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Wed, 02/06/2013 - 16:01 -- abc_admin

Recent sightings are published regularly in The Honeyguide - official journal of BirdLife Zimbabwe. The records below are largely unconfirmed and were published in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

The following records are from the period July–December 2015. A pair of Common Ostriches Struthio camelus with 13 chicks was seen at Ngweshla Pan, Hwange National Park (=NP) on 27 September. Eleven Cape Teals Anas capensis were found at Aisleby, near Bulawayo, on 19 July, with another 12 at the Salt Pans, Hwange NP, on 25 July. A Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus was with a Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor at Tembahata Pan, Gona re Zhou NP on 25 October, with another seven at Hideaway, Lake Manyame, on 26 July. Single Rufous-bellied Herons Ardeola rufiventris were observed at Olive Beadle Camp, Hwange District, on 30 June and at Lazy Bay, Hunyani Estate, Lake Manyame, on 25 October; this species is not often seen on dams in the highveld. In July, 40 Saddle-billed Storks Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis were counted at 16 sites, including 20 at Muchaniwa Pan, Chiredzi.

Raptor sightings include a European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus at the Umfurudzi River, Shamva, on 21 November; a Lesser Spotted Eagle Clanga pomarina at the Angwa River, Masoka, on 30 November; a Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii scavenging a dead Plains Zebra Equus quagga at Cawston Block, Gwanda, on 3 October; a Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis at Tembahata Pan, Gona re Zhou NP, on 17 September; and a female Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus on Art Farm, Harare, on 28 November. Five arrival dates for Osprey Pandion haliaetus were noted, on 1–8 October; other records included four at Palm Bay, Kariba (date unspecified), five at Mazwikadei Dam, Zwimba, on 20 November, and five at Mteri Dam, Chiredzi, on 1 December. An Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae was observed near the Botanic Garden, Christon Bank, Mazowe, on an unspecified date; although the species does not figure on the Zimbabwe list, it has been reported several times in the past, but to date no photographs have been obtained.

Noteworthy wader records include 11 Long-toed Lapwings Vanellus crassirostris at Bream Farm, Kariba, on 15 July; seven Greater Painted-snipes Rostratula benghalensis at Mazowe Dam on 1 August; a Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata at Ndungu 2 Camp, Mana Pools NP (date unspecified); c.10 African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis at Rainham Farm Dam, Harare, on 29 November; and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus in Mana Pools NP in early November. Caspian Terns Hydroprogne caspia—rare visitors—were seen with White-winged Terns Chilidonias leucopterus at Trader Horn Creek, Lake Chivero, on 26 November. A pair of African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris was at Nottingham Estate, Beitbridge, on 16 July. In Gona re Zhou NP, a flock of 60 Brown-headed Parrots Poicephalus cryptoxanthus was observed at Mwenezi on 29 June, and a flock of 25 Brown-necked (Grey-headed) Parrots P. robustus fuscicollis at Manawala on 30 September. A Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx montanus was noted at the Umfurudzi River, Shamva District, on 21 November, outside its known range. Also there, a Racket-tailed Roller Coracias spatulata was chasing a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus. A Pel’s Fishing Owl Scotopelia peli was seen on Mahenye Island, Chilo Gorge, in the south-east lowveld, on 15 September.

In Hwange NP, a Collared Palm Thrush Cichladusa arquata was in the Linkwasha Concession, in the eastern part of the park, in early August (a slight range extension), whilst a male Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe was on the Ngamo Plain, in the south-east, from 1 July until at least 12 August. A male Miombo Rock Thrush Monticola angolensis appeared in the Mukuvisi Woodlands, Harare, on 1 November; the species had not been seen at this well-monitored site for eight years. On the same day a nest with two eggs was found in Gosho Park, near Marondera.  

from ABC Bulletin 22.2

The following records are from the period December 2014 - June 2015. A Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris and a Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus were observed at Wamba Dam, Mutasa, on 5 January. Twelve Black Storks Ciconia nigra at Chinga Pan, Save Valley Conservancy, on 13 January was an unusually large group. At Victoria Falls Sewage Ponds a large concentration of 260 Marabou Storks Leptoptilus crumenifer was seen on 19 February. Three African Pygmy Geese Nettapus auritus were noted at Claw Dam, Kadoma, with one at Rainham Dam, Harare; the species is declining drastically around Harare. Cape Teal Anas capensis also appears to be declining: none was reported during the African Waterbird Census in January.

A good number of European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus were sighted, including one at Victoria Falls Hotel on 30 December, one at Gosho Park near Marondera on 31 January, one Harare on 29 March, several at Trichelia Camp, Mana Pools, with at least two still present at Nduna Camp, in Malilangwe Nature Reserve, on 18 June. Forty Yellow-billed Kites Milvus migrans parasitus at Inyankuni Dam, near Bulawayo, on 13 December was a very large group. A male Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus was seen at Komani Estates on 25 January. A Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis reported from Ngamo Pans, Hwange National Park, on 7 December has been accepted by BirdLife Zimbabwe’s Rarities Committee as the first for Zimbabwe; also there were >100 Lesser Spotted Eagles Clanga pomarina. A Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis was claimed on 27 December; this would also be a first for the country if accepted, but confusion with other buzzards cannot be ruled out. A Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus was seen at Monavale Vlei on 12 February. The 50-year old Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii survey in Matobo National Park, censused 26 pairs in 2014; peak numbers were 55 pairs in 1976.

At Komani Estate, near Harare, a Corn Crake Crex crex was seen on 17 January with another there on 25 January. At Monovale Vlei, a Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans was reported on 21 December and no fewer than 15 Streaky-breasted Flufftails S. boehmii on 2 January; a clutch of three eggs of the latter was found on 12 February. On 17 January, 43 Rock Pratincoles Glareola nuchalis were counted near Chundu Island, above Victoria Falls. Eight Long-toed Lapwings Vanellus crassirostris were at Victoria Fall Sewage ponds, two at Chikwenya on 18 - 21 April, and two at Mongwe River mouth on 9 May. A Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus was found at Nyanyana, Kariba, on 18 January. A Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, a rarely recorded species in Zimbabwe, was at Trichelia Camp, Mana Pools, on 28 December. A Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia was ringed at Glen Lorne, Harare, on 7 December. A Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis was claimed on call at Komani Estate, near Harare, on 25 January; no acceptable records have yet been submitted. A male Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla was at Seldom Seen, in the Bvumba, on 8 December. Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons, a new bird for Kadoma, was seen at the Golf Club; the species started breeding at the Mashumavale River, but all the nests were washed away.

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

Zimbabwe Southern Africa’s first Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis was photographed at Ngamo Pans, in Hwange National Park (=NP) on 7 December; this intra-African migrant usually moves no further south than Tanzania. Also of great interest for the subregion was a male Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla observed at Seldomseen, in the Vumba area, on 8 December.

Other noteworthy records from the period July–December 2014 include the following. At least three European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus were reported near Victoria Falls on 18–19 November. Rare ducks, all reported in July, included 21 Cape Teals Anas capensis and five Cape Shovelers Spatula smithii in Bulawayo and two Maccoa Ducks Oxyura maccoa in Hwange NP. A Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus was observed in Mana Pools NP on 20 October. An Abdim’s Stork Ciconia abdimii arrived in a garden in Chadcombe, Harare, on 5 November; this individual has returned to this site annually for the last 35 years. A flock of six Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus flew along the Zambezi River at New Ngundu, Mana Pools NP, on 2 September. Five Wattled Cranes Grus carunculatus were at Driefontein Mission Dam, Gutu District, on 23 August and c.100 Lesser Jacanas Microparra capensis at Nyamungayi Pan, Seke District, on 25 July. Five Senegal Lapwings Vanellus lugubris were reported from the Save–Runde Junction on 11 July and two Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus from near Masoka Camp on 6 December.

A remarkably large flock of c.50 Böhm’s Spinetails Neafrapus boehmii was seen in Mana Pools NP on 3 October. A male Narina’s Trogon Apaloderma narina, located below Maleme Dam in Matopos NP in mid August, was well out of its normal range. An African Pitta Pitta angolensis appeared at Wavell Road, Highlands, Harare, on 25 November; this species is only occasionally noted in the city on its southbound migration. Four African Firefinches Lagonosticta rubricata were at the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Masvingo, on 12 October, outside their known range according to current distribution maps. 

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

Records from December 2013 - June 2014 include the following. A family party of three Wattled Cranes Grus carunculatus was at Wigeon Pan on 27 April, with another at nearby Upper Driefontein Dam. A European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus was located at Umfurudzi Park in mid March. Western Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus were observed at Marlborough Vlei, Harare, at Aberdeen Farm and Lake Manyame on 26 January. Two Montagu’s Harriers C. pygargus were seen at Wigeon Pan, Gutu District, in April. In January, single Corncrakes Crex crex were reported from Monavale Vlei, Wamba Dam, Dhlo Dhlo Ruins and Aiselby, whilst Spotted Crakes Porzana porzana were seen in Greengrove Nature Reserve, Harare, and at Matoa Pan in Hwange National Park (=NP), with another at Marlborough Vlei, Harare, on 9 February; both species are becoming rarer in the country. A Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa was near Nyamandhlovu Pan in Hwange NP on 25 - 26 March. A Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus was photographed at Green Pool, Mana Pools NP, on 3 December. A pair of Lilian’s Lovebirds Agapornis lilianae was observed near Elephant Hills Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls, on 27 April; this constitutes a westward range extension. A Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus was reported from Gleneagles Forest Reserve, in the Eastern Highlands, on 31 January. Two Pel’s Fishing Owls Scotopelia peli recorded at Aberfoyle, Mutasa District, is a new locality for this species, which is rare in Zimbabwe. A Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis was discovered at Marlborough Vlei on 19 January.

from ABC Bulletin 21.1

Records from July - December 2013 include the following. Twenty African Darters Anhinga rufa at Chipinda Pools, Runde River, on 11 - 15 July, was a good count; they have been netted out of the main Harare Dams (Lakes Chivero and Manyame) where they bred in their hundreds c.15 years ago. At Greengrove Nature Reserve, Harare, 760 breeding Sacred Ibises Threskiornis aethiopicus, representing at least 1% of the Zimbabwean population, were counted on 26 July; on 30 August many chicks of variable age were present, with two being eaten by two Purple Swamphens Porphyrio porphyrio. An African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus was observed at Rainham Dam, Harare, on 13 July, whilst a Western Marsh Harrier C. aeruginosus was reported from Lake Manyane on 13 December. Two Wattled Cranes Grus carunculatus were seen at Chikokerano Pan on 10 July; according to local people, the pair returns to this pan every year. A Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum was at Crowborough Farm, near Harare, in July, whilst at Dreifontein, the country’s crane heartland, none was recorded. African Finfoots Podica senegalensis were found at Chipinda Pools and Chishakwe Dam, in the Save / Runde area of the south-east lowveld, in July; this species seldom frequents dams. The presence of Speckled Mousebirds Colius striatus at Chipinda Pools, Runde River, Gona re Zhou National Park, on 11 - 15 July, was rather unexpected; the species seems to have replaced Red-faced Mousebird Urocolius indicus in Harare. The first European Bee-eater Merops apiaster for the season was noted on 22 September, in Harare. A male Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe was reported near Mahuwe in the lower Zambezi Valley on 26 November. In Gosho Park, near Marondera, a Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla was seen on 21 November and a Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis on 12 December. A Spotted Creeper Salpornis spilonotus was photographed on its nest in Mukuvisi Woodlands on 1 September and a Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala feeding a Village Indigobird Vidua chalybeata was photographed at Lake Chivero, on 1 July. An Orange-breasted Waxbill Amandava subflava in Gona re Zhou National Park on 5 July represents a range extension. 

from ABC Bulletin 20.2

Records from November 2012 - June 2013 include the following. A tagged Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres (no. C.I04) was photographed in Gonarezhou National Park, in the south-east, on 18 May. Bat Hawks Macheiramphus alcinus were preying on roosting Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica at How Mine, near Bulawayo, on 24 February; one flew over Art Farm Dam, Harare, on 12 April. A melanistic Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar at Greystone Park Nature Reserve, Harare, was photographed on 1 March; these birds seem much more common in Harare than 30 years ago. Fourteen Lesser Jacanas Microparra capensis at Nyamungai Pan, Seki, on 3 February was a good count; this species is not often recorded by the African Waterbird Census. A Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and a Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus were in the Mana Pools area in the second half of June. A pair of Grey-headed Parrots Poicephalus fuscicollis was nesting in an Ilala palm on the banks of the Zambezi, Victoria Falls, on 16 April; the species is now rare in this area due to excessive trapping for the cage bird trade. An African Grass Owl Tyto capensis was seen at Monavale Vlei, Harare, on 11 March. A nest of Pel's Fishing Owl Scotopelia peli in a large baobab tree at Hippo Pools, Shamva, contained an egg in January; on 1 June the chick was still in the nest, which was 1 km from the Umfurudzi River and 3 km from the Mazowe River.

An African Pitta Pitta angolensis was recorded at Muchachiri Lodge for the second consecutive year on 14 November. A Mountain Wagtail Motacilla clara observed in Greystone Park, Harare, on 5 December is a very unusual record for this locality. In the little-visited north of Umfurudzi Park, Spotted Creepers Salpomis spilonotus were seen on 20 March. In the same park, an Arnot's Chat Myrmecocichla arnotii was encountered for the first time in ten years. Five Lark-like Buntings Emberiza impetuani were at Stonehills Farm, Marula, on 18 April; the species had not been recorded at this site previously.

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

Records from January - November 2012 include the following. At Lake Manyame, 145 Glossy Ibises Plegadis falcinellus were counted on 12 July. On 25 July, 46 African Spoonbills Platalea alba were observed at Biri Dam, near Chinhoyi, where they were breeding. Also there on the same day were four Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus (ruber) roseus. An Osprey Pandion haliaetus was seen at Hippo Pools, Mazowe River, on 15 January, with another at Biri Dam, Hunyani River, near Chinhoyi, on 27 July. A Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera was at Rifa Camp, Zambezi River, near Chirundu, on 17–20 February. Waders included 12 Common Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Bumi, Kariba, in March, two Long-toed Lapwings Vanellus crassirostris at Lake Manyame on 9 June, a Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus at Bumi in March and a Great Snipe Gallinago media at Monavale Vlei, Harare,on 18 March. A pair of Whiskered Terns Chlidonias hybrida was seen at Chikokerano Pan, Marondera District, on 25 March and 15 White-winged Terns C. leucopterus at Lake Manyame on 12 July. At Rainham Dam, Harare, an African Grass Owl Tyto capensis was recorded on 14 January. The remains of a Pel’s Fishing Owl Scotopelia peli were found under a Crowned Eagle’s Stephanoaetus coronatus nest at Hippo Pools in early September (LvdM). In August - September, a large grassfire in Monavale Vlei, Harare, flushed 12 Marsh Owls Asio capensis.

A Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus nigricans was found at the National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, on 23 September; the species only appears there in very dry years. In Harare, an Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina was observed at Monavale Vlei on 18 March. A nest of Livingstone’s Flycatcher Erythrocercus livingstonei was found at Hippo Pools, Shamva District, on 2 - 4 March. Four Lesser Grey Shrikes Lanius minor, flying north through Mashonaland, were reported on 31 March - 9 April. A Crimson-breasted Shrike Laniarus atrococcineus of the rare yellow morph was reported from Main Camp, Hwange National Park, on 30 July - 2 August. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis, which first appeared in Zimbabwe at the turn of the century, was found to have reached Harare, where two were seen on 8 November. A pair of Swee Waxbills Coccopygia melanotis was recorded c.15 km from Inn on the Rupurara River, Nyanga District, on 31 August - 3 September. An expedition to Hwedza Mountain, organised by the Mashonaland Branch of BirdLife Zimbabwe on 21 - 24 September to search for Swee Waxbill found a nest-building male; the species was last seen there 20 years ago. A pair of Magpie Mannikins Lonchura fringilloides was seen at their nest at Ewanrigg Botanic Gardens on 26 February.

A South African expedition to the Eastern Highlands, on 4 - 12 November, observed Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii, Pallid Honeyguide Indicator meliphilus and Pale Batis Batis soror at Gleneagles, Lesser Seedcracker Pyrenestes minor and Magpie Mannikins at Katiyo Tea Estate, Mutasa District, and a pair of Gurney's Sugarbirds Promerops gurneyi at Seldomseen. 

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

A Whinchat Saxicola rubetra found at Aberfoyle, in the Honde Valley, on 13 November 2011, was still present one week later; there are few records of this species in southern Africa. A pair of Swee Waxbills Estrilda melanotis was reported in the grounds of the Pine Tree Inn near Juliusdale, in the Eastern Highlands, in mid October.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

Single European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus were reported between Harare and Mutare on 17 January; at Ilala Lodge, Victoria Falls, on 21 January; and the Buzi River area on 3 March. At least two Western Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus were present outside Harare on 15 January. A Striped Crake Aenigmatolimnas marginalis was reported from Monavale Vlei, Harare, on 2 March, whilst an out of range Olive Bee-eater Merops superciliosus was in Matopos National Park on 6 March.

__________________________

A European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus was at Aberfoyle Tea Estate on 4 October. In November, a Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus stayed at Goliath Safaris Camp, Mana Pools National Park; this appears to be well north-west of other records in the country. A male Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe was photographed on the lawn of the Trader Horn Boat Club at Lake Chivero on 12 December; this is a rare vagrant, with only a few records for southern Africa.

Reports from mid - December 2009 to mid - February 2010 include a Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus in Vimba Forest and a Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla in Mutarazi Falls National Park, with another two near Mutare. A Collared Palm Thrush Cichladusa torquata that took up residence in an Avondale garden in Harare in April was well outside the species' known range.

A Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis was claimed from Masoka Camp, in the Zambezi River Valley, on 7 January 2009; there are very few confirmed records of this vagrant in southern Africa. A male Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla was observed at Seldomseen in the Bvumba on 23 - 24 March 2008. During a short and trouble-free visit on 12-14 July 2007, the Vumba and Seldomseen area provided views of most of the specialities, including Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia synnertoni, Roberts’s Warbler Oreophilais robertsi and Chirinda Apalis Apalis chirindensis. Places like Seldomseen, which has excellent local guides, may well be at risk of disappearing if not visited by foreign birders. 

A Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus was reported from Marlborough Vlei on 11 January. A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea remained in the Vumba from 5 February until at least 3 March. Single Eurasian Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus were mist-netted at Marlborough Vlei on 11 January and on the Uzumbe River floodplain on 29 January.

A Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos was found in Mana Pools National Park on 26 October 2005. About 2,000 Amur Falcons Falco amurensis were counted at Tafara Township, north-east Harare early in the morning of 28 February 2006; subsequent late-afternoon counts at this roost revealed that no less than 25,000–30,000 birds were present. 28 Blue Swallows Hirundo atrocaerulaea were seen flying '4 km up the Troutbeck Road from the Nyanga Road’, Eastern Highlands on 2 March. A pair of  Black-throated Wattle-eyes (Wattled-eyed Flycatchers) Platysteira peltata was found in a Harare garden in late February.

On 2 January 2005, Zimbabwe's first (if the record is accepted) Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis was found at Victoria Falls. There have been two submissions so far, from 2 March 1998, Victoria Falls, and 4 November 1998, Chikwenya, and neither has been accepted. Previous confirmed records from elsewhere in southern Africa include three from South Africa, two from Mozambique and one from Botswana. Also in January, a male Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis was present at Mutare Heights for the second year running; in 2004 the bird remained until mid February at least.

Zimbabwe's second Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus was found along the Nyamatusi channel, downstream of Nyamepi Camp, Mana Pools National Park on 30 September 2004 and stayed until at least 18 November. The first was seen earlier in the year in Hwange National Park.

A pair of Plain-backed Sunbirds Anthreptes reichenowi was seen at Hippo Pools, Umfurudzi Wildlife Area, c160 km north-east of Harare, on 17 September 2003. From June to October 2003, a large influx of Stark’s Larks Eremalauda starki took place in the Tuli Circle, the most notable record being that of a flock of c300 on 29 July, partly in Zimbabwe and partly in eastern Botswana. There was also an influx of Lark-like Buntings Emberiza impetuani in the same area although they moved in earlier, from March onwards.

The first Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus for Zimbabwe (and only the fourth for southern Africa) was seen at Hwange National Park from 23 March until 4 May 2003.

Records from November 2002 to January 2003 include the following. A Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens was seen in Bvumba Botanical Gardens, south-east of Mutare, Manicaland, on 15 November; no records of this species from the east have been accepted in the Atlas of Southern African Birds (1997). A Streaky-breasted Flufftail Sarothrura boehmi was observed at Monavale wetland, Harare, on 3 January, and a Spotted Crake Porzana porzana at Balla Balla waterhole, Hwange National Park, on 29 and 30 December. Collared Flycatchers Ficedula albicollis were seen at Chizarira on 1 January and at Gosho Park, Marondera, on the 2nd and 4th. At Wamba wetland, Honde Valley, Marsh Tchagra Tchagra minutus was recorded from 6 to 9 January and Lesser Seedcracker Pyrenestes minor on 8 and 9th. A Zambezi Indigobird Vidua codringtoni was at Bvumba on 12 January.

Records from November 2001 to March 2002 include the following. A European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus was seen near Hwange National Park on 12 December and another in the Vumba area on 30 January. A Shoebill Balaeniceps rex was claimed from Chipinda Pools on 3 November. What appears to be the first Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius for the country and for Southern Africa was seen and photographed at Makololo Plains, Hwange National Park, from 5 to 8th January 2002; the nearest records are from Zambia and Malawi. A White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis, apparently only the fifth for Southern Africa, was located at Mana Pools National Park on 2 November. An Asian Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus and a Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla were reported from the Vumba area on 31 January.

Over 2,000 Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola were found at a single roost on a small island near the eastern border of Mana Pools National Park in May 1999; although the species is common in the Zambezi Valley, this appears to be an unusually large flock.

Map

Tue, 02/05/2013 - 16:32 -- abc_admin

References

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

CHILDES, S.L. and MUNDY, P.J. Zimbabwe chapter pp 1025-1042 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).

COHEN, C., SPOTTISWOODE, C. & ROSSOUW, J. (2006) Southern African Birdfinder: where to find 1400 birds in southern Africa and Madagascar. Struik Publishers. 

DOWSETT, R.J., BREWSTER, C.A. and HINES, C. (2011) Some bird distributional limits in the Upper Zambezi Valley. ABC Bulletin 18(1) pp 17-30.

GINN, P. et al (1997) The Complete Book of Southern African Birds published by Struik. (Out of print but second-hand copies available - check Russell Friedman Books).

HARRISON, J.A., ALLAN, D.G., UNDERHILL, L.G., HERREMANNS, M., TREE, A.J., PARKER, V. and BROWN, C.J. (1997) The Atlas of Southern Africa Birds 2 volumes, Johannesburg: BirdLife South Africa.

LOTZ, C. (2012) A productive birding transect from highland Zimbabwe to coastal Mozambique. ABC Bulletin 19(1) pp 83-93.

 

Links

The BirdLife Zimbabwe website has information about birds, birding and conservation in Zimbabwe.

Contacts

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African Bird Club representative
Bird recorder and checklist compiler

Togaresei Fakarayi
Programme Manager
PO Box RVL100
Runiville
Harare 
Zimbabwe

email:  toga@blz.co.zw or sylvia@blz.co.zw

 

Clubs / contacts

Zimbabwe Association of Tour and Safari Operators
email Sally Bown at zatso@mweb.co.zw

Peter & Liz Ginn
1 Koer Avenue
Denneoord
George
6529, Republic of South Africa
Phone / fax: + 27 - 44 - 874 6372
Mobile:  + 27 - 72 - 279 7013
Email: pgbs@cyberperk.co.za

Web site: www.safari-tours.com

Conservation

Tue, 02/05/2013 - 16:29 -- abc_admin

Up until a few years ago Zimbabwe was in the forefront of the conservation of the natural environment with state protected areas of Zimbabwe amounting to almost 50,000 km2 or 12.8% of the land area. However, the events of the last three years have turned most conservation matters on their head and it is almost impossible to ascertain the present position. There is no doubt that the "abandoned farms" have started reverting to natural vegetation which could be to the benefit of many bird species!

Whether the special areas like montane forest in the east will survive is presently uncertain. The nationalisation of all farmland also offers less hope for conservation than private ownership.

Zimbabwe is party to a number of international treaties including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification and Endangered Species. Even before the problems of the last few years however, deforestation, soil erosion, land degradation, and air and water pollution have been issues. The Black Rhinoceros herd - once the largest concentration of the species in the world - has been significantly reduced by poaching.

Specific conservation programmes included Taita Falcon Falco fasciinucha captive-breeding using the offspring of birds sent to the USA in the 1980s together with wild-caught Zimbabwe birds.

The African Bird Club made a donation to the Ornithological Association of Zimbabwe (OAZ) to run a training course for A Level and undergraduate students.

Books & Sounds

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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 1400 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.

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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

Visiting

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Shikra_Zimbabwe

Shikra Accipiter badius paddling in the birdbath in front of the reception area at Main Camp.

Image Credit: 
Chris Magin
Zimbabwe_Lodge
Image Credit: 
Chris Magin

Birding tours

BirdquestBirding EcotoursLetaka Safaris, Rockjumper and Safari Consultants organise tours to Zimbabwe.

Guides

There are a number of excellent lodges where birds and birding are considered very important - The Hide at Hwange and Imbabala above the falls immediately spring to mind.

There are a number of excellent local bird guides including Buluwesi Murambiwa at Seldomseen in the Bvumba and Basi Abbasi in the Honde Valley. There are also several general guides who are really good on birds as well. Check with BirdLife Zimbabwe for an up to date list of Bird Guides.

Trip reports

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe – Short Trip Report. November 2011 contributed by Chris Magin in February 2012.

In November 2011 I made an all-too-short two day trip to Hwange NP accompanied by Chip Chirara of BirdLife Zimbabwe. At the recommendation of Zimbabwean vulture guru Peter Munday and his wife Verity who we bumped into at Halfway House (an inn halfway as its name suggests between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls) we stayed at Miombo Lodge. Just outside the Park boundary, near Main Camp Gate, the beautifully appointed lodge is run by Mike Sherren.

Having done the formalities, we went straight to Nyamandlovu Pan. Hwange was fearsomely hot, and in the grip of a dreadful drought, and the carcasses of dead elephants were scattered around the waterhole. There were so many dead animals throughout the park that the massive concentration of vultures that one might expect at such a feast was conspicuously absent. One fresh carcass had however attracted 13 Hooded Necrosyrtes monachus and White-Backed Vultures Gyps africanus.

More than 20 Yellow-billed Oxpeckers Buphagus africanus were on the backs of two Giraffes. We saw a few water birds that included Burchell’s Sandgrouse Pterocles burchelli before hurrying back to get out of the park before the mandatory 18.30 hrs gate closure. To cap a fine day, we were welcomed back to Miombo Lodge by a Pennant-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius displaying at dusk over the Lodge and swimming pool. After a fantastic meal the night’s entertainment consisted of watching (on foot) the continuous traffic of elephant and buffalo to the Lodge’s waterhole.

The next day we drove outside the park to the Sinamatela gate, and worked our way back inside the 120 or so km to Main Camp. We saw no less than 98 species of birds  - not bad for two rather indifferent birders - and a good number of mammals, including sable and roan antelope, and hundreds and hundreds of elephants. There were very few little brown jobs to frustrate us with identification. Interesting sightings included the Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis, White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis, Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruberand Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus. We had to rush through the last few pans so that we could reach Main Camp on time.

What a fantastic day we had had! We returned to the very comfortable and interesting Miombo Lodge (see photo above). Mike Sherren was waiting for us and we had dinner together. Miombo is a very impressive lodge with a waterhole right in front of the chalets. The miombo woodland provides good birding during the day, with specials such as the Crimson-breasted Gonolek Laniarius atrococcineus and Southern Pied Babbler Turdoides bicolor readily observable. The next time you go to Hwange, go to Miombo Lodge, mention that you are an ABC member, and Mike will give you a 10% discount! Mobile phone : +263 77 467 1366.

Birdwatch Zimbabwe 1991 by Derek Solomon and Jacko Williams, comprehensive guide with detailed descriptions of all main areas with maps, site guides, accommodation directions, checklist and many line drawings.

Logistics

Zimbabwe can be reached by international flights from Europe. There are also frequent flights from Johannesburg to Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Air Zimbabwe connects Harare and Bulawayo with Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park. Popular land borders include the Victoria Falls / Kazungala crossing between Zimbabwe and Botswana from where you can continue through Chobe National Park to Namibia, the Victoria Falls / Livingstone crossing to Zambia, and the road and rail links to South Africa via Beitbridge. Travelling by road from South Africa to Zimbabwe via Beitbridge required two and a half hours to get through all the formalities at this border crossing in November 2012. The majority of the roads which we used in Zimbabwe were paved and well-maintained.  

On the African Bird Club tour in 2012, we were able to buy fuel in Zimbabwe without difficulty. Flying into Victoria Falls for a visit to Hwange and the upper Zambezi Valley is still feasible. Flying to Harare for Marondera and Bvumba should also be possible and Bulawayo for the Matobos is easy.

There are safari firms operating who can help - check with Zimbabwe Association of Tour and Safari Operators (ZATSO).

Zimbabwe uses the $US as its currency. 

Safety

There were no safety issues during our tour in November 2012. One should be aware however that there are regular police blocks on the roads for checks of paperwork. The best approach was to be extremely polite and friendly and as a result, we had no problems at all. 

Most safety and health issues are no different from those in many African countries. 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 two websites or your own local embassy website for the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.

It is worth checking the latest situation with both BirdLife Zimbabwe and ZATSO before visiting — see Contact section for details.

Hotspots

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Stripe_cheeked_Greenbul_Zimbabwe

Stripe-cheeked Greenbul Andropadus milanjensis, Eastern Highlands, Zimbabwe

Image Credit: 
John Caddick, November 2012

The following list has been suggested by Peter Ginn to provide some of the best birding in Zimbabwe.

There is much to see in the Vumba area without having to travel far into Zimbabwe. We received the following information from a correspondent who runs Ndundu Lodge in the Vumba, Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe on 27/01/07 (see the visiting section for further details). For birders travelling in Mozambique, coming to the Vumba is very easy. A 35km drive from the Mozambique border will take you to one of the most beautiful mountains in the region. The area is good for Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul Andropadus milanjensis, Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni, Chirinda Apalis Apalis chirindensis and Bronzy Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis.

Another place which is good for guided birdtours is the Leopard Rock Hotel. They have opened a small game reserve and have a guide who knows the birds and the area quite well. As it is quite a bit lower the birdlife here is different with the possibility of Green-backed (Little Spotted) Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher Trochocercus cyanomelas and Pale (Mozambique) Batis Batis soror. In Mutare itself (the nearest town from Vumba, about 30km distant), there is a perfect place, Cecil Kop, for Miombo specials. A few hours there usually yields all the specials such as Red-faced Crombec Sylvietta whytii, Southern (Mashona) Hyliota Hyliota australis, Spotted Creeper Salpornis spilonotus, Rufous-bellied Tit Parus rufiventris and Cabanis Bunting Emberiza cabanisi.

Haroni- Rusito Valleys & Chirinda Forest Kiledo Lodge but it is probably not accessible at the present time.

Save Conservancy Senuko Lodge

Save-Rundi Confluence area - River Lodges Chilo and Mahenye Lodges

Matopos National Park: the Matopos or Matobo Hills are a fascinating area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometres south of Bulawayo. The Hills cover an area of about 3,100 km2, of which 440  km2 is National Park. There is a substantial raptor population, with 35 diurnal birds of prey and 9 nocturnal species recorded within the Hills and a good range of other birds with a total of over 300 species.

Hwange National Park is the largest National Park in Zimbabwe, over 14,600 km2 in area, and is one of the country’s main tourist attractions. It has a good network of gravel roads, hides, guided walking trails, night drives, hutted camps, campsites and safari lodges. The Hide is very highly recommended, as is the Hwange Safari Lodge.

Victoria Falls area and gorges - This is a prime tourist destination which has a network of access roads, walking trails, boat trips on the river, and a full range of accommodation from hotels to camping. It has good birding opportunities in the rain forest next to the Falls, along the Zambezi River and the gorges below the Falls.

The Zambezi Valley above the Victoria Falls - Imbabala Camp is very highly recommended for all birders. They have Swamp Nightjar Caprimulgus natalensis plus all the Okavango specials and a number of Zambian birds which only enter Zimbabwe at this point.

Chizarira — we are not sure who is operating there at present so it is worth checking with ZATSO - see Contacts section.

Central Kariba Basin - The Bumi Hills area and Chizarira are both excellent birding areas, but not easy to access unless you are using the local lodges and hotels.

Lower Zambezi Area - Mana Pools. There is wonderful birding at Mana Pools National Park and at various places on the escarpment above the park. Waders can be found along the river which is also a breeding site for African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris.

Gosho Park Environmental Education Park at Peterhouse, 8 km east of Marondera has an excellent example of climax Brachystegia Woodland with a complete range of the Brachystegia specials.  It is open to all birders for a small visitors fee.

Species

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Swynnertons_Robin_Zimbabwe

Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni, Seldomseen, Zimbabwe

You can download and print a checklist for Zimbabwe.

BirdLife Zimbabwe has the detailed maps which were created during the development of the Bird Atlas. These have never been published because of lack of sponsorship. All the information has been incorporated into The Atlas of Southern Africa Birds HARRISON, J.A et al (1997).

Endemic species

There are no endemic species in Zimbabwe.

Near endemic species (found in 3 adjacent countries at most)

Melodious Lark Mirafra cheniana
Swynnerton’s Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni
Briar Warbler Oreophilais robertsi
Chirinda Apalis Apalis chirindensis
Woodward’s Batis Batis fratrum
Gurney’s Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi
Swee Waxbill Coccopygia melanotis
Lemon-breasted Canary Serinus citrinipectus

Threatened species

Madagascar Pond Heron Ardeola idae Endangered
Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula Vulnerable
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres Vulnerable
Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus Vulnerable
White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis Vulnerable
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus Endangered
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Vulnerable
White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi Endangered
Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum Vulnerable
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus Vulnerable
Black-cheeked Lovebird Agapornis nigrigenis Vulnerble
Southern Ground Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri Vulnerable
Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea Vulnerable
Swynnerton’s Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni 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

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Miombo_Double_collared_Sunbird_Zimbabwe

Miombo Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris manoensis, Seldomseen, Zimbabwe

Image Credit: 
John Caddick, November 2012

The eastern highlands along the border with Mozambique form a major part of the globally important Eastern Zimbabwe Mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA) which has a number of near endemic species such as Swynnerton’s Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni, Briar Warbler Oreophilais robertsi and Chirinda Apalis Apalis chirindensis. These are forest birds which are found in the relatively small patches of wet montane forest in the Bvumba and Nyanga mountains. In particular Seldomseen in the Bvumba, and the Honde Valley have become birding meccas of recent years.

A total of 20 sites in Zimbabwe have been identified as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) representing some 30,000 km2 or 7.7% of the land surface. The eastern highlands area contains eight which from north to south are as follows: Nyanga Mountains; Nyanga Lowlands / Honde Valley; Stapleford Forest; Bvumba Highlands; Banti Forest Reserve; Chimanimani Mountains; Haroni-Rusito Junction and Botanical Reserves; and Chirinda Forest.

Two IBAs in the south-east of the country, Limpopo - Mwenezi flood-plain and pans and Save - Runde Junction contain species restricted to the south-east African coast EBA, in particular Lemon-breasted Canary Serinus citrinipectus.

The remaining ten IBAs are in the central and more westerly parts of the country. These are Hwange National Park; Chizarira National Park; Batoka Gorge; Middle Zambezi Valley; Robert McIlwaine Recreational Park; Sebakwe Poort; Wabai Hill (Debshan Ranch); Matobo Hills; Driefontein Grasslands and Mavuradonha Mountains.  

The Brachystegia woodland of the central plateau offers a lot of special birding places where the Zimbabwe Brachystegia specials such as Northern Grey Tit Parus thruppi, Rufous-bellied Tit P. rufiventris, Boulder Chat Pinarornis plumosus, Spotted Creeper Salpornis spilonotus and Miombo Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris manoensis can be found. The Gosho Park Environmental Project near Marondera offers all these plus Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis in summer.

The country has been well covered by birders and professional ornithologists and the Southern African Bird Atlas Project was particularly important in this respect as most quarter degree squares were checked. There are no areas in Zimbabwe with less than 400 species recorded during the bird atlas period and the better birding areas recorded over 450 species.

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

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