At Hakusembe River Lodge west of Rundu the creamy-yellow catkins of the Chobe candle-pod acacia (Acacia hebeclada subsp. Chobiensis) attract Grey Louries to the Kavango River’s riparian vegetation. Come spring and for numerous animals the food supply increases: buds, flowers and fresh shoots are a welcome change after the winter and the drought.

In Namibia the Chobe Candle-pod Acacia occurs only on the banks of the Kavango River at Rundu and then again much further downstream in Bwabwata and Mahangu national parks, in some places on the Kwando and Linyanti rivers as well as in the eastern part of the Zambezi Region. The upright pods are much larger than those of the candle thorn (Acacia hebeclada) which is found almost throughout Namibia. After the rather cold winter the soft round flowers are definitely a feast for Grey Louries now called Grey Go-away-bird.

It is not known whether the Greater Honeyguide, which was ringed at Hakusembe in the end of August, was lured so far west by insects. The male bird sports the typical pink bill and yellow shoulder patches on an otherwise grey-white plumage. So far this species has not been sighted in this area officially. It will be interesting to see if bird lovers will spot the Greater Honeyguide there in future. The Greater Honeyguide prefers to feed on beeswax, but also eats the eggs and larvae of bees as well as flying termites and some other insects. The bird will lead those who are able to interpret its behaviour to a bees’ nest. The Honeyguide hopes for a piece of honeycomb in return.

Hakusembe Birds
The Greater Honeyguide, this one a male photographed at Hakusembe River Lodge, leads people and some animals like the honey badger to bees’ nests. The bird hopes to get some honeycomb in return.

Even though the water level of the Kavango River is lower than it has been for the past five years, numerous waterbirds such as the splendidly coloured Malachite Kingfisher can still be seen, and one certainly cannot fail to hear the call of the Swamp Boubou, which favours the riparian vegetation. Another distinct call is that of the rather colourful White-browed Robin-Chat.

Hakusembe Birds
A very colourful little bird is the Malachite Kingfisher, lurking in the dense riparian vegetation to prey on small fish.

A Chirping Cisticola, ringed at Hakusembe River Lodge in September 2016, is still there, as is a Grey-backed Camaroptera which was ringed in July 2018 together with a White-browed Robin-Chat. They were recaptured at the end of August this year (2019). With the help of a photo it was possible to identify the numbers of a ring on the leg of a White-rumped Babbler, which showed that this bird had been ringed on the lodge’s grounds in May 2015. It was recaptured in September the following year and released again after measuring. This goes to show that some birds are faithful to a habitat, while others only move through or just return at certain times of the year.

Author: Dirk Heinrich

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