Souza’s Shrike in Brachystegia dry forest / Malawi

RostmantelwürgerIn the morning we are already a while on the road in the sparse savanna forest with lots of brachystegia, the typical tree of the African wooded savannah. Now is dry season. Between the trees are tall grasses, which are usually dried up. Suddenly you can see a shrike. Immediately I remember the Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) from Central Europe. But here in the middle of the African forest savannah? This can not be. And thats the way it is. This is a Souza’s Shrike (Lanius souzae)! The Souza’s Shrike is indeed similar in plumage color and in habitus to the Red-backed Shrike. But the characteristic white shoulder badges are clearly visible in this case. Souza’s Shrikes choose forest savannah as their habitat. Out of the car window, I see him sitting next to the small forest track exposed on a branch. The Souza’s Shrike then switches to a brachystegia branch that is in its first foliage. Finally, the bird flies down into a dry tree, keeps beating his tail up on a branch, and intensely observes his surroundings in search of prey. I can photograph it extensively; first track out of the car then even with an a tripod.

The The Souza’s Shrike was an excellent find. Many ornithologists have not seen this birds despite intensive work. Consequentely the image of the blog made it to a image in the “Handbook of the Birds of the World” – Volume 13, by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, David A. Christie.

The Dzalanyama Forest Reserve is located roughly 60 km south-west of the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe. The Dzalanyama Reserve is just over an hour from the capital. It is an excellent reserve on Malawi’s western border with Zambia and not far from Mozambique. The mountainous region of Dzalanyama is a relatively well-known reserve in Malawi. The highlands with their untamed rivers and evergreen forests have a rich deposit of Brachystegia, the typical tree of the African savannah.

In the reserve itself the famous Miombo Forest can be admired, which is one of the best preserved in the country and is home to about 300 bird species. After some driving on the probably little used 21 km long track in the reserve I see first a Kurrichane Thrush (Turdus libonyanus) and then a Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis). After an unproblematic drivve, I arrive at the Forest Lodge, my accommodation for the next few days. The Lodge is under management of Land and Lake Safaris, (http://www.landlake.net/). Nice are the 4 Double Bedrooms prepared, but they are managed on a self-catering basis. Luckily I’m well equipped. The local chef is named Lucias by name and is very nice and knowledgeable.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find not only in the western palearctic.  Beside the image of the blog above you can find a nice selection of birds in the gallery or in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if Bird-Lens could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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