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A Namibian birds M y wife says I am addicted to birding. If she's right, then Namibia is my ultimate ' fi x'. We were barely off the plane before we saw the vibrant crimson-breasted shrike, yellow- billed hornbills and iridescent Cape glossy starlings. We set out from Hosea Kutako International Airport with our sedan packed with basic camping gear, camera equipment, binoculars and spotting scopes. The air was heavy with the anticipation of many ' lifers' - bird watchers' jargon for species If ever you need proof that birdwatchers are a different breed, turn to Martin Benadie. By his own admission he is consumed by a quest to spot as many species as he can in his lifetime. He's travelled all over Africa, but he repeatedly returns to one country. Namibia. In Namibia, he claims, it's impossible not to catch the ' birding bug'. Recently he set himself a test. How many different birds could he spot on a two- week trip? Hold on to your sunhats. Here's how he got on. visit ROSY- FACED LOVEBIRDWHITE- FACED SCOPS OWLSOUZA'S SHRIKE CRIMSON- BREASTED SHRIKESHORT- TOED ROCK- THRUSH 44 Travel Namibia CAPE GLOSSY STARLING ORANGE RIVER FRANCOLIN RED- NECKED PHARALOPE NECKEDRED- PHARALOPEPHARALOPE

Travel Namibia 45 The Namib beckoned. Descending the Spreetshoogte, we wondered what would be seen next. Once on the fl at gravel plains, the starkness of the landscape exceeded my wildest dreams as, in the distance, ostrich shimmered in the afternoon light. The desert was far from lifeless, and we were lucky to fi nd a fl ock of cryptic Gray's lark without getting out of the car. These birds are unique in that they display before sunrise to avoid predators, but I am sure their pale plumage helps conceal them too. A lagoon swarming with pink greater fl amingos welcomed us at Walvis Bay, just in time for an awesome sunset and cold beer at the stilted Raft Restaurant overlooking the lagoon. Walvis Bay Lagoon is one of the most valuable wetland sites along the west coast of Africa. This haven is a phenomenal you've never spotted before. From Windhoek the tarred B2 is the quick route to the coast. My parents always chose gravel roads instead of highways on family holidays and we continued the tradition. Settling for the less- travelled pass ( C26) off the central escarpment was a good choice, but progress was slow. Within minutes we'd screeched to a halt. There was a Monteiro's hornbill. It was quickly followed by snow- white pied babblers and a short- toed rock- thrush. Alongside the road, telephone poles and trees were decorated with gigantic sociable weaver nests - one of the truly remarkable sights of Namibia. Oh, and there were plenty of pale chanting goshawks too. The 340km stretch took us all day to complete. I was in paradise, and all these birds had been spotted by the side of a road. It couldn't have been easier. HARTLAUB'S SPURFOWLVIOLET WOOD- HOOPOE HERERO CHATSECRETARY MADAGASCAR BEE- EATER BARE- CHEEKED BABBLER YELLOW- BILLED HORNBILL HOBATERE LODGE D BRAINE