Working for birds in Africa

Introduction

Thu, 01/10/2013 - 17:23 -- abc_admin
Gabela_Akalat_Angola

Gabela Akalat Sheppardia gabela

Image Credit: 
Claire Spottiswoode

Angola is one of the most exciting and least visited birding countries in Africa. Crammed into its generous borders is a multitude of habitats: deserts in the south-west; arid savannas in the south; mountains in the west, with associated Afromontane forests and grasslands; tropical lowland forest in the north and Cabinda; sub-montane forest along the escarpment, and vast areas of broadleaved Miombo woodlands over most of the east.

It has a bird list of more than nine hundred and twenty species but there has been little ornithological activity for some thirty years. Sadly, a long running war and political instability have impacted habitat adversely as well as limiting opportunities for visiting birders. With the war now ended, the situation is much improved and the African Bird Club ran a very successful flagship tour in conjunction with Birding Africa in October 2005. The profits of this tour have been donated to the ABC Conservation Fund. 

Angola has a host of endemic and near-endemic species to attract ornithologists, birdwatchers and listers alike. Many of the near endemic species such as Ruppell’s Bustard Eupodotis rueppellii, Ruppell’s Parrot Poicephalus ruepellii, Rosy-faced Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis, Bradfield’s Swift Apus bradfieldi, Violet Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus damarensis, Monteiro’s Hornbill Tockus monteiri, Gray’s Lark Ammomanopsis grayi, Benguela Long-billed Lark Certhilauda benguelensis, Carp’s Tit Parus carpi,  Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys and White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus are easier to see and simpler logistically in Namibia.

It will be necessary to travel to Angola itself however to see the endemic Grey-striped Francolin Francolinus griseostriatus, Swierstra's Francolin Francolinus swierstrai which has been rediscovered recently after a period of 40 years, Red-backed Mousebird Colius castanotus, Red-crested Turaco Tauraco erythrolophus, Angola Slaty Flycatcher Melaenornis brunneus, White-fronted Wattle-eye Platysteira albifrons, Gabela Bush-Shrike Laniarius amboimensis, Monteiro’s Bush-Shrike Malacanotus monteiri, Gabela Helmet-Shrike Prionops gabela, Gabela Akalat Sheppardia gabela, Pulitzer's Longbill Macrosphenus pulitzeri and Montane Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris ludovicensis. Other prized species include Angola Cave-Chat Xenocopsychus ansorgei, White-headed Robin-Chat Cossypha heinrichi, Slender-tailed Cisticola Cisticola melanurus and Bocage’s Sunbird Nectarinia bocagii.

Most of these endemic species were seen on the recent ABC tour as well as many other interesting and limited range species. The logistics of travelling to Angola and the limited tourist infrastructure mean that visitors would be well advised to book an organised tour and we cannot seriously recommend independent travel within this country.

The purpose of this document is to provide a summary of Angola and its birds for birders interested in the country and potentially planning a visit. The information has been put together from a number of sources and it is intended to add new information as it becomes available. As such, readers are welcome to submit contributions by e-mail to info@africanbirdclub.org. You should note that the names of birds used in this document are those of the ABC checklist.

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