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.



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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.


Angolan Greater Flamingo www.orla-mikkelsen-artwork.dk

Wader Identification Course at Mussulo Bay,
Saturday 22 October with Michael Mills

Although you may not realise it, if you live in Luanda you have an excellent waterbird site right on your doorstep: Mussulo Bay. Mussulo is internationally recognised as an Important Bird Area, due to being a vital feeding site for large numbers of waterbirds. During Angola’s hotter months thousands of birds migrate from their Arctic breeding grounds to escape the cold and to feed on the abundance of food that places like Mussulo offers. This makes October an excellent month for birding in Mussulo. Many of the birds that visit are known as waders, and are hard to identify due to their drab plumages. But each species, with a little bit of help, can be distinguished from the other, especially by paying attention to their beak shape and feeding techniques.

On 22 October, Michael Mills will be offering an in-the-field identification course on these tricky birds. The best way to learn is to watch, so the plan is to meet at Saco dos Flamingos (just beyond the ADPP teacher’s training college past Ramiro on the road heading south) at 06h30 on 22 October and spend a few hours studying the birds through binoculars and a telescope. It gets hot, quickly, so we would restrict birding from 06h30 to 09h30 in the morning, when conditions are more pleasant.

In order to give each person individual attention, Michael is restricting the group size to 10 people. To book your spot, please email Michael on birdsangola@gmail.com. The cost will be USD 50 each. If you have a telescope, please bring it along. And your bird book.

Michael Mills (centre foreground) birding with the Angola Field Group in the Denbos. Photo courtesy Jay Blodgett

The foremost expert on birds in Angola, conservation biologist Michael Mills, invites Angola Field Group members to join him in a bird identification course, Saturday October 22nd. Michael is a professional bird watching tour guide in sub-Saharan Africa (www.birdingafrica.com) and also works on conservation projects in Angola (www.birdlife.org). In February Michael gave a presentation to the Angola Field Group, click here: “Protecting Angola’s threatened birds and their threatened habitats”. Michael also runs two websites on Angolan birds: www.birdsangola.org and www.mountmoco.org.

Kumbira Forest, Kwanza Sul.

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. An opportunity to travel off the beaten path with environmentalist and bird expert, Michael Mills (for more on Angola’s birds, go to www.birdsangola.org). You will be camping and need to be self sufficient in all aspects including transport. A four wheel drive definitely a necessity. You can accompany Michael on all or part of his trips as per the schedule below. To attend contact Michael Mills at michael@birdingafrica.com and his phone number: 934-969865. On your email please ‘cc’ angolafieldgroup@gmail.com since Michael is travelling in northern Angola and not always within communication range.

11 May 2011 Wednesday
Drive to Mount Moco

12 May 2011 Thursday to 15 May 2011 Sunday
Mount Moco
16 May 2011 Monday
Drive to Kumbira

17 May 2011 Tuesday to 19 May 2011 Thursday
Kumbira

20 May 2011 Friday
Drive to Luanda

Summit of Mount Moco in Huambo province. Photos courtesy Michael Mills.

 

Gabela Akalat, endemic to the central scarp forests of Angola; endangered. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

THIS FIELD TRIP IS NOW FULL. On Sunday, February 20th the Angola Field Group has the opportunity to go birding with South African bird expert, Michael Mills. A professional birding guide, Michael has been coming to Angola to study birds since 2003. (Scroll down to previous post to read his bio.) We will be heading northeast, taking the Caxito – Uige road where there are still some stands of forests and where the endemic Turaco can be found. In order to get in some morning birding, we will be leaving the city at 5:00AM. This will be a full day trip and no guarantee that we will be back in Luanda before dark. A four wheel drive vehicle is necessary. We must keep numbers to a strict limit so please only sign up if you’re serious about going. Final trip details including our meeting location will be given once you’ve signed up and are confirmed for this trip.

Monteiro's Bushshrike, endemic to the central scarp forests of Angola; data deficient. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

When you are registering for this trip please indicate:

 

* if you have room in your vehicle for more passengers and how many can you take
* if you do not have transport and need a lift
* if you will be leaving from the city or from Luanda Sul

To register for this trip, email Henriette Koning at: angolafieldgroup@gmail.com. All Angola Field Group trips are at your own risk.

Pulitzer's Longbill endemic to Angola's central scarp forests; endangered. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

Gabela Helmet Shrike, found only in Angola. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

Angola is considered off the beaten path when it comes to ‘birding tourism’ and remains a poorly known region in the realm of African birds. Ironically 30 years of war protected some of the rarest bird species that now are being threatened by development and a growing population. The Angola Field Group invites you to a presentation “Protecting Angola’s threatened birds and their threatened habitats”, at the Viking Club, Thursday February 3rd at 8:00 PM with Michael Mills, a South Africa bird expert who will talk about bird conservation in Angola and the important bird species that are being studied. (www.birdsangola.org) He will also update us on his projects including the well-known Mount Moco forest project in Huambo province (www.mountmoco.org) and give us a look at other projects he’s involved in such as Africa’s third largest bird skin collection on display in the Lubango museum.

Michael is a South African conservation biologist and has been watching birds for 25 years and guiding birding expeditions since he was 16. He has been studying birds in Angola for almost 8 years and works for BirdLife (www.birdlife.org), an international bird conservation organization. He also leads bird watching tours in sub-Sahara Africa. The first CD sound guide dedicated to Angolan bird calls, over 100 species, recorded by Michael Mills, will be on sale.

Everybody is welcome to attend. The talk will be in English. In close cooperation with the Viking Club, this event is offered free of charge. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are sold at the bar, coupons must be purchased. The Viking Bar opens at 7:30 PM! You can download a map showing the location of the Viking Club on this website’s Join Us page. The Viking Club is on the main floor of the former Swedish Building at Rua Marien N”Guabi, No 118 in Maianga, across the street from the new Panela de Barra restaurant.

Field Trip: We will be going on a birding expedition to the Denbos with Michael Mills in February. Date and details will be given on Thursday, February 3 and on this website.

 

Dusky Twinspot, exists only in the highlands of Angola and Uganda. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

Our presenter Michael Mills grew up in the Kgalagadi and Kruger National Parks of South Africa, and obtained his training at the University of Cape Town where he received a BSc in Zoology and a Masters of Science degree in Conservation Biology. He has been watching birds for 25 years, and guiding bird watching outings since he was 16. He first visited Angola in 2003, and has returned regularly to study the country’s birds. Currently he spends half his time working for BirdLife (www.birdlife.org) on conservation projects in Angola, and half his time leading bird watching tours and expeditions throughout sub-Saharan Africa for a Cape Town-based company Birding Africa. (www.birdingafrica.com)

His work in Angola is focussed on BirdLife’s priorities of protecting habitats for threatened birds, and improving knowledge of threatened and poorly-known species to enhance our ability to conserve them. Two main project sites are under development in the main habitat types for threatened endemic birds: in the Afromontane/highland forests at Mount Moco, and the central Scarp Forests at Kumbira.

Most of what Michael will be talking about will be about this work, and the most important bird species that are being studied. He will also detail several other projects that he’s been involved in, including the databasing of Africa’s third largest bird skin collection in the museum in Lubango, the discovery of some new and significant Afromontane forests, the production of a CD of Angolan bird calls, the long-term planning for a bird atlas of the country, some new and important bird finds in Angola, and the first field information on the rare Black-tailed Cisticola. Michael also runs two websites on Angolan birds www.birdsangola.org and www.mountmoco.org.

Red Crested Turaco, found only in Angola. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

 

 

View from the top of Mount Moco looking north-west. Photo courtesy Michael Mills.

The Angola Field Group invites you to climb Angola’s highest mountain, Mount Moco, located in the central west province of Huambo – May 29 to June 01. Stretching up to 2620 meters, Mount Moco’s true importance is the fact that it has the best examples of Angola’s rapidly disappearing Afromontane forest and it is home to several rare birds. We will be accompanied on our trip by Dr. John Mendelsohn, a zoologist specializing in ornithology. The slopes are steep so participants should be in reasonably good shape and wear sturdy shoes with a grip.

We will depart Luanda Saturday May 29 at 7:00 AM and arrive in Huambo, the capital city of the province Huambo, late afternoon. It’s approximately a 9 hour drive from Luanda to Huambo. Sunday morning we will head for Mount Moco, set up camp and explore the area with Dr. Mendelsohn. Then very early Monday morning we’ll hike up the mountain with some local guides and hopefully be back in Huambo early evening to have dinner at a local restaurant. Tuesday (national holiday) early morning departure for Luanda preceded by a city tour of Huambo.

Saturday and Monday we will be accommodated in a homestay run by our guide/host, a Swiss expat who has made Huambo his home for the past 6 years. Meals, including while we are camping, will be provided by the homestay except for Monday evening. Shared accommodations in the homestay. Sunday we will be camping – bring your own gear but some mattresses are available. Price to be posted Monday.

* * *All Angola Field Group trips are at your own risk. We will be traveling through 5 provinces so you must have original passport with valid visa with you. A complete itinerary and map will be emailed to confirmed participants. To sign up for this trip or if you have more questions please send an email to Henriette at angolafieldgroup@gmail.com and if you have room for passengers in your vehicle, please advise. * * *

Sign up opportunity Thursday May 13th at the Field Group presentation, scroll down.