Bustards Banter – Vol 1 – Northern Cape, Southern Moz Reports

Welcome to the first edition of Bustards Banter. We’ve been busy leading some interesting and successful trips over the past few months.

Northern Cape (June 2015):
This popular trip through the dry Northern Cape is focused on finding the range restricted larks of the area, as well as several more enigmatic species that favour these arid areas. Kerry Fairley and Justin Nicolau led this trip, and had huge success, even if the Sclater’s Lark did give them them a bit of a runaround. A bonus in between Pofadder and the Red Lark site at Koa Dunes was finding a roosting Cape Eagle Owl, one of the most difficult Southern African Owl species to find. The Lark species found included Barlow’s Lark, Stark’s Lark, Red Lark, Sclater’s Lark, Cape Long-billed Lark, Grey-backed Sparrowlark and Black-eared Sparrowlark.

A drive down to Onseepkans, the border town on the Orange River, Rosy-faced Lovebirds are seen, with Cinnamon-breasted Warblers inhabiting the rocky outcrops next to the river, Pale-winged Starlings swooping around, with the chur of Namaqua Warblers emanating from the reed-beds on the riverside. Our next planned trip is scheduled for 14th to 19th June 2016.

Mozambique July 2015:
This was more of an exploratory trip, with hopes of setting eyes on the winter migrants, namely Mascarene Martin and Malagasy Pond Heron. This year’s dry conditions were not however conducive to productive birding. We therefore made the most of the birding that was to be had. Saying that, we had a rather successful trip, taking into account that the summer migrants are all absent. Some excellent species were seen, such as Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Pale Batis, Rufous-bellied Heron, Brown-backed Honeybird, Southern Hyliota, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, plus one client’s long-time bogey bird, Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike.

An earlier trip is scheduled in 2016, in April, when we hope to find some less common waders at Inhambane.

Upcoming trips:

Green Tinkerbird
Green Tinkerbird

In November (19th-23rd), we are doing a scouting trip with a difference, as this time a mammal is the focus of the trip (well, sort of!). We will be flying in to Vilancoulos for a four day visit, going out looking for the Dugong, one of four extant species of the order Sirenia. Dugongs are the only strictly marine herbivorous mammal.

We will also venture out to the ocean side of the peninsula, to see what pelagic bird species we can find, with chances of Terns, Noddies, Frigatebirds and Tropicbirds.

The following two days will be spent birding on dry land, we will travel south to look for Green Tinkerbirds around Unguana, and visit the pans nearer Vilancoulos where a variety of waterbirds can be found, such as Dwarf and Little Bittern, the two Jacana species, Allen’s Gallinule, and many more. There are a few places left, contact us for pricing.

December (11th to 22nd) and January (14th to 25th) see us travelling to Mozambique again. This time it will be to the Coutadas of the Zambezi valley, the floodplains of Rio Savane, Mount Gorongosa, as well as taking in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. The prime target in December will be the African Pitta, however we hope to see the little known, rare and peculiar Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, which we were fortunate enough to see on our 2014 trip. We will visit the Zambezi where recent discovery of a resident population of Böhm’s Bee-eaters has made this bird a desired tick on any birders list. Contact us for details.

In February 2016 (11th to 16th), Kerry will be visiting the vleis of Harare in search of Streaky-breasted Flufftail, some Crakes, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Black Coucal, Rosy-throated Longclaw, etc. The trip will also take in the miombo woodland, looking for goodies such as Spotted Creeper, Green-backed Honeybird, Southern Hyliota, White-breasted Cuckooshrike amongst others. There is even a chance of spotting the uncommon Collared Flycatcher, which would be in breeding plumage by then. We normally stop to find Boulder Chat en route. There are still places on this tour.

Niall Perrins has been quite busy, no, call that hectic, with the Durban pelagic schedule this year, with some very interesting species being seen.

Visit his page for availability and bookings – this is an initiative to raise funds for BirdLife SA projects.

Wandering Albatross
Wandering Albatross

Our contact details:

Kerry Fairley kerry@bustardsbirding.co.za

Niall Perrins    niall@bustardsbirding.co.za

Allan Ridley   allan@bustardsbirding.co.za

Let us know what you think.