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Join one of our Mozambique Trips:
Mozambique South to Central: 5 - 21 June 2009
Central Mozambique in Search of Pittas, December 2009

Trip Report: Mozambique Birding Adventure - Winter of 2008


Participants: Lisl van Deventer, Rene Ehlers, Maans Booysen, Fatima Visser Casper Visser, Rowan Brooke, Judy Brooke, Rourke West-Evans

Tour Leader: Etienne Marais

This was a 16 day birding trip into Southern and Central Mozambique conducted and organised by Indicator Birding.

Overall 386 species were recorded including about 107 species we classed as "specials".

From Komatipoort, the group headed directly for Hyliota Camp, SW of the traditional birding area. This is a wonderful birding area with a host of varied habitats from brachystegia woodland festooned with old-mans beard to impressive Lebombo Ironwood forest. We found the latter to be "crawling with" Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike, Woodward's Batis and Plain-backed Sunbird, while Maputaland-like scrubby sand forest type habitat nearby had plenty of Neergaard's Sunbird. We also latched onto Rudd's Apalis and Pink-throated Twinspot in the area and had actually birded nearly a full day before getting to the quality miombo where three Olive-headed Weavers displayed for us.

Other miombo birds seen were plenty of Pale (Mozambique) Batis, Black-eared Seed-eaters, Green-backed Honeybird, Red-faced Crombec, Green-capped Eremomela and numbers of rather skittish White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike The area also has open grassy plains which hold Pink-throated Longclaw and allegedly Blue Quail as well. Several large lakes in the area can offer plenty of good waterbirds in season, and Hyliota Camp while still a little rustic offers a superb setting overlooking one of the lakes and dawn chorus of several family parties of Ground Hornbill.

Next on to Morrungulo, which was really a stop-over but allowed for good morning views of the the resident Collared Palm-thrushes. Heading north the majestic Baobabs north of Unguane delivered their usual Spinetail show, with both species seen at close quarters, along with a party of Grey Waxbills in a field.

"Villainculos" was not fun as one of the party had their cellphone beamed out of the car by villains, and the Madagascar Bee-eaters were no-where to be found. Outside of town, there was some good birding with huge numbers of Openbills, Lemon-breasted Canary and a Black Coucal amongst others.

Rio Save Game Reserve proved successful with good birds in the form of Arnot's Chat, Grey-headed Parrots, Red-winged Warbler, Cabanis's Bunting and Stierling's Wren-Warbler, amongst others. Heading north a stop at the Buzi River produced a big mixed flock of swifts including Scarce and Mottled.

Rio Savane was harder work than usual, but the group did manage to get good views of Short-tailed Pipits, Flappet Larks, Senegal Lapwings, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Southern banded-snake-Eagle and Mangrove Kingfishers amongst others. Locust Finch was seen but the highlight was definately a large flock of MASCARENE MARTINS - their contact calls sounding a bit like a Brimstone Canary. The Martins were foraging in the sky above for at least half an hour - absolutely amazing !

En route to Muanza we found Vanga Flycatchers in the same spot as in April. Old Chinizua is not the same at it was in the days of old, but is still a brilliant birding area with Eastern Saw-wing, Miombo Glossy-starling, Bronze-naped Pigeon, Magpie Mannikin, Blue-spotted Dove, Grey Waxbill, Red-winged Warbler, Vanga Flycatcher, Black-eared Seedeater, Lesser Seedcracker (Heard only), White-chested Alethe (an extremely co-operative bird for once!), Red-throated Twinspot, Violet-backed Sunbird, East Coast Akalat etc.

Next up was Catapu. With the pressure off due to good sightings of the alethe, we concentrated on taller forest where Slender Greenbul and Black-headed Apalis were seen. Other birds seen in the area included Livingstone's Flycatcher, East Coast Akalat, Grey-headed Parrot, Narina Trogon, African Crowned Eagle, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Dickinson's Kestrel and Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher.

Apart from the huge bridge going up, Caia produced great views of a pair of Anchieta's (Marsh) Tchagra and Moustached Warbler while the wetland produced vast numbers of birds including many Common Squacco, Pink-backed Pelicans, hundreds of Openbills and Jacanas, a juvenile Allen's Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen, Lesser Jacana and surprise surprise - a single Slaty Egret in amongst a whole lot of Black and other egrets. At dusk numbers of Square-tailed Nightjars were seen. The bush adjacent to Caia Lodge provided good views of a pair of Wattle-eyes and Green Coucal. On Catapu itself we had Cuckoo Hawk, Kirk's Francolin, Southern Banded Snake-eagle, Livingstone's Flycatcher and yet another flock of Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike amongst others.

We used a private farm just north of the mountain to launch our walk on the mountain which went without hitch (after of course meeting the "Regulo" the previous day to go through the formalities). Good birds lower down included Short-winged Cisticola, Black-winged Bishop, Wailing Cisticola and of course plenty of Variable Sunbirds. Higher up we had Singing Cisticola, Moustached Warbler and in the forest some excellent birding with another look by some of the party of yet another White-chested Alethe, Swynnerton's Robin, White-starred Robin, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Chirinda Apalis, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Green-headed Oriole etc. On the way down we had a Black-rumped Buttonquail walking in the track !

The focus around Gorongosa Park was partly on the miombo woodland outside the gate, where we searched through many bird parties with a host of good birds, but no Yellow-breasted Hyliota's What is notable is the variation in colouring in Southern Hyliota, with some males a lot brigher yellow than others! No Specklethroated WOodpeckers here either, but we did find a flock of Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, some Orange-winged Pytilia, White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike and numbers of Violet-backed SUnbirds. Inside the park records rains this year extended the floodplain substantially. Apart from Red-necked Falcon, near the gate and many of the brilliantly coloured Swynnertoni race of Red-necked Francolin, we also had Vanga Flycatcher in the camp, Pelicans, Cranes, no less than 16 Saddlebilled Storks, Collared Pratincole and hundreds of other waterbirds. A lone Long-toed Lapwing caused some problems until it stood up!

Tsetsera served as a convenient replacement for the Bvumba. Once past the spectacular lake Chicamba and dam wall we found both Miombo Rock-thrush and Cinnamon-breasted Tit in the degraded miombo below the mountain. The dense miombo further up produced some more Violet-backed Sunbirds and a calling Creeper which however managed to stay out of view! Below the forest proper Briar Warbler (Roberts Prinia) is common and a nice Augur Buzzard does a fly-by. The magnificent drive takes a a couple of hours as one has to stop regularly and gawk at the scenery. We almost ran over a Buff-spotted Flufftail in the road on the way up. Monter Hunter who is from the company who has the concession on Mount Tsetsera had put a team in to repair the road a few days before our arrival and it wasn't bad at all. We camped inside the "ruins" of a huge mansion on the top of Tsetserra - just over 2000m above sea level and next morning found Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Chirinda Apalis, Briar Warbler and Red-faced Crimsonwing on our doorstep. The morning was spent working our way down ensuring that everyone got good views of the Crimsonwing, while a lucky few also saw Green Twinspot and great views of White-tailed Crested Flycatcher. Yellow-bellied Waxbill played hide and seek with us as well! No new birds were added in the Miombo and in the afternoon headed south past Sussendenga towards the Save River.

This road follows the high voltage DC powerline from Cahora Bassa and passes through some spectacular habitat - especially north of the Lusito river where rolling country is covered with immense trees and harboured Red-throated Twinspot, Blue SPotted Dove and many Silvery-cheeked Hornbills. This is apparently an area known as Moribane Forest and lower down we encountered even more hornbills and a pair of SOuthern-banded Snake-Eagle. This area seems to have been largely neglected by birders despite the presence of the Chimanamani Mountains and the legendary Haroni-Rusito Junction nearby.

Our stop-over was Inhassoro, and other than an odd looking Cape Gannet which got the hearts fluttering at breakfast we were treated to a show by a group of Madagascar Bee-eaters. The long trek south was not bad, and some parts of the road have been patched up. We reached Xai-xai in time for sundowners on the Limpopo Floodplain, where good birds included a couple of brilliant Rosy-throated Longclaws and several Collared Pratincole.

Here follows a summary of all the specials seen - the numbers refer to the number of times a species was recorded on the trip.

Rufous-bellied Heron ,   3
Slaty Egret ,   1
African Pygmy Goose ,   1
Hooded Vulture ,   1
Cuckoo Hawk ,   1
Booted Eagle ,   1
Southern Banded Snake Eagle ,   3
Augur Buzzard ,   1
Rednecked Falcon ,   1
Dickinson's Kestrel ,   2
Kirk's Francolin ,   3
Rednecked Spurfowl(swynnertoni) ,   9
Blackrumped Buttonquail ,   2
Grey Crowned Crane ,   1
Buffspotted Flufftail ,   1
Allen's Gallinule ,   1
Lesser Moorhen ,   2
Lesser Jacana ,   2
Senegal Lapwing (Les BW) ,   3
Whitecrowned Lapwing ,   1
Longtoed Lapwing ,   1
Collared Pratincole ,   4
Bronze-naped Pigeon ,   1
Bluespotted Dove ,   5
Greyheaded Parrot ,   4
Livingstone's Turaco ,   4
Green Malkahoa (Coucal) ,   2
Square-tailed Nightjar ,   5
Mottled Swift ,   1
Scarce Swift ,   1
Mottled Spinetail ,   4
Bohm's Spinetail ,   7
Narina Trogon ,   2
Mangrove Kingfisher ,   2
Madagascar Bee-eater ,   1
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater ,   2
Racket-tailed Roller ,   3
Silvery-cheeked Hornbill ,   1
Green-backed Woodpecker ,   6
Flappet Lark ,   4
Fawncoloured Lark ,   2
Mosque Swallow ,   2
Grey-rumped Swallow ,   9
Mascarene Martin ,   1
Eastern Sawwing Swallow ,   3
Whitebreasted Cuckooshrike ,   9
Green-headed Oriole ,   1
Cinnamon-breasted Tit ,   1
Tiny Greenbul (Slender B) ,   1
Stripecheeked Greenbul ,   3
Eastern (Yellowspt) Nicator ,   3
Miombo Rockthrush ,   1
Arnot's Chat ,   3
Collared Palmthrush ,   4
White-chested Alethe ,   2
Swynnerton's Robin ,   1
E.Coast(Gunning's)Akalat ,   2
Southern Hyliota ,   6
Barratt's Warbler ,   1
Chirinda Apalis ,   2
Blackheaded Apalis ,   1
Rudd's Apalis ,   1
Redfaced Crombec ,   8
Greencapped Eremomela ,   7
Stierling's Barred Warbler ,   4
Moustached Warbler ,   2
Singing Cisticola ,   1
Rufous-winged Cisticola ,   7
Croaking Cisticola ,   2
Short-winged Cisticola ,   3
Red-winged Warbler ,   3
Briar Warbler (Roberts Prinia) ,   2
Black & White Flycatcher (Vanga),3  
Pale (Moz) Batis ,   12
Woodwards' Batis ,   1
Black-throated Wattle-eye ,   1
Livingstone's Flycatcher ,   2
Whitetailed Crested-Flycatcher ,   2
Short-tailed Pipit ,   2
Rosy-throated Longclaw ,   1
Anchieta's Tchagra ,   1
Blackfronted Bush Shrike ,   1
Chestnutfronted Helmetshrike ,   4
Miombo Glossy Starling ,   1
Neergaard's Sunbird ,   2
Variable Sunbird ,   3
Grey Sunbird ,   2
Olive Sunbird (Eastern and Western Race), 5  
Plainbacked (Blue-throated) Sunbird,   3
Western.Violetbackd Sunbird ,   5
Olive-headed Weaver ,   1
S Brown-throated Weaver ,   3
Blackwinged Bishop ,   3
Orange-winged Pytilia ,   1
Green Twinspot ,   1
Redfaced Crimsonwing ,   1
Pink-throated Twinspot ,   1
Red-throated Twinspot ,   3
Grey Waxbill ,   3
Yellow-bellied Waxbill ,   1
Locust Finch ,   1
Magpie Mannikin ,   3
Broadtailed Par.Whydah ,   2
Lemonbreasted Canary ,   2
Blackeared Canary ,   5
Cabanis's Bunting ,   1

If you would like a copy of the complete trip list, please e-mail us Book/Ask for information.

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