Burchell’s Starling (Lamprotornis australis)

Burchell’s Starling or Burchell’s Glossy-starling (Lamprotornis australis) is a species of starling in the family Sturnidae.  The name of this bird commemorates the English naturalist William John Burchell.

They can be found in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  I had my best viewing at Kunene River Lodge but also saw a few in Etosha NP.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BURCHELL’S STARLINGS

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Biodiversity Explorer

VIDEOS

A safari guide explains some bird facts.

Stunning close-up of this beautiful bird.  Note the black eyes which are a major identification point.

 

 

 

Birding The Grounds Of The Kunene River Lodge

We were up early the next morning to bird the grounds of the Kunene River Lodge.  I had hoped to see Cinderella Waxbills but Pete, the owner said it was the wrong season.

First we wandered through the camping area.  Plenty of monkeys were lurking around hoping to steal food.

Swamp Boubou

Possibly a Goliath Heron in silhouette

The visibility was much better on the deck and we were able to see the trees in the lodge grounds and the river banks.

Yellow-bellied Greenbul

Burchell’s Starling

African Golden Oriole

The Rufous-tailed Palm-Thrush led us on a merry chase, even Pete was surprised they weren’t co-operating more.

Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)

The Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath), also known as the Giant Heron, is the largest heron in the world.

A younger Goliath Heron

They have a huge range in Africa but I can only recall seeing them during the Zambezi River Cruise in Livingstone and the sunset cruise at Kunene River Lodge.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GOLIATH HERONS

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Heron Conservation

VIDEOS

Nice close ups here!

 

Fish for lunch!

 

Crocodile for dinner!

 

Kunene River Lodge Sunset Cruise

A sunset cruise at the Kunene River Lodge is a treat for birders and non-birders alike and not to be missed.  Lodge owner Pete knows all the local bird species and the best places to find them.

We did see a rare Grey Kestrel right off the bat, couldn’t get a decent shot of him though.

Goliath Heron

Rosy-faced Lovebirds flying off on the wrong side of the sun.

Small crocodile

Pied Kingfisher

Thick-knee

Finally, a Rosy-faced Lovebird poses for the camera!

A Dove points the way.

Landing on the Angola side.

Swamp Boubou

Time for some wine and a good sunset viewing spot!

Lodge Review: Kunene River Lodge, Namibia

The Kunene River Lodge is a birder’s paradise located on the Nambian bank of the Kunene River across from Angola.  I’d like to say that getting there is half the fun but not being used to rough gravel roads, it was quite daunting for me, but I managed in the rented Toyota Rav4.

They offer various accommodations from campsites to a-frame chalets.  This one was ours.

These beautiful little cabins are quite large and very comfortable for a couple.

Nice roomy walk-in shower

This deck has dining tables and can also be a good place to relax and watch birds.

The spacious grounds between the chalets and the camping area.  There is a pool in the rear that I forgot to get a photo of.

Dinner was our first meal and it was really good.  They offer 2 choices, this time I chose pasta and my husband chose steak and chips.  I love the bird placemats!

Here is the same deck in the morning where we hung out from the early hours to watch birds until it was time for breakfast.

Generous and delicious breakfast

More bird placemats!

The camping area attracts monkeys hoping to steal food.

Sunrise over the river

Souvenir hat with the Cinderella Waxbill logo, we each bought one!

Credit cards are accepted which was nice as we needed to pay for the meals, hats and the sunset cruise.  This is a beautiful place and I only regret we couldn’t have stayed longer.  The sunset cruise is a must (review to come) and I wish they had offered the morning cruise as well as the birding is really fantastic here!  You can book on their website or be on the lookout for discounts on booking sites like Orbitz as we got 15% off an already discounted room!

Off The Beaten Track – The Road To Kuenene River Lodge

Most of the roads in Namibia are good tarred roads but once you get off the beaten track, it’s quite another story!  For a city-dweller, the road to Kunene River Lodge can be quite hair-raising!

It starts off easily enough leaving Ondangwa after breakfast, nice tarred roads.

You do need to watch for traffic jams!

Animals can wander on the road so you need to pay attention, not drive too fast and avoid traveling at night.

Random town enroute

The turn-off to Ruacana (not much there) with the petrol station on the right.  There is a small shop for snacks and drinks but no restaurants.

It’s advisable to fill up despite the price as you don’t want to run out of fuel in the bush!

We met a South African couple in the petrol station so we just followed them as they wee also going to Kunene River Lodge.

The road becomes a rough gravel road which was do-able in the Toyota Rav4 but I was nervous  the whole way as I am not used to them.

Following someone made the trip pretty dusty but I was glad to have a safety net of someone else knowing we were there.

At last we arrived!

This is the return trip to Ruacana, then onwards to Kamanjab.  We left the lodge and hit the gravel road where the lodge turn-off is sign-posted.  At this point, we turned left to go back to Ruacana.

There were local Himba people going about their daily business.

Slowly, slowly!

That’s Angola across the river.

Small Himba villages and random houses.

There was a fork in the road a ways back and we took the wrong turn and ended up on a horrific road.  I knew something was wrong as the road hadn’t been THIS bad on the way in!

Luckily we managed to turn around and find the correct road.

A beautiful Burchell’s Starling is watching something.

More Himba people

Yet another unmarked fork in the road, this time we went left and it turned out to be right but I was nervous the whole time!

Another option, I didn’t see anyone here though.

Getting close to Ruacana!

I have never been so happy to see a factory and tarred road in my life! 

After re-fueling at Ruacana, we headed down the main road towards Kamanjab, a nice tarred road all the way!

Approaching Kamanjab which would be our pit stop for the night.