Birds in Sandy Beach, Siavonga

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. 

Orange-winged Pytilia

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. 

Female Cutthroat Finch

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.



Other interesting birds that we saw included this White-breasted Cormorant,

Kittlitz's Plover

Kittlitz's Plover

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.


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