Namibia - October 2019

Published by Birding Ecotours (info AT



Namibia is a must-visit African country since it is so very unique, with the world’s oldest desert including the highest sand dunes in the world of a spectacular red color, rugged desert mountains along the bird-rich Namibian Escarpment, and one of the world’s greatest game parks, the vast Etosha National Park. And, last but not least, Namibia hosts a number of birds that are only found there or in adjacent Angola. This tour was a uniquely crafted departure searching for as many bird species as possible in central Namibia with limited time at our disposal. In terms of finding key species we did very well – locating basically all of the desired targets. A total of 218 bird species were seen (plus eight species heard only). A full bird list can be found at the end of this report.

After some initial, productive birding around Windhoek and a wonderful evening in the capital the clients set off to Sossusvlei via a highly scenic charter flight over awe-inspiring dunes and rugged topography. After spending the day at the red sand sea of Sossusvlei they took another incredible flight along the Atlantic coastline, taking in Cape Fur Seal colonies and more dune scenery, to Walvis Bay, where we continued our trip.

What follows in an annotated report of the key birding and wildlife localities visited as well as some of the respective highlights enjoyed at each.


Birding in and around Walvis Bay and Swakopmund got our list going nicely. One morning we enjoyed a boat cruise in the Walvis Bay harbor and lagoon. Pelican Point with its landmark lighthouse is also home to 60,000 resident Cape Fur Seals. Heaviside Dolphin was also an exciting find, as was Ocean Sunfish. Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, Great White Pelican, Cape Cormorant, Crowned Cormorant, Cape Gannet, Sooty Shearwater, African Oystercatcher, and huge numbers of Terns such as Sandwich, Greater Crested, and Black were also seen. The Walvis Bay Salt Works and Lagoon are home to some of the largest concentrations of Greater and Lesser Flamingos, a real spectacle. Healthy numbers of migratory shorebirds were also found, such as Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, and Whimbrel. In the dune fields inland from Walvis Bay we managed to see Namibia’s only endemic, Dune Lark, and the gravel plains and salt works north of Swakopmund produced the goods in form of Gray’s Lark, Tractrac Chat, Damara Tern, and Red-capped Lark.

This unique itinerary also visited the spectacular inselberg of the mighty Spitzkoppe. It was here that we were lucky enough to find the likes of Herero Chat, Layard’s Warbler, Pale-winged Starling, and Shaft-tailed Whydah. The surrounding plains held Rüppell’s Korhaan among others.

The dramatic Erongo Mountains rise like mighty whalebacks over the otherwise flat landscape, and we also stayed here for one night. This area has many interesting species, and we added sought-after birds like Rosy-faced Lovebird, Carp’s Tit, Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Rockrunner, and White-tailed Shrike, as well as Green-winged Pytilia and Freckled Nightjar.

We also traveled to the mighty Brandberg – Namibia’s highest mountain. Apart from being able to enjoy the dramatic Damaraland scenery, this proved to be a great decision, and many tricky targets were added on that day, like Violet Wood Hoopoe, Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Southern Pied Babbler, Benguela Long-billed Lark, Stark’s Lark, and Karoo Chat.

One night was also spent at the Hobatere Lodge, situated in the Khoadi Hoas Conservancy west of Etosha National Park, which offers great birding in dramatic landscapes for the likes of Bare-cheeked Babbler, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, and Meves’s Starling. We had some pleasant mammal encounters here too, including Lion and African Elephant at the lodge waterhole and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra on the drive in.

Three nights were also spent in the incredible Etosha National Park. Here we birded woodland interspersed with open plains and a vast, clay-white pan that covers almost 5000 square kilometers. Apart from the opportunity of spotting predators and plains game, the park’s birdlife is staggering. Great birds we found here included Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Kori Bustard, Northern Black Korhaan, Burchell’s Courser, Sociable Weaver, Eastern Clapper Lark, Double-banded Courser, Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, South African Shelduck, and Pink-billed Lark. Etosha also afforded some great mammal viewing with Lion and large numbers of herbivores such as Blue Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, and Springbok.

A great ending to this itinerary was one night at the Waterberg Plateau National Park. A wonderful early morning walk was taken to the top of the sandstone plateau, and we enjoyed varied birdlife in the wooded slopes and above, including the likes of Bradfield’s Hornbill, Alpine Swift, Rockrunner, Bradfield’s Swift, and Rüppell’s Parrot before an uneventful drive back to Windhoek.

Species Lists

Bird List - Following IOC (9.2)

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: CE = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened.

Common name/Scientific name

Ostriches (Struthionidae)
Common Ostrich/Struthio camelus

Guineafowl (Numididae)
Helmeted Guineafowl/Numida meleagris

Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Crested Francolin (H)/Dendroperdix sephaena
Hartlaub's Spurfowl/Pternistis hartlaubi
Red-billed Spurfowl/Pternistis adspersus

Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
Egyptian Goose/Alopochen aegyptiaca
South African Shelduck/Tadorna cana
Cape Teal/Anas capensis
Cape Shoveler/Spatula smithii
Red-billed Teal/Anas erythrorhyncha

Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Rufous-cheeked Nightjar/Caprimulgus rufigena
Freckled Nightjar/Caprimulgus tristigma

Swifts (Apodidae)
African Palm Swift/Cypsiurus parvus
Alpine Swift/Tachymarptis melba
Bradfield's Swift/Apus bradfieldi
Little Swift/Apus affinis
White-rumped Swift/Apus caffer

Turacos (Musophagidae)
Grey Go-away-bird/Corythaixoides concolor

Bustards (Otididae)
Kori Bustard - NT/Ardeotis kori
Ludwig's Bustard - EN/Neotis ludwigii
Rüppell's Korhaan/Eupodotis rueppellii
Red-crested Korhaan/Lophotis ruficrista
Northern Black Korhaan/Afrotis afraoides

Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
African Cuckoo (H)/Cuculus gularis

Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)
Namaqua Sandgrouse/Pterocles namaqua
Double-banded Sandgrouse/Pterocles bicinctus
Burchell's Sandgrouse/Pterocles burchelli
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Dove/Columba livia
Speckled Pigeon/Columba guinea
Ring-necked Dove/Streptopelia capicola
Laughing Dove/Spilopelia senegalensis
Namaqua Dove/Oena capensis

Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
Common Moorhen/Gallinula chloropus
Red-knobbed Coot/Fulica cristata

Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Little Grebe/Tachybaptus ruficollis

Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)
Greater Flamingo/Phoenicopterus roseus
Lesser Flamingo - NT/Phoeniconaias minor

Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)
Spotted Thick-knee (H)/Burhinus capensis

Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)
African Oystercatcher/Haematopus moquini

Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)
Black-winged Stilt/Himantopus himantopus
Pied Avocet/Recurvirostra avosetta

Plovers (Charadriidae)
Blacksmith Lapwing/Vanellus armatus
Crowned Lapwing/Vanellus coronatus
Grey Plover/Pluvialis squatarola
Common Ringed Plover/Charadrius hiaticula
Kittlitz's Plover/Charadrius pecuarius
Three-banded Plover/Charadrius tricollaris
White-fronted Plover/Charadrius marginatus
Chestnut-banded Plover - NT/Charadrius pallidus
Caspian Plover/Charadrius asiaticus

Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Bar-tailed Godwit - NT/Limosa lapponica
Whimbrel/Numenius phaeopus
Marsh Sandpiper/Tringa stagnatilis
Common Greenshank/Tringa nebularia
Wood Sandpiper/Tringa glareola
Common Sandpiper/Actitis hypoleucos
Ruddy Turnstone/Arenaria interpres
Sanderling/Calidris alba
Little Stint/Calidris minuta
Curlew Sandpiper - NT/Calidris ferruginea
Ruff/Philomachus pugnax

Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)
Burchell's Courser/Cursorius rufus
Double-banded Courser/Rhinoptilus africanus

Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
Grey-headed Gull/Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
Hartlaub's Gull/Chroicocephalus hartlaubii
Kelp Gull/Larus dominicanus
Caspian Tern/Hydroprogne caspia
Greater Crested Tern/Thalasseus bergii
Sandwich Tern/Thalasseus sandvicensis
Damara Tern - VU/Sternula balaenarum
Common Tern/Sterna hirundo
Black Tern/Chlidonias niger

Albatrosses (Diomedeidae)
Shy Albatross/Thalassarche cauta

Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)
Sooty Shearwater - NT/Ardenna grisea

Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)
Cape Gannet - EN/Morus capensis

Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Crowned Cormorant - NT/Microcarbo coronatus
White-breasted Cormorant/Phalacrocorax lucidus
Cape Cormorant - EN/Phalacrocorax capensis

Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Western Cattle Egret/Bubulcus ibis
Grey Heron/Ardea cinerea
Black-headed Heron/Ardea melanocephala
Little Egret/Egretta garzetta

Hamerkop (Scopidae)
Hamerkop/Scopus umbretta

Pelicans (Pelecanidae)
Great White Pelican/Pelecanus onocrotalus

Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
White-backed Vulture - CE/Gyps africanus
Lappet-faced Vulture - EN/Torgos tracheliotos
Black-chested Snake Eagle/Circaetus pectoralis
Brown Snake Eagle/Circaetus cinereus
Bateleur - NT/Terathopius ecaudatus
Martial Eagle - VU/Polemaetus bellicosus
Long-crested Eagle/Lophaetus occipitalis
Wahlberg's Eagle/Hieraaetus wahlbergi
Tawny Eagle - VU/Aquila rapax
Verreaux's Eagle/Aquila verreauxii
African Hawk-Eagle/Aquila spilogaster
Gabar Goshawk/Micronisus gabar
Pale Chanting Goshawk/Melierax canorus
Shikra/Accipiter badius
Yellow-billed Kite/Milvus aegyptius
African Fish Eagle/Haliaeetus vocifer
Augur Buzzard/Buteo augur

Barn Owls (Tytonidae)
Western Barn Owl (H)/Tyto alba

Owls (Strigidae)
African Scops Owl (H)/Otus senegalensis
Spotted Eagle-Owl/Bubo africanus
Verreaux's Eagle-Owl/Bubo lacteus
Pearl-spotted Owlet/Glaucidium perlatum

Mousebirds (Coliidae)
White-backed Mousebird/Colius colius
Red-faced Mousebird/Urocolius indicus

Hoopoes (Upupidae)
African Hoopoe/Upupa africana

Wood Hoopoes (Phoeniculidae)
Violet Wood Hoopoe/Phoeniculus damarensis
Common Scimitarbill/Rhinopomastus cyanomelas

Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
African Grey Hornbill/Lophoceros nasutus
Monteiro's Hornbill/Tockus monteiri
Damara Red-billed Hornbill/Tockus damarensis
Southern Red-billed Hornbill/Tockus rufirostris
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill/Tockus leucomelas
Bradfield's Hornbill/Lophoceros bradfieldi

Rollers (Coraciidae)
Lilac-breasted Roller/Coracias caudatus

Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater/Merops hirundineus
European Bee-eater/Merops apiaster

African Barbets (Lybiidae)
Acacia Pied/Barbet Tricholaema leucomelas

Honeyguides (Indicatoridae)
Lesser Honeyguide/Indicator minor

Woodpeckers (Picidae)
Cardinal Woodpecker/Dendropicos fuscescens

Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Pygmy Falcon/Polihierax semitorquatus
Rock Kestrel/Falco rupicolus
Greater Kestrel/Falco rupicoloides
Lanner Falcon/Falco biarmicus

African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)
Rüppell's Parrot/Poicephalus rueppellii

Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Rosy-faced Lovebird/Agapornis roseicollis

Wattle-eyes, Batises (Platysteiridae)
Pririt Batis/Batis pririt
White-tailed Shrike/Lanioturdus torquatus

Bushshrikes (Malaconotidae)
Bokmakierie (H)/Telophorus zeylonus
Brown-crowned Tchagra/Tchagra australis
Black-backed Puffback/Dryoscopus cubla
Crimson-breasted Shrike/Laniarius atrococcineus

Brubru Nilaus afer Shrikes (Laniidae)
Southern White-crowned Shrike/Eurocephalus anguitimens
Southern Fiscal/Lanius collaris

Drongos (Dicruridae)
Fork-tailed Drongo/Dicrurus adsimilis

Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Cape Crow/Corvus capensis
Pied Crow/Corvus albus

Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)
Carp's Tit/Melaniparus carpi
Ashy Tit/Melaniparus cinerascens

Penduline Tits (Remizidae)
Cape Penduline Tit/Anthoscopus minutus

Larks (Alaudidae)
Eastern Clapper Lark/Mirafra fasciolata
Fawn-colored Lark/Calendulauda africanoides
Sabota Lark/Calendulauda sabota
Dune Lark/Calendulauda erythrochlamys
Benguela Long-billed Lark/Certhilauda benguelensis
Spike-heeled Lark/Chersomanes albofasciata
Gray's Lark/Ammomanopsis grayi
Red-capped Lark/Calandrella cinerea
Pink-billed Lark/Spizocorys conirostris
Stark's Lark/Spizocorys starki
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark/Eremopterix leucotis
Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark/Eremopterix verticalis

Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
African Red-eyed Bulbul/Pycnonotus nigricans

Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Banded Martin/Riparia cincta
Pearl-breasted Swallow/Hirundo dimidiata
Rock Martin/Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Common House Martin/Delichon urbicum
Greater Striped Swallow/Cecropis cucullata
Lesser Striped Swallow/Cecropis abyssinica
Red-breasted Swallow/Cecropis semirufa

Crombecs, African Warblers (Macrosphenidae)
Rockrunner/Achaetops pycnopygius
Long-billed Crombec/Sylvietta rufescens

Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)
African Reed Warbler/Acrocephalus baeticatus

Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Black-chested Prinia/Prinia flavicans
Grey-backed Camaroptera/Camaroptera brevicaudata
Barred Wren-Warbler (H)/Calamonastes fasciolatus
Yellow-bellied Eremomela/Eremomela icteropygialis
Burnt-necked Eremomela/Eremomela usticollis

Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae) )
Southern Pied Babbler/Turdoides bicolor
Bare-cheeked Babbler/Turdoides gymnogenys

Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)
Chestnut-vented Warbler/Sylvia subcoerulea
Layard's Warbler/Sylvia layardi W

White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Orange River White-eye/Zosterops pallidus

Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae)
Wattled Starling/Creatophora cinerea
Cape Starling/Lamprotornis nitens
Meves's Starling/Lamprotornis mevesii
Burchell's Starling/Lamprotornis australis
Pale-winged Starling/Onychognathus nabouroup

Thrushes (Turdidae)
Groundscraper Thrush/Turdus litsitsirupa

Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
White-browed Scrub Robin (H)/Cercotrichas leucophrys
Kalahari Scrub Robin/Cercotrichas paena
Herero Chat/Namibornis herero
Capped Wheatear/Oenanthe pileata
Mountain Wheatear/Myrmecocichla monticola
Familiar Chat/Oenanthe familiaris
Karoo Chat/Emarginata schlegelii
Tractrac Chat/Emarginata tractrac
Ant-eating Chat/Myrmecocichla formicivora
Short-toed Rock Thrush/Monticola brevipes
Chat Flycatcher/Melaenornis infuscatus
Marico Flycatcher/Melaenornis mariquensis
Spotted Flycatcher/Muscicapa striata

Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Scarlet-chested Sunbird/Chalcomitra senegalensis
Marico Sunbird/Cinnyris mariquensis
White-bellied Sunbird/Cinnyris talatala
Dusky Sunbird/Cinnyris fuscus

Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)
House Sparrow/Passer domesticus
Great Sparrow/Passer motitensis
Cape Sparrow/Passer melanurus
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow/Passer diffusus

Weavers, Widowbirds (Ploceidae)
Red-billed Buffalo Weaver/Bubalornis niger
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver/Plocepasser mahali
Sociable Weaver/Philetairus socius
Scaly-feathered Weaver/Sporopipes squamifrons
Lesser Masked Weaver/Ploceus intermedius
Southern Masked Weaver/Ploceus velatus
Chestnut Weaver/Ploceus rubiginosus
Red-billed Quelea/Quelea quelea

Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Green-winged Pytilia/Pytilia melba
Red-headed Finch/Amadina erythrocephala
Blue Waxbill/Uraeginthus angolensis
Violet-eared Waxbill/Uraeginthus granatinus
Common Waxbill/Estrilda astrild
Black-faced Waxbill/Estrilda erythronotos

Indigobirds, Whydahs (Viduidae)
Shaft-tailed Whydah/Vidua regia

Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Cape Wagtail/Motacilla capensis
African Pipit/Anthus cinnamomeus

Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
Black-throated Canary/Crithagra atrogularis
Yellow Canary/Crithagra flaviventris
White-throated Canary/Crithagra albogularis

Buntings (Emberizidae)
Lark-like Bunting/Emberiza impetuani
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting/Emberiza tahapisi
Cape Bunting/Emberiza capensis

Total seen 218

Total heard only 8

Total recorded 226