This past weekend we had a retreat at Sandy Beach on Lake Kariba in Siavonga. I didn’t really do any real birding while I was there as our main purpose was relaxation and spending time with our fellow co-workers, but we went for a couple short walks and of course I had my binoculars with me. I was excited to get two “lifers” while we were there without any real effort at all. Since I wasn’t really putting in any effort, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of results, but it definitely helps to just keep your ears and eyes open as you never know what you will find.
The first new bird were these colorful Orange-winged Pytilias.
Here is the male and female. They spent a lot of time in this palm tree right in front of our cabin, perhaps building a nest or feeding young ones. A palm tree on the beach is not exactly the habitat listed in the book for them, but I guess the miombo woodland and scrub was back behind the beach a little ways.
The second “lifer” for me was a Cut-throat Finch. Unfortunately, I never had a camera with me at the right moment. I really must do better about taking it with me. So the only photo we got was this one of the female, which I include here only for documentation purposes. These finches had me quite confused. I was alerted to their presence by a loud commotion coming from a weaver nest. Eventually the male and female finch both flew out of the nest and I got a good look at them so they were easy to identify. I was confused by the use of the weaver nest though, but finally concluded they must have re-purposed it. Sure enough when I looked it up back home in my copy of Beat about the Bush: Birds, this behavior was listed as common among them. Mystery solved.
To see a good photo of a male Cut-throat Finch, and also to see why it has cutthroat for its name, please go to this link here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlp390/6957371207/
Other interesting birds that we saw included this White-breasted Cormorant,
and these Kittlitz’s Plovers, which I probably couldn’t have identified without that second photo. We found these on a rocky point just down the beach a little ways. There was a small group of them, maybe 6 or 8. Not too shabby for a non-birding weekend away.