We recently returned from a trip in conjunction with Maans Booysen’s Weto Tours to Mozambique and Eastern Zimbabwe.
Day 1 was a lot of driving from Pretoria to Honeypot near Xai-Xai. We went quickly through the border post and on the Moz side saw inter alia Saddle-billed Stork, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Grey-rumped Swallow, Red-faced Cisticola, Lizard Buzzard and Shikra.
Before dark we went to the Limpopo floodplains to look for Rosy-throated Longclaw, but the floodplains were very dry and no RT Longclaw. We actually spotted a Grass owl, Rufous-bellied Heron and Openbill Stork.
Honeypot had an Wood Owl in camp and some people were lucky to see it. Fiery-necked Nightjar was also calling through the night.
Day 2 took us to Inhambane via Panda. Along the road to Inharrime we added African Marsh Harrier and Cuckoo Hawk and towards Panda Whiskered Tern and Collared Pratincole.
Around Panda a lot of the indigenous forest is chopped down by the locals. What will happen in future, you never know. We looked for Olive-headed Weaver but couldn’t find it. We, however, saw Pale Batis, Neergaard’s Sunbird, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Southern Hyliota and Grey-rumped Swallow. It was extremely hot when we reached Panda and a couple of people struggled with the heat.
We continued to Inhambane, had lovely views of Dickonson’s Kestrel along the way, and arrived just before dark at Barra.
Day 3 was wader bashing and the lagune hosted thousands of waders. Strolling early morning through the mud and water, produced thousands of Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Mongolian Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Common Whimbrel, Common Ringed Plover, Greater Flamingo and Lesser Crested Tern. In the dune vegetation we saw Brimstone & Lemon-breasted Canary, Collared & Scarlet-chested Sunbird and Spectacled Weaver. A pond produced White-backed Duck, Pygmy Goose and Purple Heron. Some people had luck in seeing a flying Sooty Falcon but we couldn’t track it down again.
On Day 4 we drove from Barra to Inhassoro. Large parts have been burned down by the locals and that makes the finding of birds much more difficult. Early morning we saw a flying Palm-nut Vulture and at the first baobab trees, flying Bohm’s and Mottled Spinetails. A detour to Vilanculos gave more White-faced and White-backed Ducks, Pygmy Goose and Arrow-marked Babblers. We found some Madagascar Bee-eater in town.
In Inhassoro we stayed at the Seta Hotel again and inside the hotel grounds we saw Village Weaver, Grey-headed Bush Shrike and Southern Boubou.
Day 5 took us from Inhassoro to Beira and along the way added Jameson’s Firefinch, Bearded Scrub-robin, Trumpeter Hornbill, Pale Batis, Cabanis Bunting, Mosque Swallow, Dark Chanting Goshawk, European Honey Buzzard, Southern Banded Snake-eagle, African Golden Oriole and Racket-tailed Roller.
Day 6 was spent birding around Beira and towards Rio Savanne. The Bat Hawks seem to be still happy in their tree and survive amongst the citizens. Along the gravel road to Rio Savanne we saw Black-winged Bishops and some Wattled Lapwing. In the forest patch along the road we had good views of Eastern Nicator, Green Malkoha and Black-headed Apalis. A walk to flush some bird produced Black-rumped Buttonquail and a couple of Short-tailed Pipit. Where we parked a Pale Batis had a nest, while Tropical Boubou played in the trees. On the grass was also Temminck’s Courser.
We moved deeper into the miombo veld and arrived at a pan where we found Collared Pratincole, Rufous-bellied Heron, lots of African Quailfinches, Flappet Lark and a Wood Pipit.
A drive past the airport gave Lesser Jacana, Village Indigobird, Pink-backed Pelicans and Greater Honeyguide.
Day 7 and we drove from Beira to Catapu via the gravel road which follows for most of the time the railway line. Some of the more unusual birds along the way were Rufous-bellied Heron, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Red-winged Warbler, Broad-billed Roller, Black-eared Seed-eater, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Retz’ Helmet-shrike, Grey-hooded Kingfisher, Racket-tailed Roller Cabanis Bunting, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill and Crowned Eagle.
On Day 8 we headed for the Catada bush in search for the “big birds”. On the way there we had Mosque Swallow, African Goshawk, Striped Kingfisher and Shikra. Arriving at Catada one or two had flashing views of a White-breasted Alethe after which we only heard it, but seen… No!!! We had good views of East Coast Akalat and there after found Bateleur, Crested Guineafowl, Plain-backed Sunbird, Tiny Greenbul, Woodward’s Batis, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Apalis and Bohm’s Spinetail.
The waterholes at Mphingwe Lodge had brilliant birding from your chair with 4 species of honeyguides, Greater, Scaly-throated, Lesser and Pallid, lots of Red-backed Mannikins, Miombo Glossy Starling, Melba Finch, Black Sparrowhawk, Tambourine Dove and Cuckoo Hawk.
Day 9 we went to the Zambezi River at Caia and had Sth Brown-throated Weaver, Comb Duck, Goliath Heron, Afr Mourning Dove, Rufous-winged Cisticola and Moustached Grass-Warbler. We couldn’t find any Anchieta’s Tchagra as all the vegetation was burned down. We drove to Vila de Sena looking for some rarities, but without any success. We saw Short-winged Cisticola, Collared Palm-Thrush and Brimstone Canary.
On Day 10 we were heading south to Gorongosa and Environtrade Camp. We had good views of Afr Hawk-eagle and Brown-hooded Parrot. A stop along the road turned up Ashy Flycatcher, Grey-tit Flycatcher, Red-faced Crombec and a Thick-billed Cuckoo which disappeared very quickly.
Late afternoon we went to Gorongosa Nat Park and convinced the gate official that we can go towards the main gate. We saw some game like Oribi, Kudu, Yellow Baboon, Sable and Suni along the road. There were not many birds. At the look out on the Pungwe River we saw some Scarce Swifts.
On Day 11 it was very early up to get to Mount Gorongosa. It was time to look for Green-headed Oriole. The walk up the mountain didn’t deliver many birds. Once inside the forest we suddenly had a lot of birds with Swynnerton’s Robin, Livingstone’s Turaco, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon