White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides)

The White-fronted bee-eater (Merops bullockoides) is a species of bee-eater widely distributed in sub-equatorial Africa.  They have a distinctive white forehead, a square tail and a bright red patch on their throat. They nest in small colonies, digging holes in cliffs or earthen banks but can usually be seen in low trees waiting for passing insects from which they hunt either by making quick hawking flights or gliding down before hovering briefly to catch insects.

They have a very large range in southern Africa.  I saw them in Zambia in both Machile IBA & South Luangwa NP.






Preening action

Just hanging out waiting for food.




Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus)

The Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus) or the Crimson-breasted Gonolek, (‘gonolek’ – supposedly imitative of its call), is a dramatically coloured southern African bird with black upper parts with a white flash on the wing, and bright scarlet underparts.

I don’t know why this beauty was trying to hide from the camera!

His Namibian cousin was not so shy!

They have a large range within southern Africa but even with that bright crimson breast they can be hard to find!  My eagle-eyed guide, Chiinga found the Zambian one as we were leaving the Machile IBA in Zambia.  I found the Namibian one on my own, he did stand out!




Botswana Tourism


It seems these birds have to work hard for their meals.  A grasshopper proves to be easy prey.

If you want to eat a scorpion, you have to work much harder!


Expedition To Machile IBA, Zambia – Part 3

In this final installment of my series on Machile IBA (Part 1 & Part 2), we enjoy a leisurely birding drive back along that smaller road to the main road which is the road between Livingstone and Kazangula.  Since I got my target bird, the Black-cheeked Lovebird; it was nice to be able to relax and enjoy seeing some of the other beautiful birds in the area!

Lilac-breasted Roller

Crowned Lapwing

African Openbill Stork – there’s a slight gap and he can’t close his beak completely.

Crowned Lapwing

Malachite Kingfisher

The White-fronted Bee-eater is blurred out but you can see the bright blue of the Malachite Kingfisher in the swamp.


Crested Barbet

Just a cool angle, not sure what this is but looks like it is half dragon!

Crimson-breasted Shrike trying to hide from the paparazzi!

I was especially happy to see the lovely, elegant Meyer’s Parrot which I had not seen since Tarangire in Tanzania.

Blurry flight shots!

Last look at a local house.

I’ve always admired how African ladies carry these huge things on their heads!

It wasn’t long after reaching the main road that the sun set on our wonderful adventure! 

If you want to visit this area and see these fabulous birds, please contact Chiinga at Savannah Southern Safaris, he’s an amazing guide who found all these gorgeous birds for us!


Expedition To Machile IBA, Zambia – Part 2

Continuing on from Part 1, we will now visit the Machile IBA (Important Bird Area) and meet the target bird, the charming little Black-cheeked Lovebirds and a few other birds that were in the area.

We stopped at an office to get permission, then set up in a privately owned farm to look for the lovebirds.  Other birds were in the area as well of course!

Our first sighting, I didn’t get good photos, lucky we saw them again later!

African Harrier Hawk

Southern Red-billed Hornbill


I know I am going a bit overboard with pics of the Black-cheeked Lovebird but considering how rare and endangered they are it’s worth it!

Cardinal Woodpecker

Scarlet-chested Sunbird

Black-cheeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis)

The Black-cheeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis) is a rare and endangered small parrot species of the lovebird genus.

They are endemic to a small part of Zambia.  The only realistic way to see them in the wild is by visiting the Machile IBA on a day trip from Livingstone.



World Parrot Trust


Science Net Links


I couldn’t find any clips of wild birds on Youtube but here’s some captive Lovebirds to see their movements and hear their calls.  There are others on HBW.


Expedition To Machile IBA, Zambia – Part 1

Visiting the Machile IBA which is the stronghold of the lovely little Black-cheeked  Lovebird was one of the highlights of our trip.  Although it seems to be about 130-ish kms from Livingstone and therefore an easy commute, it is anything but easy.  This is not a trip you want to DIY as it involves convoluted little back roads with no signposts.  Thankfully Chiinga from Savannah Southern Safaris and his driver, Ken know how to get out there although even they had to stop and think about a  couple of the forks in the road!

Part 1 will cover the journey to get to Machile IBA.

We were picked up at Fawlty Towers very early, like around 3 or 3:30 am.  The road is in terrible condition and it took around 3 hours to get to the place where we picked up Brian  who was assisting in the conservation project.  This is where we stopped for breakfast.

Just because we were eating breakfast doesn’t mean we stop birding!


Common Scimitarbill

Heading back down the road to Machile IBA, the roads are basically like these:

Some king of family memorial iirc.

We passed several tiny villages and houses.

Chiinga was standing in the back of the truck and banged the roof to get the driver to stop so I could take photos.  We did see quite a few birds along the way but my photos didn’t turn out so well.  I got better shots on the way back though, so patience!

Common Scimitarbill (Rhinopomastus cyanomelas)

The Common Scimitarbill (Rhinopomastus cyanomelas) is a species of bird in the family Phoeniculidae. It’s pretty obvious how they got their name!

Their range covers a large chunk of Africa including in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  I saw them at the Machile IBA which is near Livingstone, Zambia.




Biodiversity Explorer


This nesting pair is busy feeding some chicks inside.