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NAMIBIA & THE OKAVANGO

Wednesday 16th October - Saturday 2nd November 2013

Derek Scott

Male and female Pel’s Fishing Owls at their day roost at Shakawe (tour participant Vic Paine)

Male and female Pel’s Fishing Owls at their day roost at Shakawe (tour participant Vic Paine)

Despite the incredible heat, the Birdquest tour to Namibia and the Okavango in 2013 was one of the best ever, producing virtually all of the specialties that we could reasonably expect and some fantastic mammals. Our epic journey of over 4,400 km through this fascinating region lived up to all expectations, and was remarkably trouble free, thanks to the excellent condition of the roads, superb accommodation and very friendly and helpful service. The unusually long dry season continued throughout our stay, and the only rain we encountered was a short shower on our first day in Windhoek. Temperatures were way above normal, exceeding 40°C on several days and at one time reaching 43°C in the northeast. The only respite was on the coast, where temperatures plummeted, thanks to the cooling influence of the Benguela current. We were a couple of weeks too early for most of the intra-African and Palearctic migrants, and saw few of these until we were up in the northeast, towards the end of the tour, but perseverance and a good measure of luck combined to produce almost all of the local birds. Highlights included Rockrunner near Windhoek, White-tailed Shrike and Layard’s Warbler (Titbabbler) at Namibgrens, Herero Chat at Spreetshoogte Pass, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Dune Lark, Gray’s Lark and Stark’s Lark in the Namib Desert, African Black Oystercatcher, Chestnut-banded Plover and Damara Tern at Walvis Bay, Benguela Long-billed Lark near Uis, Hartlaub’s Francolin, Burchell’s Sandgrouse and Rüppell’s Parrot at Dolomite Camp, White-backed Night-Heron, Carp’s Tit, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush and Cinderella Waxbill along the Kunene River, Slaty Egret, Black-winged Pratincole and Lesser Jacana at Onesi Dam, Ludwig’s Bustard, Blue Crane, Caspian Plover, Burchell’s Courser, Bronze-winged Courser, Pink-billed Lark and Rufous-eared Warbler at Etosha, Rufous-bellied Heron and Souza’s Shrike near Rundu on the way out, Wattled Crane in the Mahango Game Reserve, Bat Hawk, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Greater Swamp Warbler and Brown Firefinch at Shakawe, Brown-backed Honeybird, Rufous-bellied Tit and Sharp-tailed Starling near Rundu on the way back, and Freckled Nightjar in the Erongo Mountains. We also found a rarity for Namibia – a Gull-billed Tern at the saline lagoons north of Etosha. As always, the tour produced an impressive selection of mammals: 53 species in all, including no less than eleven Black Rhinoceroses, 19 Roan, 20 Sable, seven Lions, two Honey Badgers, two little bands of Suricates (Meerkats) and two Lesser Bushbabies.

Blue Cranes at Etosha (Derek Scott)

Blue Cranes at Etosha (Derek Scott)