RICHARD MASSON CELEBRATES COLOURFUL BIRDS OF NAMIBIA
Posted on the 25th July 2018
(We have received vast numbers of excellent images with this report and post only some of these here. Others will be included in the photo gallery received from BirdLife Overberg members during July. These images will be released at the end of the month. - Ed.)
BIRDING NAMIBIA – Winter 2018
There is nothing drab about arid country birds
There is always an excitement when visiting a country with the anticipation of seeing new and different birds. This proved true but what struck me most after the first few days was how colourful and beautiful the commoner birds are. My pre-conceived perception had been a desert country and consequently cryptic and drab birds.
With the possible exception of the larks and some of the LBJ’s, the opposite was true. Some like the Violet-eared Waxbill are almost garish and simply stunning. All the waxbills are beautiful and along with the pytilias, finches and firefinches and whydahs are conspicuously coloured.
Even the cryptic ground dwelling birds, though lacking the bright colours are distinctively marked and handsome – the bustards, korhaans, coursers, spurfowls, francolins and guineafowl.
The Rosy-faced Lovebirds deserve their own space. I first saw them at Spitzkoppe but if you want to see them up close and personal then breakfast at Camp Mara is recommended. They come to the birdbath and to feed every morning and are habituated. Ruppel’s Parrot is included here. The other parrots seen were Meyer’s which were common at Shamvura but not photogenic.
I think identification of birds is an art and not a science and to be positive about ID can only come from experience and watching the birds. I am open to correction on any birds I have put names to, particularly if you read the articles that include raptors and cisticolas. It is interesting to compare birds of the same species.
Namibia is Hornbill heaven with 5 species readily seen – Yellow-billed, African Grey and the near endemics Damara, Monteiro’s and Bradfield’s Hornbills.
I thought the babblers were going to be my bogey birds after searching unsuccessfully for 5 days in Halali for the Bare-cheeked Babbler. However, eventually the 4 other babblers were located – Black-faced, Arrow-marked, Hartlaub’s and Southern Pied.
I am putting the woodpeckers (Cardinal, Bearded and Golden-tailed) and Kingfishers (Giant and Malachite) together.
Crimson-breasted Shrike is ubiquitous, White-tailed Shrike readily found and I have always enjoyed the way White-crested Helmet-shrike watch you with an inquisitive look. Brubru, Thrushes and Tchagra are included here Weavers, Starlings, bulbuls and greenbuls.
Sunbirds, rollers, bee-eaters and barbets.
Some water birds
And finally, other small birds - buntings, cameroptera, apalis, batises,prinias, sparrows,eremomela and tits. The Grey-backed Cameroptera are common, confiding and photogenic.