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 26.1
Reports from June–December 2018 include the following. Single African Crakes Crex egregia were observed at Stanley and Livingstone on 26 December and two Caspian Plovers Charadrius asiaticus at Guvalala Pan in Hwange National Park (=NP) on 14 October. A Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus, a very rare vagrant to the subregion, was discovered on a floodplain in Mana Pools NP on 15 September. In the same park, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus was seen on 20 November. Single European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus were noted on Chundu Island, 21 km upstream from Victoria Falls, on 2 December, and at Mazvikadei, near Banket, on 17 December. An immature Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus was feeding on a carcass at Kavinga Safari Camp, Mana Pools NP, on 28 October, with another at Big Tom’s Pan, in Hwange NP, on 19 November. A Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres at Malilangwe, on the edge of Gonarezhou NP, on 29 June was an unusual record for the area. A Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera caillautii and a Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis were reported from Cecil Kop Nature Reserve, near Mutare, on 29 December. An Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum at Kavinga Safari Camp, Mana Pools NP, on 19 November, appears to be well outside the species’ usual range. An out-ofrange male Swee Waxbill Coccopygia melanotis was observed along the road to Seldomseen, in the Eastern Highlands, on 9 December, and a Red-throated Twinspot Hypargos niveoguttatus at Victoria Falls on 21 December (per TH).
from ABC Bulletin 25.1
Noteworthy records in August– December 2017 include the following. A rather out-of-range Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans was observed near a tributary of the Ruckomeche River on 5 December. Also somewhat out of their known range was a pair of White-backed Night Herons Gorsachius leuconotus at a nest containing chicks in the Honde Valley, in the Eastern Highlands, on 25 October. A Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica was discovered near Joyce Mine in Beatrice, near Harare, on 15–17 October—a good record for the area. Two African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris were still at Nottingham Dam near Beit Bridge on 25 August. A Sanderling Calidris alba—a rather unusual species for the country—was found along the Zambezi River c.2.5 km downstream of Chirundu, on 4 December. A Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus was seen at Kavinga Safari Lodge along the Zambezi River on 18–19 November and 5 December. A European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus was near Mutirikwi National Park, east of Masvingo, on 29 November. A Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis was photographed at Kavinga Camp, Zambezi Valley, on 2 November. A Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis was observed at Kavinga Safari Camp on 5 December and two Collared Flycatchers Ficedula albicollis at Hidden Rocks, in Juliusdale, on 8 December. Several Northern Grey-headed Sparrows Passer griseus were noted in Chirundu on 4 December, somewhat further east than their normal range (per TH & MMa).
from ABC Bulletin 24.2
The first Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka for the country and the third for southern Africa was photographed at Victoria Falls Airport on 23 February 2017 (per www.hbw.com/news/first-countryreports). A Denham’s Bustard Ardeotis denhami was photographed at Little Makaholi, Hwange National Park, on 3 February; the species is reported about once every five years (CS per DR-G). In the same park, an adult Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus was seen again at Shumba Pan on 20 and 25 January. Single European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus were reported from Mazvikadei, near Banket, on 13 February, and from Mandara, Harare, on 25 March. A male Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla observed at Seldomseen, in the Vumba, Eastern Highlands, on 16 February, is approximately the 25th record for southern Africa, with ten of these from the Vumba to date (per TH)
from ABC Bulletin 24.1
The following records are from the period July–December 2016. A male Common Ostrich Struthio camelus with 15 chicks was photographed at Wilderness Safaris, Hwange National Park (= NP) in August; very few Ostriches now survive in the country (per DR-G). Three Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola were in the Chikwenya Island / Sapi River area on 29 November (DK), with one at Manyame Lake, Makonde District, on 11 December (FCo). A Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus was located 122 – Bull ABC Vol 24 No 1 (2017) Recent Reports at Chisasiko Pool in Mana Pools NP on 31 October (SFe & JBl); there are possibly only c.15 previous records. A Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres was on the gull breeding island opposite Rhino Safari Camp at Lake Kariba on 27 August. Two African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris that have apparently been at Nottingham Estate, near Beitbridge, for 3–4 years, were observed again in July and subsequently bred (chicks were seen in October); one was located at Masasanya Dam, in Gonarezhou NP, on 13 July. An immature Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus was noted at Kazangula on 6 November (per TH). Four Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus were seen at Nyamandhlovu Pan, Hwange NP, on 11 December, with a remarkable flock of no fewer than 320 Marabou Storks Leptoptilus crumenifer (FW). Three, apparently overwintering, White Storks Ciconia ciconia were observed near Pomona Barracks, Harare, on 21 August (CSh), whilst a huge flock of c.1,350 was seen 22 km south of Mbalabala on 15 December (HL). The first Abdim’s Stork C. abdimii of the season was reported on 3 November at St. Michael’s School, Harare (CSh); numbers visiting Zimbabwe have been greatly reduced recently. A Black Stork C. nigra was seen at the Turgwe River, Humani Ranch, on 18 November (DR-G) and a Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula at Imbabala on 17 December (SCh).
A Secretary-bird Sagittarius serpentarius near the Harare– Chinhoyi road bridge across the Gwebi River on 2 December was unusual in this area (ND). A European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus was in the Burma Valley, in the east, on 23 December (per TH), whilst a Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis was at Kanga Pan, Zambezi Valley, on 22 October (JPo). Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus were recorded in the Zambezi Valley on 22 October (an immature); in Mana Pools NP on 18 November (an immature); and in Hwange NP on 12 November and 11 & 26 December (per TH). A Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres, 42 White-backed Vultures G. africanus, three Lappet-faced Vultures Torgos tracheliotos and a White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis were at a dead Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus at Cawston Block, Bulawayo, on 11 October (SN). A Southern Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus fasciolatus that stayed in a Harare garden for a week in December was a rather odd record (per TH). A satellite-tagged Lesser Spotted Eagle Clanga pomarina from Estonia remained 15 km south-west of Kadoma from 28 October to at least 21 November (per DR-G); c.30 were feeding on flying ants near Wigeon Pan, Gutu District, on 21 November (DR-G & PR-G). An unusually large group of 150–200 Silvery-cheeked Hornbills Bycanistes brevis flew over Aberfoyle Tea Estate on 22 May (MS). Five Southern Ground Hornbills Bucorvus leadbeateri were at Hippo Pools, Shamva, on 19 November (TN), with another five at Pungwe Gorge, Honde Valley, on 28 November (MS). A male Pygmy Falcon Polihierax semitorquatus was reported from Tamba farm, c.130 km north of Beitbridge on the road to Bulawayo, on 26 July (per TH); this is far out of the species’ range and would represent the first record for Zimbabwe, if accepted.
A leucistic Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta rufescens was photographed at Chirundu Safari Lodge on 29 October (SHe); remarkably, leucistic birds are regularly recorded in this area. A female Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis was reported from Cecil Kop Nature Reserve on 11 July; whilst the species is probably annual in small numbers in Zimbabwe during the austral summer, this winter record is highly unusual and may be the first for the southern African subregion (per TH). A female Whinchat Saxicola rubetra was photographed at Bvumba Heights, in the eastern highlands, on 5 December (NP & KW). A Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe was in Matetsi Game Reserve, in the south-west, on 3–7 November (per TH; DD).
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis continues to spread: one was noted between Matusadona Range and Fothergill Island, Kariba, on 26 December (CM). Plain-backed Sunbirds Anthreptes reichenowi were observed in Burma Valley on 21 December (KW); the species is rarely reported from this area, which is at the very edge its range. A pair of Lesser Seedcrackers Pyrenestes minor, a very local and uncommon species, was photographed at Aberfoyle Golf Club, Honde Valley, on 1 October (MS). A Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis, an uncommon Palearctic visitor, was in Bvumba Botanic Gardens on 28 November (per DR-G)
from ABC Bulletin 23.2
The following records are from the period January–May 2016, with a few from earlier dates. A Blacknecked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was at Salt Pans Dam, Hwange National Park (=NP) in January; this species is very rare in the country (DR-G). At Mongwe, 830 Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca counted on sandbanks in the Zambezi River in late May was apparently the highest number there in >10 years (DR-G & PR-G). Two pairs of Rufous-bellied Herons Ardeola rufiventris were at Mongwe Camp, below Chirundu, on 29 May (DR-G). About 640 White Storks Ciconia ciconia flew over Marangora on 5 March and another 436 over Rifa Camp, Chirundu, on 7 March (IR), whilst 183 Abdim’s Storks C. abdimii counted at a roost at Hippo Pools Camp, Shamva, on 23 January was the largest concentration reported during the period (DR-G & PR-G). Two Common Buttonquails Turnix sylvaticus were found at Art Farm, Harare, on 7 December 2015; the species has become uncommon around the capital (DR-G). A Spotted Crake Porzana porzana observed at Eiffel Flats, Kadoma, on 13 February, is a new site record (MP). In Hwange NP, 150 Black-winged Pratincoles Glareola nordmanii were counted at Salt Pans Dam in January; this species is not frequently reported. A Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia, a rare visitor, was seen at Mandavu Dam, in the same park (JB). Ten African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris were at Chipinda Pools, Gonarezhou NP, on 30 March (CK & DR-G). A Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti—a rare and elusive species—was photographed at Hippo Pools Camp, Shamva (TN), whilst another was seen at Rifa Camp, Chirundu, on 4–8 March (IR). Two Yellowbills Ceuthmochares aereus were encountered in Mahenya sand forest, Save/Runde junction, on 27 April (GS & TM). Breeding Secretary-birds Sagittarius serpentarius were noted at Bon Accord Farm, Shangani, on 4 April (DR-G & RC) and at Kyle Dam, Masvingo, on 22 May (JP). A Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus was reported from Marlborough Sewage Ponds, Harare, on 7 February (per TH) and a Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii was seen at Fly Camp, Nottingham Estate, Beitbridge, on 3 April (DRG). In January, an African Grass Owl Tyto capensis was at Carswell Farm, Zvimba (per DR-G), with another at Aberfoyle Tea Estate, Mutasa District (MS), the latter well out of range. African Pittas Pitta angolensis were found at Chitake Springs, Mana Pools NP (JF) and at Hippo Pools, Shamva, where last seen in 2005 (TN & IL). A Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava was at Richlands Farm, Shamva, on 24 January (per DR-G) and a male Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla in Vumba Botanical Gardens on 11 February (per TH). Hartlaub’s Babblers Turdoides hartlaubii were photographed at Imbabala Lodge, near the border with Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, on 10 May (per DR-G). A Miombo Rock Thrush Monticola angolensis was photographed at Gleneagles Forest, Mutasa District, well beyond its known range, on 25 May (MS). A Dusky Indigofinch Vidua purpurascens was singing at Mongwe on 24–29 May (DR-G)
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.