Today, we arrived in the country of Namibia where we will be staying for the next twelve days. Namibia is an arid country in southwestern Africa. It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in world with only about 2.5 million people spread across its considerable area. It has good infrastructure and a large national park network which make it a birder’s haven.
Birdwise, Namibia has only one true endemic, the dune lark (Certhilauda erythrochlamys), but it also has quite a number of near endemics shared only slightly with its northern neighbor, Angola. In addition to the endemics and near endemics, it has a total of 705 species recorded in its borders (according to Avibase). It has incredible desert adapted species, Acacia specialists, waterbirds galore, and rock dwelling skulkers. In our ten days we are hoping to pick up around 250 species from across the country and to see some nice mammals and reptiles as well.
The first birds we encountered were the Bradfield’s swifts (Apus bradfieldi), African palm swifts (Cypsiurus parvus) and rock martins (Hirundo fuligula) flying above us as we disembarked the plane in Windhoek. We had arrived in some wild weather and the birds were enjoying the wind whipping across the airfield. We made it through customs with all our luggage and were whisked away to Voigtland Guesthouse just outside of Windhoek. By the time we got into the car, it began to pour (which thrilled our host). It has been very dry up until know in Windhoek, threatening crops and livestock.
The rain kept us at bay for several hours after we arrived but eventually it did end and we took advantage of the gap in the weather to go for a walk. The Acacia birding was phenomenal. Melissa picked up her first lifer of the trip, a red-billed francolin (Pternistes adspersus) on the lawn. Great sparrows (Passer motitensis) pecked around the door yard, a scarlet-chested sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis) enjoyed the mistletoe in one of the trees, and rock martins zoomed in and out of their nests in the eves. We walked through a river bed on the farm where there was plenty to see. A noisy flock of southern pied babblers (Turdoides bicolor) was moving through the landscape. A barred wren-warbler (Calamonastes fasciolatus) called from the top of a large camelthorn (Acacia erialoba) while a bearded woodpecker (Dendropicos namaquus) drummed away on a dead tree. There were plenty of small colorful seed-eaters throughout the area like green-winged pytilia (Pytilia melba), violet-eared waxbill (Granatina granatina), shaft-tailed whydah (Vidua regla) and red-headed finch (Amadina erythrocephala).
Our afternoon at Voigtland produced 65 species of birds many of which are new for our year list. The birding on the farm was wonderful and we were given great access to walk throughout. Voigtland is much recommended to birders travelling through Windhoek. It is so exciting to be in Namibia for this trip and tomorrow, the real tour begins but more on that later.