Just south of Tiger Reef Restaurant in Swakopmund, Namibia is a very shallow lagoon with a very diverse mix of birds. I identified 13 different species on the very cold and windy morning that I was there, many of which were new to me.
Common ringed plover
African harrier-hawk. I spotted this large hawk scoping out the nests of the pigeons who live in the rafters of the abandoned bus garage next door to us. They specialize in eating the eggs and nestlings of other species of birds.
Pied crow. Very similar to the crows of North America, but the white breast of this species makes it look like it is ready to go to a black-tie event.
Lilac-breasted roller. A very common species to see on safari in Southern Africa, we featured this colorful bird in a post from Chobe National Park in Botswana. This one was much closer to home and sitting on a basketball backboard just behind our flat on the school campus.
African grey hornbill. The third hornbill species I have seen in Africa so far. This one is not as colorful as his cousins but the long, curved bill is somewhat visible here.
African wattled lapwing. I saw this species when I first started birding here but misidentified it as a white-crowned lapwing. This bird is a frequent visitor at Hakusembe River Lodge.
African yellow white-eye. This large tree at Hakusembe was full of flowers, bees and these small yellow birds who rarely stayed still enough for a photo.
Fork-tailed drongo. Also at Hakusembe during a recent day trip, I spotted this black-feathered bird.
Arrow-marked babbler. One of my better bird photos. This one took me awhile to identify because the coloration was fairly plain but the breast feathers are distinctive and make little arrow points.
Coppery-tailed coucal. Not a great photo, but this shows the red eye that is common in the African coucal species. This may also be the Senegal coucal. This bird was located in Mahangu Game Park.
Rundu in the Kavango Region of Namibia is a town of only 60,000 people, but sometimes we still need to escape the hustle and bustle of town living. Our favorite place for a weekend getaway is Hakusembe River Lodge just about 15km west of town. Usually we tent camp at their beautiful sites along the river (each with its own private bathroom with hot showers!) but due to the flooding of the Kavango River this rainy season, the campground is closed until June. We had to settle for the bungalow shown below to celebrate Lisa’s birthday weekend. We even had the chance to do some birding in between relaxing at the pool and eating great food.
Hakusembe is owned by Gondwana Collection and they own many lodges and camp sites in Namibia. Lucky for us, they offer an amazing deal for Namibian citizens and Visa holders (us) that if you pay N$100 then you get a card that gives you 50% off all accommodation and a discount on dining. It’s a bargain in American dollars to stay at such a beautiful place, especially the camping (with the Gondwana card it is $7.50 per person for a campsite). In America when we went camping/backpacking we didn’t shower. Ironically, since we don’t have a hot shower at our flat, we go camping to GET a hot shower. 🙂
Some of our favorite parts about this serene place are the songbirds that wake you, coffee delivered to your bungalow doorstep at dawn, seeing otters play in the river, feeling grass beneath our feet, the cool, crisp air and the welcoming staff. It’s a place to relax, reflect and breathe deeper.
We put in for a site transfer with this bungalow as our housing…
The pool oasis of Hakusembe
The landscaping is beautiful with grass, flowers and a vegetable garden to go along with the palm and banana trees.
They are currently using this floating house as a registration area since guests are arriving by boat due to flooding, but usually it is available as accommodation.
Another amazing sunset on the Kavango River. The boardwalk on the right leads to a large group of newly-built bungalows and the camping area.
White-crested helmet shrike
One last post to round off the birds we spotted at Chobe National Park. I’m running out of bird captions!
Hamerkop. I’m guessing this bird got its name because the backwards crest makes its head look like a hammer. It is a common resident around freshwater areas.
Greater blue-eared starling. Very glossy greenish sheen on the feathers that changes color in the light.
Yellow canary. This is one of several varieties of canary in southern Africa.
Magpie shrike. It might be hard to notice the long tail hanging down in this picture, but that feature makes it very easy to identify this black and white bird, a common resident of Botswana.
Long-toed lapwing. Another lapwing checked off the list! This bird is much less common than the blacksmith lapwing and can be found mainly in the Okavango Delta and Chobe River System.
Squacco heron. This heron’s habitat is freshwater shorelines.
Black-crowned night-heron. My best guess for this bird. They are usually nocturnal.
Wire-tailed swallow. This little bird decided to take a ride on the bow of our our tour boat on the way out of Chobe National Park. They are usually found in pairs.
Here are some more birds from our 3 day, 2 night trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Osprey. Slightly smaller than a fish eagle with a broad eye-stripe that wraps around to the back of its head.
Giant kingfisher. Much larger than all other kingfishers in the region. This bird has a speckled body and a rufous chest.
Great egret. The largest white egret. Very similar to the yellow-billed egret, but the legs are completely dark in color. A large monitor lizard is visible in the background.
Little egret. Not entirely sure that my identifications of these egrets are correct. Unfortunately the telltale bright yellow feet of this species are not visible here.
Red-billed oxpecker. These birds eat the ticks and other parasites of large animals. This bird has a prime spot on a cape buffalo. This variety of oxpecker is considered near-threatened.
Yellow-billed oxpecker. This diseased giraffe’s parasites were prime feeding grounds for both variety of oxpeckers. The yellow-billed variety can be distinguished by the partly yellow bill and by the lack of a yellow ring around the eye.
Lilac-breasted roller. Commonly seen on safaris in southern Africa. Very strikingly colorful bird, especially in flight.
Swainson’s spurfowl. Prefers grassland near water. The dark legs distinguish it from the the red-necked spurfowl.
Red-billed hornbill. This is a common resident, one of many varieties of hornbills in southern Africa.
Blue waxbill. Common resident bird found in flocks during the non-breeding season. We saw a couple of these birds during a bathroom break from our safari drive. You always have to have your camera ready in Chobe!
Chobe National Park has exceptional birding, especially when we were there during the rainy season in early January. All of my bird facts are taken from Roberts Bird Guide, a great birding resource for Southern Africa. We saw some nice birds out in the bush as well, but the river boat tours have been the best for spotting and photographing birds.
Pied Kingfisher. We also spotted this variety of bird on the Kavango River, but this is the first good photo I was able to get. The double breast band indicates that this bird is a male.
Southern red bishop. The elusive red bishop! We were all pretty excited to see this bird looking like he had just put on his finest for church. The female of this species looks like a small brown sparrow and would be hard to distinguish.
White-winged tern. This is the smallest freshwater tern in the region and migrates to southern Africa during the breeding season.
African sacred ibis. These large water birds are a common resident to the wetlands of southern Africa. Here they posed for a nice bill shot. We call that the “money shot” in birding.
African openbill stork. One of the smaller storks in the region. The bill is used like a nutcracker for its main prey of snails and mussels. This bird is classified as near-threatened. This was the “yoga bird” in the last post.
Goliath heron. The largest heron in the world! Eats mostly large fish and frogs. It can reach a height of 1.4 m and weigh 4.3 kg.
Another photo of the goliath heron. The boat spooked it a bit and it flew off but it was a nice display of its massive wingspan.
African fish-eagle. Looks very similar to the bald eagle of North America. Very common in the river habitats of Namibia and Botswana that we have visited.
African jacana. Also called the “Jesus bird” for its apparent ability to walk on water. Its large splayed toes allow it to wander on lily pads in search of food. I think this might be its nest. Another bird who can build its own island!
Here are more photos along the Kavango River near Divundu, Namibia. We recommend staying at Nunda River Lodge. Very friendly owners, local staff and great food!
The view from the deck at Nunda River Lodge.
This is a better photo of a white-breasted cormorant as the large black webbed feet are more visible.
Large monitor lizard on the riverbank.
The bungalows at Nunda River Lodge offer a great view of the river. You can often fall asleep listening to the sounds of hippos.
Reflection of the clouds on the Kavango River at sunset.
Family photo at Nunda River Lodge.
A man paddling a mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) on the Kavango River.
Another lodging option at Nunda is a platform tent on the riverbank.
A hippo displaying its teeth in middle of the Kavango River.