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ANGOLA

Saturday 30th August - Wednesday 17th September 2014

Pete Morris

The magical Braun's Bushshrike (Pete Morris)

The magical Braun's Bushshrike (Pete Morris)

This was our first tour to Angola for nine years, and as such, was quite an adventure. Much had changed in the intervening period, some for the better, some for the worse! The infrastructure had improved no end since our last visit, and in particular, the roads were generally good and comfortable to travel on. Our outfitters did us proud, and looked after us admirably: tents were spacious; meals copious and tasty; and we even had access to 24 hour electricity and a hot shower! On the downside, perhaps the saddest thing to see was the pace of habitat destruction. Despite being resource rich, and Luanda being one of the most expensive cities in the world, Angola is essentially a very poor country, and this is apparent as one travels around, witnessing the poverty that the average Angolan endures. As a result, pressures on natural habitats are extremely high! Many areas are burnt to produce fresh grass, trees are cut for charcoal and anything living is hunted for the pot. All of this means that the unique wildlife of this country is under extreme pressure. With this in mind, we were very happy to travel around and find all of the Angolan endemics and nearly all of the hoped for specialities. It wasn’t always plain-sailing, but the spirit of the group prevailed and overall the birding was great. Amongst the group’s favourites, special mention should go to the wonderful Braun’s, Gabela and Monteiro’s Bushshrikes, a classy and colourful trio! Other endemics and specialities that impressed included Swierstra’s, Finsch’s, Grey-striped and Hartlaub’s Francolins, Pale-billed Hornbill, the gorgeous Red-crested Turaco, a fine Thick-billed Cuckoo, smart Angolan and Margaret’s Batises, showy White-fronted Wattle-eyes, Gabela and Bocage’s Akalats, lovely Miombo and Forest Scrub-Robins and stunning White-headed Robin Chats and Angolan Cave Chats. There were many, many more, too many to list here.

The fabulous Angolan Cave Chat (Pete Morris)

The fabulous Angolan Cave Chat (Pete Morris)