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Unread post by JoelR » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:54 am

Hi all!

To my delight more and more birders are discovering Mapungubwe. All of you planning a trip should definitely read this very cool new article from Etienne Marais about birding in Mapungubwe NP and on the adjacent farms Den Staat and Ratho. It´s a fine addition to Owl´s article on this website.

As some of you know, I spent 2006 in Mapungubwe and here I discovered the delights of birding. At first I couldn´t tell a Weaver from a Canary but I ended with a park list of over 200 birds. If anybody needs tips about the wherabouts of specific birds (or at least where I have seen them), you can always pm me. Before heading north check this checklist for the park and the area, also compiled by Etienne.

I am looking forward to read about your (birding) experiences in this thread (Johann, mountainview, others...!)


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Unread post by Johann » Sat Aug 25, 2007 3:47 pm

We went to Mapungubwe from 9-12 Aug 2007. Listed below is the 148 birds we saw/heard. A few that we only heard and never got to see unfortunately, are in italic. We saw another 15 species en-route to the park and back home. Birding in the area is fantastic and we can't wait to get back there sometime in summer.

Laughing Dove, Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Southern White-crowned Shrike, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver,
Crowned Lapwing, Crested Francolin, Red-billed Hornbill, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill,
Jameson's Firefinch, Blue Waxbill, Magpie Shrike, Red-eyed Dove,
Helmeted Guineafowl, Hadeda Ibis, Natal Spurfowl, Cape Turtle-Dove,
White-browed Scrub-Robin, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Long-billed Crombec, Dark-capped Bulbul,
White-bellied Sunbird, Southern Black Flycatcher, Grey Go-away-bird, Black-backed Puffback,
Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Chinspot Batis, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Fork-tailed Drongo,
Common Scimitarbill, Cape White-eye, Terrestrial Brownbul, Bearded Woodpecker,
Cardinal Woodpecker, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Green-winged Pytilia, Yellow-fronted Canary,
Scaly-feathered Finch, African Hoopoe, Pied Crow, Lilac-breasted Roller,
Namaqua Dove, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Marico Flycatcher,
Meves's Starling, Greater Kestrel, Dark Chanting Goshawk, African Pipit,
African Grey Hornbill, African Fish-Eagle, Sabota Lark, Brown-crowned Tchagra,
Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Swainson's Spurfowl, Marico Sunbird, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Arrow-marked Babbler, Black-headed Oriole, Crested Barbet,
Red-headed Weaver, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, Tropical Boubou, Southern Boubou,
Pearl-spotted Owlet, Red-billed Oxpecker, African Scops-Owl, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl,
Red-billed Firefinch, Violet-eared Waxbill, Speckled Mousebird, Southern Black Tit,
Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, White-backed Vulture,
White-crested Helmet-Shrike, Egyptian Goose, Pin-tailed Whydah, Kurrichane Thrush,
Grey-backed Camaroptera, Spectacled Weaver, Black-collared Barbet, Red-billed Quelea,
Lesser Masked-Weaver, Wood Sandpiper, Rattling Cisticola, Black-faced Waxbill,
Red-faced Mousebird, Cape Sparrow, White-fronted Bee-eater, Wattled Starling,
Red-winged Starling, Purple Roller, African Palm-Swift, Mocking Cliff-Chat,
Water Thick-knee, Blacksmith Lapwing, African Hawk-Eagle, Common Ostrich,
Three-banded Courser :lol: , Yellow Canary, Common Myna, Lesser Striped Swallow,
Fawn-coloured Lark, Brown Snake-Eagle, African Pied Wagtail, Black-winged Stilt,
Yellow-billed Stork, African Sacred Ibis, Grey Heron, African Jacana,
African Spoonbill, Great Egret, Common Sandpiper, Squacco Heron,
Common Greenshank, Kittlitz's Plover, Three-banded Plover, Pied Kingfisher,
Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Egret, Brown-throated Martin, Acacia Pied Barbet,
Familiar Chat, Lark-like Bunting, Rock Martin, Great White Pelican,
Verreauxs' Eagle, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Senegal Coucal :lol:, African Black Duck,
Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Wire-tailed Swallow, Cape Glossy Starling, African Darter,
Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Meyer's Parrot :lol:, Bennett's Woodpecker,
African Mourning Dove, African Green-Pigeon, Gabar Goshawk, Brubru,
African Barred Owlet :lol:, Great Sparrow, Burchell's Coucal, Tinkling Cisticola :lol:, Little Bee-eater.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein

Latest lifers from Kruger NP:
Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti Dikbekkoekoek
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Europese skaapwagter

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Looking for some birds at Mapungubwe

Unread post by deefstes » Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:27 am

Howzit guys (and gals),

We'll be spending a few days in Mapungubwe just after Christmas and I'm salivating at the prospect of picking up a few lifers. Let's just hope that the ones I'm looking for are more cooperative here than they've been on numerous occasions at Pafuri.

Thick-billed Cuckoo
Senegal Coucal
Three-banded Courser
White-breasted Cuckooshrike
Racket-tailed Roller

Anyone know anything about finding these birds at Mapugubwe? I still don't really believe that the last two actually exist but I'm prepared to temprarily abandon that belief for the time being. :D

Thanks in advance
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." -Homer Simpson

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Re: Looking for some birds at Mapungubwe

Unread post by JoelR » Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:43 pm

deefstes wrote:...
Senegal Coucal
Three-banded Courser
Racket-tailed Roller

Hi deefstes. When I started birding in Mapungubwe I was even more a rookie then I am now, so with book in hand and less than a clue I was very happy to get my park count over 200...

However, for Senegal Coucal I would concentrate on the acacias in the former farmlands. The road from the campsite to the Maloutswa birdhide and onwards is ideal but the full provincial 'Den Staat' road should be investigated as well, especially closer to Pontdrift. There is a small loop from this road that is also perfect: it starts (on your right) after the turn off to the campsite and before the big corner to the right (coming from Pontdrift). A similar area in the eastern section can be reached via the Kongoni loop.

Have seen Bronze-winged & Temminck's Courser. I think Johann saw the Three-banded chap or chic. Sure he'll tell you where. He also saw the Senegal I believe.

Good luck staring at all 23 million Lilac-breasted and European Rollers to find your Racket-T! :twisted:

And I am sure you've read this article!

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Unread post by j-ms » Fri Nov 16, 2007 2:10 pm

We picked up White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike on the wooden boardwalk a couple of years ago. Senegal Coucal near the Vhembe Wilderness Camp and the Kanniedood 4x4 loop (old farmland).

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Unread post by Owl » Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:44 am

Mapungubwe Report from SA Birdnet by Dewald Swanepoel

Hi all,

Thanks to all those who provided tips and pointers for my visit to Mapugubwe. I wrote up a report which is available on request but below follows a condensed version.

We visited Mapungubwe for four days after Christmas, staying at the Mazhou Camp Site. A lot of time was spent around the aerial boardwalk in the hope of finding Racket-tailed Roller, Thick-billed Cuckoo and White-breasted Cuckoo-Shrike but without success. Three other lifers were found though in the form of SENEGAL COUCAL, BURCHELL’S SANDGROUSE and THREE-BANDED COURSER.

Two localities in and near the park that I found particularly exciting were the Maloutswa hide and the Den Staat gravel road. The Maloutswa hide produced AFRICAN CRAKE, LESSER MOORHEN, ALLEN’S GALLINULE and AFRICAN PYGMY GOOSE, probably indicative of the good rains that the area has had. The river road from the hide back to the camp produced GREY-HEADED KINGFISHER and two separate sightings of CORN CRAKE. I get the impression that this might be a good season for Corn Crake with all the reports having surfaced in recent weeks from around the country.



Final notes:

1. I was amazed at how readily Three-baded Courser was found. The Den
Staat road might well be one of the easiest places in the country to find this bird but I also saw the bird in two other localities in the eastern section of the park.
2. The number of Monotonous Larks present was mind blowing! I remember
standing at one spot hearing these birds calling around me and tried estimating a number but couldn’t even begin to count them. One bird’s call would flow into the next so that it all just mixed into a big cacophony where a single bird’s call could not be isolated. It was very similar to standing next to a wetland at night where hundreds of frogs are calling.

On the topic of frogs, I got pictures of two frogs that I’d appreciate if someone could help with the ID. I’m reasonably sure that one is a Foam Nest Frog and the other one is a River/Stream/Grass Frog of sorts but I just can’t put it down to a species. Any help would be appreciated.

Regards and best wishes for a very exciting birding year in 2008.

Déwald Swanepoel

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Unread post by Owl » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:02 am

Posted on SA Birdnet by Gerhardt Streicher (25/03/2008)

Easter at Mapungubwe delivered the warblers exactly as Faansie Peacock promised in earlier mails. We had excellent views of River Warblers and Marsh Wablers.Other highlights were Lesser Jacana, Palmnut Vulture, European, Squaretailed, and Freckled Nightjars, as well as an unexpected Tree Pipit. Other raptors seen were Bateleur, BC Snake Eagle, Brown Snake-Eagle, Fish-Eagle, A Hawk-Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle, BS Kite,DC Goshawk, Amur falcons and Peregrine with freshly caught Laughing dove. Most of the migrant's are still present.
Gerhardt Streicher

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Unread post by JoelR » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:20 pm

Maloutswa & Kalopi: good and bad news

First some great stuff. Not many people realize that the amazing birding from the Maloutswa pan hide during this summer was thanks to enormous amounts of restoration work by SANParks. In the last years unskilled labourers from Musina and Alldays were given a job and they removed damwalls and other obstacles that former farming activities had left in the area.

Result was that much more water flowed in the Maloutswa system. The water stayed longer, the waterlillies grew and birding was great: pygmy goose, lesser moorhen, Allen's gallinule were all plenty. Thanks you SANParks for the good policy and thank you homies from northern Limpopo for the hard work! :clap:


The (draft) park management plan calls the Maloutswa and Kalopi wetlands a "key biodiversity feature" that "in view of its uniqueness [...] could be considered for future RAMSAR designation", indicating it is of world importance.

The (draft) park management plan wrote:The Kalopi/Maloutswa ephemeral wetland, when inundated, attracts large numbers of birds and has become an established birdwatching spot. One commercial farm on the wetland, enclosed by the park, pumps water and maintains ponds year-round. Alien fish species are stocked here as well as higher up in the Limpopo and Shashe systems, and have escaped into the Limpopo system.

It is therefore key for SANParks to acquire the few farms, that keep Mapungubwe split in two section, especially the Den Staat farm, which is meant in the quote.

So I was VERY surprised when I heard from local sources that another smaller farm - of which acquiring would have perfected the Maloutswa system which is now 80% restored - was turned down by SANParks when it was offered for R12,5 million. After that this farm, the one that you pass when you drive out of the cattle grid towards Pontdrift, was sold to a tomato growing company. Result: no larger western section, no further restoration of Maloutswa.

Negotations with Den Staat are also already dragging on for a long time. Apparently SANParks was gambling that the farmer would sell because of land claims but he settled the claim himself. It looks like birders will have to visit the Den Staat farm in its unnatural form for a long time still, in spite of all the great words in the park management plan. :cry:

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Unread post by saraf » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:30 pm

It looks like this could have been a case of the vendor picking his price to match the potential purchaser.

Once SANParks make their intentions known then any vendors could try to work out how much they are prepared to pay to exploit the desire to fulfil the plans. Who can blame the vendor for trying to maximise his gain? And who could blame SANParks for refusing to pay more than they perceive the land to be worth?
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Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:02 am

So, over the long weekend of June I will again see my old army stomping grounds of 35 years ago... this time as a birder during the HR-arranged Mapungupwe birding weekend. I wonder if I will see and remember any of the old landmarks. I was there building Greefswaldt, the old army base, back in 1969 and '70 and went back a few times up to '73. Never birded in those days :cry: We had plenty of time... if then I had only known of the joys...

I'm really looking forward to this trip that will be topping a month of birding northern Natal.

The itinenary for Mapungupwe is as follows:

Day 1 - Friday 13th June: check in at Tshugulu Bush Lodge.
18h00: Meet & Greet in Lodge Gardens
19h00: Welcome Dinner followed by orientation and information talk by Joe Grosel on the birdlife and specials of the area and identification pointers.
Day 2 – Saturday 14th June
05h30: Coffee & Rusks
06h00: Depart on open game viewing vehicles with Mapungubwe rangers and birding guides Joe Grosel and Ben de Boer for game and birding excursion through Fever Tree and riverine forests along the banks of the Limpopo River. Tea will be taken at the hide overlooking the Maloutswa Pan.
11h00: Return to the Lodge for Brunch. Relax around the lodge pool or explore the lodge’s exclusive walking trail in the company of experienced Limpopo birders.
14h30: Tea Time on the lodge veranda.
15h00: Depart for a tour of the Mapungubwe Archaeological Heritage site, birding along the way. Sundowners will be taken at this exciting viewing spot before returning to the lodge in the dark giving an opportunity to pick up some of the elusive nocturnal species.
20h30: Dinner Braai under the Milky Way.
Day 3 – Sunday 15th June
05h30: Coffee & Rusks
06h00: Depart with birding specialists and rangers to the tree top walkway through the forest canopy on the banks of the Limpopo River before visiting “poachers” corner and the confluence of the Shashi and Limpopo Rivers, where South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe meet. Tea will be taken at the boardwalk.
11h00: Brunch at the Lodge. Time to relax in camp or explore the kopjes in the area.
14h30: Tea Time on the lodge veranda.
15h00: Depart on birding excursion to “tick” those elusive specials not yet sighted.
19h30: Potje Dinner at the Lodge followed by a Bird Quiz on birds of the Limpopo.
Day 4 Monday 16th June
05h30: Coffee & Rusks
06h00: Depart for Samaria and Den Staat wetlands to view the abundance of aquatic birds and waterfowl that are attracted to these pans.
11h00: Return to Lodge for Brunch. Time to bid farewell and pack up for journey home.

So, how does that program grab you? :lol: I'm sure there should be one or two lifers waiting for me...
728 Latest lifers: Hartlaub's babbler, Coppery-tailed coucal, Red-billed spurfowl, White-browed coucal, Scharlow's turaco, Copper sunbird, Long-toed lapwing, Eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Malagasy pond heron, Soft-plumaged petrel, Orange-winged pytilia.

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Unread post by Elsa » Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:39 pm

Sounds absolutely wonderful Johan,
Good luck for those lifers. :D

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Unread post by Freda » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:24 pm

Elsa wrote:Sounds absolutely wonderful Johan,
Good luck for those lifers. :D

I second that, Tshugulu is amazing, have a great trip :D

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Limpopo / Shashi River birding

Unread post by Scottm » Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:09 pm

I have a trip to the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashi rivers planned, and would appreciate advice on special sightings :huh: that may be found in the area. I have been advised that Pel's is found in the area and hope to :cam: this and other lifers while there. Any others that I could find there? :dance:

Aside from being comitted to the loony bin for travelling over Easter, is there any other advice, guidance or warnings to be shared?
"Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints"

Photographs help to crystallize memories, but cannot be seen to be a replacement of them!

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Re: Limpopo / Shashi River birding

Unread post by JoelR » Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:28 pm

Pel's Fishing Owl is occasionally seen in the area and deefstes will be able to confirm this, as he saw the bird from the hide of the treetopwalk in Mapungubwe. Have a look here for lots of tips and info!

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Unread post by wildtuinman » Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:15 am

We returned from our maiden visit to Mapungubwe a couple of weeks ago where I guided a Limpopo HR BBW.

What an awesome birding destination!

All in all our group recorded a mammoth 203 species, which is by no means shabby for autumn.

My personal list as logged on Birdlasser consisted of:

Pel's Fishing Owl
Whiskered Tern
Grey Tit-Flycatcher
Southern White-faced Owl
Three-banded Courser
White-browed Robin-Chat
Common Quail
African Pied Wagtail
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark
Common Ringed Plover
Purple Heron
Squacco Heron
Great Egret
Black-winged Stilt
Little Grebe
Marabou Stork
Red-winged Starling
African Openbill
Grey-headed Bushshrike
Mocking Cliff Chat
Familiar Chat
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
Rock Martin
White-bellied Sunbird
Brown-crowned Tchagra
Yellow-billed Stork
Red-headed Weaver
Spotted Flycatcher
Cardinal Woodpecker
Red-faced Cisticola
Common Sandpiper
Marsh Warbler
African Fish Eagle
Kalahari Scrub Robin
Freckled Nightjar
Crimson-breasted Shrike
Red-faced Mousebird
Marico Flycatcher
Southern White-crowned Shrike
Double-banded Sandgrouse
African Hawk-Eagle
Chinspot Batis
Red-billed Firefinch
Brown Snake Eagle
Lesser Kestrel
Common Waxbill
Monotonous Lark
Verreaux's Eagle-Owl
Black-crowned Night Heron
Lesser Swamp Warbler
African Swamphen
Glossy Ibis
Common Moorhen
Black Heron
Hottentot Teal
Curlew Sandpiper
African Rail
Water Thick-knee
Three-banded Plover
Goliath Heron
African Harrier-Hawk
Sabota Lark
Long-tailed Paradise Whydah
Willow Warbler
Dark-capped Yellow Warbler
Malachite Kingfisher
White-breasted Cormorant
African Pipit
Pied Kingfisher
Red-billed Teal
Kittlitz's Plover
Little Stint
Brown-throated Martin
White-throated Swallow
Cape Glossy Starling
Acacia Pied Barbet
Great Sparrow
Orange-breasted Waxbill
Zitting Cisticola
Spectacled Weaver
Senegal Coucal
Red-billed Quelea
Tropical Boubou
African Paradise Flycatcher
Wahlberg's Eagle
Yellow-bellied Greenbul
Desert Cisticola
Namaqua Dove
Red-crested Korhaan
Common Scimitarbill
Black-headed Oriole
Speckled Mousebird
Hadeda Ibis
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blacksmith Lapwing
Little Rush Warbler
Green-backed Heron
Wattled Starling
Helmeted Guineafowl
Green-winged Pytilia
Grey-rumped Swallow
Southern Pied Babbler
Burnt-necked Eremomela
Black-backed Puffback
Meyer's Parrot
Grey-backed Camaroptera
Southern Black Tit
Red-billed Oxpecker
Red-eyed Dove
African Mourning Dove
African Barred Owlet
Western Barn Owl
Pearl-spotted Owlet
Square-tailed Nightjar
African Scops Owl
Spur-winged Goose
Grey Heron
Lesser Grey Shrike
African Palm Swift
Pin-tailed Whydah
Levaillant's Cuckoo
Kori Bustard
Village Weaver
Swainson's Spurfowl
Cut-throat Finch
Western Cattle Egret
Scaly-feathered Finch
Burchell's Coucal
Emerald-spotted Wood Dove
Southern Boubou
Crested Barbet
Dark-capped Bulbul
Diederik Cuckoo
Black Crake
African Darter
Southern Red Bishop
African Jacana
Golden-tailed Woodpecker
Reed Cormorant
African Sacred Ibis
Knob-billed Duck
Black-chested Snake Eagle
White-faced Whistling Duck
White-backed Duck
African Grey Hornbill
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Egyptian Goose
Long-billed Crombec
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Cape Turtle Dove
Crowned Lapwing
Red-billed Buffalo Weaver
White-backed Vulture
Woodland Kingfisher
Retz's Helmetshrike
Orange-breasted Bushshrike
Bearded Woodpecker
Green Wood-Hoopoe
Natal Spurfowl
Bennett's Woodpecker
Arrow-marked Babbler
Grey Go-away-bird
Southern Red-billed Hornbill
Cape Vulture
Wood Sandpiper
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
Meves's Starling
Rattling Cisticola
Black-shouldered Kite
Barn Swallow
White-rumped Swift
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Cape Sparrow
Southern Carmine Bee-eater
White Stork
European Bee-eater
Blue Waxbill
Village Indigobird
White-fronted Bee-eater
Lilac-breasted Roller
Tawny-flanked Prinia
Laughing Dove
Fork-tailed Drongo
European Roller
Red-backed Shrike
Latest Lifer(s): Burchell's Courser, Cory's Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, European Storm-Petrel, Great Winged Petrel, Grey Waxbill, Cape Rock-jumper

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