Birding in Zambia: Chamba Valley

The birding in Zambia has been enjoyable of late.  I have been frequently seeing the Long-crested Eagle both on my way to work and then Wednesday evening she showed up in my yard.  Where I live now compared to where I work is about five kilometres as the crow flies so I think it is possible that it is the same bird.  They do look the same, with their crest being about the same length, (I have seen birds with lots longer crests than this one.) The short crest and brownish, not white, leggings indicate this bird is a female.

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Here she is where I spotted her in a tree just outside our yard.

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Later she flew into one of our eucalyptus trees.

Also this week, an out of town friend asked if I had a free morning to go birding, and it just so happened that I did.  The problem birding around Lusaka is that as far as I can tell, most of the land is privately owned, so it can be tricky finding places to go.  The ornithological society often gets permission to visit private farms.  There is one private farm that allows visitors for a fee but it is tricky to get to and I do not have good directions.  Other than that, there is one public park called Lusaka Forest Reserve off of Leopard’s Hill Road and I hope to visit it again sometime as we saw some nice birds when we went with the Ornithological society in April.  However, again, without good directions I did not feel comfortable driving there myself so I decided to take Amit to my old stomping grounds, where I knew there were some good birds.  This was the campus where I used to live in Chamba Valley, and also to Mutumbi Cemetery in Chamba Valley.  And we did have some good viewing.  At my old campus I saw two birds that I had never seen there before.  One of them was this gorgeous Grey-headed Bushshrike – my only good picture of the day.

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The other new bird for that area for me was a Black-backed Barbet which greeted us immediately upon our arrival.  We arrived around 6:15 AM and the birds were all very busy and noisy so our first hour was quite exciting.  The mousebirds and the Paradise Flycatchers in particular were very busy and we enjoyed many good views of them.

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As we were getting read to leave and head to the cemetery, Amit asked about going to check for the Palm-Thrush one more time.  Just as I was about to say yes, a bird flew into the tree just above us.  I thought maybe it was “just a bulbul” but we checked it out and it was our elusive Collared Palm-Thrush!  What a great ending to that section of our morning!

We drove on to Mutumbi Cemetery which is gated but by nature, it is open to the public.  Once past the cemetery there is some good woodland and scrub where you can walk around a bit.  Here we got a good view of a White-browed Scrub-Robin but I was not fast enough with the camera to get a picture.  We also saw a small flock of European Bee-Eaters but they were too high for a good picture as well.

Other good sightings included a Black-shouldered Kite, Willow Warbler, a female Red-thraoted Twinspot, Long–billed Crombec and a Thick-billed Weaver, which I have seen there several times in the past. 

We left around 9:30 and headed to a couple other nearby spots but it was already getting hot by then and the birds were no longer as active so we called it a day rather early, but all in all we had a nice morning outing with quite a few birds that I rarely get to see.  Nice!

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