With habitats ranging from the Namib dunes, coastal wetlands and savannahs to the floodplains and waterways of Kavango and Caprivi, Namibia’s birding checklist boasts 676 of Southern Africa’s 887 species.
Heading the list of ‘megaticks’ are Namibia’s 15 endemic and near-endemic species. Among these are Rüppell’s korhaan, Hartlaub’s spurfowl, Rüppell’s parrot, Violet wood-hoopoe, Carp’s tit, Monteiro’s hornbill, Herero chat, Damara hornbill (newly classified) and the white-tailed shrike.
The most rewarding birding destination is the north-eastern region of the country. Of the more than 450 species recorded here, several have a limited distribution elsewhere in Southern Africa, including Okavango ‘specials’ such as the slaty egret, swamp boubou, chirping cisticola and greater swamp-warbler. Noteworthy species occurring along the Okavango and Zambezi rivers include the rock pratincole, African skimmer and long-toed lapwing.
Birding hotspots in the north-east are the Bwabwata National Park, Impalila Island (400+ species), the Mudumu and Mamili national parks, Katima Mulilo and the Zambezi River, and the western bank of the Kwando River. The wetlands of Walvis Bay and Sandwich Harbour rank among the most important coastal wetlands in Africa and make for optimal birding.
Nearly a quarter of Namibia’s birds are Palaearctic or intra-African migrants. The coastal flats are an important breeding ground of the endangered Damara tern, while the gravel flats of the pre-Namib are home to Gray’s lark and, in the dune areas further south, the dune lark, Namibia’s only true endemic bird species.
When Avis Dam on Windhoek’s outskirts holds water, quality birding can be enjoyed close to the capital. Species of interest include the white-tailed shrike, Monteiro’s hornbill and the rockrunner. Other well-known birding destinations in Namibia are the Waterberg Plateau Park, Etosha National Park and the Kunene River environs (the latter especially for ‘specials’ such as the Cinderella waxbill, rufous-tailed palm-thrush and bare-cheeked babbler).
About the author:
Based in Windhoek, Pompie Burger is an orthopaedic surgeon whose part-time passion is photography, in particular wildlife, and specifically birds. This regularly takes him to the most remote corners of the country, resulting in riveting images and articles. Pompie is the author and photographer of the coffee table book Birds of Namibia, which was published in 2008. The book contains articles and photographs which attest to the insight and knowledge of an accomplished observer.
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