With reference to an article written to SABIRDNET distribution list by Ian Sinclair last month, kindly pointed out to me by a Namibian twitcher. I’ve tried to post a comment to the article in question, without joy, so I guess the moderation process has not yet taken its course. I’ve taken the liberty of posting a reaction in my blog, just in case my original comment to the SABIRDNET list fails to see the light of day.
Thank you for this remarkable set of additions to the Namibian bird list! Contrary to Mark Paxton calling this a boring country, I think Namibia’s always been at forefront of exceptional discoveries of new birds for the region – Paxton’s resident Souza’s Shrikes, our very own American Black Skimmer, the first *accurate* records of Eurasian Reed Warbler, and loads of other cool stuff! Since the discovery and *excellent* photographs of the Angola Cave Chat on the screes of the Zebra Mountains by Namibia’s Wessel Swanepoel, I’m obviously obligated to go up there soon to collect tissue for the National Museum of Namibia.
I’ll be pleased to corroborate your recent findings for the Bird 10K genome project – a very important *scientific* project of the Smithsonian – which really does deserve greater attention in the more remote parts of Africa – hence our collaboration with them on collecting tissue from indigenous bird species in sub-saharan Africa.
Also, as our friend Clancey once said, “what’s hit is history, what’s missed is mystery” and while you’ve obviously spent an enormous amount of time, energy and resources (an Atos on *our* roads? I even advise people with *Landrovers* to avoid them:-)!) trying to photograph these new species, I think my technician will do a good job with the voucher specimens. At least this material will not be “fuzzy”. And, unlike the Royal Terns of some years ago, I’ve elected to not use a formaldehyde / alcohol mix anymore – nasty stuff that, and what a nuisance blow-drying them to get to do any hands-on work with them – as you’ll probably remember from your days at the Durban Museum.
So while I do know the area around Swartbooisdrift quite well, will you be able to tell me where this riverine forest is – some coordinates would be very useful; I simply don’t recall seeing anything as copious as a ‘forest‘ along the southern river bank there? I’ll be going up there in a Landcruiser – would you like to join me on this expedition ? I could do with your amazing eyesight and phenomenal knowledge of birds (you know that I’m as blind as a bat and do most of my collecting by echo-location), and I promise not to try shoot you in the foot ! ( like I nearly did to Peter Ryan when we spotted that American Golden Plover in a mahangu field on the way to Rundu yonks ago! )
It would also be nice to catch up with you once again – since you have so much quality time on your hands to belabour Korean technology on our horrific roads – I’m sure you’ll find a bit of time to come hang out, sample my irish whiskey and shoot the breeze!
Best regards, Joris —
In email@example.com, Ian Sinclair wrote: Hi SABirdnet,
Sorry for this late posting but the birds I want to tell you about are not vagrants and might be in the area permanently. The true status of these birds in Nth. Namibia is unclear /unknown and they might be seasonal/nomadic or whatever? I travelled to northern Namibia in early July on a photo gig for the new book I’m working on and an excuse to see the Angola Cave Robin in the Subregion.
I also went to this area to see my penultimate francolin in Africa, the Swiestra’s Spurfowl. Found it on an overnight trip into Angola on the road/track to Lubango. That’s another story. The Cave Robin wasn’t difficult although the road was a challenge to my tiny Atos. At Hippos Pools the Palm Thrush and Cinderella Waxbill were easily located but on the drive from Ruacana had lots of Sth. Ant-eating Chats lining the phone wires. I drove this sector many times and saw a chat, not on the wires but perched on a small bush. I drove up to the bird and flushed it and then my heart stopped….no white in the wings. It was very flighty but eventually managed a few very crappy images which Trevor Hardaker posted one on his Rare Bird site.
I left this area and proceeded down river towards Swarbonisdrif. and entered a fabulous stretch of Riverine Forest which was heaving with birds. I worked this area for a while and saw many Red-faced Mousebirds but on the northern bank of the Kunene River I saw a small flock of what looked like Speckled Mousebirds. Knowing this spp. didn’t occur in this region I suspected them to be Red-backed Mousebirds but they were too far off and my scope was back in the car. Running back to my car for the scope I flushed a small group of five mousebirds and bang, right in front of me were Red-backed Mousebirds, in Namibia. I sprinted back to the car and grabbed my photo gear and went on the hunt for the mousebirds. They were gone and had distant views of them in a tree far off. A few shots don’t show anything but fuzzy silhouettes.
I also had fleeting and distant views of a small woodhoopoe which might have well been a Black Wood hoopoe, a common bird in Angola but maybe next time. What was just a photo gig for a book turned up x2 new birds for the subregion. I know where I’ll be in Feb/March 2014. Scouring this stretch of riverine forest on Namibia’s border with Angola and who knows what next, especially with all the Pally migrants around? Anyone wanting more detailed info please contact me direct.
Anyone want to buy a wrecked Atos? Ian