20 Jun 2023

20 Jun 23 - Angola - Birding In The Mist

After the impressive views of the Calandula Waterfalls the previous evening, it was disappointing to be up before dawn on the following morning to find it was misty around the Pousada Calandula Lodge. I had hoped it would be a local problem as the Lodge was very close to the waterfalls, but it turned out to be a widespread problem affecting the whole area. It wasn't till mid-morning that the sun burnt the mist off. As a result, Birding & photography was hindered by the mist for the first two to three hours of the day.
The River Lucala in the mist
We stopped for about twenty minutes in the mist to check the Swallows and other riverside species on the bridge over the River Lucala, on the downriver side of the Calandula Waterfalls. It was good to see a Great Kingfisher perched on the bridge, but unfortunately, it flushed & didn't land until it had flown about eighty metres upriver. A Pied Kingfisher was equally distant. The other highlight was some Red-throated Cliff Swallows, but they weren't coming close: not that the light was great for photography anyway.
African Pied Wagtail: This is the vidua subspecies which occurs from Senegal & East Gambia to Sierra Leone & South Mali, South Chad, East Sudan, Ethiopia, South Somalia, the Nile Valley of South Egypt & North Sudan and as far South as Angola, North & East Botswana & East South Africa
Angolan Snake sp.: This large Snake was sitting in the reeds by the edge of the River Lucala. It was going to have a long wait for the sun to start warming it up
After a few more miles beyond Calandula, we pulled off the road onto a several mile long dirt track which lead to Kinjila Forest. There was one moderate sized village by the entrance to the forest. How long this forest survives is still in question in my mind, as we saw locals cutting trees & Bamboo in the forest. Additionally, there was a steady movement of people and motorbikes to the far side of the small patch of riverine forest. We spent some time stopping and Birding on the approach track. Despite being hampered by the mist, there were a good selection of Birds along this track through the grasslands, cultivations and patches of Miombo Forest. Fortunately, the sun started working its magic on clearing the mist. However, some of these photos were taken later in the day in the approach track.
Some of the approach track looked like this: When it hadn't been cut, cultivated or burnt
Another photo of the Miombo woodland along the approach track
Burning grassland seems to be national hobby for many of the population
Pale-billed Hornbill: This is the nominate pallidirostris subspecies which occurs from Angola, South Democratic Republic of the Congo to South Tanzania, Zambia & Mozambique
Cardinal Woodpecker: Female. Males would have red on their nape
Cardinal Woodpecker: Female. This is the sharpii subspecies which occurs from Cameroon & Central African Republic to West Democratic Republic of the Congo & North Angola
Brubru: Juvenile. Juvenile Brubrus have streaky underparts. This is the nigritemporalis subspecies which is a Miombo species. This subspecies lacks the orange flank stripes that most other subspecies show
African Golden Oriole: This is the notatus subspecies which occurs from Angola to Tanzania, Mozambique & the North East corner of South Africa. Another subspecies of this widespread Sub-Saharan species occurs from Senegambia to Sudan, Uganda, South Ethiopia & South Somalia
Rufous-bellied Tit: This is the nominate rufiventris subspecies which occurs in North Angola to West Democratic Republic of the Congo, North East Namibia & Central Zambia. Other subspecies occur in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe & Mozambique
Sharp-tailed Glossy Starling: We saw our first Sharp-tailed Glossy Starlings in the mist where we had to rely on their long thin pointed faces and longer tails to identify them. Fortunately, we saw more when the sun broke through including this individual showing some colour
Sharp-tailed Glossy Starling: This is the nominate acuticaudus subspecies which occurs in Central Angola to Zambia & South West Tanzania. The other subspecies occurs in North Namibia & adjacent South Angola
Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah: This monotypic species occurs from North Angola & Democratic Republic of the Congo to South West Uganda, Kenya & North East South Africa
Angolan Bug sp.: Thanks to my mate Steve Morrison who confirmed this was a Bug & not a Beetle from my published photos