Tag Archives: Holub’s Golden Weaver

Birding in Chobe Nationalpark/ Botswana

Afrikanischer ScherenschnabelIn the first morning light a mokoro-boat splits the shallow waves of the early river. Silence lies over the wide river plain in the morning haze. The birding specials in the area around the Chobe River in the north of Botswana, characterized by flood plains, grasslands and riparian woods along the river courses, are real treats for avid birders. The bird list is characterized by many species that love the proximity to the water. These include White-backed Night Heron (Gorsachius leuconotus), Slaty Egret (Egretta vinaceigula), African Darter (Anhinga rufa), African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus), African Finfoot (Podica senegalensis), Pel’s Fishing Owl (Scotopelia peli), Half-collared Kingfisher (Alcedo semitorquata), Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) and – last not least – the African Skimmer (Rynchops flavirostris).  But also other beautiful and/ or rare birds like White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides), Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera), Meyer’s Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri), Swamp Boubou (Laniarius bicolor), Holub’s Golden Weaver (Ploceus xanthops) and Brown Firefinch (Lagonosticta nitidula). Regular guests from the western Palearctic from October on are Great Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and Thrush Nightingales (Luscinia luscinia).

When we’ve left the river bend behind the lodge for a while, a flock starts moving with a heavy, powerful wing beat. Perched low on a sandbank were standing dozens of black and white colored birds with a strikingly long red bill. These are the long-awaited African Skimmer. First, the flock turns a round over the resting sandbar. Then the flock descends into low altitude flight. The black-and-white-colored, roughly tern-sized birds with their long, elegant wings fly a few centimeters above calm water, hovers prey-hunting parallel to the water surface – as you might want to see from the Skimmers at River Sanaga in Cameroon. Suddenly they pull out their oversized, laterally flattened and sharp-edged lower beak and pull it, flattening its wings, through the upper layers of water. They fly until their beaks come into contact with a fish. Shortly thereafter, it closes his beak abruptly, and a small silver fish disappears wriggling in the throat of the successful hunters.

The beaks of the Skimmers have over thirty special adaptations to the hunting technique in the skull and neck area – such as horn-like Continue reading Birding in Chobe Nationalpark/ Botswana