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Birds and Birding in Hwange

Birds and Birding in Hwange

Yellow Crimson-breasted Shrike, Hwange
Yellow Crimson-breasted Shrike, Hwange
BRENT STAPELKAMP

Never would I have believed that I would be associated with 'blogging' or 'twitching' but when you have been in the bush too long, as some would say, you eventually succumb to one eccentricity or another and mine just happens to be birds. I live and work full time in Hwange National Park and have done for several years now and in that time I have come appreciate that Hwange has some of the most exciting birds and birding in the region. My life list is 660 species but still she throws me a “lifer” or two now and again!

I set up a blog in January 2012, called it 'The Hwange Birder' and have not looked back since. Designed to try and promote Hwange as a birding destination it has grown from just a few obscure followers (thanks Mum and Dad) to about 520 regular visitors. People are now following it from “post to post” (excuse the blogging pun) and its momentum is as far reaching as Madagascar and the Middle East.

I try and feed my followers with all the latest sightings and news from the birds in Hwange and one such bird got had us falling over ourselves and forgetting our children! 'The Golden twitch', as I now call it, started with a whisper in a dark alley somewhere about the rarest of the rare…the Yellow form of the Crimson-breasted Shrike! The bird had been seen in the car park at Main camp but it sounded just too good to be true.

A week later, I was sitting at the office when an unknown number appeared on my cell phone and as I answered I just heard “Brent, you will never guess what I have here!” I did not give the caller the time to say any more before I was in my cruiser at warp-speed (well past wheel-wobble speed anyway!) and heading for main camp. The post and photo I put on my blog that day received more hits than any other before and suddenly there were people turning up at the campsite asking “where is it”. News spreads fast in today’s world but between Twitchers it is like broadband on Redbull!

As it turns out there are actually two yellow individuals of the Crimson-breasted shrike in that particular car park, with one being an adult and the other a juvenile. Many people have seen and photographed them now but to my knowledge no-one has that impossibly rare and unique shot of a yellow feeding a yellow………but I will keep you posted!

Check out Hwange Birder for the latest bird news and sightings but better yet, grab your bins and come see for yourself.

The Hwange Birder

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 08, March 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Hwange