Botswana Bird Trip
We just returned from a 3 week birding trip to Botswana and the Caprivi and would like to share some of the birds with you.
Riverside country lodge, Modderrivier
A very good overnight place if you can't get accom at Mokala Nat Park. It is along the riet river. Birds in area: whitefaced duck, greater kestrel, northern black korhaan, spikeheeled lark, bradfield lark, eur marsh warbler, blackchested prinia, sociable weaver, yellow canary.
Big hole, Kimberley Bradfield alphine, african, little and whiterumped swifts.
Kamfersdam, Kimberley Thousands of lesser flamingoes, cape teal
Botsalano game reserve, Mafikeng A brilliant reserve which looks fairly unknown to birders. Good facilities and lots of roads. Unfortunately the people in charge of accommodation are not up to standard. When we arrived, there was no bedding which we had to organized through the person who is doing the bookings for the reserve. The next morning the water tank was empty and we were without running water. Well, birding was excellent with: whitebacked and whiteheaded vultures, namaqua sandgrouse, spotted eagle owl, melodious, rufous naped, eastern clapper, sabota, short clawed and spike heeled larks, white throated robin chat, crimson breasted shrike, melba finch, violet eared waxbill, golden breasted bunting.
Khama Rhino sanctuary, Serowe Very beautiful reserve with good facilities and can be recommended. Roads sandy and 4x4 needed for some roads. Birds were: gabar goshawk, greater kestrel, redcrested korhaan, meyers parrot, pearlspotted owl, yellowfronted tinker barbet, goldentailed woodpecker, fawncoloured lark, southern black tit, pied babbler, ashy tit, tinkling cisticola, chinspot batis, marico sunbird, redheaded weaver. Lappetfaced and whitebacked vultures, tawny eagle, bateleur, meyers parrot, little and swallowtailed bee-eaters, pinkbilled lark, chestnut backed sparrowlark, house martin, violet backed starling, redbilled oxpecker.
Crocodile camp, Maun Very nice situated camp but facilities in camping site can be better. Large trees in garden with deck onto river and good variety of birds. Birds seen: dwarf bittern, redbilled francolin, water thicknee, african mourning dove, meyers parrot, coppery tailed coucal, hartlaubs babbler, heuglin robin chat, swamp boubou, redbilled firefinch, golden weaver.
Maun game reserve A very good birding spot in maun with river and thornveld. Birds seen: wahlberg eagle, african fish eagle, whiskered tern, striped and jacobin cuckoos, giant eagle owl, pied babbler, yellowbellied and burntnecked eremomela, orangebreasted bush shrike, violet eared and blackcheeked waxbill.
Drotsky cabins, Shakawe Drotsky cabins is still one of the best birding places along the delta. Lodge is excellent, facilities very good and very good birding along and on river. We went on a boat trip with otto who is an excellent guide. Birds around lodge and on river: slaty egrets, rufousbellied heron, whitebacked night heron, western banded snake eagle, afr marsh harrier, wattled cranes, longtoed plover, blackwinged pratincole, afr skimmer, wood owl, pel's fishing owl, squaretailed nightjar, carmine bee-eater, terrestrial bulbul, greater swamp warbler, chirping cisticola, yellow white-eye, brownthroated weaver, yellowbilled oxpecker.
Ngepi lodge A very interesting lodge with cute phrases along the road and to direct you to the facilities. Very well kept, neat camping sites and good chalets. Birds around lodge: goliath heron, steppe eagle, lizard buzzard, barred owl, temminck's courser, redwinged pratincole, rock pratincole, striped & african cuckoo, senegal & whitebrowed coucal, broadbilled roller, bradfield's hornbill, bearded woodpecker, icterine warbler, thickbilled & spectacled weaver, cutthroat finch.
Mahango game reserve Mahango is still one of the best birding places in Southern Africa. Although it was in the dry season, we saw lots of birds including black egret, comb duck, martial eagle, wattled crane, longtoed plover, doublebanded sandgrouse, chestnutbacked sparrowlark, sand martin, purplebanded sunbird, shafttailed whydah, yellow canary, larklike bunting.
Shamvura lodge A well runned lodge on the banks of the Okavango with very good camping site at Ushivi. Tented accommodation of good standard and except for river lots of bushveld birds. Boat trip with mark was excellent. Birds seen: blackcrowned night heron, comb duck, dark chanting goshawk, ruddy turnstone, sanderling (in partly breeding plumage), collared pratincole, sth whitefaced owl, squaretailed nightjar, ayres eagle (dead along tar road but in good condition), lesser honeyguide, bearded woodpecker, greencapped eremomela, rufousbellied heron.
Caprivi strip between Bongani and Kongola Hooded vulture, tawny eagle, martial eagle, brown snake eagle, dickinson's kestrel, woodland kingfisher, bluecheeked bee-eater, broadbilled roller, bradfield's hornbill. Arnot's chats, 45 km west of katima mulilo breeding in large mopani's.
Kalizo lodge This lodge is a gem along the Zambezi. Very well run with lovely birds in vacinity. The colony of carmine bee-eaters is spectacular. The pans in the area are full of birds and you can spend the day just around it. Most spectacular birds were bateleur, lesser jacana, painted snipe, blackcrowned night heron, little bittern, whitecrowned plover, burchell's & doublebanded sandgrouse, a tree full of afr green pigeons, copperytailed, senegal & whitebrowed coucals, broadbilled roller, blackbellied bustard, greyrumped swallow, plainbacked pipit, shelley's sunbird, northern greyheaded sparrow, hundreds of squacco herons, pygmy geese, rednecked falcon, lesser gallinule, lesser moorhen, luapula cisticola.
Kasane We stayed in Toro lodge which itself has a good image, but the arrangements are bad. It seems that the lodges around Kasane get so much overseas tourists that they don't worry about their services. We booked the "double bubble" which is a river cruise in the morning and a game drive in the afternoon. The boat time was 6 am and we stood at the lodge until 7 am with no boat. Then, one of the personnel remembered that they haven't told us that the boat departures from Chobe Marina lodge. We rushed to Chobe Marina and ascented the boat, just to be told by the guide that the boat had engine problems. 200 metres from the jetty the engine stuck and the guide had to wave for another boat to tow him back to the jetty. Not even an oar on the boat. Gone was the boat trip and a lot of birding time. The game drive was scheduled for 3 pm, but after 3 pm the manager started organising vehicles as none of his own vehicles were available. We left the lodge at about 3:45 pm. The herds of hundreds of elephants in the Chobe were something to experience. We also saw a pride of lions, puku, red lechwe, kudu and large herds of buffalo. Birding around Kasane is excellent with afr skimmers, barn owl, whitefaced owl with chick, striped kingfisher, trumpeter hornbill (at chobe marina lodge), collared palmthrush (at mowana lodge), burntnecked eremomela, tropical boubou, greyheaded bush shrike, brown firefinch & bronze mannikin
(Mowana lodge), shelley's sunbird, nth greyheaded sparrow, ovambo sparrowhawk. Woodlands, Francistown Woodlands is recommended to overnight near Francistown. situated along the tati river, birding is rewarding. Facilities are tops. Unfortunately no boulder chats at the rocky outcrops north of Francistown despite an intensive search. Birds seen include blackcheeked waxbill, redbilled firefinch, greyheaded bush shrike, marico flycatcher, tinkling cisticola, sth black tit, swallowtailed bee-eater, crested barbet.
Kameelbult safaris, Stella A very good stop on a game farm. Can just accommodate 10 people in chalets. Typical kalahari veld with beautiful camel thorn trees. free to walk or drive in game area. Highly recommended. Birds around were whitebacked vulture, pygmy falcon, african & great spotted cuckoo, redbilled woodhoopoe, bradfield's and shortclawed larks, marico sunbird, sociable weaver.
We saw 393 species on the trip with lifers ranging from 3 to 110 for the different people. We were a bit to early for the most migrants and a few interesting "common" birds not seen or heard, were saddlebilled stork, african hawk eagle, kori bustard, pied avocet, bennett's woodpecker, barred warbler and the widowfinches.