I took one guest, Kristy, our for a morning birding in the miombo woodlands in the Lusaka vicinity. We started from her hotel at six in the morning and got into prime woodland just as the winter sun was rousing the denizens. For a while it was enough to stand and listen to the dawn chorus and soak up a but of the sun ourselves as the birds looked to their vocals.
Soon, however, they were on the prowl and so were we. We quickly found ourselves in the midst of a good-sized party which included the Southern (Mashona) Hyliota, Spotted Creeper, Miombo Grey Tit, Red-Capped Crombec and a pair of Cardinal Woodpeckers. Stars of this show, however, were a Miombo Pied Barbet, which posed perfectly in the golden light, with its neck-feathers fluffled out behind as it sang vigorously against a neighboring bird, and a Golden-tailed Woodpecker whose interest in bark-crawling ants allowed us a remarkably close encounter.
This collection of birds gradually dissipated, as bird parties do, and we moved on through the softly-lit morning till our paths crossed with a noisy flock of Green-Capped Eremomellas, all calling loudly at the same time from the top of a Musamba tree. An Eastern Black-Headed Oriole had taken pole position on a neighboring tree, from which Black-Eared Seed-Eaters were dropping and harvesting grass-seed. Inevitably their cousins, the ubiquitous Yellow-Fronted Canaries, put in an appearance as soon as we moved through more open country, as did the Yellow-Bellied Eremomella. As we closed our circuit, we came into a patch of thickey which gave us a quick sampling of noisy skilkers: Terrestrial Brownbul, White-Browed Robin-Chat, Gre-Backed Camaroptera and Whitebrowed Scrub-Robin.
The birds, we felt sure, had earned a short break by this point so we had some snacks and coffee, and then drove slowly out to another spot, which admirably fleshed out our “Miombo” sightings with a family of Miombo Rockthrushes, Yellowbreasted Hyliota, Rufous-Bellied Tit and Souza’s Shrike. Last, but not least, a juvenile African Cuckoohawk was content to allow us close to the base of its tree to watch it having a comprehensive preen.