Friday, October 25, 2019

Well done Birdwatch Zambia on GBD success!

(I took most of the bird photos below last year during our 30th wedding anniversary at Chaminuka Nature Reserve)
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I joined Birdwatch Zambia (BWZ) last month, on 19 September 2019 to be precise. Little did I know what a new world this was opening up for me. I was not only added to a mailing list for monthly newsletters about Zambian birds but I was also added to a WhatsApp group.

This is NOT my photo. It is the masthead on
Since then I have been eaves-dropping on conversations by incredibly enthusiastic bird lovers and conservators of nature. They share links talking about bird populations and migrations around the world. It is evident that Birdwatch Zambia is a great family.

African Jacana or Jesus Bird or Lily-trotter
The group also discusses other issues, such as the illegal wildlife transfer from South Luangwa National Park that took place recently, the current proposal to build a hotel inside the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone, and the recently failed appeal against the opening of a mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Their love for nature is contagious.

Reed Cormorant
It is also a great platform to post photos of birds that you see but cannot identify. Almost as quickly as you ask for their identity, someone posts a response. For new guys like me, that’s powerful! Some people here in Zambia are ornithology encyclopedias walking on two feet.

Yellow-billed Egret
More recently, the group began to talk about the Global Big Day (GBD) on Saturday 19 October. I have been a bird lover for years but had no clue what it was all about. It is the world’s biggest single birding event, taking place twice a year. I simply followed the conversation on WhatsApp, as Peter followed at a distance when Jesus Christ was arrested.

Rufous-bellied Heron
The first posting was “A quick reminder that the next GBD is just less than three weeks away now. Can we improve our current Top 25 globally and third in Africa? Maybe get into the top 20 and squeeze ahead of South Africa into second…” That was on 29 September.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Teams were formed all around Zambia so that on that particular day they would go out and record as many different species of birds as they could possibly identify. Then that data would be uploaded onto Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology eBird webpage.

Pied Kingfisher
October 19 came. The teams all over Zambia did their job. The results came out yesterday and Zambia logged 419 species of birds. This was 40% of the species recorded across Africa. Zambia was ranked 16th in the world and 2nd in Africa. Well done, Birdwatch Zambia, on this GBD success. I’ve certainly joined a winning team!

Reed Cormorant
The latest information is that a new app has been designed by Derek Solomon, Frank Willems, and Rory McDougall and it is called Birds of Zambia. I have since downloaded it on my phone ($20) and intend to use it to identify birds in Zambia. Things can’t get any better!

Saddle-billed Stork
(This photo was taken in the Kafue National Park a few months later)
God has endowed Zambia with an amazingly rich bird-life. It has been refreshing to discover this group of bird lovers who are doing everything possible to conserve these wonderful creatures. I wish life had a little more breathing space so that I could do more with them.

For instance, Birdwatch Zambia produces an annual calendar with stunning images of Zambian birds. This calendar should beautify the walls of more Zambian homes and offices. The 2020 Birdwatch Zambia calendar is out and is available from their offices in Lusaka. Call them on +260 211 239420 or send them an email on


  1. Putting this together with your 1st October blog post on bird-watching ... and it seems you have something (else!) in common with John Stott!