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Travel Namibia 47 Walvis Bay Lagoon is one of the most valuable wetland sites along the west coast of Africa. This haven is a phenomenal spectacle in summer, when it supports more than 150,000 birds. Apart from the flamingos, the mudflats are home to masses of pelicans, terns, grebes, plovers, gulls and migratory wader species. Even if you are not a birder, you cannot help being impressed by the numbers beard. Their camp, situated right on the Kavango, is perfect for exploring the area. On a boat with Mark it is possible to see most of the Okavango specialities, yet it was the woodlands that were the most exciting. Here the birds move in mixed feeding flocks. Incredibly, we identified 30 species in minutes as the flock moved through. Mark even knows spots where you can find the rare Souza's shrike and elusive sharp- tailed starling. The Erongo Mountains near Omaruru were a fitting finale to our birding trip. Erongo Wilderness Lodge is set amid huge granite boulders, and one does not have to go far to find birds. At dawn, from our vantage point, the bird sounds were incredible. Hartlaub's spurfowl called raucously from the tops of boulders and the liquid song of the evocative rockrunner echoed around us. With a drink in hand, I quietly toasted Namibia's feathered jewels, just as rosy- faced lovebirds landed nearby. Lunch was promptly interrupted. Again. Birding Namibia certainly delivered - we amassed 367 bird species and countless memories that will stay with me long after the Namib dust has worked out of my trusty binoculars. When you next travel in Namibia, remember the birds. You might just become the next birding junkie. brackish wetland at Okashana. An artesian well burst here a few years ago and has flooded an area, to the delight of livestock, birds and wildlife. We were thrilled to find Caspian plovers here - another good addition to our ever- growing list In the far northeast of Namibia, the Caprivi Strip is a narrow stretch of land very different to the rest of the country - the Kavango River and the teak woodlands offer many mouth- watering bird specials. By chance we ended up at Shumvura Camp, owned by Mark and Charlie Paxton. This couple are certainly eccentric - the first time I met Mark, he had a speckled mousebird clinging to his

Windhoek Good birding spots around the capital include Avis Dam, Daan Viljoen Reserve and the Gammam's Water Treatment Works. Expect to see your first black- faced waxbill and the city is also one of the best areas for Bradfield's swift. Olweendo 48 Travel Namibia feathered Bird spotting is not just for the dedicated twitcher, it can add interest to even the shortest Namibian trip. All you need to know is where to look. features W e've picked ten of our favourite birding spots. The best tip is to arrive early as birds are at their most active in the morning. In the midday heat you could try looking at nearby waterholes where the birds will go to drink and cool off. Demasius Marais' book ' Birding in Namibia' will help you with your identification, and it is worth investing in a pair of binoculars - cheap brands such as Opticron are perfectly adequate. Before you leave for Namibia, check out websites such as www. sabirding. co. za or www. fatbirder. com to see if there are any birding hotspots near to where you are staying. If you are a keen twitcher, try a specialist birding operators, such as Birding Ecotours ( www. birdingecotours. co. za), that has trained ornithologist guides. Sossusvlei The red dunes of Sossusvlei are home to the dune lark. Check out the grassy dune bases at Elim Dune or walk into the dunes from Sossuspoort lookout. Walvis Bay & Swakopmund October to April is best, when migrant birds arrive in their thousands and flamingos add colour to the scene. From Lagoon Lodge, an esplanade all along the lagoon makes birding easy. Chestnut- banded plover, Terek sandpiper, red- necked phalarope, common redshank and the endangered Damara tern can all be spotted. The rocky shoreline up to Swakopmund is good for marine cormorants and terns and the guano platform north of Walvis can be worthwhile in the morning. Gray's lark and tractrac chat can be found in the gravel plains east of Mile 4 saltworks, 8km north of Swakopmund. Brandberg and Spitzkoppe These granite inselbergs rise dramatically out of the surrounding barren desert plains. Spitzkoppe is one of the best sites for the shy Herero chat, which favours the dry boulder- strewn scrub at the base of the mountain. The stony plains here support Ludwig's bustard, Ruppell's korhaan, Burchell's Courser and Stark's lark. Burchell's courser Dune lark Black- faced waxbill Neels Dreyer Mola Mola Walvis Bay flamingos