BIRDING IN ZIMBABWE
The Nyanga area covers an extensive range of the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, including the highest point of Mount Nyangani at 2592m a.s.l. The topography is mainly rolling hills and granite mountains with acacia, miombo and mixed woodlands, montane forests, exotic plantations, montane grasslands, deeply incised gorges, rivers and waterfalls, farms and orchards and the Nyanga National Park. The often misty eastern slopes receive orographic rainfall and have a different set of birds to the dry, low-lying west.
The mountains are important for the rare Taita Falcon and summer brings Blue Swallows to the montane grasslands to breed.
Wattled Crane also breeds in the area. The forests are known for restricted range Chirinda Apalis and Roberts’s Warbler. Other special forest birds include Orange Ground-thrush, White-starred Robin, Swynnerton’s Robin, Red-capped Robin-chat, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Barratt’s Warbler, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler, Barratt’s Warbler, Olive and Black-fronted Bush-shrike. Red-faced Crimsonwing can be looked for in the tangles and in more open situations the Yellow-bellied Waxbill is common and Livingstone’s Turaco often seen and heard. Orange-winged Pytilia can also be found in the more open habitats. A recent range expansion involves the Swee Waxbill in the western parts of Nyanga.
The miombo woodlands produce Whyte’s Barbet, Miombo Tit, Cinnamon-breasted Tit, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Broad-tailed Paradise-whydah and Black-eared Seedeater, whilst the acacia can be searched for the elusive Ashy Tit.
A check on the skies is always a good idea in this area, particularly around escarpments and Scarce Swift, African Black Swift, Mottled Swift, Eurasian Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Augur Buzzard and Verreaux’s Eagle can be seen and in open grassland you could find Secretarybird, Pallid Harrier, Moustached Grass-warbler and Striped Flufftail. South African Cliff-swallow has been reported from Nyazengu and needs confirmation.
Garden areas produce a wide variety of birds and look out for Bronzy and Malachite Sunbirds on flowers.
Image credits: Landscape by Ian Riddell; Malachite Sunbird & Blue Swallow by Roger MacDonald; Mottled Swift by Piet Zwanikken