Lesser Flamingos in Lobito in August 2013 taken by Angola Birder Chris Stavrou

Lesser Flamingos in Lobito in August 2013 taken by Angola Birder Chris Stavrou

Calling all nature enthusiasts and bird lovers! Thursday, October 31, at 7:00 PM at the Viking Club, before the Angola Field Group presentation, you are invited to join the Angolan Association for Birds and Nature. They are looking for new members. They especially want more Angolans to participate!

Angola is one of the most biologically diverse countries of Africa. This is reflected in the high number of bird species (more than 940) and its diverse natural environments.

To join the group, please bring with you a photo copy of your national identity document (if you are Angolan) or passport and visa (if you are not Angolan). Membership is free of charge.

Birding Field Trip: Chris Hines is organizing a birding camping trip for the long weekend (November 9th to 11th) to the Cambondo Forest in Kwanza Norte. It is now African Pitta bird breeding season. Open to all members of the Birds and Nature Association, no charge. For more details and to sign up, please see Chris on Thursday.

Luando river at dawn; Madrufada no rio Luando.

“The Luando river just before sunrise…”

Family photo with project booklets; Foto de família com as brochuras do projecto.

The shepherds of the Luandos Reserve with their project booklets

“But the most worrying factor were insisting reports of poaching, brought to us by the shepherds. Poaching does seem to be closely linked with several diamond operations established along the Kwanza river, as they create an increasing demand for bushmeat, and this remains unchallenged. And of course, well armed poachers, not only are a permanent threat to the animals, but they put the lives of our shepherds in danger…”

 

Young Mercury as dominant; Jovem Mercúrio como dominante.

Magnificent Mercury, the first born of our “new” Cangandala

 Visit our Giant Sable page to read biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Second Trimester 2013 Report with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park, in English and Portuguese.

 

Abandoned plantation with high canopy trees in Kumbira

Abandoned plantation with high canopy trees in Kumbira.

The Angola Field Group has been invited to visit “The Kumbira Forest Project”, a project which aims at protecting forests for the benefit of threatened Angolan birds. Kumbira  is the largest remaining  forest of the central Angolan Escarpment also known as the Scarp. Located in Kwanza Sul, the Scarp is one of the most interesting areas in the country in terms of biodiversity, and has 14 out of the 15 endemic bird species, six of which are threatened.

During colonial times, most of the forests of the scarp were converted into coffee plantations by clearing  vegetation from under the trees, leaving the tall canopy mostly intact resulting in what is known as “coffee forests”. Then came the civil war and the plantations were abandoned. This allowed the recovery of the understory vegetation which may have been beneficial for the bird community, especially the endemics. Now that the war is over, subsistence farms are appearing all over Kumbira and the other Scarp forests. Not only understory vegetation but also canopy forest is being destroyed to plant sun-loving crops such as cassava, maize, banana and sweet potatoes. Charcoal production and logging has also been observed in the area.

We will visit Aimy Caceres, the Peruvian biologist and PhD student researching this project, and learn about the efforts being undertaken to ensure the conservation of the forest. All information and photos in this posting are from her blog: http://kumbiraforest.blogspot.com

When
: June 29, 30, 31

What: We will be camping in the forest. You must be self sufficient in terms of all camping equipment and food. This is a conservation project, no use of charcoal allowed.
How: You will need a 4 wheel drive with a high wheel base since the last part of the journey, the road is rough.
There is no telephone network where we are camping.
To register for this trip, you must have valid original documents since the trip crosses three provinces. Email Henriette Koning at: angolafieldgroup@gmail.com and please indicate:
•    names of participants and cell phone number 

•    do you  have room in your vehicle for an extra passenger, keeping in mind camping gear takes up space

•     if you will be leaving from the city or from Luanda Sul  
 All Angola Field Group trips are at your own risk.

Location of Kumbira Forest (green) in Kwanza Sul province.

Location of Kumbira Forest (green area) in Kwanza Sul province.

 

From our friends at the Angola Birders, the Mount Moco Project Update Report: January 2013 is available to read as a two page PDF here. The report is written by Michael Mills.

The tree nursery employees and one additional assistant, standing proudly beside the nursery and in the area now planted with 108 trees. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

The tree nursery employees and one additional assistant, standing proudly beside the nursery and in the area now planted with 108 trees. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

Summary: “Very satisfactory progress was made with the reforestation project during the January 2013 field trip to Mount Moco. Eighty six new trees were planted onto the mountain, bringing the total of planted trees to 108, and covering an area of about 100 x 20 m. Two new nursery areas for growing tree saplings in bags were cleared inside a nearby forest patch and more than 300 saplings were planted into bags, to join the ninety trees already in bags and not yet planted back on the mountain. I estimate that 80 of these plants will be ready for planting by the next field visit.”

Find out more at www.mountmoco.org and we have also posted this and other related updates on our Birds page.

Micheal Mills, in foreground, searching for the Red Crested Turaco. Photo courtesy J. Van Honk.

Micheal Mills, in foreground, searching for the Red Crested Turaco. Photo courtesy J. Van Honk.

UPDATE: Please note this trip is now full. A birding/camping trip to the Denbos, February 23rd – 24th, with bird expert and conservation biologist Michael Mills. The field trip will take us northeast into Bengo province, past Caxito on the Uige road to Ucua where we will head southeast into former coffee plantation country (scroll down for map). There are still some stands of forests where the rare Turaco, Angola’s national bird, can be found. We will camp in the forest and early the next morning we will loop back to Luanda, continuing through the Denbos into Kwanza Norte and back to Luanda  on the Catete Road. Participants need to be self sufficient in all aspects of camping. Throughout our journey we will be stopping to look at birds so make sure you have binoculars.

One of the side roads in the Denbos leading to some abandoned coffee fazendas which used the naturally occurring tall trees to shade the coffee plants. As this area develops, the trees are being cut down, destroying birds' habitats.

One of the side roads in the Denbos leading to some abandoned coffee fazendas which used the naturally occurring tall trees to shade the coffee plants. As this area develops, the trees are being cut down, destroying birds’ habitats.

Michael Mills is a professional birding guide (www.birdingafrica.com) and has been coming to Angola to study birds since 2003. He also heads up conservation projects in Angola.  Check out his websites on Angolan birds: www.birdsangola.org and www.mountmoco.org. There is a 2000 kwanza cover charge per participant to cover his costs. Click here to download an Excel spreadsheet of Michael Mill’s list of birds seen and heard on the last Angola Field Group trip to the Denbos on Feb. 20, 2011. 

The bigger coffee plantations had a school, clinic and church for their workers plus houses.

The bigger coffee plantations had a school, clinic and church for their workers plus houses.

We must keep numbers to a strict limit so please only sign up if you’re serious about going. We will depart Luanda Saturday at 6:00 AM and plan to be back at 6:00 PM on Sunday. Final trip details including our meeting location will be given once you’ve signed up and are confirmed for this trip. Priority is given to active members of the Angola Field Group.

To register for this trip, you must have valid original documents since the trip crosses three provinces. Email Henriette Koning at: angolafieldgroup@gmail.com and please indicate:
•    names of participants and cell phone number of one participant

    •    do you  have room in your vehicle for more passengers and how many can you take, keeping in mind camping gear takes up space
    •    if you do not have transport and need a lift
    •     if you will be leaving from the city or from Luanda Sul  

 All Angola Field Group trips are at your own risk.

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Click on map to enlarge, map will open in a new browser window.

 

Paradise Fly Catcher Skins.

Paradise Fly Catcher Skins.

Housed in the Institute of Sciences and Education (ISCED) in the city of Lubango, the impressive Lubango Bird Skin Collection of 40,000 bird skins is the third largest bird skin collection in Africa and is still in good condition. Click here to read Micheal Mill’s “Notes on birds in the Lubango Bird Skin Collection, January 2013″, also posted on our Birds page.

Paradise Fly Catcher Skins. Photos courtesy Michael Mills.

Paradise Fly Catcher Skins. Photos courtesy Michael Mills.



Image

Red-crested Turaco, Conservation Icon and National Bird of Angola © Sheryl Hughes

An update from our friends at the Angola Birders, the 2012 Annual Report: Bird Conservation and Research Activities, compiled by Michael Mills:

“This year was a year of consolidation. Three important tasks were initiated and two of these were completed. Firstly a project vehicle was purchased and registered in Luanda and secondly Michael obtained a work permit for Angola. Both activities required a month in Luanda, without the option of traveling, which limited field time this year but should greatly enhance efficiency in the future. The third action was to initiate the registration of an Angola bird conservation society, a process which is still ongoing. Other highlights of the year were the publication of several papers, constructing a new nursery facility at Mount Moco and Aimy Cáceres commencing field work for her PhD at Kumbira.”

Download the 10 page report (PDF) on our Birds page here.