Zambia (October 12-18, 2014)

Categories: Safari

Dick and I looked for a destination for a short birding trip. KLM, the company Dick is working for, is still flying to Lusaka, but they will end it by the end of October.
This was the main reason for choosing Zambia as our destination.
We contacted Leslie, owner of Lapwing Safari to organize a week trip for us.
It was a basic trip, no expensive lodges nor restaurants, but basic accommodation or camping. And we had a great trip.

Company; Lapwing Safari run by Leslie Reynolds.

Accommodation:- Lusaka Backpackers in Lusaka
– Jolly Boys Backpackers in Livingstone
– camping both in Nkange River Conservation and Lochinvar.
Fieldguide; Birds of African south of the Sahara by Ian Sinclair.
Sounds; used Xeno Canto to download some sounds.
Flight; KLM KL 523 Amsterdam -Harare – Lusaka on October 11th
KL 523 Lusaka – Amsterdam on October 18th.
Distance driven; appr. 1850 km.
Currency is the kwacha, 100 kwacha is about $16
Language in Zambia is English.

Leslie picked us up at the airport. I Asked him if he had a driver for the trip. “ I’m your driver, guide and chef” he answered. This was very true; he is a good driver and takes no risks, a very good guide with a sharp eye, knowledge of the birds and nature and a very good ear for the sounds. And he is a good chef, he made us very tasteful meals every day.
What he forgot to tell is that’s he is also very pleasant company with a great sense of humour.

Leslie picked us up at 06.00h and we drove to “Leopard Hills”, an area just a little out of Lusaka. Soon we saw small parties of Grey-headed Parrots flying over. Other birds while driving were a soaring group of 15 Marabou Storks, a Whalbergs Eagle, some species of Doves, 5 Schallows Turaco’s, 7 Crowned hornbills, 8 Arrow-marked Babblers, a male Holubs Golden Weavers, a Northern Fiscal, Red-faced Mousebirds, a Red-billed Firefinch, some Blue-breasted Cordon-bleus, Southern Grey-headed Sparrows and African Palm Swifts. At around 08.00h we reached “Leopard Hills”, we would stay here the entire morning. We drove little bits and walked pieces.

We had nice birds here like Little Bee-eater, up to 6 Chinspot Batis, many Black-backed Puffbacks, Sulphur-bellied Bushshrikes, a White-breasted Cuckooshrike,  lots of African Paradise flycatchers, a single Miombo Tit, a few Spotted Creeper, lots of Tawny-flanked Prinia, 2 Flapped Larks with their wings flapping during a display flight, some Mosque- and Lesser Striped Swallows, 2 Cape Crombecks, , 3 Yellow-bellied Hyliotas, 5 Pale Flycatchers, a beautiful singing male White-browed Scrub-Robin, up to 25 Violet-backed Starlings, the only Miombo Sunbird for the trip, a White-breasted-, 1 Western Violet-Backed-, a Collared- and many Amethyst Sunbirds, a few Woodland Pipits, a Black- eared Seedeater in the garden of Leslie’s parents (they live here), a few Yellow-throated Petronias, a male Red-headed Weaver and a few Yellow Bishop and White-shouldered Widowbirds. The last 2 species unfortunately not in breeding plumage. There was also a breeding pair of African Pied Wagtail in the garden.

European migrants were lots of Willow Warblers and 2 Spotted Flycatchers.

At around 12.30h we drove to Leslie’s house for lunch and to pack the car with the camping equipement. During lunch a Little Sparrowhawk flew by. After lunch and packing we headed for “Leopard Hills” again. And again nice birds like Black-collared Barbet, Kurrichane Thrush and White-browed Robin Chat, no less than 20 African Yellow White-eyes. We stayed till sunset, than we drove uphill where Leslie prepaired a good dinner for us. While coocking there  Fiery-necked Nightjar singing, we taped it and it came closer but it sayed invisible.

After dinner we startend a night drive for Owls and Nightjars. This was not so succesfull, we only saw an European Nightjar.

At 21.45h we arrived at the hotel where we took a shower and went to bed.

Weather; it was a hot, dry day (35C) with some clouds and some wind.

Leslie would pick us up at 7.30h, but due to the traffic he arrived 45 minutes later. Like yesterday, Leslie made us a good breakfast; sandwiches with backed eggs and chutney.

We left at 08.45h and had a long drive ahead, so we didn’t do birding

Leslie planned lunch at Moorings Campsite where we arrived at 12.15h. Leslie made another tastfull lunch while we looked for birds. There was a small waterpit that attracted birds like White-browed Robin-Chats, Green-winged Pytilia, African Firefinches and Fork-tailed Drongoos.

After lunch we made a walk and we saw a Brown-headed Kingfisher, a singing African Dark-capped Yellow-Warbler, Tropical Boubou, briefly 2 Yellow-bellied Greenbuls, a single Crested Barbet near a nest in a tree, a group of 5 Retzs Helmetshrikes moving through the trees (only seen by Eldert), 2 Spectacled Weavers,

We left lunchspot at 14.00h and drove to Nkange River Conservation., our location for the next 2 nights. While driving we saw lots of Lilac breasted Rollers sitting on the electrcity wires.

We left the main road for the last 20 km to Nkange River Conservation area where we arrived at 16.20h. On the sand road we made many stops for birds; 3 Shelleys– and 4 Red-necked Francolins, an African Cuckoo-Hawk, a Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, more than 10 Trumpeter Hornbills and a singing male Sooty Chat. A small colony of Village Weavers was at the campground. We put up our tents and left for the dam at 16.45h.

On the track to the dam we saw 4 Swainsons Francolins, a soaring Black-breasted Snake Eagle, 2 Blacksmith Plovers, up to 10 Wattled Lapwings. 2 Collared Palm-Thrush near a palm in a small settlement and a group of 20  Bronze Mannakins at Bruce Millers place

At the lake at we saw up to 15 White-backed Ducks, 6 African Pygmy Geese, 5 Little Grebe. A large group of Long-tailed Cormorants and an African Darter in the same tree were at dusk chased away by about 150 Cattle Egrets. 1 Squacco- and 3 Rufous-bellied Herons, we heard an African Rail and saw 5 Black Crakes, 4 Lesser- and about 20 African Jacanas, 1 Malachite- and 3 Pied Kingfishers, a Grey Go-away-bird and 3 Broad-billed Rollers.

At dusk we stared the nightdrive, this was very successfull; we flushed a Marsh Owl that was sitting besides the road, saw a few perched Square-tailed Nightjar, heard an African Wood-Owl and saw an Aardvark, a species Dick tried to see on many nightdrives before but always failed to see.

When we returned to the campsite at 22.00h, an African Woods-Owl was calling. While Leslie prepaired dinner, we taped it and it came in very quickly. We had good views of it.

Weather; good sunny weather, no cloud and around 35 degrees C.



Got up at 05.30h, had breakfast at 06.00h, birded around the campsite till 07.15h. At the campsite we had good views of an African Black Duck, another Black Crake, a Striped Kingfisher, a few

Miombo Blue-eared Glossy Starlings, a few Green Woodhoopoes and a Scarlet-chested Sunbird. Near the toiletbuilding we saw a few birds feeding, to my surprise there were 3 Peter’s Twinspots feeding next to the toilet building.

At around 07.15h we left for birding in the area; main target was Chaplin’s Barbet. We had no problem finding him; within 15minutes a bird came in and landed in a tree next to us. Soon another came in and we had good views of them. The Barbet was the only target here so we left this Savanna area and went to the Miombo forest to look for the Miombo species. But on our way out we stopped a few times, seeing 1 Red-chested- and 3 Didricks Cuckoos, a Collared Palm Thrush, a Crested Barbet, we had some difficulties with a Burnt-necked Eremomela and 2 Magpie Shrikes. In the Miombo forest we tried for the Miombo Pied Barbet for some time but failed to see it. But we saw White-Crested Helmetshrikes, a few Racket-tailed Rollers, lots of European Bee-eaters and we heard Miombo Wren-warbler a few times.

We continued and saw another Miombo Tit and a female White-headed Black Chat.

We returned to the campsite, had a nice lunch and took a canoe-trip on the small stream at the edge of the camp-site. This was very successfull; we saw a White-backed Night-Heron and I managed to see my first African Finfoot, a bird I missed in 5 other African countries.

We also had the African Black Duck again.

After the canoe-trip we left again for the Miombo forest, this time for a Crowned Eagle nest. We drove slowly to Masuku lodge where we bought some coke and water but also did some birding. There were a few African Hoopoes, Cabanis Buntings, White-headed Black Chats (banded because an orthologist wanted to study their breeding). On the premises of the lodge is also a  lake with a pair of African Fish Eagles among the other birds. We continued to the Crowned Eaglenest. Leslie told us they didn’t see the Eagle the previous time he visited it, so our expectations were low. But the female Crowned Eagle was on the nest. For Dick this was definete one of the highlights of the trip.

Very satisfied we left the location, seeing 2 Plain-backed Pipits.

It was already 18.00h and with only 30 minutes of daylight we made another nighttrip before breakfast.

There were more nightjars than the night before but all Square-tailed, nothing else

We arrived at the campsite at 20.15h where Leslie prepared a nice dinner on the campfire

Weather; nearly the same as the day before.


Got up at 05.30h after a good sleep. Leslie already made us some tea and after breakfast Dick and I walked a little around the river to look for the Finfoot again. This was invaine , but we saw a Striated Heron, a White-backed Night Heron and 2 Trumpeter Hornbills.

At around 07.00h we left for the Miombo forest again. We stopped at the same location as yesterday looking for the Barbet again. This took us nearly 30 minutes, but finally we saw a Miombo Pied Barbet. Other birds here were a male Black Cuckoo-shrike and the White-Crested Helmetshrikes. We continued and heard the Wren-Warbler again. But as soon as we approached the singing stopped. At another singing bird we walked around and saw a Southern Hyliota. These Wren-warblers were driving us crazy. We heard another Wren-Warbler, and this time we were successfull and saw the male, but only briefly. There were also 2 African Penduline-Tits at the same mount. We drove further when I saw an Accipiter taking of. It landed a few trees further and I could make a positive ID, it was an Ovambo Sparrowhawk. We continued to the Masuko Lodge but before we reached it we saw 2 Eastern Bearded Scrub-Robins. After our visit to the lodge, where we saw Reed Bucks, Burchell’s Zebras and a female Sable Antilope we  returned to the campsite where we arrived 10.20h. We had a coffee and packed, this took till 11.30h. and than we left. We paid Bruce Miller and his daughter Emma a short visit, near their house we saw a Dickinson’s Kestrel high up in a tree.

We had lunch from 14.00h till 14.30h and arrived in Livingstone at 15.45h. We checked in at Jolly Boys Backpackers and left for birding at 16.30h. We went to a location just a few km outside of Livingstone. There were hardly any birds but we had some time to kill. Leslie would prepare dinner at a fire like the days before, after dinner we would do a nightdrive. But it changed when Leslie heard a Grey Cisticola that we could see clear, we also saw a Golden-breasted Bunting.

But the highlight came a little later. It was around 18.30h and light was slowly fading away. Leslie was prepairing dinner when he shouted :”Pennant winged”. A male Pennant-winged Nightjar flew by at a distance of10m. It was incredible, the long primaries behind the wings gave him an elegant appearence. A little later he flew by again, the white primaries were easy to follow. At the same time a Fiery-necked Nightjar was calling, we taped him and this time the bird responded the way we hoped he did; he flew by at about 3m, showing all the diacnostic features in the flashlight. What an end of the day.

After another good dinner we drove back to the hostel, no Nightjars in the lights, but no Nightjar could have been better than what we had seen this evening.

Wheater: again a very hot day with temperatures over 40 degrees.



Got up at 04.15h, after breakfast we left for Machile at around 05.20h. At dawn we saw 4 African Elephants crossing the road. We arrived there at 08.00h. While driving to Machlile we saw a few  Southern Carmine Bee-eaters, lots of Meves’s- and Burchell’s Starlings, a few  Black-shouldered- and Yellow-billed Kites, a single Black-headed Heron flew over the road, the first of many Southern Red-billed Hornbills, a gorgeus male Green-winged Pytilia and a perched Long-Crested Eagle were sitting besides the road. At a settlement with a pond we discovered a few Golden-breasted- and one Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, a few Namaqua Doves and we saw lots of White-browed Sparrow-Weavers.

Machile is a very good location for the Black-cheeked Lovebird but it took us nearly 2 1/2 hours to find them. We slowly drove the sandpaths, seeing only a few birds but near a waterpool we saw 6 Southern Ground-Hornbills, an Eurasian Hobby flew by, there were many Red-billed Quelias and there was a Blacksmith Plover in the pool.

At another location we saw Village- and Purple Indigobirds and to Dicks relief we finally saw a group of around 15 Retz’s Helmetshrikes. There were also a few Magpie Shrikes, a singing Black-throated Canary and a perched African Hawk-Eagle. But finaly Leslie heard the call of Black-cheeked Lovebirds. We checked the trees and were able to see 3 birds, but when they flew out of the tree we saw at least 6 of them. As a bonus we discovered a pair of Golden-tailed Woodpeckers in the opposite tree.

We decided to leave and go for another location. We had to drive back, this didn’t took us  the same time. Near the exit Leslie saw a Marico Flycatcher, a male Lesser Masked Weaver and also a skulking male Purple-eared Waxbill. We had lunch here and I was very pleased with 2 pairs of Green-winged Pytilia.

At 13.45h we left for Simungoma IBA where we arrived 45 minutes later. This is a floodplains of the Zambezi River. We were here for the Rosy-throated Longclaw which we failed to see, but we saw other nice birds here; one of the first was a female Black-bellied Bustard. There were lots of African Stonechats, a Luapula Cisticola, a few Grasland Pipits, 2 Hartlaubs Babblers, a Marsh Boubou, no less than 4 Copper-tailed Coucals, a male Bateleur flew over, we saw a few African Openbilled Storks, Dick saw a Goliath Heron and we saw a male Holubs Golden Weaver. We searched till 16.30h, unfortunately it then was time to return. On our way out we still saw new trip birds like Cape Wagtails and we came to a shallow pond with a nice field of waders;

A Marsh Sandpiper, a few Ruff, a few Three-banded Plovers, some Wood Sandpipers, a Little Stint, 4 Greater-painted Snipes, a Black-winged Stilt and a Common Greenshank. There were also some African- and Lesser Jacanas, Hottentot- and Red-billed Teals present.

The last new addition to the list was a Capped Wheatear.

We left the IBA at 17.30h and arrived around 19.45 in Livingstone.

This time Leslie didn’t make us dinner, we went to a fast-food restaurant called ” The Hungry Lion”. The food was not as good as Leslie’s food.

Weather; in the morning 100% overcast, due to this it was not so hot! when we were in the IBA, overcast was 30% and hot again.


Got up at 06.15h, had a slow breakfast and left for Lonchivar an hour later. Had to return to Livingstone because we had to fill up the car so we left Livingstone again at 07.45 h. We arrived at Lochinvar at 13.20h, it took us 20 minutes to get the permits.

We entered the park and the first birds we saw were 2 Three-banded Coursers. There were also lots of Swainson’s Francolins, a Greater-Spotted Cuckoo and Dick flushed a Barn Owl in the abandoned farm. At 14.15h we reached the look out, Leslie had planned to have lunch here. While having lunch we saw a few White-backed Vultures soaring the sky.

After lunch we drove to the campsite. This was at the edge of a large lake. Here we saw Caspian-, Whiskered-, and White-winged Black Terns, a single Grey-headed Gull, the first Little Egret and a Common Sandpiper.

We unloaded the car and at 16.30h we started the drive to the swamp. On our way we saw 2 Lapped-faced Vultures in a tree, 3 Caspian- and lots of Kitlitz Plovers and many Red-capped Larks. We reached the shores of the marsh, it was loaded with birds; 15 Wattled- and 30 Grey-crowned Cranes, 4 Saddle-billed Storks, many Sacret- and Glossy Ibises, about 10 Spur-winged Geese, about 10 Egyptian Geese, 2 Comb Ducks, 5 species of Heron, lots of Collared Pratincoles, a Common Ringed Plover, a few days old Kitlitz Plover chick (they breed at that moment), a Marsh Sandpiper, a few Common Greenshanks and lots of Black Tern, still in breeding plumage.

At dusk we started a nightdrive. It was very successfull, we saw many Square-tailed Nightjars including an adult with 3 chicks that could already fly, but with buffy colours and a short tail.

The highlight was a very cooperative Southern White-faced Owl, it stayed in the flashlight till we left and I could take excellent video footage of it, it was even preening. We also saw an African Civet and a White-tailed Mongoose

At around 20.20h we came back to the campsite and put up our tent while Leslie was making another fine dinner for us.

Weather; again a beautiful day with hardly any clouds and high temperatures.


The final day of a great birdingtrip.

We got up at 05.30h, did some birding around the campsite and had breakfast. In front of our tent were the same birds as the previous day, but also lots of Great White Pelicans.

We started the drive at 06.45h, this was not as good as we had hoped. There were 2 Yellow-throated Sandgrouse flying over, a singing Rufous-naped Lark was singing and there was a souring group of White-backed Vultures.

Due to the fact that it was slow, we decided to break up and go to Lusaka and try our luck there.

We packed the car and left at 10.00h, paid the farm a brief visit and saw the Barn Owl.

It was a long drive, there were some roadwork’s that took time, and we arrived at 16.15h at “Leopard Hills”. It proved to be a good change; there were small flocks of birds and we saw 3 Pale-billed Hornbills and had very good views of Rufous-bellied Tits.

These birds were the last additions to the list, we looked for other birds but could not find them.

At dusk we started the night-drive and with reasonable light we saw another male Pennant-winged Nightjar.

This was a great end to our excellent birdingtrip.

We drove to Leslies house, took a shower and changed clothes while Leslie bought us dinner.

At 12.15h Leslie dropped us at the airport for our flight back to Amsterdam.