Gorgeous Bush-shrike

Palm-nut Vulture

Green Twinspot

The Aberfoyle area is a premier birding spot in the Honde Valley of eastern Zimbabwe. Its low altitude likens it to the Haroni-Rusitu because of the various birds that marginally occur in the country from Mozambique. The habitat is largely tea estates but interspersed are rivers with forest and remaining belts of forest, some rising up to the higher levels of the eastern highlands.

Aberfoyle Country Lodge is about the only accommodation in the area so has been intensively birded.

The Palm-nut Vultures that occur on the golf course are well known and sought after and exploring the surrounding forests can reveal Green Twinspot, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Lesser Seedcracker, Red-throated Twinspot, African Firefinch, Grey Waxbill, Yellow-bellied Waxbill and other small birds such as Barratt’s Warbler and White-starred Robin in the undergrowth. Red-capped Robin-chats sing their extensive repertoire and Square-tailed Drongos are always heard. Higher up you could find Yellow-streaked Greenbul and Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Black-fronted, Gorgeous and Olive Bush-shrikes, Blue-mantled and White-tailed Crested Flycatchers and Grey Cuckooshrike with Olive Sunbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, White-eared Barbet and Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler in the canopy. Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike is a bit of an ‘unknown’ as they appear to be less common nowadays. A visit to Wamba Dam is a must to find Anchieta’s Tchagra, Red-winged Warbler, Broad-tailed Warbler and Moustached Grass-warbler.

Pale Batis occur as well as the Cape Batis so keep a look out. Roberts’s Warbler and Chirinda Apalis are usually noisy birds so can be found quite easily if you know their calls, and Green-backed Woodpecker and Pallid Honeyguide can be found in forest and more open woodland. Trumpeter, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill and Crowned Hornbill fly about looking for food and Narina Trogon and Livingstone’s Turaco call from many areas. Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo and Lesser Cuckoo appear around summer along with the more common migrants. On the drive through the Honde Valley look for Blue-spotted Wood-dove, Black-winged Bishop and Magpie Mannikin and Red-necked Spurfowl is often in the tea plantations. African Olive-pigeon and Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon occur in the forests though the latter is often a little higher up such as along the Gleneagles road, whilst Scarce Swift are not so much a feature of Aberfoyle but are also found at higher altitudes over Gleneagles.

Image credits: Landscape by Chris Cragg; Palm-nut Vulture, Green Twinspot & Gorgeous Bush-shrike by Roger MacDonald

Keeping Common Birds Common