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Birding in Chobe

Birding in Chobe

Birding in Chobe

It has been a fantastic couple of months of unusual bird sightings for our Chobe district, including several sightings of Grey Crowned Crane on Sedudu Island, Schalow’s Turaco on the waterfront and Lesser Flamingos on the western side of Chobe Riverfront. The Yellow Billed Kites and the Carmine Bee Eaters have returned which indicates the end of the cold winter months and the beginning of spring.

Birdlife Kasane has been busy. In July we carried out the Chobe National Park Waterbird Count, which begins at the Sedudu Old Park Gate and ends at Ngoma Bridge. This 60 kms stretch of river is split into six segments with each group counting and recording all waterbirds as well as birds of concern within their designated area.   

Participants included Birdlife members, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, professional guides and NGOs. Local businesses also gave their support by providing transport for the day’s activities.   

The evening before the count, Professor Mark Vandewalle gave a lecture on bird identification and also a summary of Waterbird survey results 1991-2011. The talk gave insight into the spatial distribution and seasonality of different waterbird species, which appears to be intrinsically linked to the rise and fall of the flood waters and therefore availability of different types of food, rather than the distinct dry and wet season.

In this July’s low flood water count White Faced Ducks were the most abundant species with 3 420 birds recorded, followed by Red Billed Teal with 3 040 birds. Some interesting sightings from the day included Slaty Egret, Pink-backed Pelicans and White-headed Vultures. The total number of waterbirds counted was 11 654.   

In the third week of August we also carried out the annual Lesoma Valley White Backed Vulture nest count, which is an important indicator of the health of this species which was recently uplifted to ‘endangered’ status by the RSPB.

This colony is especially important given recent reports of poisoning of carcasses which in turn has caused the poisoning of many vultures. The total number of active nests counted in 2012 was 76, compared with 100 counted in 2011, and 85 counted in 2010. These annual counts can identify significant trends in number of nests and distribution year after year.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 10, Sept 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide: