Neil Dea­con’s Top 10 birds to spot in Zim­babwe

South African Country Life - - Top Twitcher -

1. An un­com­mon rap­tor re­stricted to Afromon­tane grass­land in the Eastern High­lands, the diminu­tive

Ru­fous-chested Spar­rowhawk (Rooi­borssper­wer) is sim­i­lar in size to the Euro­pean Spar­rowhawk and is fre­quently used for fal­conry. It’s Neil’s favourite bird to train and fly. (Photo Ron Hart­ley)

2. A species in de­cline, re­stricted to ar­eas of high cliffs and canyons where it preys pre­dom­i­nantly on swifts and mar­tins, the Taita Fal­con (Taitavalk) is one of Africa’s rarest rap­tors, but still oc­curs in the Eastern High­lands. Neil was one of a few global ex­perts who suc­ceeded in cap­tive breed­ing.

(Photo Ron Webb)

3. The African Crowned Ea­gle (Kroonarend) is Africa’s most pow­er­ful ea­gle, known to kill and cap­ture large prey such as Sharpe’s grys­bok, and pri­mates, usu­ally mon­keys. Pre­dom­i­nantly a for­est ea­gle, it was how­ever re­cently dis­cov­ered in Zim­babwe’s south-eastern Lowveld and Um­fu­rudzi. (Photo Roger Mac­Don­ald)

4. A soli­tary vul­ture most of­ten seen singly or in pairs, the White-headed Vul­ture (Witkopaasvoël) has de­clined in num­ber but still can be seen in Hwange and a few pro­tected na­tional parks and con­ser­van­cies. It’s ca­pa­ble of killing its own food and nests in baob­abs. (Photo Roger Mac­Don­ald)

5. The small Spot­ted Creeper (Gevlekte Boomkruiper) in­hab­its the pris­tine and undis­turbed brachys­te­gia wood­land, com­prised of msasa, mfuti and munondo trees. It can be found in na­tional parks in and around Harare, such as Muku­visi Wood­lands,

Lake Chivero and Chris­ton Bank.

(Photo Roger Mac­Don­ald)

6. A rare, diminu­tive ea­gle seen vir­tu­ally any­where in Zim­babwe, the Ayres’s Hawk Ea­gle

(Klein­ja­garend) is a spe­cial­ist dove hunter ca­pa­ble of breath­tak­ing fal­con-like stoops from high alti­tude. Some­times seen in the sub­urbs of Harare chas­ing rac­ing pi­geons. (Photo Ge­orge Robey)

7. The White-backed Vul­ture (Witru­gaasvoël) can be found in Hwange Na­tional Park, Gonarezhou and the Zam­bezi Val­ley. De­spite their grue­some diet, they are fas­tid­i­ously clean and bathe daily, given the op­por­tu­nity. A vul­ture can con­sume a kilo of meat in one minute. (Photo Ge­orge Robey)

8. Africa’s largest ea­gle, the Mar­tial Ea­gle

(Breëko­parend) is no longer com­mon due to its ex­pan­sive habi­tat re­quire­ments, but can still be found in Hwange Na­tional Park, the Zam­bezi Val­ley or on pri­vate farm land. Rel­a­tively placid, it prefers smaller prey, such as game birds and mon­i­tor lizards. (Photo Ed Rauben­heimer)

9. Among the fastest of the fran­col­ins, found in the di­min­ish­ing, undis­turbed nat­u­ral up­lands of Nyanga in Eastern Zim­babwe, the Shel­ley’s Fran­colin

(Laeveld­pa­trys) has a dis­tinc­tive ‘I’ll drink your beer’ evening call. (Photo Ron Webb)

10. The African Pere­grine Fal­con (Sw­er­f­valk) is the small­est sub­species of the most widely dis­trib­uted fam­ily of rap­tors in the world, found through­out Zim­babwe where suit­able nest­ing cliffs ad­join wood­land. Fal­con­ers view it as the ul­ti­mate rap­tor to train. (Photo Roger Mac­Don­ald)

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