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Birding Africa Trip Report: Angola birding tour in 2005


10 day Angola birding trip

Highlights: Kissama National Park, Angolan scarp near Gabela and the Bailundu Highlands

Detailed Tour Report

Angola Batis on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia MaldonadoThis 10-day Angola trip was designed to maximise the chances of finding as many of Tom Gullick’s Angola lifers as possible, in the amount of time available. Below is a brief summary of the trip.

We kicked off the tour with some introductory birding around Kissama National Park. Things got off to a frustrating start, with Grey-striped Francolin calling from the nearby thickets and only giving glimpses. However, Olive Bee-eater, Rufous-tailed Palm-Thrush, Red-backed Mousebird, Bubbling Cisticola, Allen’s Gallinule, Golden-backed Bishop (drab, in its non-breeding dress), and the very attractive White-fronted Wattle-eye were excellent compensation before we moved on to the Angola scarp near Gabela, where most of the endemics are to be found.

Our first task in this area was to find the enigmatic Angola Cave Chat, which required a long, hard slog up a mountain. After lots of sweat we found ourselves on the edge of its territory, the clear, fluty whistles coming from directly above us. A quick scan revealed a crisp, black-and-white chat singing from its rock-top perch, giving prolonged scope views. Nearby we were entertained with our first Dusky Twinspot, and Oustalet’s and Ludwig’s Double-collared Sunbird. With the much-desired Cave Chat under the belt we turned our attention to forest birding, and over a day and a bit notched up all Tom’s want birds: the smart duo of Monteiro’s and Gabela Bush-Shrike, several unobtrusive Gabela Akalat, striking Red-crested Turaco, Hartert’s Camaroptera, skulking Pulitzer’s Longbill, diminutive Angola Batis, Pale Olive Greenbul and, at the forest edge, Pale-billed Firefinch. Other goodies included Narina Trogon, Yellow-throated Nicator and Yellow-necked Greenbul.

Angola Batis on a Birding Africa Angola Tour
(c) Patricia Maldonado.

Cave Chat habitat on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado
Angola Cave Chat habitat on a Birding Africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado

Finally, we turned our attention to the central highlands of the Huambo province. En route we notched up Lepe Cisticola, a controversial split from Red-faced Cisticola, but the undoubted highlight was finding a pair of Brazza’s Martins, probably Africa’s least-known Hirundid, near where I had found them two weeks previously. A real bonus bird for Tom, seen alongside the rare Black-and-rufous Swallow! In the Humabo highlands we headed straight for Mount Moco, where I had “rediscovered” Swierstra’s Francolin two weeks previously. Fortune was on our side, as we managed to lure a big, bold male Swierstra’s Francolin from its dense thicket and right out onto a large boulder, on our first morning. Other goodies seen here included the endemic bocagei Swee Waxbill (probably a separate species), Bronze Sunbird, more Dusky Twinspots, and another Angola Cave Chat.

Swee Waxbill on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado From here we returned to the comfort of Rio Longa Lodge, spending a night in Lobito en route, for the last couple of nights, and to give our photographer companions a chance to exercise their trigger fingers.

Trip report by tour leader Michael Mills.

Below are some photos from the trip, all taken by Patricia Maldonado.

Red-crested Turaco on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado
Red-crested Turaco (left) and Swee Wabill (right) on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado

Dusky Twinspot on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia MaldonadoMale White-fronted Wattle-eye on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia MaldonadoFemale White-fronted Wattle-eye on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado
Dusky Twinspot (left) and White-fronted Wattle-eye (male center, female right) on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado

Monteiro's Bush-Shrike on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia MaldonadoOlive Bee-eater on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia MaldonadoRed-backed Mousebird on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado
Monteiro's Bush-Shrike (left), Olive Bee-eater (middle) Red-backed Mousebird (right) on a Birding africa Angola Tour (c) Patricia Maldonado


Practical tour information

Focus For keen birders and world listers. Designed to see all of Angola's endemic birds.
Photography Many participants on our trips are amateur wildlife photographers. And when we get excellent views of a bird or mammal, some time is usually spent watching and photographing it. However, this is not a photographic tour and once the majority of the people have felt that they have absorbed the animal or bird to their satisfaction, then we move on in search of the next encounter. Thus, while the photographic opportunities are very good, the group will only occasionally wait for somebody who wants to spend even longer getting better photos.
Fitness A moderate level of fitness is required. Most walks will be done in cool conditions and will last less than 3-4 hours. The walks are generally in relatively flat areas with occasional inclines, but some steeper hikes are involved.
Timing We run our tour before the rains and while birds are breeding.
Climate Warm in the lowlands and warm to cool in the highlands.
Comfort Mainly camping with some hotel accommodation. A dedicated chef will prepare the meals.
Transport Several four wheel drive vehicles.
Getting There Please enquire
Group Size 10
Top birds Red-crested Turaco, Red-backed Mousebird, Swierstra’s Spurfowl, Gabela Helmetshrike, Gabela Bushshrike, Monteiro's Bush-Shrike, White-headed Robin-Chat, Angola Cave Chat, Pulitzer’s Longbill and Gabela Akalat and White-fronted Wattle-eye.
In September 2009 we offer the first trip ever with chances to see all of Angola's endemic birds.
Booking Please email us if you wish to book. You will receive the booking form and conditions and a tour information pack.

About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders, and combining interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, plants and other natural history. Our guides know the continents birds like few others; we've written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle and we are dedicated to making professional best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

For feedback from our guests, please see our tour information pages. For trip reports, please see our Trip Reports page.

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