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MALAWI & ZIMBABWE

Saturday 23rd November - Thursday 12th December 2013

Nik Borrow

Pel's Fishing Owl (Nik Borrow)

Pel's Fishing Owl (Nik Borrow)

During this tour of two countries we visited extensive miombo woodlands, mopane forests, montane copses, rolling open moorlands, dense thickets and riverine marshes. We stayed in some extremely comfortable and well-appointed locations enjoying some excellent food and excellent birding. An incredible male Pennant-winged Nightjar was voted the top bird of the tour and in Zimbabwe the charming Swynnerton’s Robin claimed our hearts whilst high on the Nyika Plateau a male Scarlet-tufted Sunbird claimed third place. The enormous marmalade coloured Pel’s Fishing Owl posed for us nicely in the crown of a spreading fig tree. The unique Babbling Starling took some tracking down but we ended up with wonderful views of adults visiting their nesting tree. The Racket-tailed Roller completed a family for some and was typically elusive for a worryingly long period of time until a pair surrendered themselves at Vwaza Marsh. Southern Carmine Bee-eaters also completed a family tick for some of our group. Unbelievably close views of Sousa’s Shrikes in the rapidly shrinking Dzalanyama Forest Reserve were a real treat as were the eyeball-to-eyeball looks at White-backed Night Herons in Liwonde National Park and a Buff-spotted Flufftail on Mount Thyolo. We scored well with the strange Boulder Chat, the exquisite White-winged Apalis and near-endemic Thyolo Alethe in Malawi whilst in Zimbabwe both local specialties Roberts’s Warbler and Chirinda Apalis showed well. Other avian treasures included Red-winged and Swainson’s Francolins, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Lilian’s Lovebird, Grey-headed Parrot, Livingstone’s and Schalow’s Turacos, Burchell’s Coucal, Usambara (split from either Rwenzori or Montane) Nightjar, Scarce Swift, Böhm’s Bee-eater, Pale-billed Hornbill, Whyte’s Barbet, Moustached Tinkerbird, Miombo Pied and Brown-breasted Barbets, Pallid Honeyguide, Bennett’s, Speckle-throated and Stierling’s Woodpeckers, Malawi and Cape Batises, Olive Bushshrike, Fülleborn’s Boubou, Green-headed Oriole, Rufous-bellied and Miombo Tits, Black-browed, Stripe-cheeked, Olive-headed and Sharpe’s Greenbuls, Blue and Pearl-breasted Swallows, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Black-lored, Churring and Wailing Cisticolas, Yellow-throated, Chapin’s and Brown-headed Apalises, Green-backed Camaroptera, Stierling’s Wren-warbler, Brown Parisoma, Miombo Blue-eared and Meves’s Starlings, Orange Ground Thrush, White-chested Alethe, Sharpe’s and East Coast Akalats, Olive-flanked Ground Robin, Miombo Scrub Robin, Arnot’s Chat, Miombo Rock Thrush, Böhm’s Flycatcher, Anchieta’s and Shelley’s Sunbirds, Miombo, Ludwig’s and Forest Double-collared Sunbirds, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-weaver, Bertram’s and Southern Brown-throated Weavers, Montane Widowbird, Orange-winged Pytilia, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Lesser Seedcracker, Red-throated Twinspot, Locust Finch, Wood and Striped Pipits, Southern Citril, Reichard’s, Black-eared, and Yellow-browed Seedeaters and Cape Canary. Amongst a good crop of mammals we will remember the splendid observations of Roan and Sable Antelopes.

Bohm's Bee-eater (Nik Borrow)

Bohm's Bee-eater (Nik Borrow)