Trip report: Zambia and Zimbabwe custom tour (Nov-Dec 2009) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Josh Engel. This was a custom tour that included some of the sites of our Zambia set departure tour.

We began this tour by seeing one of Africa’s most beautiful and sought after birds: African Pitta. After that, the rest was just details. But not really, considering we tacked on 260 more birds and loads of great mammals. We saw Zambia’s only endemic bird, Chaplin’s Barbet, as well as a number of miombo and broad-leaf specialties, including Miombo Rock-Thrush, Racket-tailed Roller, Southern Hyliota, Miombo Pied Barbet, Miombo Glossy Starling, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Pennant-winged Nightjar, and Three-banded Courser.

With the onset of the rainy season just before the tour, the entire area was beautifully green and was inundated with migrants, so we were able to rack up a great list of cuckoos and other migrants, including incredible looks at a male Kurrichane Buttonquail. Yet the Zambezi had not begun to rise, so Rock Pratincole still populated the river’s rocks, African Skimmer its sandbars, and Lesser Jacana and Allen’s Gallinule its grassy margins. Mammals are always a highlight of any Africa tour: this trip’s undoubted star was a leopard, while a very cooperative serval was also superb. Victoria Falls was incredible, as usual. We had no problems in Zimbabwe whatsoever, and our lodge there on the shores of the Zambezi River was absolutely stunning. The weather was perfect throughout the tour, with clouds often keeping the temperature down and occasional rains keeping bird activity high.

Click this link to view the full report in PDF format