Red-faced Crimsonwing Cryptospiza reichenovii and two notable Palearctic migrants there were a Corncrake Crex crex and a Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis.

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