Birding in Zambia: The Birds of South Luangwa

Two weeks ago we spent a week in South Luangwa National Park.  It is considered Zambia’s premier game park but we had never been there before.  We have been to Kafue National Park many times while living in Zambia.  It is only 3 to 5 hours drive from Lusaka, but S. Luangwa is over 9 hours.  With three kids and a tight budget, flying isn’t an option so Kafue is the natural choice.  Finally we decided to take the plunge, and make the 9 hour drive.  The main goal of this trip was not to see birds.  (I know, how can I say that!!)  But with the whole family along, it is not practical to focus on birds.  LBJ’s have to be ignored though colorful or interesting birds can occasionally be stopped for.  Just don’t let them interfere too heavily with the search for a leopard or lions making a kill.

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This black-necked heron was just outside the lodge in a tree on the river bank.  I loved the photo Jonathan got.

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We saw this juvenile Ayer’s Hawk-Eagle flying overhead on our first game drive.  It turned out to be my only lifer for the trip.

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South Luangwa is known for its large breeding population of bee-eaters and we were there in the midst of the breeding season.  Many Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters were there nesting in holes in the river bank.  One morning this was the back drop for a pride of lions that was eating a hippo they had caught in the night.  I enjoyed watching the wheeling flight of the bee-eaters in and out of their nest holes almost as much as I enjoyed the lions.

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So many bee-eaters are there, that the birds will make use of any piece of driftwood they can find to make a perch.

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South Luangwa is also known for Lilian’s Lovebird.  These small parrots are mostly green with a red face and white eye-ring.  They are very beautiful as a flock flies up from feeding on the ground to take cover in the trees.  The green is very vibrant.  They live in flocks and we saw many of them were eating seeds on or near the ground and then they would startle and fly up into the trees in  a cloud.  They were shy and difficult to get photos of.

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So many beautiful birds.

To see more bird blogs try the links at  NF Winged or the Bird D’pot.

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