Updated: Global Big Day of Birding 2020

Global Big Day of Birding 2020 on Matetsi Private Game Reserve

On Saturday 09 May, six teams went out on a birding mission across Matetsi Private Game Reserve. In total they recorded 106 bird species! And counted well over 500 birds!

“I really had fun and learnt so many more birds.”

Starting from the lodge, on the banks of the Zambezi River, the teams spread out to cover different cross-sections of the 136,000 acre wildlife concession. The variety of terrains covered, from riverine forest to mopane woodlands, vleis and many of the waterholes (pans), is evidenced in the vast array of birdlife sighted: from the Pel’s Fishing Owl around the lodge area, to Hottentot Teals on the pans in the southern section of the property, along with the classic African Fish-Eagle, whose call is one of the most iconic sounds in Africa, to the chattering and cackling Green Wood-Hoopoe. (see the full list below)

Zanangubo pan (pictured) in the very south of the property offers remarkable birdlife and wildlife sightings (including the opportunity to see the world famous Matetsi Sable antelope).

The Full List 2020 from the Matetsi Victoria Falls teams

  1. White-faced Whistling-Duck
  2. Knob-billed Duck
  3. Egyptian Goose
  4. Hottentot Teal
  5. Helmeted Guineafowl
  6. Swainson’s Francolin
  7. Speckled Pigeon
  8. Mourning Collared-Dove
  9. Ring-necked Dove
  10. Laughing Dove
  11. Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove
  12. Namaqua Dove
  13. African Green-Pigeon
  14. Double-banded Sandgrouse
  15. Kori-Bustard
  16. Grey Go-away-bird
  17. Senegal Coucal
  18. Rufous-cheeked Nightjar
  19. Fiery-necked Nightjar
  20. Spotted Thick-knee
  21. Blacksmith Lapwing
  22. White-headed Lapwing
  23. Wattled Lapwing
  24. African Jacana
  25. Bronze-winged Courser
  26. Saddle-billed Stork
  27. African Darter
  28. Hamerkop
  29. Cattle Egret
  30. Rufous-bellied Heron
  31. Hadada Ibis
  32. Secretarybird
  33. African Harrier-Hawk
  34. White-backed Vulture
  35. Bateleur
  36. Black-chested Snake-Eagle
  37. Lizard Buzzard
  38. Gabar Goshawk
  39. African Fish-Eagle
  40. Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl
  41. Pel’s Fishing-Owl
  42. Red-faced Mousebird
  43. Green Woodhoopoe
  44. Southern Ground-Hornbill
  45. African Grey Hornbill
  46. Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
  47. Trumpeter Hornbill
  48. Woodland Kingfisher
  49. Brown-hooded Kingfisher
  50. Giant Kingfisher
  51. Pied Kingfisher
  52. White-fronted Bee-eater
  53. Little Bee-eater
  54. Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
  55. European Roller
  56. Lilac-breasted Roller
  57. Crested Barbet
  58. Black-collared Barbet
  59. Cardinal Woodpecker
  60. Meyer’s Parrot
  61. African Golden Oriole
  62. Chinspot Batis
  63. White Helmetshrike
  64. Retz’s Helmetshrike
  65. Black-backed Puffback
  66. Brown-crowned Tchagra
  67. Tropical Boubou
  68. Fork-tailed Drongo
  69. Shrike SP
  70. Magpie Shrike
  71. White-crowned Shrike
  72. Jameson’s Firefinch
  73. Cut-throat
  74. Pin-tailed Whydah
  75. Broad-tailed Paradise-Whydah
  76. Eastern Paradise-Whydah
  77. Shaft-tailed Whydah
  78. Village Indigobird
  79. Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
  80. African Pied Wagtail
  81. Golden-breasted Bunting
  82. Rufous-naped Lark
  83. Tawny-flanked Prinia
  84. Wire-tailed Swallow
  85. Lesser Striped Swallow
  86. Yellow-bellied Greenbul
  87. Common Bulbul (Dark-capped)
  88. African Yellow White-eye
  89. Arrow-marked Babbler
  90. Red-billed Oxpecker
  91. Meves’s Starling
  92. Greater Blue-eared Starling
  93. Groundscraper Thrush
  94. Collared Palm-Thrush
  95. Scarlet-chested Sunbird
  96. Marico Sunbird
  97. White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
  98. Village Weaver
  99. Red-billed Quelea
  100. Orange breasted Bush Shrike
  101. Angolan Swallow
  102. Blue Waxbill
  103. Dark Chanting Goshawk
  104. Purple Roller
  105. African Openbill
  106. Southern Black Tit

This is far from a comprehensive list of all the bird species that call Matetsi Private Game Reserve home, but it gives a wonderful idea of some of the birds you might see on a birding day in the month of May.

Global Big Day of Birding at Matetsi Victoria Falls

What:              The chance to be part of a global bird count team

When:             09 May 2020

Where:            Wherever you are!

How:               It’s simple! Identify and record the birds around you. Follow this link for more details on how to share your sightings.

The focus of the global team this year is to on the number of checklists we can collect altogether. So even if you can just take 5-10 minutes to look out your window and record your bird sightings, you’ll be helping the team boost the number of checklists!

Global Big Day of Birding at Matetsi Victoria Falls

Several teams will head out to traverse the vast wilderness that is Matetsi Private Game Reserve. Each team will use one eBird account to record their bird sightings on the free eBird mobile app.

At this time, our guiding team are going out every day to ensure there’s a positive human presence across the wilderness concession. For the Global Big Day, they’ll be joined by others from the Matetsi family who are keen birders and/or would like to learn and enjoy the day out in the bush.

At the moment, many of our team are home with their families, and some of them will also join in the Global Big Day!

Birds in Numbers at Matetsi Private Game Reserve

Depending on which guide you talk to, Matetsi Private Game Reserve is said to be home to 366 different bird species. One species for every day of the year, even in a leap year. Though other guides will say, “No, no, no, there’s more than 400 bird species, depending on the time of the year.”

Birds by Habitat on Matetsi Private Game Reserve

The 55,000-hectare Matetsi Private Game Reserve (that’s over a quarter of a million acres!) lies along 15 km (9 miles) or Zambezi river frontage, ands stretches about 36 km south toward the Panda Masuie forest.

Along the northern section of the property, you’ll find floodplains and riverine forests, neighboured by Zambezi Teak forests. Seasonal marshes (“vleis”), which sprawl across the concession, are embraced by Kalahari sands, and mopane woodland that reach down to the south. Scattered throughout you’ll find seasonal ponds (pans) and waterholes.

This variety of habitats provides homes for an exceptional array of birdlife. Perhaps it was this that earned us a spot on this list of Best Bird Sightings in Southern Africa.

Seasonal Birding on Matetsi Private Game Reserve

After our winter, the first migrant birds arrive in September/October time. They stay throughout the summer and enjoy the lush rainy season, departing again before the winter.

In early May temperatures have started to drop and most of the migrants have flown north for the winter, to catch summer in the northern hemisphere. So they won’t make our list on the Global Big Day of Birding, but our global teammates in Europe/Asia will hopefully log them.

For more information on the Global Big Day, click here.

Many thanks to our guides, team and guests for sharing these incredible bird images with us.


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