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Birding Groups

Southern Sky Adventures: Birding Groups

Africa is an amazing continent for birdwatching. The mainland has recorded around 2,250 species, of which about 1,500 are found nowhere else. On top of this, Madagascar adds about another 100 endemic species, with a further 40 if you include the Indian Ocean islands. A few of the higher density birdwatching locations in southern and East Africa include The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, the ocean waters surrounding Cape Town and the lands within Kruger National Park; both in South Africa and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia.

East Africa

Kenya

The Rift Valley lakes are prolific bird watching areas in Kenya. Surely Lake Nakuru has done more than any other place to promote the idea of birding in Africa to people the world over. Set in picturesque surroundings and bounded by the Mau escarpment, two craters and two ranges of hills, it is possible to see a pink mass of up to 1,400,000 Lesser Flamingos along the lake shore. Mixed in with them are up to 9,000 Greater Flamingos and around them are Sacred Ibises and African Fish Eagles looking for scraps. The Lake is 1oo miles north of Nairobi, but a further 70 50 miles north is the steaming Lake Bogoria with another flock of flamingos. However, the best site of all for birding is a further 15 miles north at Lake Baringo. Here you can stroll around the lake edge and in the woodland savanna with ease. A very wide range of species can be seen quickly, including Hemprich’s and Jackson’s Hornbills.

Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to no fewer than 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemic species are found here including globally threatened species such as African Green Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimsonwing. The area lies in the rugged Kigezi Highlands near the borders with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The habitat is mainly forest covering both mountain and lowland areas between 3,000 – 8,000 feet and this altitudinal variation gives Bwindi some of the richest birding in Africa. Covering 75,000 acres, this is one of the largest forest areas in East Africa.
Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park is the best place in the world to see the Shoebill – an incredible stork-like bird with an enormous boat-shaped beak. A launch makes regular trips 5 miles upstream to the spectacular waterfalls where the Nile is forced through a gap merely 30 feet wide. Below the falls, there is a narrow strip of papyrus on both banks and two pairs of Shoebill regularly inhabit this area. Few people miss them and many ordinary tourists also get to see this much sought-after species that is actually in a genus of its own. There are plenty of other birds to see including the Rock Pratincole, a variety of Nightjar, Bat Hawk, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Red Winged Grey Warbler, and Chestnut Crowned Owl.

Southern Africa

Namibia

The Caprivi Strip in Namibia is flat, featureless and blanketed in broad-leaf woodland, and well watered by the Okavango Delta and the Zambezi River. Where the floodplains of these rivers cross the bird-rich tropical woodlands, such as in Mahango Game Reserve or along the Kwando River, they support a large number of birds. The river systems attract species such as Slaty Egret, Coppery-tailed Coucal and Luapula Cisticola, African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, White-backed Night Heron, Pel’s Fishing-owl. Other targets are the endangered Black-cheeked Lovebird, Sousa’s Shrike and Sharp-tailed Starling.

South Africa

In the waters off Cape Town, South Africa the warm waters of the Agulhas current in the Indian Ocean mix with the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic and brings highly nutrient-rich waters up from the south, while strong winds create an upwelling that brings the nutrients to the surface. It is a prime fishing zone and trawlers provide a constant food source for pelagic birds. Species include the White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Cape Gannet and Subantarctic Skua. However, for most people the albatrosses are the key target – Shy, Black-browed and both Atlantic and Indian Yellow-nosed species. The range of species is highest in the southern winter, when you can also see Southern and Northern Giant Petrel, Pintado Petrel, Antarctic Prion and Antarctic Tern. Occasionally you can also rare albatrosses such as Wandering, Southern and Northern Royal and Grey-headed.

Comprising an area of almost five million acres in the northeastern corner of South Africa, Kruger National Park is home to over 500 bird species. This diversity includes a number of vulnerable or otherwise rare species, and of the 167 bird species designated in 1980 as ‘vulnerable or warranting conservation attention’, 102 are reported to occur or likely to occur in the park. Target species include the Southern Hyliota, Bohm’s Spinetail, Dickinson’s Kestrel and the Pel’s Fishing-owl.

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