Mozambique Birding - Catapu, M'phingwe and the Zambezi River Floodplain: Part 3 Hot
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Red-throated twinspot by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick.

The next leg of our Mozambican birding adventure took us though the Zambezi River Basin.

The Zambezi River basin is one of the top locations in Southern Africa to view the African Pitta, with the surrounding dense stands of lowland forest and woodlands being one of the regions greatest birding mecca’s.

Basing ourselves at M'phingwe Camp, our birding group lead by Etienne Marais of Indicator Birding, headed for the lowland forests of Coutada 12.

Birding in the forests of Catapu by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

1 of 12. Birdwatching in the lowland forests of Coutada 12.

On our first morning out we arrived in the forests in time to hear the dawn chorus of Trumpeter Hornbills, East-Coast Akalat, Livingston’s Turaco, Black-Headed Apalis and African Broadbills.

yellow streaked greenbul by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

2 of 12. A Yellow-Streaked Greenbul perches briefly in the tangled crown of a forest tree.

Livingstones flycatcher by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

3 of 12. A pair of Livingstone's Flycatchers preen one another.

As dawn finally broke, we found a birding party comprising of Woodward’s Batis, Yellow-Streaked Greenbuls, Tiny Greenbul, Dark-Backed Weavers, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Square-Tailed Drongo and Blue-Mantled Crested-Flycatcher. All around us in the undergrowth were numerous small Suni’s and along the roadside, signage indicated that wild dog were still present in this very remote area.

green backed woodpecker by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

4 of 12. A Green-Backed Woodpecked pauses from feeding to peer around the trunk of a tree.

Female Bateleur by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

5. A Female Bateleur soars high ovehead, showing her white underwings.

Close by in the Miombo woodlands, birding did not disappoint and apart from regular fly-overs by Bateleur and Grey-Headed Parrots and a single Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill amongst a flock of Trumpeter Hornbills, we regularly came across birding parties comprising several species. The highlights of these parties included Pale Batis, Green-Backed Woodpecker, Retz’s Helmet-Shrike and Chestnut-Fronted Helmet Shrike, Red-Backed Mannikins and a Speckle-Throated Woodpecker.

Chestnut fronted helmet shrike by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

6 of 12. A Chestnut-Fronted Helmet-Shrike.

Mary moffets grave site by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

7 of 12. The gravesite of Mary Moffat that lies close to the banks of the Zambezi River.

Lunch was held on the banks of the fast flowing Zambezi River and close by to the gravesite of Mary Moffat who was David Livingstone’s wife. Given the heat of the day, there was little birding activity, but we did have good sightings of White-Crowned Lapwings mobbing an African Fish Eagle as Carmine bee-eaters swooped for insects over the river.

Boatsman on the Zambezi River by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

8 of 12. A fisher polls his way through the shallows of the Zambezi Floodplain.

Our next stop, was the town of Caia, where vehicles were refueled before heading to a lookout point over the river and from where we could watch fishers poling the floodplain in their dugout canoes. Brown-Throated Weavers and numerous African Openbills were added to the list but a search for the Marsh Tchagra was sadly unsuccessful. 

Green winged pytilia by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

9 of 12. A male Green-Winged Pytilia.

The next morning, the rest of the group decided to return to the lowland forest of Coutada 12 and were fortunate enough to find a White-Breasted Alethe. I had decided to stay at M'phingwe camp and set up my camera near one of the small birdbaths that are scattered throughout the camp. For me, this was extremely rewarding as through the course of the day, Red-Throated Twinspot, Green-Winged Pytilia, Tambourine Doves, Scaly-Throated Honeyguide and Eastern Nicator amongst many other species either came down to drink at the bird baths or passed through the surrounding stand of trees. 

Eastern Nicator by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

10 of 12. An Eastern Nicator.

scaly throated honeyguide by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

11 of 12. A Scaly-Throated Honeyguide clambers down a tree trunk before flying down to drink briefly.

Although it was the wrong season for locating the Angola Pitta, this area rightly deserves its reputation as a top birding spot and I definitely hope to return to search for the Pitta.

Tambourine Dove by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

12 of 12. A male Tambourine Dove.

Birdlife South Africa has assisted in founding the “Associação Ambiente, Conservação e Educação Moçambique”. AACEM is a bird conservation orientated organization based in Maputo, Mozambique. By focusing on birds, and the sites and habitats on which they depend, AACEM is working to improve the quality of life of birds, biodiversity and people. 

Please support this important project that will benefit birds and conservation Mozambique and also become a member of Birdlife South Africa.


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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.