Matetsi Victoria Falls Birding Big Day – November 28th 2020

BirdLife South Africa’s 36th Annual Birding Big Day took place on Saturday 28 November 2020 and (although we are not in South Africa) we held our own Birding Big Day 2020 on property at Matetsi Private Game Reserve with both our team and guests taking part.

Nature provided an overcast day, which meant even at midday it wasn’t too hot to be out in the bush, and our teams of birders spent almost all day searching the property for different bird species, with the occasional break for tea. Senior guide Ophious, a very keen birder himself, rallied some particularly eager troops who were out from 5am until well after night fall (with short breaks for lunch and dinner).

The teams spent time at muddy waterholes and along the verdant floodplains, taking time to ensure they really did have the correct identification for the bird species – an elusive Little Grebe had one team in heated discussion for a good thirty minutes.

A variety of birds were recorded including “ruffs, long-toed lapwing, bee-eaters, greater painted Snipe, skimmers, hornbills, starlings, rollers, falcons, kingfishers, pale and dark morph Walbergs eagles, cuckoos, owls etc…”

A melanistic Jacobin cuckoo and the nigriceps sub-species of the village weaver bird were the highlights of the day for some of our birders.

Though the identification of a Grey Plover was the highlight for the true twitchers – a sighting that caused quite a stir in and around the Victoria Falls birding community.

For those keen birders reading this, here is the full list of species recorded within the 24-hour period:

  1. Woodland Kingfisher
  2. White-browed sparrow weaver
  3. Blue waxbill
  4. Swainson’s spurfowl
  5. Yellow billed kite
  6. Hammerkop 
  7. Grey Go-away Bird
  8. Dark capped bulbul
  9. Yellow-bellied greenbul
  10. White-browse scrub robin
  11. Tropical bulbul
  12. Eurasian hobby
  13. Meyer’s parrot
  14. Broad-billed roller
  15. Knob billed duck
  16. Violet backed starling
  17. Senegal comical
  18. Southern Red billed hornbill
  19. Emerald spotted wood dove
  20. Ground hornbill
  21. Puffback 
  22. Long-billed crombec
  23. Southern grey headed sparrow
  24. Orange-breasted bushshrike
  25. Tawny-flanked Prinia
  26. Greater swamp warbler
  27. Grey-backed camaroptera
  28. Bradfield’s hornbill
  29. African hoopoe
  30. Red-eyed dove
  31. Meve’s starling
  32. Natal spurfowl 
  33. Crested barbet
  34. Guineafowl
  35. Jacobin cuckoo
  36. Greater blue-eared starling
  37. Lilac-breasted roller
  38. Lesser grey shrike
  39. Marabou stork
  40. Amur falcon
  41. Brown-crowned Tchagra
  42. Lizard buzzard
  43. Crested francolin
  44. Cardinal woodpecker
  45. Jameson’s firefinch
  46. African spoonbill
  47. Common sandpiper
  48. Fawn-coloured lark
  49. Squacco heron
  50. Ashy flycatcher
  51. Arrow-marked babbler
  52. Red-faced mousebird
  53. Green sandpiper
  54. Pied crow
  55. Rattling cisticola
  56. Southern black tit
  57. Black cuckooskrike
  58. Village weaver
  59. Pied wagtail
  60. Green-backed wood-hoopoe
  61. Levaillant’s cuckoo
  62. Giant kingfisher
  63. Lesser striped swallow
  64. Barn swallow
  65. Amethyst sunbird
  66. Lesser masked weaver
  67. Reed cormorant
  68. Bronze mannikin 
  69. Chinspot batis
  70. Kurrichane thrush
  71. Bearded woodpecker
  72. Grey-headed kingfisher
  73. White-crowned helmet shrike
  74. Yellow-fronted canary
  75. Rock pratincole
  76. African darter
  77. African skimmer
  78. Blacksmith Lapwing
  79. White-faced whistling duck
  80. Lesser jacana
  81. African jacana
  82. White-browed robin-chat
  83. Plain-backed pipit
  84. Littler bee-eater
  85. Red-chested cuckoo
  86. Ruff
  87. Blue-cheeked bee-eater
  88. Hadeda ibis
  89. Great egret
  90. Egyptian goose
  91. Black heron (egret)
  92. Grey plover
  93. Rufous-bellied heron
  94. Grey heron
  95. Little egret
  96. Yellow-billed (intermediate) egret
  97. Cattle egret
  98. Purple heron
  99. African fish eagle 
  100. Pied kingfisher
  101. White-crowned lapwing
  102. Sacred ibis
  103. Gabar goshawk
  104. Western banded snake eagle
  105. Common (greater) Scimitarbill
  106. Black-headed oriol
  107. Red-billed oxpecker
  108. Bearded scrub robin
  109. Grey-headed bushshrike
  110. Golden weaver
  111. African Grey hornbill
  112. Golden-breasted bunting
  113. Western barn owl
  114. Schalow’s turaco
  115. Brown-hooded kingfisher
  116. Hooded vulture
  117. Bateleur
  118. Paradise flycatcher
  119. Wahlberg’s eagle 
  120. Long-tailed Paradise whydah
  121. Dideric cuckoo
  122. Wattled starling
  123. Black-bellied bustard
  124. Buffy pipit
  125. Southern Carmine bee-eater
  126. Pale flycatcher
  127. Tawny eagle
  128. European roller
  129. Marico sunbird
  130. Green-winged pytilia 
  131. Magpie shrike
  132. Kori bustard
  133. Laughing dove
  134. Steppe eagle
  135. White stork
  136. Woolly-necked stork
  137. African Harrier-hawk (gymnogene)
  138. Secretarybird
  139. Red-crested korhaan
  140. Shaft-tailed whydah
  141. Scarlet-Chested sunbird
  142. Retz’s helmetshrike
  143. Red-headed weaver
  144. Red-billed quelea 
  145. Striped kingfisher
  146. Trumpeter hornbill
  147. White-backed vulture 
  148. Black saw-wing (swallow)
  149. Wire-tailed swallow
  150. Sand Martin
  151. Purple roller
  152. Little grebe (Dabchick)
  153. Steppe buzzard
  154. Groundscraper thrush
  155. African-wattled lapwing
  156. Double-banded sandgrouse
  157. Brubru
  158. Long-toed lapwing
  159. Black-shouldered kite
  160. Little sparrowhawk
  161. Greater painted snipe
  162. Speckle-throated woodpecker
  163. Streaky-headed seedeater
  164. Miombo blue-eared starling
  165. Swallow-tailed bee-eater
  166. Red-billed firefinch
  167. Brown snake eagle
  168. White-browed coucal 
  169. African hawk eagle
  170. Black-crowned tchagra
  171. Capped wheatear
  172. African openbill
  173. Black stork
  174. Purple-banded sunbird
  175. Golden oriol
  176. Malachite kingfisher
  177. Icterine warbler
  178. Cape turtle dove

With our migratory birds being present at this time of the year, and many more hours spent in the field, our bird species count this time far exceeded that of our Global Big Day of Birding, which took place in May 2020. In addition to the 178 species listed above, additional bird species were identified the day before and the day after the birding day, including European bee-eater, Fiery necked nightjar, Namaqua dove, Pennant-winged nightjar, Glossy Ibis, Klaas’ Cuckoo and White-rumped swift.

Thank you to our team and our guests who took part in this Birding Day, with special thanks to those who shared photographs with us, including Victoria Falls based photographer Sarah Kerr.

Birding Day Gallery


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