BIRDING IN ZIMBABWE
Monavale Vlei is a convenient Harare vlei that boasts some special crakes and flufftails in the summer months. Birding is best from December through April, though the Striped Crakes and Streaky-breasted Flufftails that so attract visitors are more reliable from about mid-January, depending on the rains and stable flooding for breeding. Black Coucals, Croaking Cisticolas and Yellow-mantled Widowbirds are common and good rains bring in Broad-tailed Warblers and the occasional Dwarf Bittern, an unusual bird for Harare.
Orange-breasted Waxbills flash like bright spots of fire as they flit from spot to spot and Cuckoo Finch are about, though they are better when they form flocks later in the year. Common widows and bishops are everywhere in breeding dress and the thin call of the Pale-crowned Cisticola floats about somewhere overhead, while Grey-rumped Swallows fly back and forth. It is not unusual to flush Corn Crakes, African Crakes and Marsh Owls. The Black-shouldered Kite is common as are passing flocks of Amur Falcons, whilst the occasional Eurasian Hobby sweeps through. As the vlei dries through winter grass fires begin and the open ground attracts a very different bird community. The dry months bring Capped Wheatears, Red-capped Larks, African and Buffy Pipits and a few Temminck Coursers.
What is great about Monavale is that a few dedicated individuals of COSMO have saved this area from the rampant development that threatens the city’s wetlands, and it has recently qualified as a Ramsar site.