|BIRDING TOURS IN NAMIBIA
|NORTHERN NAMIBIA BIRDING SPECIALS
Namibia is a country of vast open spaces and relatively few people. Habitats range from the Namib Desert in the west to moist woodlands and floodplains in the north-east. The diversity of birds is similarly high and several species are endemic or near-endemic to the country. This tour concentrates on the west and north west of Namibia, where all of these specials, except the recently described Barlow's Lark, can be seen. The tour will take in the majestic Namib Desert, rich coastal wetlands, the hills and woodlands of the interior, Etosha Game Reserve and the riverine forest of the Cunene River floodplain. Your leader, Prof. Phil Hockey of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology is a well know expert on southern African birds and has led several previous tours to Namibia. Phil estimates that we should see approximately 275 species during the trip and is confident that every day will be a rewarding birding experience.
29 April. Arrive Windhoek International Airport and transfer to nearby Elsenheim camp.
30 April. An early morning walk around the camp will allow you to familiarise yourself with some of Namibia's commoner birds. Among the specials we may encounter are Rockrunner and Monteiro's Hornbill, and there is always a chance of Carp's and Ashy Tits. Black-cheeked Waxbills can be found along the dry river beds, and Red-billed Francolins should be calling. Later in the morning we will head north-west to Spitzkop, a series of magnificent rock outcrops on the eastern edge of the Namib Desert. The key bird at Spitzkop is the highly localised Herero Chat, and it is also a good locality for Ruppell's Korhaan, Rockrunner, Pale-winged Starling, Bradfield's Swift, White-tailed Shrike, Rosy-faced Lovebird and Dusky Sunbird. We will camp the night at the base of one of the rocky domes - sunset and sunrise can be spectacular!
1 May. We leave Spitzkop in the late morning, travelling west on a dirt road across the desert to the small fishing village of Hentjies Bay. From here we turn south along the coast to Swakopmund, hopefully seeing the diminutive Damara Tern en route. North of Swakopmund we will search the gravel plains for Gray's Lark and the local race of Tractrac Chat, after which a visit to the local saltworks should produce many waterbirds, including Chestnut-banded Plover. We will spend the night at bungalows in Swakopmund.
2 May. Early this morning we head south to Walvis Bay and in to the Rooibank dunefield. The target bird here is the endemic Dune Lark. We shall then spend some time around the lagoon at Walvis Bay, one of the great waterbird havens of southern Africa. It is also one of the great rarities traps of the west coast, and is a guaranteed locality for African Black Oystercatcher. We will also visit the local sewage works, which has been turned into a wetland reserve. This site too has had more than its fair share of rarities over the years. Overnight at Swakopmund
3 May. After breakfast we will head slowly north-east to the village of Omaruru, stopping en route to look for Ruppell's Parrot, Southern Pied Babbler and others. An evening walk along the bed of the Omaruru River should produce Violet Wood-hoopoe, and Pearl-spotted and African Scops Owls can be found around the camp.
4 May. Before dawn, we head a few kilometres west of Omaruru for a dawn chorus of Hartlaub's Francolin. Later in the morning we follow a fascinating road that takes us through the drylands east of the Brandberg, via Uis and Khorixas, to our next overnight south west of Etosha. Along here we could see both Burchell's and Temminck's Coursers, as well as a good cross-section of raptors.
5 - 7 May. In the morning we drive north to the Cunene River west of Ruacana. The Cunene River is the border between Nambia and Angola and is a green oasis running through otherwise dry mopane woodland. There are three very special birds here - Grey Kestrel, Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush and Cinderella Waxbill. The riverine reedbeds and woodlands, however, support a host of other birds. These include Swamp Boubou, a distinctive race of Red-necked Francolin, as well as Bare-cheeked and Hartlaub's Babblers, Chestnut Weaver and Barred Owl. The Cunene race of Bennett's Woodpecker may be a full species and other specials sighted here in recent years include Bat Hawk and Angola Swallow.
8 May. We leave the Cunene and head south to Namutoni Camp in eastern Etosha - there are plenty of birds to see along the way. The east is the wettest part of Etosha, and the mature woodlands are rich in birds - we will search for the elusive Black-faced Babbler, and should also see Damara Dikdik. The plains to the north east are home to an isolated population of Blue Cranes and Tinkling Cisticolas can sometimes be found in bushy areas.
9 May. A day trip from Namutoni to Halali will take us though a variety of habitats, including Mopane woodland and grassy plains. Raptors are plentiful, and big game viewing will add an extra dimension to the birding. Should we have failed to find them elsewhere, Halali is a back-up for Violet Wood-hoopoe, Namibia's rarest endemic. Overnight at Halali.
10 May. After some early morning birding close to the camp, we will leave Halali and travel to Okaukeujo. Be on the look out for big game as well as continuing outstanding (unticked!) birds
11 May. After spending the morning birding around the camp, we will head south east for the Waterberg. This impressive massif, rising out of flat plains, supports a wide diversity of habitats in a fairly small area. Cape Vultures breed here, and it is perhaps the best site in Namibia to see Ruppell's Parrot. Rockrunner and Carp's Black Tit can be found among the chalets and there is plenty of bird activity in the camp site itself. Overnight at the Waterberg camp site.
12 May. After a leisurely breakfast, we head south for Windhoek and the flights home.
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