Christon Bank


is a small residential area 22 km north of Harare set along amongst rolling hills overlooking the Mazowe River valley. The habitat is primarily miombo woodland with some riverine along the river itself. The woodland here more ‘connected’ to the miombo biome generally and doesn’t suffer the ‘island effect’ experienced by Mukuvisi, and to some extent Haka Park, where some species have been consequently lost. It also has the advantage of several additional specials. The first birding spot is just before a small dam on the left where there is a turn-off to the right at a small store – this deteriorates after about a kilometre and is a good place to park and walk. It only goes for about another kilometre along a spurto a point overlooking the Mazowe valley but

has tremendous birding. You can also explore the little valley up which the 11 kV powerline runs. The second spot is at the end of the Christon Bank road, some 7 km from the main road, where there is a Botanic Reserve on the right hand side with foot paths down to the river. Be particularly careful if you explore the riverine – there are many narrow pit-falls created by gold-panners that could result in serious injury should you fall down one!

The dam can be checked for typical waterbirds but the hills provide most interest. Verreaux’s Eagle frequents the hills beyond the Botanic Reserve and Long-crested Eagle, Brown Snake-eagle, African Cuckoo Hawk, Augur Buzzard and Dark Chanting-goshawk occur generally. Coqui Francolin can sometimes be found in the Reserve and Purple-crested Turaco is widespread. Swallow-tailed Bee-eater is a winter visitor and Broad-billed Roller in the summer. Typical miombo specials include Whyte’s Barbet, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Green-backed Honeybird,

White-breasted Cuckooshrike, African Golden Oriole, Miombo Tit, Southern Black Tit, Miombo Rock-thrush, Southern Hyliota, Red-faced Crombec, Green-capped Eremomela, Stierling's Wren-warbler, Grey Tit-flycatcher, Wood Pipit, Striped Pipit, Tree Pipit, Purple-banded Sunbird, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, occasional Western Violet-backed Sunbird and Black-eared Seedeater. Spotted Creeper occurs locally but avoids the smooth-barked mountain acacia Brachystegia glaucescens. The big draw card, however, are the Boulder Chats and the Collared Flycatcher, the latter a summer visitor. The riverine has Yellow-breasted Apalis and Red-throated Twinspot. Broad-tailed Paradise-whydah has been seen once, whilst looking towards the Mazowe dam from the hills beyond the Reserve, and probably occurs at lower altitudes in the valley.