Zimbabwe Trip report

Our trip starting in Harare, which in itself is an excellent birding destination. We only had one afternoon of birding in Marlborough and Monavale Vleis and in a couple of hours we saw Black Coucal, Cuckoo Finch, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Common Waxbill, Little Rush Warbler, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Bronze Mannikin, Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Yellow Bishop, Southern Red Bishop, Red-billed Quelea, Zitting Cisticola, Common Fiscal and Black-shouldered Kite. We were a couple of weeks too late and it wasn’t a big birding priority on this specific trip but when the vleis are very wet is an excellent place for Streaky-breasted Flufftail, Corn, Spotted, Striped and African Crakes as well as exciting wetland associated rarities. Variable, White-bellied, Miombo Double-collared and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds were seen in the garden as we made our final preparation for the main part of the trip starting the next morning.

We were up early the next morning and made our way eastwards towards the eastern Highlands but first we stopped at Gosho Park near Marondera about an hour’s drive from the city. Gosho Park consists of beautiful Miombo Woodland with granite outcrops and it is an excellent spot to pick up most of the Miombo specials. During the 2 hours we birded here we managed to see Spotted Creeper, Boulder Chat, Miombo Tit, Green-capped Eremomela, Red-faced Crombec, Miombo Rock-thrush, Black-eared Seedeater, Whyte’s Barbet, Kurrichane Thrush, White-breasted and Black Cuckoo-shrike, Chinspot Batis, Southern Hyliota, Wood Pipit, African Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, African Golden Oriole, African Yellow White-eye, Grey-headed Bush-shrike and a personal highlight was a beautiful Black Sparrow-hawk.

From here we made our way to the Nyanga area for one night where the main target was the endangered Blue Swallow. We ended up seeing at least 8 Blue Swallows split between 2 different locations. Other interesting birds we say in the area include White-necked Raven, Cape Grassbird, Bronzy Sunbird, Eastern Saw-wing, Singing Cisticola, Robert’s Warbler, Long-crested Eagle, African Black Duck, Cape Robin-chat and Whyte’s Barbet. On the way to Aberfoyle we took a scenic detour to Mutarazi Waterfall (2nd highest in Africa) produced Scarce Swift, Mottled Swift, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Lemon Dove, Livingstone’s Turaco and the swynnertoni race of the Red-necked Spurfowl. A Bat Hawk was seen in the last light that afternoon.

From here we spend a couple of nights at Aberfoyle Lodge in the Honde Valley and were treated to some fantastic birding. A few hours at Wamba Marsh and surrounding forest produced Anchieta’s Tchagra, Red-breasted Flufftail, Magpie Mannikin, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Burchell’s Coucal, Green-backed Woodpecker, Blue-spotted Wood-dove, Pallid Honeyguide, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Dark-backed Weaver, Dusky Flycatcher, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Red-throated Twinspot and Grey Waxbill. We did spend quite a bit of time in the Gleneagles Reserve above the lodge which produced Chirinda Apalis, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Barrat’s Warbler, Square-tailed Drongo, White-starred Robin, Pale Batis, Tropical Boubou, Tambourine Dove, Crowned Hornbill, African Golden Oriole, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Terrestrial Brownbul, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis and a possible Eleonora’s Falcon was too high for a positive id.

Red-throated Twinspot

The next morning we spend a few hours birding at the Katiyo Tea Estate on the Mozambique border which produced Moustached Grass-warbler, Short-winged Cisticola, Blue-spotted Wood-dove, Grey Waxbill, Black-winged Red Bishop, Red-winged Warbler, Red-faced Cisticola, Lizzard Buzzard, Amur Falcon, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Steppe Eagle and Black-collared Barbet. From here we made our way to Seldomseen in the Vumba Highlands which would be our last stop. We did see Cinnamon-breasted tit in a patch of Miombo Woodland and Zambezi Indigobird in the valley.

The main targets at Seldomseen was Swynnerton’s Robin and the other forest specials. We were not disappointed and had brilliant sightings of Swynnerton’s Robin, White-starred Robin, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Olive Thrush, Orange Ground-thrush, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, African Olive Pigeon, Tambourine Dove, Lemon Dove, Livingstone’s Turaco, Cape Batis, Chirinda Apalis, Bar-throated Apalis, African Yellow White-eye, Olive Sunbird, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Bronzy Sunbird, Cape Canary, Brimstone Canary, Magpie and Red-backed Mannikin. Augur Buzzards and Long-crested Eagle’s was regularly seen flying overhead African Wood Owl was heard every night.

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