the species lists
of birds and mammals seen on tour, please click
This was a 14-day tour, from 24 October to 6 November 2009, starting
ending in Windhoek, with focus on birds.
Areas visited: selected birding destinations in Northern Namibia
and the Okavango “pan-handle” in Botswana:
Daan Viljoen Game Reserve, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Spitzkoppe, Erongo
Mountains, Brandberg, Etosha National Park, the Kavango River, the
Caprivi area and Okavango "panhandle", the Waterberg Plateau
Number of bird species seen: 340 species, including at
least 16 Namibian near-endemics.
Bird species of note:
Namibia: Herero Chat, Dune Lark, Southern
Ground Hornbill, Blue Crane, Secretarybird,
Botswana Okavango Panhandle: Pel's Fishing Owl,
White-backed Night-Heron, Wattled Crane, African
Wood Owl, African Skimmer
Total number of mammal species seen: 43 species
Watching Desert Elephant on foot, saw at least 11 Black Rhinoceros
and two White Rhinoceros between 20h00 and 23h00 at Okaukuejo floodlit
waterhole one night, and indulged in some great Lion sightings in
Etosha. The first night at the Okaukuejo waterhole produced 4 Black
Rhinoceros and African Elephant (also a Verreaux's Eagle-owl!).
Tour highlights and most notable species are listed below along
with the corresponding sites.
24 October – Johannesburg to Windhoek
The tour started with a pleasant flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek.
We proceeded to our accommodation, freshened up and headed for some
birding at a nearby dam.
Highlights of the day: Monteiro’s Hornbill, Bradfield’s
Swift, Pale-winged Starling, Ashy Tit, White-backed Mousebird Sabota
Lark (herero sub-species), Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Rosy-faced
Lovebird, Mountain Wheatear, Yellow Canary and Scarlet-chested
Birding at Avis Dam near Windhoek in October 2009 on this Birding
Africa tour. Photograph © Utz Klingenböck.
25 October – Windhoek to Walvis Bay
After an early breakfast, we headed to Walvis Bay with a few birding
stops en-route. Here we ‘birded’ the estuary and salt
works to look for Chestnut-banded lover and Flamingo. A hearty evening
barbeque was prepared for dinner.
Highlights of the day: Martial Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture,
Black-necked Grebe, Lesser Flamingo, Greater Flamingo, Chestnut-banded
Plover, Great White Pelican, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone,
Whimbrel, Terek Sandpiper, Common Ringed Plover and an
out of range Grey-headed Gull (adult).
Greater and Lesser Flamingo congregate in numbers in the salt pans
in Walvis Bay. Photograph © Utz Klingenböck.
26 October – Namib Desert and Namib Naukluft National
We started the day with the beautiful Namib Desert's Dune Lark.
After birding these majestic red dunes, we continued to the Namib
Naukluft National Park to view and photograph Welwitschia plants.
During the afternoon, we birded at the salt works. Inclement weather
forced us back to Walvis Bay, which was also subject to challenging
birding conditions (gale force winds). We enjoyed an excellent dinner
overlooking the sea.
Highlights of the day: African Black Oystercatcher, Common
Redshank, Dusky Sunbird, Orange River White-eye, Dune Lark, Gray’s
Lark, Tractrac Chat, Pririt Batis and Chat Flycatcher.
Mammals: Cape Fur Seal and Humpback Dolphin.
Reptiles: Shovel-snouted Lizard.
Finding the elusive Dune Lark in the Namib. Photograph © Utz
Namibia, and Angola, are
the only countries in the world where one can see Welwitschia. This
desert-adapted plant with two ever-growing leaves can live for more
than 1000 years. Closely related to the conifers, Welwitschia is
considered a living fossil. Photograph © Utz Klingenböck.
27 October – Walvisbay, Spitzkoppe and Erongo Mountains
We departed early for Spitzkoppe with several good birding stops
along the way. Upon arrival at our accommodation, we went for a
birding walk in the sandy Omaruru riverbed.
Highlights of the day: Lanner Falcon, Violet Woodhoopoe,
Bradfield’s Swift, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Herero Chat, White-tailed
Shrike, Karoo Chat, Carp’s Black Tit, Sociable Weaver, Stark’s
Lark, White-throated Canary and Rosy-faced Lovebird.
Mammals: Bottlenose Dolphin and Klipspringer.
Reptiles: Namibian Rock Agama.
Birding at Spitzkoppe, finding the endemic Herero Chat. Photograph
© Utz Klingenböck.
28 October – Erongo Mountains to the Brandberg
Pre-breakfast outing to the nearby Erongo Mountain foothills. Traveled
to the Brandberg and had a late-afternoon birding walk in the Ugab
riverbed with splendid views of Namibia's desert-adapted
Highlights of the day: African Hawk-eagle, Rockrunner, Hartlaub’s
Francolin, Damara Hornbill, Tawny Eagle, Ruppell’s Parrot,
Kori Bustard, Ruppell’s Korhaan, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Bokmakierie,
Chestnut-backed & Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Green-winged Pytilia
and Crimson-breasted Shrike.
Mammals: Yellow Mongoose, Ground Squirrel, African Elephant, Springbok.
Kori Bustard, arguably the world's heaviest flying bird, can best
be seen in Etosha National Park. Photograph © Utz Klingenböck.
29 October – Brandberg to Etosha National Park
Early morning walk around the Brandberg. After a leisurely breakfast,
we drove to Etosha National Park and had a late afternoon game drive
along the western edge of Etosha pan. After dinner, we enjoyed a
few hours evening viewing game at the floodlit waterhole. We saw
Black Rhinoceros come down and drink!
Highlights of the day: Northern Black Korhaan, Black-chested
Snake-Eagle, Bateleur, Greater Kestrel, Ant-eating Chat, African
Cuckoo, Double-banded Courser, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Spike-heeled
Lark, Red-necked Falcon, Pink-billed & Red-capped Lark
and Sociable Weaver.
Mammals: Black Rhinoceros, Gemsbok, Black-backed Jackal, Black-faced
Reptiles: Common Mole snake.
The tour's timing allows seeing African Cuckoo, a summer-visitor
to woodlands. Photograph © Utz Klingenböck.
30 October – Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo
Pre-breakfast drive to and around the ‘Leeubron’ waterhole.
Had a walk around the camp after breakfast and an afternoon drive
to the ‘Gemsbokvlakte’ area.
Highlights of the day: Secretarybird, Black Kite, Pygmy
Falcon, Red-crested Korhaan, Barn Owl, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar,
Lesser-grey Shrike, Eastern-clapper Lark, Desert Cisticola, Kalahari
Scrub-Robin, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Marsh Owl.
Mammals: Lion, a total of 11 Black Rhinoceros & two White Rhinoceros
at the camp water hole, Eland, Bat-eared Fox.
White-crowned Shrike inhabits dry savanna and can be more easily
seen in Etosha National Park. Photograph © Utz Klingenböck.
31 October - Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo to
Early morning departure for Halali Camp. The drive included stops
at the Sueda and Salvadora waterholes on the southern edge of the
Etosha Pan. Had a late afternoon and evening walk around the camp
in search of owls. Spent some time at the floodlit waterhole after
Highlights of the day: Marabou Stork, Brown-snake Eagle,
Red-footed Falcon, Ludwig’s Bustard, Southern White- faced
Scops Owl, African Scops Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Eurasian
Mammals: African Wild-cat, Lion, Spotted Hyaena, Small-spotted Genet.
African Scops Owl, the smallest owl of the Southern African region
roosts inconspicuously on branches close to the tree trunk. To find
it at night, locate it's distinctive "prrrp" call. Photograph
© Utz Klingenböck..
01 November – Etosha National Park to the Kavango
Set off early to our next camp, travelling along the southern edge
of Etosha Pan. After a brunch, we had quick visit to Fisher’s
Pan and enjoyed a welcome late afternoon walk along the verdant
banks of the Kavango River.
Highlights of the day: African Openbill, Booted Eagle, Blue
Crane, African Jacana, White-winged Tern, Coppery-tailed Coucal,
Southern Black Tit, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Red-breasted Swallow,
Terrestrial Brownbul, Pale Fly-catcher, African Golden Weaver, Black
Cuckoo, Striped Kingfisher.
Mammals: Banded Mongoose.
02 November - Kavango River to Okavango Panhandle
The day started early with a very productive pre-breakfast visit
to the water treatment ponds and its surrounding floodplain. After
breakfast we headed east to the Namibia-Botswana border, which we
crossed with ease. After a long & hot drive, we arrived at our
accmmodation and were welcomed by refreshing drinks and tasty sandwiches.
Before dinner, we enjoyed an interesting nocturnal boat trip seeing
Nile Crocodile on the river bank and a Large-spotted Genet!
Highlights of the day: Hottentot Teal, Osprey, African Marsh
Harrier, African Harrier Hawk, Lesser Moorhen, Marsh Sandpiper,
Purple Swamphen, Mosque Swallow, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Little
Rush-Warbler, Meyer’s Parrot, White-browed Robin-Chat, African
Quailfinch, African Green Pigeon, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Southern
Carmine Bee-eater and Bateleur.
Mammals: Large –spotted Genet and Common Slit-faced
Reptiles: Nile Crocodile and Nile Monitor.
Southern Carmine Bee-eaters can be seen near their nesting holes
at the Kavango River. Perched on a branch or even riding the back
of a Kori Bustard, they hawk for flying insects. Photograph ©
03 November - Birding the Okavango by boat
This morning, we enjoyed a wonderful boat trip on the Okavango River,
producing a pair of Pel’s Fishing Owls at
their day time roost site! After a welcome siesta during the heat
of the day, we birded the surrounding woodlands on foot. Another
boat cruise and a birding walk on one of the islands concluded this
very memorable day
Highlights of the day: Malachite and Giant Kingfisher, White-backed
Night-Heron, Squacco Heron, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Swamp Boubou,
White-browed Coucal, Little Bittern, Yellow-billed Egret, Rock Pratincole,
African Skimmer, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Chirping Cisticola, Collared
Sunbird, Black Tern (rare inland sighting), Grey
Plover (unusual inland sighting).
Mammals: Hippo, Spotted-necked Otter.
04 November – Okavango Panhandle to Mahango Game Reserve
We birded the morning along the Okavango River in dense riparian
forest and later enjoyed breakfast with splendid views of very habituated
Black Crakes. Before leaving Botswana, we had spectacular views
of approximately 200 vultures coming into feast on a donkey carcass!
We said our farewells to the Okavango and headed back to Namibia.
The Mahango Game Reserve didn't disappoint and produced many new
mammals and birds for the list. We enjoyed a relaxing late afternoon
boat cruise before we headed on to a delicious dinner and comfortable
accommodation at a nearby lodge.
Highlights of the day: Wattled Crane, Southern Ground Hornbill,
Thick-billed Cuckoo, Meve’s Starling, Burchell’s Starling,
Ashy Flycatcher, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird,
White-throated Bee-eater and Black-crowned Night-Heron.
Mammals: Red Lechwe, Roan Antelope and Common Reedbuck.
Left: Black-crowned Night-heron rest in the reeds and bushes, from
where they ambush prey at night.
Right: White-fronted Bee-eaters nest in colonies inside the banks
of the Kavango River. This species is monogamous and breeds with
the help of related non-breeding individuals, forming an extended
family clan. This rates as one of the birds most complex family-based
social systems. Photographs © Utz Klingenböck..
05 November – Caprivi to Waterberg Plateau National
We prepared for a long journey to the Waterberg. It was a long drive,
traveling via Rundu, Grootfontein, Otavi and Otjivarongo (with a
lunch stop near Otavi) to our final destination. We reached the
Waterberg Plateau Park during the late afternoon, giving us some
time for a late-afternoon bird walk around the rest camp.
Highlights of the day: Lesser Spotted Eagle, Luapula Cisticola,
African Yellow White-eye, Golden-breasted Bunting, Abdim’s
Stork, Freckled Nightjar (heard only), Amethyst
Sunbird, Bradfield’s and Alpine Swift.
Mammals: Lesser Bushbaby & Damara Dikdik
06 November – Waterberg Plateau National Park to
The last day of the tour started with a pleasant bird walk followed
by breakfast on the southern terrace of the restaurant where we
were entertained by the resident clan of Black Dwarf Mongoose. On
returning to the chalets, we found that a few had been raided by
baboons. Not a very pleasant experience for some. We set off for
Windhoek at about 09h00, stopping off at the Okahandja craft market
for curios and to buy provisions for lunch. Windhoek airport was
reached by 13h00.
Highlights of the day: Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Shikra,
Rosy-faced Lovebird, Lesser Honeyguide and Bradfield’s
Hornbill (heard only).
Mammals: Black Dwarf Mongoose.
Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Joe
Many of the birding sites on this trip are described in detail in
the Southern African
Birdfinder which is widely available in South African bookshops
and on the internet. (e.g., www.netbooks.co.za
or www.wildsounds.co.uk). However
you're always welcome to contact
us if you're interested in a guided trip in this area.