Botswana is not known for birding activities but this does not mean that there are no birding spots and bird species to see. The country is known to have no recorder endemic species although many birds fly in from the neighboring countries especially during the green season making it a good destination for birders. Botswana has about 580 bird species that have been recorded in the county and these can be viewed in the different birding spots in the country. One might ask where to go for birding in Botswana and it is safe to say that birding in the country can be carried out in the wetlands, game parks and River and lake sides.
When you are planning for a birding safari to Botswana, there will be a lot of factors that you need to put into consideration like the number of people that you are going with, equipment needed for birding, the weather during the time that you want to visit the country for birding and the different birding spot destinations that are found in the country. Birding in general require a lot of patience but it cannot be done if you do not have the necessary equipment to help you carry out the activity like binoculars, cameras, a recognition book and many more others.
- The binoculars will help you to view the birds that are a distance away from properly by using the zoom function on them.
- The camera will help you capture the still life of the birds that you will find in the country.
- The recognition book is a book or magazine that has all the bird species with their description and it helps birders to easily identify the birds.
- Hides, these re used to hide your presence from the birds that you are viewing because when some of them notice that they are being watched, they tend to either hide or fly away and this is where the hide comes in.
Do not forget to go with insect repellent to avoid insect bites, warm clothes in case there is a change in weather and do not forget to go with a tour guide for birding.
Birding habitats within Botswana
Botswana has various birding spots but within these spots, there are habitats where the birds sleep or stay and where they are observed from by tourists. The major birding habitats within the country include the following:
The Chobe National park River
The chobe National park is a habitat for many bird species and it is mostly due to the presence of the Chobe River. Birding here is mostly done during the wet season as this is the right time for the migratory birds that fly into the country. Some of the bird species that you will see include the African finfoot, the white backed night heron, the pygmy goose, the rock pranticole, the lesser Jacana, the orange winged Pytilia and many more other species.
The Mixed broad-leafed woodland
The mixed broad-leafed woodland covers a part of the Chobe national Park and is one of the bird habitats in Botswana. Some of the bird species that habitate within the woodland include the orange winged Pytilia, the three banded courser, the cape penduline tit, the crimson breasted shrike, the Marico flycatcher, the violet eared waxbill and many more other species.
Some of the bird species that habitate within the floodplains include the chirping Cisticola, the slaty egret, the greater swamp warbler and many more other species and note that the flood plains are mostly located in the southern part of the country although you will find a few in the northern part of the country as well.
The Kasai channel
The Kasai channel is also one of the bird habitats in Botswana and it connects the two Rivers of Chobe and Zambezi. The best way to do birding here is by taking a boat ride along the channel and some of the birds that you will be able to see here include the lesser Jacana, the pel’s fishing owl, the pygmy goose, the chirping Cisticola, the African rail, the greater swamp warbler, the moorhen lesser and many more other bird species.
The Riverine woodland
The Riverine woodland is filled with various vegetation types that act as habitats to the many bird species that are located within. Some of the bird species that habitate within include the banded snake eagle, the eastern bearded robin, the brown fire finch, the collared palm thrush, the red faced Cisticola and many more other bird species.
Birding in the central Kalahari Game reserve
The Central Kalahari Game reserve is a birding spot in Malawi that is located within the Kalahari Desert. It is one of the largest game reserves in the country and the whole world and due to its location, it experiences a semi desert climate which means it is a bit had to see rainfall in this reserve although it experiences the green season as well. Some of the bird species that can easily be seen here include the secretary bird, chestnut vented tit babblers, the grey backed finch larks, the red eye bulbus, the Kori bustard, the red headed finches, the Pritit Batistes, yellow canaries, Rufous eared warblers, the pied warbler and many more other species.
Birding in the Okavango Delta
The Okavango delta covers about 1500 kilometers and it covers is considered to be the heart of Botswana. The Delta is always covered in water and it is sometimes hard to access it although the best way to know when to go is by asking your tour operator about the best time to visit for birding. The main bird species that habitates within the Okavango delta is the slaty Egret and other bird species include the pel fishing owl, the wattled cranes, coppery tailed coucal, the African green pigeon, the swamp boubou, the Senegal coucal, martial eagle, the rosy throated longclaw, the fulvous whistling duck, the lesser jacana, the African pygmy goose, the black chested snake eagle and many more other species.
The central and southern part of the Okavango delta are seasonally flooded meaning there are times when you can easily access I which is not the case with the North eastern part of the delta which is always flooded throughout the year. You can watch birds in the Delta either by use of a boat, drive through or take bush walks.
Birding in the Makgadikgadi salt pans
The Makgadikgadi salt pans also located in the Kalahari Desert next to the Central Kalahari Reserve is a top birding destination in Botswana. The Makgadikgadi reserve has two pans that were formed about 1000 years ago and although they are mostly dry nowadays, they still flow to form the Nata delta where many birds can be seen on either the banks or floating on the water and these include the Marico flycatcher, the capped wheatear, the crimson breasted, the secretary bird, both the greater and lesser flamingo, the acacia pied barbet, the black korhaan, the southern pied babbler and many more other species.
Birding in Northern Botswana
Birding in Botswana is best carried out in the Northern part of the country where you will find many different bird species and birding spots with over 450 bird species habituating in this part of the country. The northern region runs from Kasane and some of the bird species that you will be rewarded with include the pygmy goose, the rock pranticole, the chirping Cisticola, the brown fire finch, the African skimmer, the pink throated longclaw, the greater swamp warbler, the orange winged Pytilia, the half collared kingfisher, the slaty egret and many more others.
When to go for birding in Botswana
The overall best time for one to go for birding in Botswana is during the wet season which runs between the months of November to April. Most of the birds fly into the country between mid-November and March and although there will be a variety to see during this time, the heavy rains experienced within these months might limit your access to the many birding spots that are located in the different parts of the country.
The dry winter is also a good time to go for birding although there will be fewer bird species and this happens within the months of May to august. It is however the perfect time for a drive through the birding spots due to the easy access of the birding destinations.
There are several ways that you can enjoy birding in Botswana and these are drive through the birding spot where you expect to go for birding, boat ride in the birding spots which are water logged or take walks. All these methods will highly reward you with the best sights provided by the many bird species that are habitate within the country and birding in Botswana is on the rise due to the fact that the country is safe to visit and offers a variety of bird species.