Trip Report: Birding Africa 2011
A trip with Birding Africa led by Michael
Birding Africa’s first
comprehensive Angola Expedition follows three previous Birding Africa
tours to Angola that focussed primarily on the endemic-rich central
scarp forests. Since our last trip back in 2006, travel conditions
and personal knowledge of key birding sites has greatly improved,
making it possible to visit all key birding sites to search for
all endemics in just 19 days. Our trip commenced in Windhoek and
we visited, in sequence, northern Namibia, the Lubango area, the
Benguela area, Mount Moco and surrounds, Kumbira and adjacent escarpment
areas, Kissama National Park, the Northern Scarp Forests in Kwanza
Norte province, the area north of Kalandula, and Mussulo Bay. Participants
flew back from Luanda to Johannesburg at the end of the tour.
This expedition differs from
all our other trips in that it was a full-on camping trip. Our professional
camping outfitters looked after us very well over the 19 days, providing
hot water showers every night, large spacious tents and comfortable
matrasses and stretchers for sleeping on, and three excellent meals
a day (including large quantities of meat up to Day 19!). Logistically
the trip went, on the whole, very smoothly. Some vehicle problems
at the beginning of the trip caused a few delays, but thanks to
our extensive previous experience of travelling in Angola we managed
to reshuffle our itinerary slightly and easily managed to make up
all lost time, while vehicles problems were sorted out with the
least amount of hassle and very little loss of birding time. With
all this excellent support we could focus entirely on finding all
our key bird targets.
Over the 19 days of birding we
notched up a superb list of species, making this expedition the
most successful birding trip to Angola to date. Every participant
enjoyed outstanding views of every single Angolan endemic bird,
plus local specials such as Bocage’s Sunbird, Brazza’s
Martin, Black-and-rufous Swallow, Anchieta’s Barbet, Bocage’s
Weaver, Bannerman’s Sunbird, White-headed Robin-Chat and Cinderella
Waxbill. While our focus was very much on the endemics and specials,
we amassed a respectable total of 535 species. Here is a full list
of species recorded, with details of the best sightings for each
Angola's endemic Braun's Bushshrike © Michael Mills. We found
several individuals on this Birding Africa tour, one showing off
its bright orange breast.
Monteiro's Bushshrike, another Angola endemic that offered us exceptional
views on this Birding Africa tour © Bengt-Eric Sjölinder
Swierstra's Francolin, endemic to Angola and Endangered, seen for
the second time with Birding Africa © Bengt-Eric Sjölinder
Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush seen several times along the coast ©
Hartlaub's Francolin, one of a pair we watched on this Angola Birding
Africa tour © Bengt-Eric Sjölinder
FULL ANGOLA BIRDS EXPEDITION LIST
H = Heard only, LO = Leader only, NL = Not seen/heard by leader,
N = Namibia only
Ostriches Family Struthionidae
Common Ostrich Struthio camelus (N, NL)
Guineafowl Family Numididae
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris has been hunted to near-extinction
throughout much of Angola, although healthy populations still exist
in Kissama National Park, where we saw many. We also heard Crested
Guineafowl Guttera pucherani along the central scarp.
Pheasants, Fowl & Allies Family Phasianidae
With two difficult-to-see endemics, francolins were among the most
important birds of our Angola trip. We worked hard on seeing the
key species, and were greatly rewarded for our efforts. The undoubted
highlight was outstanding views of Swierstra's Francolin Pternistis
swierstrai in the Angolan highlands, where a male sat crowing right
out in the open for all to enjoy. This is the second time this Endangered
endemic has been seen on a Birding Africa tour. Grey-striped Francolin
Pternistis griseostriatus proved more tricky, with several failed
attempts along the central scarp being remedied with prolonged views
of a pair creeping along a track at Kissama National Park, pausing
every now and again to reply to the knife-blade whistles of our
guide. Two further memorable sightings were watching a pair of Hartlaub's
Spurfowl Pternistis hartlaubi near Benguela, perched on their rock-top
call site only 20 metres away and giving their unusual antiphonal
calls, and, after a long and winding march, having excellent flight
views of Finsch's Francolin Scleroptila finschi as they burst from
our feet and glided down the valley below us in the Mount Moco area.
Other species we recorded were
Orange River Francolin Scleroptila levaillantoides (H), Red-billed
Spurfowl Pternistis adspersus (N), Red-necked Spurfowl Pternistis
afer (common around Kissama NP), Common Quail Coturnix coturnix
(one flushed in the Angolan highlands; there are few records from
the country) and Blue Quail Excalfactoria adansonii (NL, one flushed
by Clide near Mount Moco).
Ducks, Geese & Swans Family Anatidae
Ducks and geese were particularly poorly presented on the trip.
In Angola we saw a single Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis
on the Lucala River, two Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca near
the Cunene River and a handful of Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha
near Luanda. In Namibia we enjoyed a sighting of a pair of South
African Shelduck Tadorna cana near Kamanjab.
Grebes Family Podicipedidae
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis (N)
Flamingos Family Phoenicopteridae
We saw Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus at Mussulo Bay near
Storks Family Ciconiidae
Storks were few and far between; we saw a single juvenile Yellow-billed
Stork Mycteria ibis at Mussulo Bay, good numbers of African Openbill
Anastomus lamelligerus near the Cunene River and a single Marabou
Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus between Wako Kungo and Quibala.
Ibises, Spoonbills Family Threskiornithidae
We saw African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus at Luanda and
African Spoonbill Platalea alba at Mussulo Bay and Lobito.
Herons, Bitterns Family Ardeidae
We recorded a wide variety of herons, although no unusual species.
These were Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Black-crowned Night
Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Striated Heron Butorides striata, Squacco
Heron Ardeola ralloides, Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, Grey
Heron Ardea cinerea, Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala, Goliath
Heron Ardea goliath (NL), Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Great Egret
Ardea alba, Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia and Little Egret
Hamerkop Family Scopidae
We spotted several Hamerkop Scopus umbretta, especially in the south
of the country.
Pelicans Family Pelecanidae
Travelling north of Luanda we found a large flock of Great White
Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus, and at Lobito a single Pink-backed
Pelican Pelecanus rufescens was drifting on the salt ponds.
Cormorants, shags Family Phalacrocoracidae
We saw Reed Cormorant Microcarbo africanus on a few occasions.
Anhingas, darters Family
We saw African Darter Anhinga rufa along the Kwanza and Lucala Rivers.
Kites, Hawks & Eagles Family Accipitridae
We recorded a wide range of raptor species, and did particularly
well on eagles, although less so on accipiters. Highlights included
two excellent sightings of perched African Cuckoo-Hawk Aviceda cuculoides
near Mount Moco, many sightings of Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis,
particularly along the coastal plain, no less than four Western
Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens, including one perched
bird, African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus at Mount Moco and the
Lucala River, Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis on six days, a
single Verreaux's Eagle Aquila verreauxii soaring along Serra Njelo
above Kumbira (the most northerly Angolan record), a pale-phase
Ayres's Hawk-Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii circling between Lubango and
Lobito (the most southerly record for Angola), a soaring Martial
Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus near Mount Moco, African Hawk-Eagle
Aquila spilogaster in the far south of the country, and a displaying
Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus over Kumbira forest.
Other species recorded were Black-winged
Kite Elanus caeruleus, Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius, African
Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer (only at Kissama NP), Black-chested
Snake Eagle Circaetus pectoralis, Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus,
Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus, African Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides
typus, Pale Chanting Goshawk Melierax canorus (N), Gabar Goshawk
Micronisus gabar, African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro, Black Sparrowhawk
Accipiter melanoleucus, Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus,
Augur Buzzard Buteo augur (at Mount Moco), Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
(N), Wahlberg's Eagle Hieraaetus wahlbergi and Long-crested Eagle
Falcons Family Falconidae
Mountainous areas were best for falcons, with Rock Kestrel Falco
rupicolus, Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus and Peregrine Falcon Falco
peregrinus seen. We observed Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus on a
few occasions, the best sighting of a perched bird near Gabela.
Bustards Family Otididae
Some people saw Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori (NL) in Namibia and we
all saw a few Red-crested Korhaan Lophotis ruficrista in northern
Namibia and southern Angola.
Flufftails Family Sarothruridae
We heard White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra at Kalandula
and Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa (NL) at Mount Moco.
Rails, Crakes & Coots Family Rallidae
Our trip coincided with the end of the dry season, which meant that
there were few rallids around. We recorded African Rail Rallus caerulescens
(H), Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra (H), Common Moorhen Gallinula
chloropus (N) and Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata (N).
Buttonquail Family Turnicidae
We enjoyed flushed views of Common Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus
on several occasions in Angola.
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees Family Burhinidae
We heard both Water Thick-knee Burhinus vermiculatus (at Mussulo
Bay) and Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis (in southern Angola).
Stilts, Avocets Family Recurvirostridae
We saw Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus at Lobito.
Plovers Family Charadriidae
We saw a couple of Blacksmith Lapwing Vanellus armatus in Namibia,
Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus in southern Angola and African
Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus near Mount Moco. On the mudflats
at Mussulo Bay we found several Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
in near-breeding-plumage, a few Common Ringed Plover Charadrius
hiaticula (NL) and many White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus.
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris (N).
Jacanas Family Jacanidae
We saw African Jacana Actophilornis africanus on the Longa River
Sandpipers, Snipes Family Scolopacidae
Good numbers of waders were present on Mussulo Bay, including Bar-tailed
Godwit Limosa lapponica, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, Eurasian Curlew
Numenius arquata, Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis, Common Greenshank
Tringa nebularia, Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Red Knot Calidris
canutus, Sanderling Calidris alba, Little Stint Calidris minuta
and Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea. We also saw Wood Sandpiper
Tringa glareola and Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos in Angola.
Coursers, Pratincoles Family Glareolidae
We enjoyed at least three excellent sightings of Temminck's Courser
Cursorius temminckii in the Angolan highlands, mostly near Mount
Moco, and saw a single Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola at
Gulls, Terns & Skimmers Family Laridae
Good numbers of larids were present at Mussulo Bay, in increasing
order of abundance: 1 Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea, 2 Kelp Gull
Larus dominicanus, 3-5 Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica, 5-10
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis, 10-20 Caspian Tern Hydroprogne
caspia and many Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus. We also recorded
Grey-headed Gull Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus (NL) at Lobito.
Sandgrouse Family Pteroclididae
The only sandgrouse seen in Angola were a couple of Namaqua Sandgrouse
Pterocles namaqua near Benguela. We also saw Burchell's Sandgrouse
Pterocles burchelli in Namibia.
Pigeons, Doves Family Columbidae
Although a wide range of dove and pigeon species were seen, few
are worthy of particular mention. The three most interesting sightings
were Afep Pigeon Columba unicincta (NL) at Kalandula, African Olive
Pigeon Columba arquatrix at Mount Moco and good views of a female
Western Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba iriditorques in the northern
scarp forests. We also heard Lemon Dove Columba larvata in the northern
scarp forests, only the fourth record for the country and the first
from this region.
Other species recorded were Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon Columba livia,
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea, Mourning Collared Dove Streptopelia
decipiens (H), Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata, Ring-necked
Dove Streptopelia capicola, Laughing Dove Stigmatopelia senegalensis,
Emerald-spotted Wood Dove Turtur chalcospilos, Blue-spotted Wood
Dove Turtur afer, Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria, Namaqua Dove
Oena capensis and African Green Pigeon Treron calvus.
Parrots Family Psittacidae
We enjoyed excellent perched views of Rosy-faced Lovebird Agapornis
roseicollis in the far south of Angola, perched views of Red-fronted
Parrot Poicephalus gulielmi in the northern scarp forests and perched
Meyer's Parrot Poicephalus meyeri at Kalandula. Some lucky observers
were quick enough to see Rueppell's Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii
in flight in far southern Angola.
Turacos Family Musophagidae
At least two participants completed their family sightings with
the endemic Red-crested Turaco Tauraco erythrolophus, first seen
at Kumbira forest. We also saw Great Blue Turaco Corythaeola cristata
in the northern scarp forest, Schalow's Turaco Tauraco schalowi
at Mount Moco, Ross's Turaco Musophaga rossae at Kalandula and many
Grey Go-away-bird Corythaixoides concolor.
Cuckoos Family Cuculidae
We heard the deep booming call of Gabon Coucal Centropus anselli
every day during our stay in the central and northern scarp forests,
with at least one close non-sighting before finally, and completely
unexpectedly, one of these large, secretive coucals took flight
across a wide tarred road while we were walking along it, giving
reasonable flight views. Other coucals seen were Senegal Coucal
Centropus senegalensis, Coppery-tailed Coucal Centropus cupreicaudus
at Mount Moco and White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus. We
saw Blue Malkoha Ceuthmochares aereus at Kumbira.
The tour was too early in the
season for much cuckoo activity, although we did hear either Levaillant's
Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii or Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
calling at night at Kalandula, see Klaas's Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
and a female African Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus, hear Olive
Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus, Black Cuckoo Cuculus clamosus
and Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius, and African Cuckoo Cuculus
gularis was regular in the Kalandula area.
Barn Owls Family Tytonidae
We heard Western Barn Owl Tyto alba on several occasions and saw
some near Lubango.
Owls Family Strigidae
We recorded an impressive range of owl species during the tour.
The highlight was excellent daytime views of an angry African Barred
Owlet Glaucidium capense. We also had good night-time views of African
Scops Owl Otus senegalensis at Kalandula, some people were sharp
enough to spot the well-concealed Southern White-faced Owl Ptilopsis
granti being mobbed by a party of Black-faced Babblers in far southern
Angola, we had a few day-time sightings of Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium
perlatum, and Gerry saw Marsh Owl Asio capensis over the grasslands
at Mount Moco. We also heard Spotted Eagle-Owl Bubo africanus at
Mount Moco, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl Bubo lacteus at Kumbira and African
Wood Owl Strix woodfordii at several localities.
Nightjars Family Caprimulgidae
We only saw one nightjar during our trip, but it was a spectacular
one; at Kalandula we enjoyed superb views of a male Pennant-winged
Nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius doing its display flight around
us, finally landing just a few metres away. One of the most frustrating
birds of the trip was Ruwenzori Nightjar Caprimulgus ruwenzorii,
which we heard twice at Mount Moco but failed to see. Other nightjars
we heard were Rufous-cheeked Nightjar Caprimulgus rufigena, Fiery-necked
Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis, Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma
(NL) and Square-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus fossii (NL).
Swifts Family Apodidae
Our Angola expedition was an excellent and fascinating one for swifts.
One of the greatest surprises was hearing and then seeing a small
flock of Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus flying low over the
forest at Mount Moco; the species is known from Angola based on
a single specimen collected at this locality in 1931! Near Benguela
we enjoyed excellent views of some low flying Mottled Spinetail
Telacanthura ussheri among the baobab trees, and further north along
the coastal plain, a trio of the unusual Boehm's Spinetail Neafrapus
boehmi. Bradfield's Swift Apus bradfieldi was common around Lubango
and joined by Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba, and a colony of the
normal white-rumped Horus Swift Apus horus were active at Mount
Moco. We also saw African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus, Little Swift
Apus affinis and White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
Then there are three other species of swift of particular note and
interest. The first seen were a flock of dark black swifts around
the top of Mount Moco that looked and called like African Black
Swift Apus barbatus. The only swift collected from this area is
the little-known and controversial Fernando Po Swift Apus sladeniae
(African Black Swift is known only from the north-east of Angola)
which was most likely what we saw. Then there were the large black
swifts at Kumbira Forest that call like Little Swift, probably an
undescribed species for which I have published recordings, and seen
them at three different localities in Angola, and also in Malawi.
This species may be more widespread in Africa’s mountains,
and I tentatively call it “Kumbira” Swift. Finally,
there are the large brown swifts of the coastal plain, which we
saw on the Longa River and near Luanda. These are the swifts that
are known to breed in Luanda and have been erroneously suggested
to be Fernando Po Swift. I currently suspect that these are Loanda
Swift Apus toulsoni, which is conspecific with fuscobrunneus, a
distinct swift treated by A A de Rosa Pinto as a near relative of
Common Swift Apus apus, and not Horus Swift, as is now invariably
done in the literature.
Mousebirds Family Coliidae
This was a great trip for mousebirds, with White-backed Mousebird
Colius colius seen in Windhoek while packing our vehicles, Speckled
Mousebird Colius striatus at Kalandula and Red-faced Mousebird Urocolius
indicus seen on many occasions. The undoubted highlight, however,
was the endemic Red-backed Mousebird Colius castanotus, which was
first seen near Benguela, and then several times more, mostly along
the coastal plain in thickets.
Trogons Family Trogonidae
We saw Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina at Kalandula.
Rollers Family Coraciidae
We commonly saw both Purple Roller Coracias naevius and Lilac-breasted
Roller Coracias caudatus in the arid savannas, and several Broad-billed
Roller Eurystomus glaucurus in the Kalandula area.
Kingfishers Family Alcedinidae
Kingfishers were not particularly abundant during the trip, although
we did see Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala, hear Brown-hooded
Kingfisher Halcyon albiventris, see Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti,
hear Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica, and see Woodland
Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis, African Pygmy Kingfisher Ispidina
picta, Malachite Kingfisher Corythornis cristata, Giant Kingfisher
Megaceryle maxima and Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis.
Bee-eaters Family Meropidae
Among the bee-eaters recorded, several sightings of Black Bee-eater
Merops gularis in the northern scarp forests are the standout record.
We also saw Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Merops hirundineus, Little
Bee-eater Merops pusillus, Blue-breasted Bee-eater Merops variegates
around wetlands in the highlands, White-fronted Bee-eater Merops
bullockoides and flocks of European Bee-eater Merops apiaster over
the northern scarp forests.
Hoopoes Family Upupidae
African Hoopoe Upupa africana
Wood Hoopoes Family Phoeniculidae
We saw Green Wood Hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus in northern Namibia,
Black Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus aterrimus at Kissama National Park
and Kalandula and Common Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas in
far southern Angola.
Hornbills Family Bucerotidae
A few sought after hornbills were recorded on the trip. The first
of these - Monteiro's Hornbill Tockus monteiri and Damara Red-billed
Hornbill Tockus damarensisi - were seen in northern Namibia and
again in southern Angola. Next was flocks of Piping Hornbill Bycanistes
fistulator and Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill Ceratogymna atrata
(22 in one flock!) in the northern scarp forests, and finally we
called in a distant Pale-billed Hornbill Tockus pallidirostris at
Kalandula for close-up scope views.
Other species we recorded are Trumpeter Hornbill Bycanistes bucinator
(H), Crowned Hornbill Tockus alboterminatus, African Pied Hornbill
Tockus fasciatus, African Grey Hornbill Tockus nasutus and Southern
Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus leucomelas. Examples of the latter
where observed in Kissama NP, representing the elegans subspecies,
which appears to have quite a distinctive tail pattern although
responded strongly to playback of nominate subspecies calls.
African barbets Family Lybiidae
The two trickiest barbets seen on this trip were the sought after
Anchieta's Barbet Stactolaema anchietae, seen at least five times,
and the impressive Black-backed Barbet Lybius minor. We had excellent
views of the nominate subspecies at Mount Moco and Kumbira, and
very distant views of the macclouni subspecies at Kalandula. The
richest area for barbets was the northern scarp forests, where we
saw Naked-faced Barbet Gymnobucco calvus, Speckled Tinkerbird Pogoniulus
scolopaceus, Red-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus atroflavus, not previously
know from this far south, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus
and Yellow-billed Barbet Trachyphonus purpuratus. We also recorded
Western Tinkerbird Pogoniulus coryphaeus, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
Pogoniulus chrysoconus, Hairy-breasted Barbet Tricholaema hirsute,
Acacia Pied Barbet Tricholaema leucomelas and Black-collared Barbet
Honeyguides Family Indicatoridae
Honeyguides were rather disappointing on the trip, with surprisingly
few species on call sites. We had brief views at Mount Moco of what
was probably a Green-backed Honeybird Prodotiscus zambesiae, enjoyed
excellent views of Brown-backed Honeybird Prodotiscus regulus at
Kumbira, where it is a rare bird, saw briefly what was probably
Least Honeyguide Indicator exilis in the northern scarp forests,
saw a single Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor near Mount Moco and
heard Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator between Lubango and
Woodpeckers Family Picidae
Probably the most exciting member of the woodpecker family that
we recorded was Red-throated Wryneck Jynx ruficollis at Mount Moco.
Other species were Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni
(including some of the strange spotted subspecies in northern Namibia
and as far as central Angola), Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera
cailliautii, Buff-spotted Woodpecker Campethera nivosa, Cardinal
Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens, Bearded Woodpecker Dendropicos
namaquus, Yellow-crested Woodpecker Dendropicos xantholophusI (H)
and Olive Woodpecker Dendropicos griseocephalus.
Broadbills Family Eurylaimidae
We enjoyed excellent views of African Broadbill Smithornis capensis
in the northern scarp forests, where they were common.
Wattle-eyes, Batises Family Platysteiridae
This endemic African family was very well represented on the trip.
The most desired species were Margaret's Batis Batis margaritae,
of which we had clear and close-up views of a pair at Mount Moco
(the type locality for the species), the endemic White-fronted Wattle-eye
Platysteira albifrons, of which we found a confiding pair in thickets
on the coastal plain of central Angola, the near-endemic Angola
Batis Batis minulla, of which we saw several at Kumbira, the over-sized
White-tailed “Shrike” Lanioturdus torquatus, seen well
in Namibia and again in Angola, and the striking Yellow-bellied
Wattle-eye Platysteira concreta, a pair of which was seen at Kumbira.
Other species that we observed were Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher
Bias musicus in the northern scarp forests, Chinspot Batis Batis
molitor near Mount Moco, Pririt Batis Batis pririt in Namibia and
near Benguela, Black-throated Wattle-eye Platysteira peltata, first
seen at Mount Moco, and Chestnut Wattle-eye Platysteira castanea
in the northern scarp forests.
Helmetshrikes Family Prionopidae
One of the most sought-after birds of the entire trip was the Endangered
and endemic Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela, possibly the most
threatened Angolan bird. We were lucky to quickly track down a trio
of these elegant birds in dry forest on the coastal plain, and enjoyed
prolonged views of them through the scope, feeding mostly in baobab
trees. This certainly was Clide’s highlight, completing the
family for him!
During the trip we also enjoyed sightings of White-crested Helmetshrike
Prionops plumatus and Retz's Helmetshrike Prionops retzii.
Bushshrikes Family Malaconotidae
The bushshrikes are another high-priority family in Angola, with
three endemics. The first of these to fall was the skulking Gabela
Bushshrike Laniarius amboimensis. Initially we heard them calling
from the dense undergrowth at Kumbira without obtaining good views,
but on our second attempt we found a much more confiding pair and
everyone enjoyed excellent views of this distinctive species. Shortly
thereafter we heard the mournful call of Monteiro's Bushshrike Malaconotus
monteiri. Initially our views were distant and in the scope, but
we repositioned ourselves and soon had one of these large-billed,
pale-spectacled birds circling around us, giving exceptional views.
The final endemic required a bit more driving, but we found several
Braun's Bushshrike Laniarius brauni in the northern scarp forests,
one individual willing to show off its bright orange breast and
all finer plumage details.
Another quartet of bushshrikes
that we encountered deserve special mention. We enjoyed uncharacteristically
good views of Many-colored Bushshrike Chlorophoneus multicolour
in the northern scarp forests, excellent views of Gorgeous/Perrin’s
Bushshrike Chlorophoneus viridis at Mount Moco, many sightings of
Swamp Boubou Laniarius bicolor along the coastal plain, and a female
Marsh Tchagra Bocagia minuta, the subspecies here sometimes split
as Anchieta’s Tchagra, in tall grass at the foot of Mount Moco.
It is also worth mentioning the unusual affinis subspecies of Brubru
Nilaus afer that we saw near Mount Moco, of which both sexes lack
any rufous, the male has a short white eyebrow ending just above
the eye, and the female is well streaked on the breast.
Other species recorded were Grey-headed
Bushshrike Malaconotus blanchoti (H), Bocage's Bushshrike Chlorophoneus
bocagei in the northern scarp forests, Orange-breasted Bushshrike
Chlorophoneus sulfureopectus, Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus (H)
near Benguela, Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis, Black-crowned
Tchagra Tchagra senegalus, Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis
in the northern scarp forests, Black- backed Puffback Dryoscopus
cubla, Tropical Boubou Laniarius major and Crimson-breasted Shrike
Laniarius atrococcineus in both Namibia and Angola.
Cuckooshrikes Family Campephagidae
We saw White-breasted Cuckooshrike Coracina pectoralis near Mount
Moco and again at Kalandula, Black Cuckooshrike Campephaga flava
at Kalandula and Petit's Cuckooshrike Campephaga petiti at Kumbira.
We also heard Purple-throated Cuckooshrike Campephaga quiscalina
Shrikes Family Laniidae
We saw Magpie Shrike Urolestes melanoleucus in far southern Angola,
Southern White-crowned Shrike Eurocephalus anguitimens along the
coastal plain and Common Fiscal Lanius collaris in the inland plateau.
Orioles Family Oriolidae
We saw African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus a few times in the
miombo woodlands on the plateau, Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus
first at Kumbira, and Black-winged Oriole Oriolus nigripennis was
common in the northern scarp forests.
Drongos Family Dicruridae
We saw several Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii in the northern
scarp forests and at Kalandula, and Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus
adsimilis in all savanna areas visited.
Monarchs Family Monarchidae
We saw a striking male Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher Trochocercus
nitens at Kumbira and African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
at various localities.
Crows, Jays Family Corvidae
We saw Cape Crow Corvus capensis (N) and Pied Crow Corvus albus.
Fairy Flycatchers Family Stenostiridae
In the scarp forests we commonly saw African Blue Flycatcher Elminia
longicauda, and at Mount Moco it was replaced by
White-tailed Blue Flycatcher Elminia albicauda.
Tits Family Paridae
We saw White-winged Black Tit Parus leucomelas near Mount Moco,
Carp's Tit Parus carpi at various localities along the coast, from
Ruacana to Kissama National Park, and a noisy party of Dusky Tit
Parus funereus in the forest at Kumbira.
Penduline Tits Family Remizidae
We had close-up views of a single, singing Grey Penduline Tit Anthoscopus
caroli in far southern Angola, and Cape Penduline Tit Anthoscopus
minutus in northern Namibia and again in the Benguela, where the
species is near the northern tip of its distribution.
Nicators Family Nicatoridae
The localised Yellow-throated Nicator Nicator vireo was very common
in the scarp forests, although was not easy to see. We had several
good sightings at Kumbira.
Larks Family Alaudidae
The stand-out lark in Angola is the localised and near-endemic Angola
Lark Mirafra angolensis, which we first saw on a spotlighting session
at Mount Moco and later enjoyed at very close range during the day.
Other larks recorded were Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana, Flappet
Lark Mirafra rufocinnamomea (H), Fawn-colored Lark Calendulauda
africanoides, the large-billed form of Sabota Lark Calendulauda
sabota in northern Namibia, sometimes called Bradfield’s Lark,
Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea and Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark
Eremopterix verticalis (N).
Bulbuls Family Pycnonotidae
Bulbul highlights included many sightings of Falkenstein's Greenbul
Chlorocichla falkensteini, a species hard to see outside of Angola,
good sightings of the near-endemic Pale-olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus
fulviventris, first near Benguela and later at Kumbira, and some
excellent sightings of beautiful Black-collared Bulbul Neolestes
torquatus in the Mount Moco area.
Other bulbuls we recorded were
African Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus nigricans, Dark-capped Bulbul
Pycnonotus tricolor, Slender-billed Greenbul Stelgidillas gracilirostris,
Little Greenbul Eurillas virens, Plain Greenbul Eurillas curvirostris
(H), Yellow-whiskered Greenbul Eurillas latirostris, Honeyguide
Greenbul Baeopogon indicator, Yellow-bellied Greenbul Chlorocichla
flaviventris, Yellow-throated Leaflove Atimastillas flavicollis,
Cabanis's Greenbul Phyllastrephus cabanisi and Red-tailed Bristlebill
Swallows, martins Family Hirundinidae
Swallows were among the best-represented groups on the trip, with
13 species recorded in total, of which 12 were seen in the highland
areas. Top among these were the little-known Brazza's Martin Phedina
brazzae, a species I discovered in the Angolan highlands in 2005.
Our first sighting was rather distantly and unsatisfactory, the
second better as a single bird was watched in the scopes as it sang
from its grass perch, but only seen from behind, and finally the
species was seen superbly in flight, with the fine streaking on
the breast visible for all. Probably the most attractive swallow
seen was the smart Black-and-rufous Swallow Hirundo nigrorufa, watched
in excellent light and at close range as they hunted over the grasslands
near Mount Moco. And the third species worthy of special mention
is Red-throated Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon rufigula, of which a
couple of large colonies were watched around their breeding sites.
Other species seen were Black Saw-wing Psalidoprocne pristoptera,
Grey-rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga, Banded Martin Riparia
cincta, Angola Swallow Hirundo angolensis, White-throated Swallow
Hirundo albigularis, Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii, Pearl-breasted
Swallow Hirundo dimidiata, Rock Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula, Greater
Striped Swallow Cecropis cucullata, Lesser Striped Swallow Cecropis
abyssinica and Mosque Swallow Cecropis senegalensis.
Crombecs, African warblers Family Macrosphenidae
Certainly the most sought-after species of this family was the endemic
and Endangered Pulitzer's Longbill Macrosphenus pulitzeri. The first
birds recorded at Kumbira were initially highly responsive, but
soon lost interest before everyone could get on to them. To the
contrary the second pair seen came in silently but gave excellent
views for the whole group, although they were not easy to spot in
their dense tangles. The rather striking Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius
was seen well in the Lubango area.
Other members of this rather varied family seen were Moustached
Grass Warbler Melocichla mentalis, Yellow Longbill Macrosphenus
flavicans in the northern scarp forests, the short-billed, white
bellied, rufous-flanked ansorgei subspecies of Long-billed Crombec
Sylvietta rufescens and Green Crombec Sylvietta virens.
Cettia bush warblers and allies Family Cettiidae
We had great views of Green Hylia Hylia prasina at Kumbira
Reed warblers and allies Family Acrocephalidae
We saw Greater Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus rufescens near the Lucala
River, and heard Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris
here too. At Mount Moco we added Dark-capped Yellow Warbler Iduna
natalensis to our lists, with several birds seen well on the forest
Grassbirds and allies Family Locustellidae
We recorded Fan-tailed Grassbird Schoenicola brevirostris at a couple
of scattered localities, with sightings at the Lucala River and
Mount Moco. The two Bradypterus were typically skulking, and were
only heard: Little Rush Warbler Bradypterus baboecala on the Lucala
River and Evergreen Forest Warbler Bradypterus lopezi at Mount Moco.
Cisticolas and allies Family Cisticolidae
This group of mostly-African warblers was very well represented
on the trip, with no less than 33 species seen, including several
sought-after specials. Among these were three unexciting endemics
and near-endemics: Bubbling Cisticola Cisticola bulliens, first
seen near Benguela, Hartert's Camaroptera Camaroptera harterti at
Kumbira and the unconvincing “Lepe” Cisticola Cisticola
lepe, first at Mount Moco. Probably the most unusual cisticola seen
the endemic bailunduensis subspecies of Rock-loving Cisticola Cisticola
emini, with its unusual calls, small size and habit of feeding inside
the forest! This could certainly be a distinctive species, making
it a must-see in Angola!
We also saw several other localised species in this family, with
Tinkling Cisticola Cisticola rufilatus and Wailing Cisticola Cisticola
lais near Lubango, Chirping Cisticola Cisticola pipiens in the marshes
of the inland plateau, Lowland Masked Apalis Apalis binotata in
the northern scarp forests, Brown-headed Apalis Apalis alticola
at Kalandula, Miombo Wren-Warbler Calamonastes undosus in the miombo
woodlands of the plateau, Barred Wren-Warbler Calamonastes fasciolatus
in the arid south, and the striking little Black-necked Eremomela
Eremomela atricollis and Salvadori's Eremomela Eremomela salvadorii
near Mount Moco.
Other species that we recorded were Whistling Cisticola Cisticola
lateralis at Kalandula, Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chiniana, Croaking
Cisticola Cisticola natalensis at Mount Moco, Short-winged Cisticola
Cisticola brachypterus, Neddicky Cisticola fulvicapilla, Desert
Cisticola Cisticola aridulus, Wing-snapping Cisticola Cisticola
ayresii, Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava, Black-chested Prinia
Prinia flavicans as far north as near Benguela, the endemic heinrichi
subspecies of Banded Prinia Prinia bairdii in the northern scarp
forests, White-chinned Prinia Schistolais leucopogon at Kalandula,
Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida, the smart Black-throated
Apalis Apalis jacksoni, Buff-throated Apalis Apalis rufogularis,
Grey Apalis Apalis cinerea, Grey-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera
brevicaudata, Yellow-bellied Eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis,
Green-capped Eremomela Eremomela scotops, Burnt-necked Eremomela
Eremomela usticollis in the far south of Angola and Rufous-crowned
Eremomela Eremomela badiceps in the northern scarp forests.
Ground-Babblers Family Pellorneidae
We first saw Brown Illadopsis Illadopsis fulvescens at Kumbira.
Laughingthrushes Family Leiothrichidae
We did well on Turdoides babblers: we saw Southern Pied Babbler
Turdoides bicolor in Namibia on our drive up, followed by an unexpected
sighting of a group of Black-faced Babbler Turdoides melanops mobbing
a Southern White-faced Owl in southern Angola, then Hartlaub's Babbler
Turdoides hartlaubii (H) a bit further north, the localised Bare-cheeked
Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys near Benguela, and finally Arrow-marked
Babbler Turdoides jardineii at Kalandula.
Sylviid Babblers Family Sylviidae
We enjoyed close-up views of endemic ansorgei subspecies of African
Hill Babbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica at Mount Moco, and saw, in
southern Angola and northern Namibia, several Chestnut-vented Parisoma
White-eyes Family Zosteropidae
The only white-eye in Angola is African Yellow White-eye Zosterops
senegalensis which we saw at several localities.
Hyliotas Family Hyliotidae
The forest hyliotas of the central scarp of Angola are currently
regarded as Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis, although these may
prove to be specifically distinct and related to those in southern
Cameroon. We saw several of these birds at Kumbira. Yellow-bellied
Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster presented us with several excellent
sightings, good enough to see the blue sheen on the male’s
Treecreepers Family Certhiidae
Some people saw Spotted Creeper Salpornis spilonotus at Mount Moco.
Starlings Family Sturnidae
By far the most sough-after starling that we saw was Sharp-tailed
Starling Lamprotornis acuticaudus, regular in the miombo woodlands
of the plateau, especially at Kalandula. Other noteworthy species
were Meves's Starling Lamprotornis mevesii in the far south of Angola,
Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus fulgidus in the northern
scarp forest, which gave excellent perched views, and the arid country
Pale-winged Starling Onychognathus nabouroup, which we saw at our
fuel stop at Porto Amboim, previously only recorded as far north
as Sumbe, about 100 km to the south.
Other species seen were Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea (N),
Cape Starling Lamprotornis nitens, Splendid Starling Lamprotornis
splendidus, Burchell's Starling Lamprotornis australis, Violet-backed
Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster and many lovely Narrow-tailed
Starling Poeoptera lugubris in the northern scarp forests.
Oxpeckers Family Buphagidae
We saw Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus in far southern
Thrushes Family Turdidae
The standout sighting among the thrushes was outstanding views of
Fraser's Rufous Thrush Stizorhina fraseri in the northern scarp
forests. Here some people also managed to see White-tailed Ant-thrush
Neocossyphus poensis. Other species recorded were Groundscraper
Thrush Psophocichla litsitsirupa, African Thrush Turdus pelios,
Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyana and Brown-chested Alethe Pseudalethe
Chats, Old World Flycatchers Family Muscicapidae
This large family of birds holds some of Angola’s best and
most desirable species. Right at the top of this list are the striking
White-headed Robin-Chat Cossypha heinrichi, which, after testing
our patience, gave excellent sightings at Kalandula, and the unusual
Angola Cave Chat Xenocopsychus ansorgei, which we watched feeding
on rocky mountain slopes near Lubango. Following closely on their
heels are the Endangered endemic Gabela Akalat Sheppardia gabela,
a very confiding pair watched at close quarters at Kumbira, the
endemic Angola Slaty Flycatcher Dioptrornis brunneus seen several
times in the Angolan highlands, the beautiful Rufous-tailed Palm
Thrush Cichladusa ruficauda, which we encountered several times
along the coast, and Forest Scrub Robin Erythropygia leucosticta,
which we saw exceptionally well at Kumbira. Also of note were Bocage's
Akalat Sheppardia bocagei, seen by some people at Mount Moco, Short-toed
Rock Thrush Monticola brevipes, first seen in northern Namibia,
Miombo Rock Thrush Monticola angolensis at Mount Moco, Miombo Scrub
Robin Erythropygia barbata in the woodlands of the plateau, Brown-backed
Scrub Robin Erythropygia hartlaubi, unexpectedly seen at the northern
scarp forests, Kalahari Scrub Robin Erythropygia paena seen in far
southern Angola, and the highland endemic nigricauda subspecies
of Mountain Wheatear Oenanthe monticola, which we saw at Mount Moco.
The latter makes quite different calls from its more southern relatives
and may prove to be a distinctive species.
Other species observed were Grey-winged Robin-Chat Cossypha polioptera,
White-browed Robin-Chat Cossypha heuglini, Red-capped Robin-Chat
Cossypha natalensis (NL), White-browed Scrub Robin Erythropygia
leucophrys, African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus, Capped Wheatear
Oenanthe pileata, Familiar Chat Cercomela familiaris, Ant-eating
Chat Myrmecocichla formicivora (N), Sooty Chat Myrmecocichla nigra,
Southern Black Flycatcher Melaenornis pammelaina, Pale Flycatcher
Bradornis pallidus, Chat Flycatcher Bradornis infuscatus, Marico
Flycatcher Bradornis mariquensis, Ashy Flycatcher Muscicapa caerulescens,
African Dusky Flycatcher Muscicapa adusta (H), Dusky-blue Flycatcher
Muscicapa comitata, Sooty Flycatcher Muscicapa infuscata and Grey
Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus.
Sunbirds Family Nectariniidae
Sunbirds were another well-represented family with some highly sought-after
species seen during the trip. Top of the list was the near-endemic
Bocage's Sunbird Nectarinia bocagii, a species poorly illustrated
in available field guides. We found several of these beautiful,
purple-glossed, long-tailed sunbirds along dambos in the Mount Moco
area, giving us the opportunity to study them in detail. The endemic
gadowi subspecies of Bronzy Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis instead
has a greeny-bronze gloss and we saw this taxon at Mount Moco. The
Angolan highlands are home to two other special sunbirds, both first
seen near Lubango. These are the endemic, orange-chested Ludwig's
Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris ludovicensis (assuming that the
whytei subspecies of northern Malawi is not conspecific) and localised
Oustalet's Sunbird Cinnyris oustaleti, probably more common here
than elsewhere in its range. And the Kalandula area was home to
two more specials, the delightful Anchieta's Sunbird Anthreptes
anchietae and local Bannerman's Sunbird Cyanomitra bannermani, both
seen well here.
Other species seen were Miombo Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris
manoensis in the plateau miombo woodlands, Carmelite Sunbird Chalcomitra
fuliginosa on the central scarp, Dusky Sunbird Cinnyris fuscus in
northern Namibia and near Benguela, Western Violet-backed Sunbird
Anthreptes longuemarei, Little Green Sunbird Anthreptes seimundi,
Grey-chinned Sunbird Anthreptes rectirostris, Collared Sunbird Hedydipna
collaris, Green-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis, Blue-throated
Brown Sunbird Cyanomitra cyanolaema, Olive Sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea,
Green-throated Sunbird Chalcomitra rubescens, Amethyst Sunbird Chalcomitra
amethystine, Scarlet-chested Sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis, Olive-bellied
Sunbird Cinnyris chloropygius, Marico Sunbird Cinnyris mariquensis,
Purple-banded Sunbird Cinnyris bifasciatus, Superb Sunbird Cinnyris
superbus, White-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris talatala, Variable Sunbird
Cinnyris venustus and Copper Sunbird Cinnyris cupreus.
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches Family Passeridae
We didn’t see any particularly exciting sparrows during the
trip, the best species being Great Sparrow Passer motitensis in
northern Namibia. Other species recorded were White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
Plocepasser mahali, House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Northern Grey-headed
Sparrow Passer griseus (H, based on range), Southern Grey-headed
Sparrow Passer diffusus and Yellow-throated Petronia Gymnoris superciliaries.
Weavers, Widowbirds Family Ploceidae
The undoubted highlight in this family was watching several bright-plumaged
male Bocage's Weaver Ploceus temporalis displaying at their nest
sites in the Angolan highlands, a species very hard to see outside
of Angola. Other highlights were seeing non-breeding Chestnut Weaver
Ploceus rubiginosus on the coastal plain near Porto Amboim/Sumbe,
well north of the previously-known range, two sightings of the local
Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor in the northern scarp forests,
some non-breeding Compact Weaver Ploceus superciliosus at Kalandula,
flocks of Red-headed Quelea Quelea erythrops at Kalandula, several
non-breeding Golden-backed Bishop Euplectes aureus along the central
scarp, and a single, male Marsh Widowbird Euplectes hartlaubi in
the Angolan highlands.
Other species seen were Red-billed Buffalo Weaver Bubalornis niger,
Scaly-feathered Weaver Sporopipes squamifrons, Thick-billed Weaver
Amblyospiza albifrons, Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis, Black-necked
Weaver Ploceus nigricollis, Holub's Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops,
Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus, Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus,
Vieillot's Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus, Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus
bicolour, Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis, Red-headed Weaver
Anaplectes rubriceps, Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea, Black-winged
Red Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus (probable), Yellow Bishop Euplectes
capensis, Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplectes macroura, White-winged
Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus and Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes
Waxbills, Munias & Allies Family Estrildidae
The greatest surprise of the trip came from this family. While birding
in the northern scarp forests we found a flock of five small, short-tailed
olivebacks. We had great views of a female sitting on some bare
tangles and preening, but unfortunately the male (if there was one)
got away without being seen. Based on what we saw we are confident
that they were either Shelley's Oliveback Nesocharis shelleyi, currently
a Cameroon Mountains endemic, or a new species to science! Another
surprise was, for the lucky few watching the right swallow, having
four Locust Finch Paludipasser locustella fly past for good flight
views, although we failed to relocate them on the ground.
We saw many other sought-after species in this family too. Dusky
Twinspot Euschistospiza cinereovinacea was harder than expected,
and despite being common at Mount Moco it took us some time to all
get good views, but eventually we managed. We also enjoyed exceptional
sightings of the near-endemic Cinderella Waxbill Estrilda thomensis
(seen in Namibia and Angola), with seven birds giving prolonged
and close-up views as they fed and preened in a thicket. We saw
the endemic Angolan Waxbill Coccopygia bocagei well at Mount Moco.
We scoped Chestnut-breasted Nigrita Nigrita bicolour feeding in
a large fruiting tree in the northern scarp forests. We saw the
endemic Landana Firefinch Lagonosticta landanae, probably best treated
as a subspecies of African/Blue-billed Firefinch, at Kumbira. The
northern scarp forests and Kalandula produced two good sightings
of Grey Waxbill Estrilda perreini. We saw flocks of Fawn-breasted
Waxbill Estrilda paludicola throughout the highlands, and we watched
African Quail-Finch Ortygospiza fuscocrissa drinking.
Other species recorded were White-breasted Nigrita Nigrita fusconotus,
Grey-headed Nigrita Nigrita canicapillus, Green-winged Pytilia Pytilia
melba, Red-headed Finch Amadina erythrocephala, Green Twinspot Mandingoa
nitidula (H), Red-faced Crimsonwing Cryptospiza reichenovii (H),
Red-headed Bluebill Spermophaga ruficapilla, Brown Twinspot Clytospiza
monteiri (flight views only), Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta
senegala, Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula, Jameson's Firefinch
Lagonosticta rhodopareia, Blue Waxbill Uraeginthus angolensis, Violet-eared
Waxbill Uraeginthus granatinus, Orange-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda
melpoda, Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild, Black-faced Waxbill Estrilda
erythronotos, Orange-breasted Waxbill Amandava subflava, Bronze
Mannikin Lonchura cucullata and Black-and-white Mannikin Lonchura
Indigobirds, Whydahs Family Viduidae
The uncontested highlight here was two sightings of full breeding
plumage male Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah Vidua obtusa in the plateau
miombo woodlands. We also saw non-breeding Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua
macroura, Shaft-tailed Whydah Vidua regia (still singing!) and Long-tailed
Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisaea.
Wagtails, Pipits Family Motacillidae
Probably the most disappointing family of the trip, with no unusual
species seen. We recorded African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp,
African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus, Buffy Pipit Anthus vaalensis,
Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys and, best of all, Striped Pipit
Finches Family Fringillidae
The local Black-faced Canary Crithagra capistrata was the best species
seen, with several good sightings at scattered localities. Also
of interest was the endemic huilensis subspecies of Yellow-crowned
Canary Serinus flavivertex seen well at Mount Moco. Other species
seen were Black-throated Canary Crithagra atrogularis, Yellow-fronted
Canary Crithagra mozambica, Yellow Canary Crithagra flaviventris,
Brimstone Canary Crithagra sulphurata and White-throated Canary
Crithagra albogularis seen near Benguela, right at the northern
tip of its range.
Buntings, New World Sparrows & Allies Family Emberizidae
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi was common around Mount
Moco, and we saw Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza flaviventris at
several localities and a smart pair of Cabanis's Bunting Emberiza
cabanisi at Kalandula.
Mammals were few and far between in Angola, although highlights
were the distinctive blackish race of Blue Monkey,
and African Wild Cat near Lubango and great views
of Thick-tailed Bushbaby on the central scarp.
Two lowlights of the tour were finding and rescuing a Klipspringer
from a metal trap at Mount Moco and seeing a pair of African Civet
flushed by a fire near Kalandula, one of which was killed by some
Trip report by Tour Leader Michael