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A Report from

South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe 10-25 October 2001,

David J. Kelly

This trip was definitely not a birding holiday and so only a flavour of the birds in this part of the world can be given.  Despite missing a lot of birds in Mozambique and being confined to Johannesburg in SA I did see some excellent birds.  Rather than a full trip report I will present some information, highlights and then a species list.

We booked our Mozambique trip through Kumuka in the UK.  It was around £480 per person for the trip with flights on top.  We flew British Airways from Edinburgh to Heathrow and then on to Johannesburg.  The return trip was from Harare to Gatwick and then on to Edinburgh.  In Johannesburg we stayed in the Birchwood Executive Hotel in Boksburg, Zoo Lodge and the Backpackers Hilton.  The trip left from the latter and it was here that Lillian and I met up with our guide Peter from Zimbabwe and the other two people on the tour, John and Dawn.

We left Jo'burg on the 14th and headed east to Nelspruit where we stayed in the backpackers lodge.  There was a nature reserve next to the garden.  Here I was able to pick out a few species, including Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Heuglin's Robin, Black Sunbird and Laughing Dove.  We drove up to Pilgrim's Rest for an afternoon and the next morning we left for the Swaziland border.  The trip was to take us to Maputo then up along the Indian Ocean to Beira then inland to Zimbabwe.


My first lifer was Buff-streaked Chat in the Mpumalanga mountains as we drove to Swaziland.  We saw few birds in Swaziland or Maputo.  In Mozambique almost the only birding I did were on the Bazuaruto Archipelago off Vilankulo and at Casa Msika near the Zimbabwean border.

Vilankulo and the Archipelago

When we arrived in Vilankulo we set up camp in among Casuarina trees beside the sea.  As we pitched the tents I could hear a shrill "ki-ki-ki-ki" repeated over and over and could see a small falcon mobbing the Pied Crows and the Grey and Black-headed Herons, which nested in the Casuarina trees, I assumed that this would be a Red-necked Falcon Falco chiquera.  Once we had pitched our tents I was able to get a good look at the perched bird through my binoculars.  I was hoping it was going to be a Dickinson's Kestrel but was disappointed to see that it was very dark on the back with a bright rufous breast and belly. 

The only other small falcon in the area is Red-necked Falcon but it didn't fit either.  Peter, who was familiar with African Hobby from Zimbabwe, insisted that that it was an African Hobby.  African Hobby is not mapped as being found in Mozambique and Clancy says it has never been recorded.  I had really good looks at the bird both in the evening and the morning.  I convinced myself that Peter was right and that it was an African Hobby.

We then took a dhow out to the Archipelago, a world heritage site and national park.  We camped at Gabriels' Camp for two nights.  On the full day we went to Isla Bazuaruto and on the way out we passed a small group of three Sooty Terns.  On the island Peter and I explored the dried out swamp in the dune slacks.  Here we saw Madagascar Bee-eaters, which were excavating holes in the seaward face of the dunes.  The swamp was tough going and we had to abandon our exploration.  It was very hot and the sedge was really tough to walk through.  We did see Zitting (Fan-tailed) Cisticola, African Green Pigeon, African Marsh Harrier and Osprey.  In the afternoon we went snorkelling, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I birded on our return to camp and we passed a lot of terns, I was not able to see any more Sooties but I did see Swift, Lesser Crested, Sandwich, Common and Little Terns.  Some were roosting on sandbanks with the Grey-headed Gulls.

I birded around the camp too and here there were waders on the sandflats as well as two lifers in the bush in Burchell's Coucal and Jacobin Cuckoo.  Overhead I kept lookout for Frigate-birds but all I could see was a single circling African Openbill.

The next day we left Gabriel's Camp and before returning to Vilankulo we went to Isla Marguruque.  As the dhow approached the shore I could see lots of birds  and I was determined to check them out.  To my surprise there were three Sooty Terns roosting among the white terns.  I tried to get close but another tourist was having a walk around the island and flushed everything, most of the terns came back, but not the Sooties.  I walked past the roosting birds and around a small point. To the south side of the island.  Here there were extensive sandflats with large flocks of waders. These were mainly Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Curlew Sandpiper but to my delight there were 5 Crab Plovers in sight.  Another lifer and a bird I had hoped to see on this trip.  As it got too hot I tried to find shade where I watched the Madagascar Bee-eaters as they hunted and courted.

I would recommend visiting these islands to any birder, there are lots of Palearctic waders and a more thorough exploaration would turn up many more birds.

Casa Msika

This is a hotel set beside the Chicamba. Dam in western Mozambique, near Chimoio not far from the Zimbabwe border.  The grounds of the hotel are surrounded by Miombo Woodland and in the morning I was able to bird here at first light.  Highlights included excellent views of a Grey-headed Bush-shrike feeding out in the open, African Jacanas in the reeds, superb close views of Wood and Common Sandpiper feeding on the dam's shoreline and a pair of foraging Bennett's Woodpeckers.. 

Casa Msika is a beautiful place and would reward anyone who had time to bird here, I hardly saw anything.  If one had time a walk along the entrance road at the right time of day would be very productive.  The Piri-piri Chicken is excellent but avoid the breakfasts, the liver sausage was particularly unappetising.

The Vumba

We left Casa Msika and headed off to Zimbabwe.  Here we stayed at the Inn on the Vumba and because of the current economic and political situation in Zimbabwe our US dollars went very far indeed.  I birded around the hotel, hearing Red-chested Cuckoo and seeing Whyte's Barbet in the gardens.  While Dawn & John went horse riding Lillian, Peter and myself went to the Leopard Rock hotel.  We followed a trail through some forest behind the hotel but it was too late in the day.  We heard Orange-breasted and Olive Bush-shrike and saw more Heuglin's Robins.

In the afternoon we all, except John, went to Seldomseen to be taken on a tour by Peter.  This was excellent and we were shown many different birds.  This was certainly a highlight of the trip and I was able to add Synnerton's and Starred Robin, Orange Ground Thrush, Livingstone's Lourie, Yellow-headed Warbler and others to my list.  We also had excellent views of a Samango Monkey.

Mozambique is a very poor country and the mine problem makes bush birding something you have to think carefully about.  The cities we visited, Maputo, Inhambane and Vilankulo were all picturesque in a run down, neglected kind of way.  The beer in Mozambique was excellent, the preferred brand was Dos M (Doish M) but the others were quite good too.  The seafood was superb; calamari, prawns and fish were always available on the coast in abundance.

Zimbabwe is a sad case.  The Inn on the Vumba is an excellent hotel, with very high standards and the food was among the best I have eaten in Africa.  Due to Zimabwe's currency problems we stayed there two nights half board with laundry and bar bill for US$30 each!

Thanks to Peter Baxter for being such an excellent guide.  If you are ever in Harare his lodge, It's a Small World at 25 Ridge Road, is worth considering.  Also to John and Dawn for being such good company.

Mozambique by Mary Fitzapatrick (Lonely Planet, October 2000)
The Birds of Southern Mozambique by PA Clancy (African Book Publishing 1996)
SASOL Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa Sinclair, Hockey, Tarbolton, (Struik 2000)


I have not annotated the list, any questions please e mail

01.    Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus
02.    Rufous-bellied Heron Butorides rufiventris 
03.    Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
04.    Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
05.    Little Egret Egretta garzetta 
06.    Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
07.    Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
08.    Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
09.    Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopica
10.    African Openbill Stork Anastomus lemelligerus
11.    Hamerkop Scopus umbretta 
12.    White-faced Duck Dendrocygna viduata
13.    Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptius 
14.    agyps atratus
15.    Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius
16.    Osprey Pandion haliaetus
17.    Yellow-billed Kite Milvus migrans parasitus
18.    Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caerulescens
19.    Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus 
20.    African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus
21.    Gymnogene Polyboroides typus
22.    Augur Buzzard Buteo augur 
23.    Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus
24.    Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis
25.    Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
26.    African Hobby Falco cuvieri
27.    Helmeted Guinea-Fowl Numida meleagris
28.    Buff Spotted Flufftail Sarothura elegans
29.    Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 
30.    African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
31.    Crab Plover Dromas ardeola
32.    Blacksmith Plover Vanellus armatus
33.    Grey Plover  Pluvialis squatarola
34.    Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
35.    Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
36.    White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus
37.    Sanderling Calidris alba
38.    Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
39.    Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
40.    Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquatrix
41.    Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
42.    Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis 
43.    Greenshank Tringa nebularia 
44.    Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
45.    Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleuca
46.    Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
47.    Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus
48.    Swift Tern Sterna bergii
49.    Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis
50.    Sandwich Tern Sterna snadvicensis
51.    Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata
52.    Common Tern Sterna hirundo
53.    Little Tern Sterna albifrons
54.    Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
55.    Feral Pigeon Columba livia 
56.    Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis 
57.    Cape Turtle Dove Streptopelia capicola
58.    Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
59.    Green-spotted Dove Turtur chalcospilos 
60.    Tambourine Dove Turtur tymbanistria
61.    African Green Pigeon Treron australis
62.    Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius
63.    Jacobin (Pied) Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
64.    Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius
65.    Burchell's Coucal Centropus burchelli
66.    African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus
67.    African Black Swift Apus barbatus
68.    Common Swift Apus apus
69.    White-rumped Swift Apus caffer 
70.    Little Swift Apus affinis
71.    Bohm's Spinetail Neafrapus boehmi
72.    Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus
73.    White-backed Mousebird Colius colius 
74.    Grey Lourie Corythaixoides concolor
75.    Livingstone's Lourie Tauraco livingstonii 
76.    Purple-crested Lourie Tauraco porphyreolophus 
77.    Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudata 
78.    Olive Bee-eater Merops superciliosus
79.    European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 
80.    Brown-hooded Kingfisher Halcyon albiventris
81.    Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
82.    Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata 
83.    Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis 
84.    Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus
86.    Pied Barbet Lybius leucomelas
87.    Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus
88.    Whyte's Barbet Stactolaema whytii
89.    Crested Barbet Trachyphonus vaillanti
90.    Sharp-billed Honeyguide Prodotiscus regulus 
91.    Bennett's Woodpecker Campethera bennettii
92.    Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola
93.    Rock Martin Hirundo fuligula
94.    Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
95.    Greater Striped Swallow Hirundo cucullata
96.    Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii 
97.    South African Cliff Swallow Hirundo spilodera
98.    White-throated Swallow Hirundo albigularis
99.    Pearl-breasted Swallow Hirundo dimidiata
100. Eastern Saw-wing Swallow Psalidoprocne orientalis
101. House Martin Delichon urbica
102. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
103. African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
104. Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis
105. Mountain Wagtail Motacilla clara
106. Black Cuckoo-shrike Campephaga flava
107. Black-eyed (Common) Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus 
108. Sombre Bulbul Andropadus importunes
109. Stripe-cheeked Bulbul Andropadus milanjensis
110. Yellow-bellied Bulbul Chlorocichla flaviventris
111. Slender Bulbul Phyllastrephus debilis
112. Yellow-streaked Bulbul Phyllastrephus flaviostriatus
113. Cape Robin Cossypha caffra
114. Heuglin's Robin Cossypha heuglini
115. Natal Robin Cossypha natalensis
116. African White-throated Robin Cossypha humeralis
117. Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni
118. Starred Robin Pognocichla stellata
119. Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata
120. Orange Ground Thrush Zoothera gurneyi
121. Olive Thrush Turdus olivaceus
122. Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus 
123. Yellow-throated Warbler Seicercus ruficapillus
124. Zitting Cisticola Cisticola junicidis
125. Singing Cisticola Cisticola cantans
126. Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica 
127. Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida
128. Chirinda Apalis Apalis chirindensis
129. Cape Grassbird Sphenoeacus afer
130. Grey-backed Bleating Warbler Camaroptera brevicaudata 
131. Yellow-bellied Eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis 
132. Cape Batis Batis capensis 
133. African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
134. White-tailed Flycatcher Trochocercus albonitatus
135. Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis
136. Common Fiscal Lanius collaris
137. Black-backed Puffback Dryoscopus cubla
138. Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus 
139. Orange-breasted Bush-shrike Telophorus sulfureopectus
140. Olive Bush-shrike Telephorus olivaceus
141. Grey-headed Bush-shrike Malaconotus blanchoti
142. Chestnut-fronted Helmet-Shrike Prionops scotifrons
143. Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus
144. Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
145. Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii
146. Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio
147. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
148. Plum-coloured Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster 
149. Pied Crow Corvus albus
150. Black Sunbird Nectarinia amethystina
151. Western Olive Sunbird Nectarinia obscura
152. Yellow-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia venusta
153. Collared Sunbird Nectarinia collaris
154. White-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia talatala
155. Miombo Sunbird Nectarinia manoensis 
156. Western Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes longuemarei
157. Cape White-eye Zosterops pallidus
158. Yellow White-eyes Zosterops senegalus 
159. House Sparrow Passer domesticus 
160. Southern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer diffusus
161. Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus
162. Forest Weaver Ploceus bicolor
163. Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus
164. Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius
165. Spotted-backed Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
166. Holub's Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops
167. African Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureus
168. Golden Palm Weaver Ploceus bojeri
169. Southern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus xanthopterus
170. Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularisi
171. Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps
172. Red Bishop Euplectes orix
173. Red-shouldered Widow Euplectes axillaries
174. Yellow-rumped Widow Euplectes capensis
175. Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
176. East African Swee Estrilda quartina
177. Blue Waxbill Uraeginthus angolensis
178. Golden-backed Pytilia Pytilia afra 
179. Blue-billed Firefinch Lagnosticta rubricata
180. Bronze Mannikin Spermestes cucullatus
181. Red-backed Mannikin Spermestes bicolor
182. Pied Mannikin Spermestes fringilloides
183. Common Indigo-bird Vidua chalybeata
184. Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura
185. Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisea 
186. Yellow-eyed Canary Serinus mozambicus 
187. Yellow Canary Serinus flaviventris 
188. Cape Canary Serinus canicollis
189. Streaky-headed Canary Serinus gularis
190. Black-eared Canary Serinus mennelli
191. Bully Canary Serinus sulphuratus

David J. Kelly
East Lothian

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