Namibia with Rockjumper. 6. Caprivi

To: "birding-aus" <>, <>, "birdchat" <>, <>
Subject: Namibia with Rockjumper. 6. Caprivi
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2008 11:12:34 +0100

                                        NAMIBIA WITH ROCKJUMPER. 6.

The country of Namibia has a strange shape; look at the map! In the NE
there is an incongruous narrow strip of land, the Caprivi strip, wedged
between Angola, Zambia and Botswana. This is one of the many strange
borders resulting from the colonial period; few African borders are
natural ones. The Caprivi strip is some 400 km long from Rundu to Katima
Mulilo at the Zambian border, and a substantial part of it is set aside as
the Caprivi NP--this does not mean that this area is unpopulated, but
there are fewer villages here than outside the park.

But before embarking on the long drive through the Caprivi strip, we
visited the Mahengo game park, which straddles the Botswanan border. It is
rich in game, and we saw all the usual suspects again, plus Bushbuck, Roan
Antelope, Lechwe, Tsessebe and Reed Buck. Elephants cavorted on the
floodplains, where also hippos grazed in full daylight, one with a
Yellow-billed Oxpecker on its back. These floodplains were anyway very
rich in life, we spotted a stately Wattled Crane, the rare Slaty Egret and
flocks of Spur-winged Geese among all the storks and herons we had seen
before, i.a. enormous Goliath and elegant Rufous-bellied Herons. We stayed
overnight at the potentially (with different personnel) great Divava
lodge, and spotted Rock Pratincoles on rocks in the Okavango river.

But the next day, the last full day, it was back on the road and back in
the very hot miombo forest, spotting after drongos and raptors. The
raptors in the trees now were often Dark Chanting Goshawks, but twice we
saw a Lizard Buzzard, another bird I have always hoped to see once. There
were also Brown Snake Eagles, and one place we were lucky enough to spot a
White-breasted Cuckooshrike, and later, for some of the group, a Wood
Pipit. A Flappet Lark was nr 12 on the long list of larks for this trip
and at a roadside marsh an African Wattled Lapwing also insinuated itself
on our triplist.

 Our last Namibian lodge was Kalizo, on the banks of the Zambezi, with
hundreds of African Openbills on the Zambian bank; we had earlier seen
them milling in the air, hundreds of black birds with a single white one,
an African Spoonbill. That was while we were parked at a small lagoon, of
the type there were still enjoyingly many of in this area, in spite of the
fact that the rains still had not started. This one was amazingly bird
rich, with lots of jacanas and Blacksmith Plovers, and wagtails and pipits
on the banks. But that was not all: sharp eyes discovered first a Painted
Snipe and then two Lesser Jacanas, the latter very close to our bus.

The Kalizo lodge is famous for its sunbirds, especially the quite recently
here discovered Shelley's Sunbird, and these were indeed present, together
with Scarlet-chested, Collared, White-bellied and Amethyst Sunbirds (I
missed out on the Purple-banded). Also here the White-browed Robin Chats
dominated the morning chorus, but outside my cabin also a Square-tailed
Nightjar churred very close-by one early morning; I never could locate it
in the dark, though. That was easier with the Yellow-bellied Greenbuls and
the Black-collared Barbet, also close neighbours here. Keith spotted
White-crowned Lapwings on the Zambian banks of the Zambesi, Temminck's
Coursers on the sandy wasteground between our lodge and the road, and
Luapula Cisticola's on the banks of another lagoon (Where in the evening
we, glass in hand, searched in vain for Marsh Owls and nightjars).

The lodge provided transport on the very three-dimnesional and loose sandy
tracks around the lodge the next morning, and the star attraction here was
the vast colony of Carmine Bee-eaters on the banks of the Zambesi, making
me wish for a better camera. Also here in a landscape of grassland with
scattered bushes (Stonechats on them and Black-capped Tchagra scolding
inside) and shallow lagoons, we kept finding new birds, and just as
important, getting better views of birds seen before. Zitting Cisticola's
flew up out of the grassland, and Crested Francolin ran to hide under the
bushes. Twice a dapper Black-bellied Bustard showed itself, Capped
Wheatears were common (with the immatures causing much discussion) and we
also found lark nr 13, the Rufous-naped Lark. A Buffy Pipit could be
compared to the Plain-backed Pipit seen earlier that day. And at long last
we found Sacred Ibises, they had eluded us all the time.

In the heat of the day we sought shelter at the somewat derelict Hippo
lodge, again overlooking the Zambezi. This turned out to be a lucky shot,
as a Black-hooded Kingfisher showed itself nicely  and a moment later an
African Finfoot, not knowing that finfoots ought to be stealthy and
skulking, came out in the open and crossed the Zambezi from Zambia into
Namibia! A TV with world news in the lobby, where Rockjumper had very
generously given a round of cold drinks, showed itself a powerful
attraction for most of the group, but it still could not compete with the
message that a beautiful Schalow's Turaco was in the garden! The bird had
flown on, of course, but fortunately the leaders succeeded in coaxing it
back, for everyone to see. But boy, was it hot here!

The last morning we were up early (so what else is new!) for a last try
for some of the local forest specialities, before crossing over into
Zambia. We did not find everything we searched for, but got beautiful
views of a pair of Racket-tailed Rollers, while I finally caught up with
the Black-chested Snake Eagle, and we also found our first Wahlberg's
Eagles. Migrating European Bee-eaters flew overhead.

The border crossing into Zambia was chaotic, hot and quite interesting
(just as the check-in at Livingstone airport the next morning), and the
situation at the lodge where we were supposed to spend the last night,
just as chaotic. In a masterly manoeuvre, Keith, Gavin, and Willem
succeeded in transferring the entire group to a different and pleasant
hotel, so that in the end we had ample time for the touristic top
attraction, the Victoria falls. A tiny bit disappointing, I must say,
partly because of the dry season, abd partly becuase the best sights
clearly are from the Zimbabwean side of the Zambesi. But birders are
easily consoled; the starlings here were Red-winged Starlings, and the
hornbills Trumpeter Hornbills! In the late afternoon, we collected at the
Waterfront, where the local bird attractions, Collared Palm Thrush and
Semi-collared Kingfisher, were not really cooperative; that would become
better the next morning, but by that time I was already sweating in the
throng at Livingstone airport!

Altogether this was a wonderful trip, and I am very grateful to our group
for providing such a nice team, and especially to Keith, Gavin, and Willem
for making it all so easy for us, and for caring about our fate all the

Vader, Tromsø Museum

9037 Tromsø, Norway

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Namibia with Rockjumper. 6. Caprivi, Wim Vader <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU