Mozambique Birding - Rio-Savanne: Part 4 Hot
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Male Quail Finch by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

The Rio Savanne floodplain and short grasslands are located on the outskirts of the bustling city of Beira and offer good opportunities to view some of the more difficult grassland bird species including Locust Finch, Black-Rumped Buttonquail and Short-tailed Pipit.

At certain times of the year, gigantic flocks of several thousand storks and herons invade the water-logged grasslands to feed in the productive floodplains.

Pallid Honeyguide by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

1 of 12. A Pallid Honeyguide was a great find in the Miombo Woodlands en-route to Rio-Savanne

With the Zambezi River left far behind us, our Mozambique adventure continued, this time taking us through large patches of Miombo woodland en-route to Beira and the Rio-Savanne floodplain. A stop in one of the larger patches of Miombo Woodland was extremely worthwhile with several bird parties as well as Eastern Saw-Wing, Violet-Backed Sunbirds, Green-Backed Eremomelas and a Pallid Honeyguide. Sadly, there were numerous signs of heavy logging in the area, much of it likely to be illegal.

Rufous Bellied Heron by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

2 of 12. A Rufous-bellied Heron perched on a tree-top at dawn in the floodplain

Rio Savanne Floodplain by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

3 of 12. The Rio-Savanne floodplain stretches over a huge area and comprises mainly of flooded grasslands

Our birding groups arrival on the Rio-Savanne floodplain coincided with the dawn light and the booming calls of Eurasian Bitterns from several locations deep in the waterlogged vegetation. Etienne Marais of Indicator Birding pointed out a Rufous-Bellied Heron that sat perched on top of a tree as Grey-Rumped Swallows and Lesser-striped Swallows wheeled in the sky above us.

Great White Egret by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

4 of 12. A Great White Egret stands resting in long golden grasses

Water Lilly by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

5 of 12. Open patches of water are covered in blossoming water lillies

Driving further along the road, we came across Great White Egrets, Yellow-Billed Egrets and Cattle Egrets chasing, encircling and catching small fish as Malachite Kingfishers bobbed on wavy reed-stalks that hung over the water.

Driving through waterlogged roads by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

6 of 12. To reach the dry grasslands, it was necessary to drive along water-logged roadways

Our target was the short grassland on the edge of the floodplain and after driving our vehicles through waterlogged roads we finally alighted and started walking in a long line through the grasslands in the hopes of flushing an exciting bird species. First to be seen were the small Quail Finches and Short-Tailed Pipits.

African Wattled Lapwing

7 of 12. African Wattled Lapwing

Temmincks Courser by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

8 of 12. A highlight of the dry grasslands was a Temminck's Courser that was found on a burnt patch of grassland

Senegal and African Wattled Lapwings were regularly flushed into the air and a highlight was a Temminck’s Courser that was feeding on a patch of recently burnt grassland. Leaving the rest of the group to continue with their searching, I headed down to the Rio-Savanne Estuary where hundreds of mangrove crabs and mud-skippers fed on the exposed mudflats.

Mangrove crabs by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick 
9 of 12. Thousands of crabs and mud-skippers fed on the exposed mudflats at the Rio-Savanne Estuary

Birds were few and far between at the estuary with only a few Common Sandpipers and Common Greenshank being present. In the surrounding mangroves however, two Mangrove Kingfishers fortunately made my detour worthwhile, as did a small flock of Magpie Mannikins in the treetops.

African Marsh Harrier by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick 0012911

10 of 12. An African Marsh Harrier hovers over a prey item in the long marshy grassland

Dark Chanting Goshawk by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

11 of 12. A Dark Chanting Goshawk watches for prey from the top of a tree

Driving back to the join the rest of the group, Yellow-Throated Longclaws, a Dark Chanting Goshawk and hunting African Marsh Harriers were added to my list. Sadly, I missed out on a Locust Finch that the others managed to flush. With the Mozambique leg of our journey almost over, we began to look forward to what the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe would offer us.

Yellow-Throated Longclaw by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

12 of 12. A Yellow-Throated Longclaw ruffles its feathers after bathing

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.