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A Report from birdtours.co.uk

Namibia 24th Nov-18th Dec 2002,

Author

Phil and Charlotte Benstead, Norfolk, UK

phil.benstead@tesco.net

Introduction

We spent the period between 24th November and 18th December 2002 birding in Namibia. This was our first trip to sub-Saharan Africa - Namibia proved to be an ideal and reasonably gentle introduction to the avifauna. The trip is also very good value at the moment due to the weak state of the Namibian dollar (14-15/). We used very little money, topping up occasionally at ATM machines (First National bank seemed the best). You can use your credit card to pay for accommodation at Waterburg, Etosha and Popa Falls. We booked nothing in advance, preferring to remain flexible and this presented no problems (but remember we were camping mostly).

We hired a car (a bit on the expensive side but essential) and camped at most sites. The road network is for the most part excellent and well-signed. There are plenty of well-graded dirt roads in Namibia and if you are not used to driving on these surfaces it is best to take it easy until you get used to them. It is very easy to roll your vehicle on dirt tracks - which is one of the reasons why hire cars are relatively expensive in Namibia!

Strategy and birds we missed

We followed a fairly standard itinerary but were able to get right to the end of the Caprivi Strip which is now secure. This paid off in terms of the number of birds we were able to see there. One site we missed out in order to have time in the Caprivi was Rundu, and we dipped a few wetland species as a result (eg Ethiopian snipe, golden bishop and African rail). We had hoped these species would be available at Katima sewage farm but we could not find them. Apparently there is a big well-vegetated dam about 15 km before Ruacana which is also good for wetland birds and this might have filled these gaps had we known about it! We also missed out on Spitzkoppe in order to have more time by the sea, the alternate site of Uis was very good and deserves more attention.

There are so many birds in Namibia that it is very difficult to see them all. Looking through other peoples reports quickly shows that even seeing all the common species is hard. We missed the following:

White-headed vulture

We should have had this at Etosha

Western banded snake eagle

Possible in riparian woodland at Shakawe

Lesser moorhen

Usually common, perhaps too dry

Temminck's courser

Usually easy, was reported around Halali

Whiskered tern

 

Pink-billed lark

Possibly easier in the west of Etosha - we dipped (too busy looking at lions probably)!

Cinnamon-breasted tit

Possible around Divundu in dry woodland

Karoo robin

Solitaire area

Layard's titbabbler

Spitzkoppe area

Cinnamon-breasted warbler

Solitaire area. Tape playback is usually required.

Tinkling cisticola

We had a chance of these in the woodland around Katima

Rufous-eared warbler

The SASOL guide (Sinclair et al) is a bit weak on mapping the true distribution of some Namibian birds. This species occurs all the way through western Namibia in suitable habitat. It is best looked for in the area north of Okaukejo in west Etosha. Tape playback is usually required.

Grey-headed bush shrike

Possible around Katima

Red-billed helmetshrike

Caprivi

References

We used the following sources of information:

Chittenden, H "Top Birding Spots in Southern Africa"

Gee, B "A birding trip to the Western Cape and Namibia (including far north Botswana; Nov '99 - Jan 2000" [available from the author]

Geeson, J & J "Namibia; December 7th 1998 - January 2nd 1999"

Hines, C (1996) Namibia's Caprivi Strip. Bull ABC Vol 3(2): 113-124.

Sinclair et al (2002) Birds of Southern Africa. Third Edition. Struik , Cape Town. [the field guide - note that this new third edition contains a number of pertinent taxonomic revisions]

Vermeulen, J Cape, "Namibia and Shakawe area in Botswana; 14th October - 12 November 1996" [available on the internet]

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Chris Hines who looked after us so well and gave us so much advice and guidance. Also many thanks to Dick and Katy Sharpe in Katima, Steve Braine (Hobatere) and Mark Boorman (Swakopmund). The following visiting birders also supplied gen or spent time in the field with us and we thank them all; Eddy Myers and Pete Clement, Nick and the Barnsley Boys, and Phil Palmer.

Sites visited

24/11 to 25/11, 18/12 Chris Hines' place (25 km south of Windhoek)

We went straight to Chris' house from the airport (getting lost en route but seeing lots of dry country birds). Same species in this area as Daan Viljoen so we did not need to visit this, otherwise essential, site in the end. Got 80 ticks in the first 24 hours here so it was a little bit hectic to say the least. Highlights during our visits here at the beginning and end of the trip were; monotonous lark (terrible view), burnt-neck eremomela, African wren-warbler, grey-backed cisticola, chestnut weaver and Cape bunting. An excellent introduction to the dry country avifauna.

25/11 to 27/11 Waterburg Plateau Park

A very scenic park, strongly reminiscent of parts of Australia. We stayed in the chalet accommodation here but decided we preferred camping! We birded up the trail to the viewpoint on the escarpment, around the park buildings and campsite and along the dirt road outside the park. Highlights here included; Hartlaub's francolin (2+ by the viewpoint), Verreaux's eagle, African hawk-eagle, Bradfield's hornbill, Bradfield's swift, Klaas' cuckoo, freckled nightjar and violet wood-hoopoe. At night we taped in an African Scops-owl and heard African barred owlet. South African galagos frequent the trees by the chalets. Other birders had caracal and leopard here.

27/11 to 1/12 and 10/12 to 11/12 Etosha National Park

A fantastic site, packed with birds and mammals and seemingly containing very few human visitors! Note that all birding outside the three camps is from cars - you are not allowed to leave your vehicle whilst in the park. We camped here in clean, but fairly busy, campsites at the three main centres. We brought all our own food in but there are restaurants. We failed to realise that the character of the Park changes radically from west to east, and you have to be careful not to leave species behind as you go through it. We missed pygmy falcon (retrieved later) and rufous-eared warbler as a result.

We spent our first night at Okaukuejo and the next morning we drove slowly north to Okondeka waterhole (where the hoped for Namaqua sandgrouse failed to appear), we saw our first lions and then drove back via Leeubron. The Okaukuejo waterhole at night produced many double-banded sandgrouse (just after dusk and just before dawn) and three black rhino before we fell asleep. The campground had a number of leaking taps and pipes that were popular with small passerines during the heat of the day. A pair of giant eagle-owls had young in the tree that stands beside the waterhole.

Next we drove slowly to Halali seeing our only elephant of the trip and catching up with Namaqua sandgrouse at roadside pools. We stayed at Halali for two night. Birding around Halali camp was great with white-faced scops-owl (taped in), African wild cat and some good passerines. The general area produced Burchell's courser, Caspian plover and a number of lions.

Driving on to Namutoni for a one night stay we picked up our first blue cranes and found a party of bat-eared foxes. In the afternoon we drove around Fischer's Pan (lions at kill and yellow canary) and then drove very slowly around the nearby Dik Dik Drive and picked up a number of groups of crested francolin and also a family party of black-faced babbler. Our final morning of the first visit was spent searching the Andoni Plains for pink-billed lark (possibly easier in the west of the park) - we failed but did finally connect with secretarybird before heading for the long drive to Popa Falls.

Our second visit (based at Namutoni for one night) was intended to break the long drive from Popa Falls to Ruacana. We searched the Andoni Plains again but could not locate any pink-billed larks before moving onto to Okashana.

Highlights included; secretarybird, Montagu's harrier, pallid harrier, greater kestrel, blue crane, Kori bustard, Kittlitz's plover, spotted thick-knee, double-banded courser, southern white-faced scops-owl, Giant eagle-owl, eastern clapper lark, spike-heeled lark, Stark's lark, chestnut-backed sparrowlark and red-breasted swallow.

1/12 to 3/12 and 7/12 Popa Falls

Popa Falls provided a good base for visiting the nearby Mahango National Park. We camped here and brought all our food in with us (note that local supermarkets are a bit sparse). Popa Falls is a good site in its own right and an excellent introduction to the birds of the Caprivi Strip. The river here has rock pratincole and African wattled lapwing. This was the only site where we saw African wood-owl and brown firefinch.

2/12 and 8/12 Mahango National Park

We teamed up with Chris Hines and his 4WD for the first day in this fantastic park. Chris knows the Park well and we spent a great deal of time on foot working the floodplain and ephemeral pools scattered in amongst the open woodland. Care must be taken here though as dangerous large mammals do occur. However there seemed to be few obvious dangers whilst we were here, although we did see Cape buffalo. We were a lot more circumspect when we returned alone for our second visit. Do not ignore the dry woodland in the 6km before the Park entrance as many species can only be found in this habitat (eg sharp-tailed starling).

Although we had a 4WD at our disposal we did not do the sandy 4WD-only loop into dry forest, the best birding is along the 2WD track that overlooks the floodplain wetlands. Mahango provided some truly memorable birding, highlights included; wooly-necked stork, saddle-billed stork (a single on our second visit), yellow-billed stork, white stork, lesser spotted eagle, wattled crane (3 pairs), black cuckoo-shrike, black-headed oriole, buffy pipit, greater blue-eared starling, sharp-tailed starling (flock feeding on the road about 2 km south of Park entrance), yellow-billed oxpecker and red-headed weaver. It is possible to amass a big daylist here without really trying. Mammals were excellent here with sable and roan antelopes and our first hippos and a few species of floodplain ungulates.

3/12 and 6/12 to 7/12 Susuwe

We had a brief stop here en route to the campsite where we intended to watch the eclipse and another longer visit to try and see black coucal. We camped at the nearby Mazambala Lodge campsite (signed on the right just before Kongola). Unfortunately we failed to see the coucal in the floodplain area in front of the HQ, although frustratingly we could hear at least two birds. We did manage to tape out a single male Narina trogon near the HQ buildings however and searching the roadside forest on the ridge behind the HQ produced a confiding group of three racket-tailed rollers. Other highlights included; chirping cisticola, collared flycatcher and orange-breasted bush-shrike.

3/12 to 4/12 'eclipse campsite'

We met up here again with Chris Hines and his mates for a superb Namibian barbecue and sat down the next morning to watch the total eclipse. Sadly it was obscured at the last minute by cloud, although plenty of people saw it well elsewhere in the Caprivi that morning! Unlucky. The site was a clearing on the left about 5 km south on the D3501 Linyandi road. This road is a bit sandy but if you drop into second you can usually gun through the sand patches. This site produced a superb pair of pennant-winged nightjars, that allowed close approach with the spotlight.

4/12 to 6/12 Katima Mulilo area

Having got as far as Susuwe it seemed a shame not to go all the way to Katima Mulilo and sample some of the incredible birds that just creep into Namibia in this neck of the woods (eg eastern nicator, Schalow's turaco and trumpeter hornbill). We camped in the garden of one of Chris Hines' friends on the banks of the Zambezi.

There are a number of good birding locations in the Katima area, we visited: the sewage farm (access details in Hines paper - basically just north of the B8 as you leave town); riparian woodland along the Zambezi (at Zambezi Lodge and near the Department of Conservation office just south of town on the Ngoma road); the Zambezi River itself (viewed from a number of locations); the cutline (an area cleared under power cables that is just west of town north off the B8 after the C49 turn-off - walk in if you do not have 4WD); areas adjacent to the Zambezi accessed by 4WD by taking the Kalambeza road (D3508) south of town; and the private Zambezi Fish Farm where we stayed. Even without a 4WD you can see a lot of birds in Katima that you will not get elsewhere on your trip. The area behind the Engen petrol station in town is consistently good for Northern grey-headed sparrows apparently. Flowering trees in the gardens in town were the only places we saw copper sunbird.

Highlights here included: little bittern, dwarf bittern, Abdim's stork, hooded vulture, African cuckoo-hawk, African goshawk, dark chanting goshawk, African crake, lesser jacana, white-crowned lapwing, Eurasian curlew, three-banded courser, Burchell's sandgrouse, Schalow's turaco, common cuckoo, Senegal coucal, grey-headed kingfisher, trumpeter hornbill, Bennett's woodpecker, lesser striped swallow, eastern nicator, Arnott's chat, bearded robin, Stierling's wren-warbler, Luapula cisticola, yellow wagtail, plain-backed pipit, tropical boubou, copper sunbird, purple-banded sunbird, northern grey-headed sparrow, common waxbill, African quail finch, bronze mannikin, long-tailed paradise-whydah and village indigobird.

Botswana

8/12 to 10/12 Drotsky's Cabins, Shakawe

We tried to stay at Shakawe Fishing Lodge but found it had closed for the holidays. No problem - the nearby Drotsky's Cabins offers the same services and birds and it is just as good if not better. We were a bit tired by this stage however and probably failed to make the most of our time here. If you do stay at Drotsky's make sure you spend an afternoon birding in the small reserve near Shakawe Fishing Lodge (drive round by road). We camped in the very pleasant campsite and mostly self-catered. We took two boat journeys (essential for getting in amongst the reedbed and papyrus skulkers) and also birded in the area around the Cabins. We had no problems finding a Pel's fishing-owl early on our first morning and a white-backed heron usually roosts in the riverside bushes in front of the cabins.

Highlights here included: white-backed night-heron, African pygmy-goose, little sparrowhawk, Pel's fishing-owl, greater swamp-warbler, little rush-warbler and southern brown-throated weaver.

Namibia

11/12 Okashana

This small wetland area lies just north of the Etosha NP gate at Andoni. We left by this exit en route to Ruacana. The wetland is situated not far from the gate just before you get to the village of Okashana and the main road. Look for the pipe spraying water into the air. Bird both sides of the road here. We arrived in the heat of midday and only spent a short while here but did see our first chestnut-banded plovers. Well worth checking on your way past.

11/12 to 12/12 Ruacana

We arrived here in the early afternoon and despite the extreme heat decided to stake out the pools in the dry river bed for Cinderella waxbill. This paid off handsomely and before long we were sitting in the shade watching a pair of these engaging birds. The dry pools can be reached by continuing past the junction to Ruacana, just before the tarmac ends there is a private right hand junction. Park here and walk back up the road until you find a cut and small road that leads down into the dry river bed. Once you reach the river bed head 'upstream' until you reach a series of freshwater pools in the stream bed. These attract a variety of birds and is one of the most reliable sites for Cinderella waxbill in the area.

Having got the first of our target birds we then decided to head for the Kunene River Lodge - a 45 km drive on an appalling dirt road that I would not recommend to anyone. The Lodge did however have some excellent rufous-tailed palm-thrushes in the grounds and Madagascar bee-eaters were common along the road. In retrospect it would have been better to camp at one of the other sites (Okupupo?) which is a bit nearer and just as good for birds. If it had rained whilst we had been at Kunene River Lodge we would have been stranded for a while I suspect.

Highlights in this area included: black stork, augur buzzard, grey kestrel (single on main road near junction to Ruacana), Madagascar bee-eater, rufous-tailed palm-thrush, red-billed firefinch and Cinderella waxbill.

12/12 to 13/12 Hobatere

We broke our journey south by stopping at Hobatere. We dropped by the Lodge and had a useful chat with Steve Braine before heading back to the delightful campsite. The red-billed buffalo weaver nests on the track into the Lodge had some pygmy falcons in residence. There is a superb waterhole at the campsite that you view from a great height. During the evening we had Hartlaub's francolin the campsite area and a number of mammals came to drink at the waterhole. This was the only site where we saw mountain zebra.

13/12 to 14/12 Uis area

The drive down to Uis from Hobatere was good for birds and we saw our only pearl-breasted swallows and our first short-toed rock-thrush, as well as more pygmy falcons. In Uis we concentrated on the area just to the north of the main road junction. About 4-5 km north of this junction (on the C35) is a dry river bed with some tall trees. Birding in this area and up to about 20 km along the C35 towards Henties Bay was excellent. In the dry river bed we had a fine pair of Herero chat, bokmakerie, Ruppell's korhaan, white-throated canary and our first Cape sparrows. The C35 towards Henties Bay produced Benguela long-billed lark, karoo chat and Ludwig's bustard. In the really dry areas halfway to the coast we found tractrac chat.

Highlights here included: Ruppell's korhaan, Benguela long-billed lark (presumably kaokensis - the Brandberg Mountain subspecies), Herero chat and long-billed pipit.

14/12 to 16/12 Swakopmund

We stayed in Swakopmund at the Sea Breeze Guesthouse (48 Turmalin St, PO Box 2601, Swakopmund. Tel +26464463348 or email seabre@iafrica.com.na). Self-catering rooms here cost ND400 per night but would sleep 4-5. We liked it. All days we birded both Swakopmund and nearby Walvis Bay. In the Swakopmund area we mainly concentrated on the saltworks (just north of town), the river mouth area and the road that runs north parallel to the main coast road near the saltworks before heading inland (very good for Gray's lark).

Highlights included: great crested grebe (saltworks), bank cormorant (hard to find but a few pairs in the western end of the saltworks guano platform - viewed from the beach), peregrine, African black oystercatcher, swift tern and Gray's lark.

14/12 to 16/12 Walvis Bay

Around Walvis Bay there are some great birding sites; we visited Bird Paradise (the town sewage settling ponds), the Esplanade (great for waders and gulls/terns), the saltworks and the nearby beach at Paaltjies (south of town) and the nearby small town of Rooibank for dune lark (park by the lone church north of town and walk to the low scrubby vegetation in the hollow before the big dunes to the east). We also took a boat trip with Mola Mola (near the Walvis Bay yacht club, mola-mola@iafrica.com.na) which cost ND300 each but was worth every penny. Excellent oysters and sparkling white wine with superb views of African penguin, white-chinned petrel, hump-backed whale and bow-riding Heaviside's dolphin.

Highlights here included: white-chinned petrel, Cory's shearwater, sooty shearwater, Cape shoveler, African purple swamphen, Terek sandpiper (single amongst the many waders at the extreme southern end of the esplanade), sanderling, parasitic jaeger, pomarine jaeger and dune lark (two pairs - superb).

17/12 Solitaire area

We stayed overnight in Solitaire (at the new Travel Lodge - ND300/night for a double room). We made a navigational error, intending to go slowly through the mountains we instead went through the relatively poor Remhoogte Pass. We would have been better going north out of Solitaire and turning east on the D1275 and then onto to Rehoboth via the D1261. We dipped a few birds here as a result (cinnamon-breasted warbler and karoo robin). The only bird we saw here but nowhere else was a single jackal buzzard.

17/12 Windhoek Sewage Farm

On out last afternoon in the field we hit the Windhoek Sewage Farm to pick up a few species we had missed thus far. This site is reached by taking the road to Daan Viljoen from the Windhoek western bypass. After about 1-2 km a big road junction appears on the right. This road is Otjimuise Road follow it for several kilometres until you see some big silver sheds on the left - the sewage works are just after these sheds on the left. Just drive through the gates (waving at security) and bear right and follow this road until you get a blue and white building. Park and walk down the dirt road behind it to view the settling ponds. White-throated swallows breed on the buildings here and the pools are good for wildfowl and wetland species. We had white-backed duck here, as well as southern pochard. An excellent place to kill time before a flight.

Systematic list of birds recorded in Namibia (and Botswana)
24th November and 18th December

Sites visited: Namibia. Chris Hines' place (25 km south of Windhoek) (CH) 24/11 to 25/11, 18/12; Waterburg Plateau Park (W) 25/11 to 27/11; Etosha National Park (ET) 27/11 to 1/12 and 10/12 to 11/12; Popa Falls (PF) 1/12 to 3/12 and 7/12; Mahango National Park (M) 2/12 and 8/12; Susuwe (SS) 3/12 and 6/12 to 7/12; 'eclipse campsite' (EC) 3/12 to 4/12; Katima Mulilo area (KM) 4/12 to 6/12. Botswana. Drotsky's Cabins, Shakawe (S) 8/12 to 10/12. Namibia. Okashana (OK) 11/12; Ruacana (R) 11/12 to 12/12; Hobatere (H) 12/12 to 13/12; Uis area (U) 13/12 to 14/12, Swakopmund (SK) 14/12 to 16/12; Walvis Bay (WB) 14/12 to 16/12; Solitaire area (ST) 17/12; and Windhoek Sewage Farm (WSF) 17/12.

Common ostrich Struthio camelus CH, ET
African penguin Spheniscus demersus Single immature from boat out of WB
Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus SK (saltworks)
Black-necked grebe Podiceps nigricollis SK (saltworks), WB (Bird Paradise)
Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis ET, KM, WB, WSF
White-chinned petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis Off Paaltjies (WB) and superb views from the boat out of WB
Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea Single on boat trip out of WB
Sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus A few from Paaltjies (WB) and several on the boat trip
Great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus Coastal sites
Cape gannet Morus capensis Coastal sites
White-breasted cormorant Phalacrocorax lucidus Coastal sites
Cape cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis Coastal sites
Bank cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus SK (7 birds)
Reed cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus M, SS, KM, WSF
Crowned cormorant Phalacrocorax coronatus SK
African darter Anhinga rufa M, KM, S
Grey heron Ardea cinerea M, R, SK, WSF
Goliath heron Ardea goliath M, S, R
Purple heron Ardea purpurea SS, S
Great egret Egretta alba M (under-recorded)
Little egret Egretta garzetta M, S, SK
Yellow-billed egret Egretta intermedia M, SS
Black heron Egretta ardesiaca M (single on 2/12)
Slaty egret Egretta vinaceigula M (1-2 both visits)
Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis ET, KM (under-recorded)
Squacco heron Ardeola ralloides M, SS, KM, S, WSF
Green-backed heron Butorides striatus M, SS, KM, S
Rufous-bellied heron Ardeola rufiventris M, SS, S
Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax KM, S, ET
White-backed night-heron Gorsachius leuconotus S (2 birds)
Little bittern Ixobrychus minutus KM (single at Fish Farm)
Dwarf bittern Ixobrychus sturmii KM (single at Fish Farm)
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta M, S
White stork Ciconia ciconia M (single on 8/12)
Black stork Ciconia nigra R (single by roadside pool)
Abdim's stork Ciconia abdimii KM
Woolly-necked stork Ciconia episcopus M
African openbill Anastomus lamelligerus M, KM, S
Saddle-billed stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis M (single on 8/12)
Marabou stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus ET, M
Yellow-billed stork Mycteria ibis M
Hadeda ibis Bostrychia hagedash M, SS
Greater flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber Coastal areas
Lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor ET (single), coastal areas
White-faced duck Dendrocygna viduata M, S
Fulvous duck Dendrocygna bicolor KM
White-backed duck Thalassornis leuconotus WSF (a single here was a surprise)
Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus ET, M
South African shelduck Tadorna cana ET, WSF
Cape teal Anas capensis OK, SK, WB
Hottentot teal Anas hottentota KM, WB, WSF
Red-billed teal Anas erythrorhyncha ET, KM, WSF
Cape shoveler Anas smithii WB (Bird Paradise)
Southern pochard Netta erythrophthalma WSF
African pygmy-goose Nettapus auritus S (2 from boat)
Comb duck Sarkidiornis melanotos SS, M, S
Spur-winged goose Plectropterus gambensis M, S
Maccoa duck Oxyura maccoa WB (Bird Paradise), WSF
Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius ET (2 only on Andoni Plains)
Hooded vulture Necrosyrtes monachus KM
White-backed vulture Gyps africanus W, ET, M, KM
Lappet-faced vulture Torgos tracheliotus ET
Black kite Milvus migrans ET, M, S
Yellow-billed kite Milvus aegyptius M
Black-shouldered kite Elanus caeruleus CH, KM, S
African cuckoo hawk Aviceda cuculoides KM (single bird over riparian forest along Zambezi)
Bat hawk Macheiramphus alcinus M (single), KM (2 singles). All superb daylight observations.
Verreaux's eagle Aquila verreauxii W (pair along escarpment)
Tawny eagle Aquila rapax W (under-recorded)
Steppe eagle Aquila nipalensis M
Lesser spotted eagle Aquila pomarina M
Wahlberg's eagle Aquila wahlbergi M, SS
African hawk-eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster W (pair along escarpment)
Martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus ET, M, EC, S
Brown snake-eagle Circaetus cinereus M, en route Divundu-Kongola, EC, R
Black-chested snake-eagle Circaetus pectoralis CH, ET, EC, U
Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus ET, M, KM
African fish-eagle Haliaeetus vocifer M, KM, SS, S
Steppe buzzard Buteo vulpinus M, SS, KM
Jackal buzzard Buteo rufofuscus ST (single)
Augur buzzard Buteo augur R (single)
Lizard buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus KM, M (dry forest)
Little sparrowhawk Accipiter minullus S (single)
Shikra Accipiter badius En route from Divundu-Kongola, EC
African goshawk Accipiter tachiro KM (single at Zambezi Lodge)
Gabar goshawk Melierax gabar W, M (under-recorded)
Southern pale chanting goshawk Melierax canorus CH, W (common, under-recorded)
Dark chanting goshawk Melierax metabates KM (along cut-line)
African marsh-harrier Circus ranivorus SS, S
Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus ET, male on Andoni Plain in early am
Pallid harrier Circus macrourus ET, 2 males on Andoni in early am
African harrier-hawk Polyboroides typus M, SS, S (all singles)
Osprey Pandion haliaetus KM, S (singles)
Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus SK, single male calidus hunting over town on 15/12
Lanner falcon Falco biarmicus ET (2), OK (1)
Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo PF, Caprivi
African hobby Falco cuvierii KM (single 3 km west of town)
Red-necked falcon Falco chicquera KM (adult with young 3 km west of town)
Red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus SS (single male)
Amur falcon Falco amurensis EC (at least four males and two females), KM (two males feeding on termites)
Rock kestrel Falco rupicolis CH, W, SK
Greater kestrel Falco rupicoloides ET
Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni W, ET (singles)
Grey kestrel Falco ardosiaceus R (single near junction to town)
Pygmy falcon Polihierax semitorquatus H, near Kemanjab, ST
Crested francolin Peliperdix sephaena ET (along Dik Dik Drive), [M], [EC], SS, [S]
Red-billed francolin Pternistes adspersus CH, ET, M, R
Hartlaub's francolin Pternistes hartlaubi W (2), H (3)
Swainson's spurfowl Pternistes swainsonii W, M, SS
Helmeted guineafowl Numida meleagris CH, ET
Wattled crane Grus carunculatus M (3 pairs)
Blue crane Anthropoides paradisea ET (a total of five birds recorded)
African crake Crecopsis egregia KM (a single at the Sewage Works)
Black crake Amaurornis flavirostra ET, KM, S, R
African purple swamphen Porphyrio madagascariensis WB (Bird Paradise)
Allen's gallinule Porphyrula alleni KM (Sewage Works)
Common moorhen Gallinula chloropus ET, KM, WSF
Red-knobbed coot Fulica cristata WB, WSF
Kori bustard Ardeotis kori ET
Ludwig's bustard Neotis ludwigii CH (single), ET (2 near Leeubron), 3 between Uis and Henties Bay
Ruppell's korhaan Eupodotis rueppellii U, en route Uis to Henties Bay
Red-crested korhaan Eupodotis ruficrista CH, W, ET, M
Black-bellied bustard Eupodotis melanogaster Single male seen whilst driving along B8, just west of D3501 junction
Northern black korhaan Eupodotis afraoides CH, ET
African jacana Actophilornis africanus M, SS, KM, S, WSF
Lesser jacana Microparra capensis KM (single)
Greater painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis M, KM
African black oystercatcher Haematopus moquini SK
Common ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula OK, WB
White-fronted plover Charadrius marginatus Single along Zambezi 20 km south of KM, coastal areas
Chestnut-banded plover Charadrius pallidus OK, WB
Kittlitz's plover Charadrius pecuarius ET
Three-banded plover Charadrius tricollaris ET, M, WSF
Caspian plover Charadrius asiaticus ET (100 birds near Halali), M (single)
Grey plover Pluvialis squatarola Coastal areas
Crowned lapwing Vanellus coronatus ET, M
Blacksmith lapwing Vanellus armatus CH, ET, M, S
White-crowned lapwing Vanellus albiceps KM
African wattled lapwing Vanellus senegallus PF, M, S
Long-toed lapwing Vanellus crassirostris M, SS, S
Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres Coastal areas
Terek sandpiper Xenus cinereus WB (single at S end of Esplanade)
Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos PF, M, KM, S, R
Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola ET, M, SS, KM, WSF
Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis ET, OK, WB
Common greenshank Tringa nebularia ET, coastal areas
Red knot Calidris canutus Coastal areas
Curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea OK, coastal areas
Little stint Calidris minuta ET, coastal areas
Sanderling Calidris alba WB
Ruff Philomachus pugnax ET, M, KM, S, OK, WSF
Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica Coastal areas
Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata KM (single along Zambezi)
Common whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Coastal areas
Pied avocet Recurvirostra avosetta OK, SK
Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus ET, M, SK
Spotted thick-knee Burhinus capensis ET
Water thick-knee Burhinus vermiculatus M, SS
Burchell's courser Cursorius rufus ET (at least ten birds on stony plain just before turn-off to Halali), at least ten adults plus chicks in desert between Uis and Henties Bay
Double-banded courser Rhinoptilus africanus ET
Three-banded courser Rhinoptilus cinctus KM (2 birds in riparian forest along Zambezi - surprise bird of the trip)
Collared pratincole Glareola pratincola M, SS, S
Rock pratincole Glareola nuchalis PF, KM
Parasitic jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus WB (off Paaltjies and from boat)
Pomarine jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus WB (single from boat)
Grey-headed gull Larus cirrocephalus Coastal areas
Hartlaub's gull Larus hartlaubii Coastal areas
Cape gull Larus vetula Coastal areas
Caspian tern Sterna caspia Coastal areas
Swift tern Sterna bergii SK, WB
Sandwich tern Sterna sandvicensis Coastal areas
Common tern Sterna hirundo Coastal areas
Damara tern Sterna balaenarum Small numbers in coastal areas.
Black tern Chlidonias niger Coastal areas
White-winged tern Chlidonias leucopterus KM, WB
African skimmer Rynchops flavirostris M, KM
Namaqua sandgrouse Pterocles namaqua ET, in desert between Uis and Henties Bay
Burchell's sandgrouse Pterocles burchelli KM (pair in Zambezi corridor off road to Kalimbeza - south of KM)
Double-banded sandgrouse Pterocles bicinctus ET, H
Rock dove Columba livia Windhoek and other towns
Speckled pigeon Columba guinea CH, W
Red-eyed dove Streptopelia semitorquata PF, Caprivi, S
African mourning dove Streptopelia decipiens M, [R]
Cape turtle-dove Streptopelia capicola Ubiquitous
Laughing dove Streptopelia senegalensis CH, W, S
Namaqua dove Oena capensis CH, ET
Emerald-spotted wood-dove Turtur chalcospilos PF, SS, S
African green-pigeon Treron calva KM, S
Meyer's parrot Poicephalus meyeri M, SS
Ruppell's parrot Poicephalus rueppellii W, CH
Rosy-faced lovebird Agapornis roseicollis CH, W, R
Schalow's turaco Tauraco schalowi KM
Grey go-away-bird Corythaixoides concolor CH, W, SS, KM
Common cuckoo Cuculus canorus KM (along cut-line)
African cuckoo Cuculus gularis [CH], ET, R
Red-chested cuckoo Cuculus solitarius M (dry forest)
Black cuckoo Cuculus clamosus [CH], ET, [M]
Great spotted cuckoo Clamator glandarius W, M
Levaillant's cuckoo Oxylophus levaillantii EC, KM, S
Jacobin cuckoo Oxylophus jacobinus W (under-recorded)
Klaas's cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas W, [KM]
Diderick cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius W, KM, S
[Black coucal Centropus grillii] [SS]
Coppery-tailed coucal Centropus cupreicaudus KM, M, S
Senegal coucal Centropus senegalensis KM
White-browed coucal Centropus superciliosus KM, R
Barn owl Tyto alba [W], ET, PF, [KM], [S]
African wood-owl Strix woodfordii PF, [S]
African scops-owl Otus senegalensis W, heard elsewhere
Southern white-faced scops-owl Ptilopsus granti ET (Halali)
Pearl-spotted owlet Glaucidium perlatum CH, W, ET, [R]
African barred owlet Glaucidium capense [W], KM, SS
Spotted eagle-owl Bubo africanus ET (single near Okondeka), PF
Giant eagle-owl Bubo lacteus ET (pair with young at Okaukejo)
Pel's fishing-owl Scotopelia peli S
Rufous-cheeked nightjar Caprimulgus rufigena ET, M, EC
Freckled nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma W
Pennant-winged nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius EC (pair seen very well)
Common swift Apus apus CH, S
Bradfield's swift Apus bradfieldi W
White-rumped swift Apus caffer CH, WSF
Little swift Apus affinis CH, ET
Alpine swift Apus melba W
African palm-swift Cypsiurus parvus ET, KM, R
White-backed mousebird Colius colius CH, WB (Rooibank), WSF, Windhoek
Red-faced mousebird Urocolius indicus PF, KM, S, ET, U
Narina trogon Apaloderma narina SS (male taped in), S (pair)
Pied kingfisher Ceryle rudis M, KM
Giant kingfisher Megaceryle maxima KM, S
Malachite kingfisher Alcedo cristata KM, SS, S
Woodland kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis M, SS, KM, S, R
Brown-hooded kingfisher Halcyon albiventris SS, KM
Grey-headed kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala KM
[Striped kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti] KM
European bee-eater Merops apiaster CH, W, ET, KM
Madagascar bee-eater Merops superciliosus R
Blue-cheeked bee-eater Merops persicus M, S
Southern carmine bee-eater Merops nubicoides M, SS, KM, S
White-fronted bee-eater Merops bullockoides M, S
Little bee-eater Merops pusillus M, SS, EC, S, R
Swallow-tailed bee-eater Merops hirundineus CH, W, ET, M, R
Lilac-breasted roller Coracias caudata CH, ET, M, SS
Racket-tailed roller Coracias spatulata SS
Purple roller Coracias naevia W, SS, R
Broad-billed roller Eurystomus glaucurus EC, KM, SS
African hoopoe Upupa africana CH, W, ET, ST
Green wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus PF, R
Violet wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus damarensis W
Common scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas W, ET, M, R, U, ST
Trumpeter hornbill Bycanistes bucinator KM
African grey hornbill Tockus nasutus CH, W, S, R
Red-billed hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus ET, SS, R
Damara hornbill Tockus damarensis W
Southern yellow-billed hornbill Tockus leucomelas CH, W, ET
Bradfield's hornbill Tockus bradfieldi W
Monteiro's hornbill Tockus monteiri CH, W, R
Black-collared barbet Lybius torquatus PF, KM
Acacia pied barbet Tricholaema leucomelas CH, W, ET, M, U, ST
Yellow-fronted tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus SS, S
Crested barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii M, EC, KM
Lesser honeyguide Indicator minor CH, M
Bennett's woodpecker Campethera bennettii KM
Golden-tailed woodpecker Campethera abingoni W, M, KM, R
Cardinal woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens M, KM, U
Bearded woodpecker Dendropicos namaquus KM, SS
Monotonous lark Mirafra passerina CH (very poor views of one in flight)
Rufous-naped lark Mirafra africana CH, ET
Eastern clapper lark Mirafra fasciolata ET
Fawn-coloured lark Mirafra africanoides CH, M
Sabota lark Mirafra sabota CH, ET, U
Benguela long-billed lark Certhilauda benguelensis U
Dune lark Certhilauda erythrochlamys WB (Rooibank - two pairs)
Spike-heeled lark Chersomanes albofasciata ET
Red-capped lark Calandrella cinerea ET
Stark's lark Eremalauda starki ET
Gray's lark Ammomanes grayi SK
Chestnut-backed sparrowlark Eremopterix leucotis ET
Grey-backed sparrowlark Eremopterix verticalis ET, WB (Rooibank)
Barn swallow Hirundo rustica Widespread
White-throated swallow Hirundo albigularis WSF
Wire-tailed swallow Hirundo smithii KM, SS, S, R
Pearl-breasted swallow Hirundo dimidiata 2 between Hobatere and Uis
Red-breasted swallow Hirundo semirufa ET
Mosque swallow Hirundo senegalensis M, SS, KM
Greater striped swallow Hirundo cucullata Widespread
Lesser striped swallow Hirundo abyssinica KM
South African cliff-swallow Hirundo spilodera Windhoek airport
Rock martin Hirundo fuligula W, ET, KM, R
Common house-martin Delichon urbica R
Grey-rumped swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga M, SS, KM
Sand martin Riparia riparia SS
Brown-throated martin Riparia paludicola S
Banded martin Riparia cincta CH, ET, KM, S
Black cuckooshrike Campephaga flava M
White-breasted cuckooshrike Coracina pectoralis Single 27 km west of Rundu in dry forest
Fork-tailed drongo Dicrurus adsimilis CH, W, ET, R
African golden oriole Oriolus auratus M (dry forest), KM
Black-headed oriole Oriolus larvatus M (single in dry forest)
Cape crow Corvus capensis ET
Pied crow Corvus albus ET, M
Ashy tit Parus cinerascens CH, W
Southern black tit Parus niger M, SS, EC
Carp's tit Parus carpi W, ET
Cape penduline-tit Anthoscopus minutus CH (pair feeding in orange-flowered parasitic plant on dead tree)
Arrow-marked babbler Turdoides jardineii PF, M, KM, S
Black-faced babbler Turdoides melanops ET (family group Dik Dik Drive)
Hartlaub's babbler Turdoides hartlaubii PF, M, SS, KM, R
Southern pied babbler Turdoides bicolor CH, ET
Bare-cheeked babbler Turdoides gymnogenys ET (Halali), R
African red-eyed bulbul Pycnonotus nigricans CH, ET, R
Dark-capped bulbul Pycnonotus tricolor PF, S
Terrestrial brownbul Phyllastrephus terrestris PF, KM
Yellow-bellied greenbul Chlorocichla flaviventris PF, S, R
Eastern nicator Nicator gularis KM (single in riparian forest along Zambezi - a superb bird)
Kurrichane thrush Turdus libonyanus M (dry forest)
Groundscraper thrush Psophocichla litsipsirupa CH, W, EC, M, R, airport
Short-toed rock-thrush Monticola brevipes Common in dry rocky areas
Mountain wheatear Oenanthe monticola CH, U
Capped wheatear Oenanthe pileata ET, M, U
Familiar chat Cercomela familiaris CH, W, ET, R, U
Tractrac chat Cercomela tractrac In desert between Uis and Henties Bay, WB (Rooibank area)
Karoo chat Cercomela schlegelii U, ST
Arnott's chat Myrmecocichla arnotti KM (cut-line)
Ant-eating chat Myrmecocichla formicivora CH, ET
African stonechat Saxicola torquata M
White-browed robin-chat Cossypha heuglini PF, KM, S
Rufous-tailed palm-thrush Cichladusa ruficauda R
White-browed scrub-robin Cercotrichas leucophrys W, M
Kalahari scrub-robin Cercotrichas paena CH, W, ET
Bearded robin Cercotrichas quadrivirgata KM
Herero chat Namibornis herero U
Garden warbler Sylvia borin M (dry forest)
Chestnut-vented tit-babbler Parisoma subcaeruleum CH, W, ET, U
Icterine warbler Hippolais icterina PF, SS, KM, M
Great reed-warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus KM, R
African reed-warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus S, WB, WSF
Sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus ET, KM, S
Greater swamp-warbler Acrocephalus rufescens S
Little rush-warbler Bradypterus baboecala S
Willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus Widespread
Long-billed crombec Sylvietta rufescens ET, KM, 27 km west of Rundu, ST, CH
Yellow-bellied eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis ET, WB (Rooibank), ST, CH
Burnt-necked eremomela Eremomela usticollis CH
Grey-backed camaroptera Camaroptera brevicaudata Ubiquitous
African wren-warbler Calamonastes fasciolatus CH
Stierling's wren-warbler Calamonastes stierlingi KM (cut-line)
Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius CH, W, H
Zitting cisticola Cisticola juncidis KM, M, WSF
Desert cisticola Cisticola aridulus CH, ET
Grey-backed cisticola Cisticola subruficapillus CH
Rattling cisticola Cisticola chinianus CH, W
Chirping cisticola Cisticola pipiens SS
Luapula cisticola Cisticola luapula KM
Neddicky Cisticola fulvicapillus KM, 27 km west of Rundu
Tawny-flanked prinia Prinia subflava PF, KM, S
Black-chested prinia Prinia flavicans CH, W, ET
Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata M, SS
Ashy flycatcher Muscicapa caerulescens PF, S
Collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis SS (single on 3/12)
Southern black flycatcher Melaenornis pammelaina KM, M (dry forest)
Marico flycatcher Bradornis mariquensis CH, W, ET, U
Pale flycatcher Bradornis pallidus M (dry forest), KM
Chat flycatcher Bradornis infuscatus CH, between Hobatere and Uis, U
Chinspot batis Batis molitor PF, SS, 27 km west of Rundu
Pririt batis Batis pririt CH, ET, U
African paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis W, PF, KM, S
African pied wagtail Motacilla aguimp KM, S
Cape wagtail Motacilla capensis CH, coastal areas, WSF
Yellow wagtail Motacilla flava KM (3 at Fish Farm)
African pipit Anthus cinnamomeus Airport, ET, M
Long-billed pipit Anthus similis U
Plain-backed pipit Anthus leucophrys KM
Buffy pipit Anthus vaalensis M
[Red-throated pipit Anthus cervinus] [ET - a possible heard over Namutoni]
Lesser grey shrike Lanius minor CH, W, ET
Common fiscal Lanius collaris ET, U, ST
Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio CH, W, PF, M
Magpie shrike Corvinella melanoleuca M, KM
Tropical boubou Laniarius aethiopicus KM
Swamp boubou Laniarius bicolor M, KM, S, R
Crimson-breasted shrike Laniarius atrococcineus CH, W, ET, M
Black-backed puffback Dryoscopus cubla W, ET, KM, R
Brubru Nilaus afer CH, ET, KM, U
Brown-crowned tchagra Tchagra australis CH, W, M, KM, SS
Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus U, ST
Orange-breasted bush-shrike Telophorus sulfureopectus [M], [KM], SS
White-tailed shrike Lanioturdus torquatus CH, R, ST
White-crested helmet-shrike Prionops plumatus ET, M, SS, KM
Southern white-crowned shrike Eurocephalus anguitimens ET, R
Wattled starling Creatophora cinerea CH, ET
Violet-backed starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster ET, M, EC, KM, R
Burchell's starling Lamprotornis australis CH, W, M
Meves's starling Lamprotornis mevesii PF, R
Cape glossy starling Lamprotornis nitens CH, W, M, R, ST
Greater blue-eared starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus M
Sharp-tailed starling Lamprotornis acuticaudus M (dry forest)
Pale-winged starling Onychognathus nabouroup CH, W, ET, U, ST
Yellow-billed oxpecker Buphagus africanus M
Red-billed oxpecker Buphagus erythrorhynchus PF, M
Copper sunbird Cinnyris cuprea KM (2 males in gardens in town)
Marico sunbird Cinnyris mariquensis CH, W, ET, KM
Purple-banded sunbird Cinnyris bifasciata KM (female at Zambezi Lodge)
White-bellied sunbird Cinnyris talatala W, KM, R
Dusky sunbird Cinnyris fusca CH, U
Scarlet-chested sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis CH, W, M (dry forest)
Amethyst sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina M (dry forest), EC, KM
Collared sunbird Hedydipna collaris PF, KM, S
African yellow white-eye Zosterops senegalensis KM, single 27 km west of Rundu
Red-billed buffalo-weaver Bubalornis niger ET, M, desert
White-browed sparrow-weaver Plocepasser mahali CH, ET, R
Sociable weaver Philetairus socius ET, desert
House sparrow Passer domesticus Towns
Great sparrow Passer motitensis CH, ET
Cape sparrow Passer melanurus U, ST
Southern grey-headed sparrow Passer diffusus CH, W, R
Northern grey-headed sparrow Passer griseus KM - single behind the Engen petrol station in town
Yellow-throated petronia Petronia superciliaris KM, M (dry forest)
Scaly-feathered finch Sporopipes squamifrons Dry areas
Thick-billed weaver Amblyospiza albifrons PF, KM, S
Spectacled weaver Ploceus ocularis KM, R
Village weaver Ploceus cucullatus KM, S
Chestnut weaver Ploceus rubiginosus CH, WSF
Southern masked-weaver Ploceus velatus CH, W ET, WB (Rooibank), WSF
Lesser masked-weaver Ploceus intermedius W, WSF
Golden weaver Ploceus xanthops PF, M, S, R
Southern brown-throated weaver Ploceus xanthopterus S
Red-headed weaver Anaplectes rubriceps M (dry forest)
Red-billed quelea Quelea quelea CH, ET, KM
Southern red bishop Euplectes orix ET, Windhoek, WSF
Fan-tailed widowbird Euplectes axillaris KM, S
Green-winged pytilia Pytilia melba CH, W, M
Jameson's firefinch Lagonosticta rhodopareia PF, KM
Red-billed firefinch Lagonosticta senegala R
Brown firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula PF
Blue waxbill Uraeginthus angolensis ET, PF, SS, R
Violet-eared waxbill Granatina granatina CH, W, ET, M
Common waxbill Estrilda astrild KM
Black-faced waxbill Estrilda erythronotos CH, ET
Cinderella waxbill Estrilda thomensis R
African quail finch Ortygospiza atricollis KM
Red-headed finch Amadina erythrocephala CH, ET, ST
Bronze mannikin Lonchura cucullata KM
Pin-tailed whydah Vidua macroura M, KM
Shaft-tailed whydah Vidua regia CH, W, M (dry forest), KM, WSF
Long-tailed paradise-whydah Vidua paradisaea KM
Village indigobird Vidua chalybeata KM
Yellow-fronted canary Serinus mozambicus M, KM
Black-throated canary Serinus atrogularis CH, ET, KM, ST
Yellow canary Serinus flaviventris ET (single male singing near Namutoni)
White-throated canary Serinus albogularis U, ST
Golden-breasted bunting Emberiza flaviventris ET, ST
Cape bunting Emberiza capensis CH (single)
Cinnamon-breasted bunting Emberiza tahapisi ET, R
Lark-like bunting Emberiza impetuani Dry areas

Phil Benstead is a freelance birder based in the UK and is available to lead tours to Namibia and other parts of South Africa.

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