After a bit of a long drive from Lusaka which included road construction and an unexpected detour we arrived at Lochinvar National Park and made our way to the campsite at Chunga Lagoon, stopping on the way for a late lunch at Gwisho hotsprings. Lochinvar is a great place to go birding. The water birds are abundant and there is also a good variety of other birds in the scrub and savannah in the drier areas of the park. On our drive in we were treated to plenty of birds: a Striped Kingfisher
and a Long-billed Crombec
were some of our better shots.
While Leslie, our guide from Lapwing Safaris, set up camp, we checked out the lagoon, walked around and explored a bit, but the sun sets pretty early, so we enjoyed the beautiful sunset over the lagoon and soon enough it was dark and we sat around the campfire for dinner.
First thing in the morning we had a quick breakfast and then started in with the birding. The variety of water birds is amazing. This picture of the lagoon near where we camped, shows four different birds just near our side of the shore. The dark bird on the left is an African Open-Bill, the tallest bird is a Saddle-bill Stork, the closest is a Little Egret and the bird on the right is a Grey-headed Gull. In the far distance on the shore you can see many blurry “blobs” which are mostly all birds of various kinds although there may be a lechwe or two as well.
At the lagoon, the terns and gulls were quite busy. Two of the terns were lifers for me – the Caspian Tern and the White-winged. Here is a picture of the Caspian. At one point some of our group “may have seen” a slaty egret fly over head but as for me, I barely got a glimpse. Not sure if I am ever going to get another chance at it.
While we were checking out all the birds at the lagoon, many others would fly overhead. These Crowned Cranes flew over both mornings but they didn’t land near enough for us to find them again so we were never able to observe their beauty and grace in more detail.
Later on we explored the surrounding savannah both on foot and in the vehicles. We didn’t have to go far to find some really great birds. Though it wasn’t a lifer for me, we did get a really good look at a beautiful Luapula Cisticola, a tiny bird that was hunting around in the plants near the shore. Later on Leslie heard a White-browed Scrub-Robin and was able to spot it for us. This one was a lifer for me.
After lunch I had thought to lay down for a bit of a rest, and did not realise the others had gone off on another walk. The next thing I knew, Leslie was calling me. Now, Leslie is a great guide and I knew he wouldn’t be calling me for no reason so I quickly answered and started getting my shoes on. One of Leslie’s many great qualities as a guide is that he pays attention to even casual comments you make about what birds you would like to see or what would be a lifer for you. In this case, they had spotted a Burnt-necked Eromomela and he knew that it would be a new bird for me. The Eromomela stuck around long enough for me to catch up with the group and we were able to watch the little guy for quite a while. I always enjoy these types of little woodland birds that seem so cheerful as they are busy flitting about in the trees. (So busy they are hard to get good pictures of!)
Total number of birds for me on this two-night trip was 106, though others saw more. Seven of them were lifers for me and one a new Zambia tick (a Yellow-billed Hornbill, previously seen in Zimbabwe.) Other lifers for me not mentioned were Desert Cisticola, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, and a Lanner Falcon. My final assessment of Lochinvar however is not about the lifers but about enjoying the abundance of birds and the quiet of the Bush. I don’t know if I will ever find a place for birding that is more enjoyable than Zambia.