BIRDING IN ZIMBABWE
African Cuckoo Hawk
Just a two hour drive north of Harare brings you to the rugged terrain forming the Zambezi escarpment in the Centenary/ Mzarabani Districts overlooking the Zambezi Valley and Cabora Bassa dam in Mozambique – the Mavuradonha Mountains. Gorges cut by streams and rivers form moist woodlands and riverine forest falling into the valley whilst hills and mountains clad with miombo woodland promise special birds amongst the wildlife.
The mountainous terrain supports Black Storks and a wide range of raptors such as vultures, African Cuckoo Hawk, Bat Hawk, Verreaux’s Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Ayres’s Hawk-eagles, Martial and African Crowned Eagle, Western Banded Snake-eagle, goshawks, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel and falcons, including the rare Taita. African Broadbills prrruup and tumble from their display perches in the gloom of secretive kloofs to distract you from a swim in a mountain stream with Mountain Wagtails. The woodlands can give you Meves’s Starling, Whyte’s Barbet, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Arnot’s Chat, Boulder Chat, Miombo Rock-thrush, Racquet-tailed Roller, Spotted Creeper, Stierling’s Wren-warbler, Miombo Tit and Cinnamon-bellied Tit, Red-faced Crombec, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Black-eared Seedeater, Broad-tailed Paradise-whydah and Orange-winged Pytilia.
Pennant-winged Nightjars gather to display at favoured areas from September/October when they arrive to breed. Lilian’s Lovebirds are another special that occurs mainly in the Zambezi Valley and Grey-headed Parrots fly screeching to or from their favoured feeding areas. You may be lucky and encounter African Finfoot in suitable stretches of water and Corn Crake and Black Coucal are known to attend some of the vleis and wet grasslands where Senegal Coucal clambers about. Eastern Saw-wing flit about over forest and here also can be found the much rarer Black Saw-wing. Green Widowfinches are also likely in this special area so check those widowfinches carefully.
Image credits: Racquet-tailed Roller, Orange-winged Pytilia, Dickinson’s Kestrel & African Cuckoo Hawk by Roger MacDonald