Malawi, September-October 2008

Page 9: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Warblers

All dates between 22nd and 30th relate to September, all dates from 1st to 10th relate to October.

 

White-breasted Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina pectoralis [4]

4 Dzalanyama 1st and 2 there 2nd.

 

Black Cuckoo-Shrike Campephaga flava [-]

A black bird with a horizontal stance was seen briefly Ruo Gorge (Mulanje) 28th. It was probably this species but as there were Square-tailed Drongos in the area and the observation was very brief, I cannot be certain.

 

Black-eyed Bulbul (Dark-capped Bulbul) Pycnonotus tricolor [54]

Some authorities treat this as the same species as Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus; whatever the species the race that occurs in Malawi is naumanni. Small numbers (1-7) at most places and often in gardens.

Black-eyed Bulbul, Thyolo, 30-Sep-08 Black-eyed Bulbul, Thyolo, 30-Sep-08

Black-eyed Bulbul, Satemwa Tea Estate (Thyolo), 30th September

 

Black-eyed Bulbul, Senga Bay, 10-Oct-08 Black-eyed Bulbul, Ku Chawe, 27-Sep-08

Black-eyed Bulbul, Senga Bay, 10th October

 

Black-eyed Bulbul, Ku Chawe (Zomba Plateau), 27th September

 

Little Greenbul Andropadus virens [4]

1 near Zomba Forest Lodge 26th, 1 Zomba 27th and 2 Ruo Gorge (Mulanje) 28th-29th.

Little Greenbul, Mulanje, 28-Sep-08 Little Greenbul, Mulanje, 28-Sep-08

Little Greenbul, Ruo Gorge (Mulanje), 28th September

 

Little Greenbul, Zomba Plateau, 26-Sep-08 Little Greenbul, Zomba Plateau, 26-Sep-08

Little Greenbul, near Zomba Forest Lodge, 26th September

Little Greenbul, Ruo Gorge (Mulanje), 29th September

 

Sombre Greenbul (Sombre Bulbul) Andropadus importunus [-]

A bird heard calling at Liwonde 25th was identified by the guide as this species.

 

Southern Mountain Greenbul Andropadus fusciceps [10]

Sometimes treated as a race of Eastern Mountain Greenbul Andropadus nigriceps: 8 Ku Chawe (Zomba Plateau) 27th and 2 Zovo-Chipolo Forest (Nyika) 7th.

Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Mua, 9-Oct-08  

Southern Mountain Greenbul, Zovo-Chipolo Forest (Nyika), 7th October

 

Olive-headed Greenbul Andropadus olivaceiceps [2]

1 near Zomba Forest Lodge 26th and 1 Ku Chawe (Zomba Plateau) 27th; this form is often treated as a race of Stripe-cheeked Greenbul Andropadus milanjensis.

Olive-headed Greenbul, Ku Chawe, 27-Sep-08 Olive-headed Greenbul, Ku Chawe, 27-Sep-08

Olive-headed Greenbul, Ku Chawe (Zomba Plateau), 27th September

 

Olive-headed Greenbul, Zomba Plateau, 26-Sep-08  

Olive-headed Greenbul, near Zomba Forest Lodge, 26th September

 

Yellow-bellied Greenbul (Yellow-bellied Bulbul) Chlorocichla flaviventris [4]

2 at the entrance to Liwonde 23rd and 2 Mua Mission 9th.

Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Mua, 9-Oct-08 Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Mua, 9-Oct-08
Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Mua, 9-Oct-08 Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Mua, 9-Oct-08

Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Mua Mission, 9th October

 

Placid Greenbul Phyllastrephus placidus [3]

3+ near Zomba Forest Lodge 26th-27th. This species is often treated as a race of Cabanis' Greenbul Phyllastrephus cabanisi.

Placid Greenbul, Zomba Plateau, 27-Sep-08 Placid Greenbul, Zomba Plateau, 27-Sep-08

Placid Greenbul, near Zomba Forest Lodge, 27th September

 

Terrestrial Brownbul (Terrestrial Bulbul) Phyllastrephus terrestris [9]

Up to 3 Liwonde 23rd & 25th, 5 elsewhere at Liwonde 24th and 1 Makuzi Lodge 8th. In addition 2+ at Ku Chawe (Zomba Plateau) 27th were identified as this species at the time but in hindsight I am not certain that I ruled out Placid Greenbul adequately.

Terrestrial Brownbul, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08 Terrestrial Brownbul, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08

Terrestrial Brownbuls, Liwonde, 23rd-25th September

 

Yellow-streaked Greenbul (Yellow-streaked Bulbul) Phyllastrephus flavostriatus [4]

At least 3 Ruo Gorge (Mulanje) 28th with 1 there 29th; 1 Thyolo Mountain 30th.

Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Mulanje, 28-Sep-08 Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Mulanje, 28-Sep-08

Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Ruo Gorge (Mulanje), 28th September

 

Eastern Nicator (Yellow-spotted Nicator, White-throated Nicator) Nicator gularis [-]

A bird seen briefly at Liwonde 25th was identified as this species by the guide but my views were not good enough to count it.

 

Miombo Rock Thrush Monticola angolensis [2]

Having missed this at Dzalanyama I was pleased to get a second chance on the way down from Nyika on 7th. First a female was seen perched briefly and then a bit further on a male flew across the road in front of us.

 

Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus [10]

1 Lilongwe 22nd, 1 Satemwa Tea Factory (Thyolo) 29th, up to 6 Dzalamyama 1st-3rd and 2 Nyika 7th.

Kurrichane Thrush, Thyolo, 29-Sep-08  

Kurrichane Thrush, Satemwa Tea Factory (Thyolo), 29th September

 

Cholo Alethe (Thyolo Alethe) Alethe choloensis [2]

Known from only a handful of forest sites in southern Malawi and just across the border in Mozambique, this was high on my list of priorities and I made sure the itinerary took in the best two sites in Malawi, Mulanje and Thyolo. Even so, I didn't expect to find it easily as they're a skulking forest bird - and my success with forest birds wasn't generally high. However, at Ruo Gorge (Mulanje) on 28th I saw one in full view on the ground beside the path for a couple of seconds before it disappeared into cover and a bit later one in very similar circumstances a hundred yards away. Probably different birds, but in view of their rarity probably not safe to assume that. Perhaps if I'd been quicker I could have grabbed a record shot but I decided to make sure of the identity before reaching for the camera. My luck with this difficult species continued at Thyolo Mountain on 30th where 1 was seen well in flight moving from one forest patch to another.

 

Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops [2]

A plain-backed Cisticola that perched for a minute at the top of a tree at Dzalanyama 1st remained unidentified for a while but I now think it's got to be Red-faced. It's not quite what I expected them to look like, but it seems that they vary in appearance (seasonally?) quite a bit. Please let me know if you agree/disagree with this (or any other) ID! This species is supposed to be the commonest Cisticola throughout Malawi so slightly surprising that more weren't seen.

Updated 2011: A second individual Nyika 7th seemed too long-tailed for this species prompting thoughts of Prinia - I didn't think it was a Prinia and originally identified it as Lazy Cisticola which is said to be the most Prinia-like Cisticola. Having seen more Lazy Cisticolas in my 2011 visit I realised this ID was not correct as that species has a more strongly rufous crown and longer supercilium; I think it must have instead been Red-faced Cisticola but as always, comments are welcome!

Red-faced Cisticola, Dzalanyama, 1-Oct-08 Red-faced Cisticola, Dzalanyama, 1-Oct-08

Red-faced Cisticola, Dzalanyama, 1st October

 

Lazy Cisticola?, Nyika, 7-Oct-08 Lazy Cisticola?, Nyika, 7-Oct-08

Red-faced Cisticola, Nyika, 7th October

 

Neddicky (Piping Cisticola) Cisticola fulvicapilla [1]

1 near Zomba Forest Lodge 27th. Until 2011 I had this down as a Singing Cisticola Cisticola chiniana but upon seeing some similar Cisticolas nearby in 2011 I've now started to doubt this ID, favouring Neddicky. Let me know what you think!

Singing Cisticola, Zomba Plateau, 27-Sep-08 Singing Cisticola, Zomba Plateau, 27-Sep-08

probably Neddicky (originally identified as Singing Cisticola), near Zomba Forest Lodge, 27th September

 

Black-lored Cisticola Cisticola nigriloris [10]

Up to 10 Nyika 5th-6th, mostly around Chelinda and the dams, or Lake Kaulime. A conspicuous Cisticola with a distinctive duetting song.

Black-lored Cisticolas, Nyika, 6-Oct-08 Black-lored Cisticolas, Nyika, 6-Oct-08
Black-lored Cisticola, Nyika, 6-Oct-08 Black-lored Cisticola, Nyika, 5-Oct-08
Black-lored Cisticola, Nyika, 5-Oct-08  

Black-lored Cisticolas, Nyika Plateau, 5th-6th October

 

Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chiniana [5]

At Liwonde 3 23rd and 1 25th; 1 between Nyika and Rumphi 7th. Unidentified Cisticolas in the dambo at Dzalanyama 1st-2nd were probably also this species.

Rattling Cisticola, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08 Rattling Cisticola, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08
Rattling Cisticola, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08 Rattling Cisticola, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08
Rattling Cisticola, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08 Rattling Cisticola, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08
Rattling Cisticola, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08  

Rattling Cisticolas, Liwonde, 23rd September

 

Rattling Cisticola, Nyika - Rumphi, 7-Oct-08 Rattling Cisticola?, Dzalanyama, 2-Oct-08

Rattling Cisticola, between Nyika and Rumphi, 7th October

 

Probable Rattling Cisticola, Dzalanyama, 2nd October - opinions welcome on this one's identity

 

Wailing Cisticola Cisticola lais [2]

2 near Chelinda (Nyika) 6th.

 

Churring Cisticola Cisticola lais [10]

Up to 10 Nyika 5th-7th, mostly around Chelinda and the dams.

Churring Cisticola, Nyika, 5-Oct-08 Churring Cisticola, Nyika, 5-Oct-08
Churring Cisticola, Nyika, 6-Oct-08 Churring Cisticola, Nyika, 6-Oct-08
Churring Cisticola, Nyika, 7-Oct-08 Churring Cisticola, Nyika, 7-Oct-08
Churring Cisticola, Nyika, 6-Oct-08  

Churring Cisticolas, Nyika Plateau, 5th-7th October

 

Rufous-winged Cisticola Cisticola (galactotes) galactotes [3]

At least 3 Mpatsanjoka (Senga Bay) 9th. This species is often treated as a race of Winding Cisticola.

 

Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola) Cisticola juncidis [3]

1 Liwonde 23rd and 2 Mpatsanjoka (Senga Bay) 9th.

Fan-tailed Warbler, Mpatsanjoka, 9-Oct-08 Fan-tailed Warbler, Mpatsanjoka, 9-Oct-08

Fan-tailed Warbler, Mpatsanjoka (Senga Bay), 9th October

 

Fan-tailed Warbler, Liwonde, 23-Sep-08  

Fan-tailed Warbler, Liwonde, 23rd September

 

Wing-snapping Cisticola (Ayres' Cisticola) Cisticola ayresii [2]

1 near Chelinda (Nyika) 5th.

Wing-snapping Cisticola, Nyika, 5-Oct-08 Wing-snapping Cisticola, Nyika, 5-Oct-08

Wing-snapping Cisticola, Nyika Plateau, 5th October

 

Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava [12]

2 Malosa 23rd; at Liwinde 1 24th and 4 25th; 2 Thyolo 30th, 1 Dzalanyama 2nd and 2 Nyika 7th. For what's meant to be one of the two commonest passerines in the country (with Black-eyed Bulbul) this was quite a poor showing!

Tawny-flanked Prinia, Thyolo, 30-Sep-08  

Tawny-flanked Prinia, Satemwa Tea Estate (Thyolo), 30th September

 

Red-winged Warbler (Red-winged Prinia) Heliolais erythropterus (or Prinia erythropterus) [2]

2 between Vwaza and Nyika 4th.

 

Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica [1]

1 Dzalanyama 2nd.

 

Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida [7]

Up to 3 Liwonde 24th-25th and 4 Makuzi 8th. One of my favourites!

Yellow-breasted Apalis, Liwonde, 24-Sep-08 Yellow-breasted Apalis, Liwonde, 24-Sep-08
Yellow-breasted Apalis, Liwonde, 24-Sep-08 Yellow-breasted Apalis, Liwonde, 24-Sep-08

Yellow-breasted Apalis, Liwonde, 23rd September

 

Yellow-breasted Apalis, Makuzi, 8-Oct-08  

Yellow-breasted Apalis, Makuzi, 8th October

 

Black-headed Apalis Apalis melanocephala [4]

3 Ruo Gorge (Mulanje) 28th and 1 Thyolo Mountain 30th.

 

Green-backed Camaroptera (Bleating Bush-Warbler) Camaroptera brachyura [2]

1 Liwonde 25th and 1 Ruo Gorge (Mulanje) 28th. Also a probable seen briefly at Vwaza Marsh 4th.

 

Stierling's Wren-Warbler Calamonastes stierlingi [1]

1 Dzalanyama 1st. This species is sometimes treated as a race of Pale Wren-Warbler (Miombo Camaroptera) Calamonastes undosus and is sometimes placed in the genus Camaroptera.

 

African Reed Warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus [1]

A number of briefly glimpsed warblers seen from the boat at Liwonde 24th-25th were suspected as being this species but views were inconclusive. Much showier, albeit not for long, was 1 Makuzi Lodge 8th. Although views of this individual were perhaps not sufficient to positively rule out Eurasian Reed Warbler, the latter is a scarce migrant in Malawi which does not arrive before November. Marsh Warbler also arrives in November so can be eliminated.

 

Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris [2]

Among the Acrocephalus warblers seen from the boat at Liwonde on 24th and 25th, none were positively identified at the time as this species, although it was certainly a strong contender for a couple. A few quick attempts to photograph them were not expected to produce useful results but in fact a couple of shots do appear to be sufficient to confirm that this species was involved. Opinions supporting or contradicting this view would be welcome!

Lesser Swamp Warbler, Liwonde, 24-Sep-08 Lesser Swamp Warbler, Liwonde, 25-Sep-08

Lesser Swamp Warblers, Liwonde, 23rd September

 

Mountain Yellow Warbler Chloropeta similis [2]

Up to 2 along the stream near Chelinda (Nyika) 5th-6th.

Mountain Yellow Warbler, Nyika, 6-Oct-08 Mountain Yellow Warbler, Nyika, 6-Oct-08

Mountain Yellow Warbler, Nyika Plateau, 6th October

 

Green-capped Eremomela (Greencap Eremomela) Eremomela scotops [6]

At Dzalanyama 3 1st, 1 2nd and at least 2 3rd.

Green-capped Eremomela, Dzalanyama, 1-Oct-08 Green-capped Eremomela, Dzalanyama, 1-Oct-08
Green-capped Eremomela, Dzalanyama, 1-Oct-08  

Green-capped Eremomela, Dzalanyama, 1st October

 

Red-capped Crombec Sylvietta ruficapilla [-]

1 possible Dzalanyama 1st. This was seen during a burst of activity which included several different new species passing through - I definitely saw and called a Crombec and thought I remembered seeing the head pattern of Red-capped, but Steve Bailey was with me at the time and it later transpired that the Crombec which he'd got on to was Long-billed. I think we saw two different birds (quite feasible given the number of birds present; Steve saw a Red-capped in the same place next day) but there's an element of doubt so I won't count it.

 

Long-billed Crombec (Cape Crombec) Sylvietta rufescens [3]

2 Liwonde 24th and 25th and 1 Cool Runnings (Senga Bay) 10th.

Long-billed Crombec, Senga Bay, 10-Oct-08 Long-billed Crombec, Senga Bay, 10-Oct-08

Long-billed Crombec, Senga Bay, 10th October

 

Long-billed Crombec, Liwonde, 24-Sep-08 Long-billed Crombec, Liwonde, 25-Sep-08

Long-billed Crombecs, Liwonde, 24th-25th September

 

Yellow-throated Wood Warbler (Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler) Phylloscopus ruficapilla [3]

Following a probable at Ku Chawe (Zomba Plateau) 27th, singles Ruo Gorge (Mulanje) 28th and 29th and Thyolo Mountain 30th.

Yellow-throated Wood-Warbler, Mulanje, 28-Sep-08 Yellow-throated Wood-Warbler, Mulanje, 29-Sep-08

Yellow-throated Wood Warbler, Thyolo Mountain, 30th September

 

Yellow-throated Wood Warbler, Ruo Gorge (Mulanje), 29th September

 

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus [1]

A familiar call alerted me to the presence of 1 at Nyika on 7th. This Palaearctic migrant arrives in Malawi from October (a few in September) and both races trochilus and acredula occur (rarely yakutensis). This one was not seen for long enough for me to make a stab at its racial identifty.

 

Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster [2]

Singles Dzalanyama 1st and 3rd. Somewhat duller than I had expected and initially overlooked as Southern Hyliotas.

Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Dzalanyama, 1-Oct-08 Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Dzalanyama, 1-Oct-08

Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Dzalanyama, 1st October

 

Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis [1]

3 Hyliotas Dzalanyama 1st, of which at least 1 was Southern.

 

Brown Parisoma (Brown Warbler) Parisoma lugens (or Sylvia lugens) [-]

A probable was seen briefly on the way out of Nyika on 7th but unfortunately a truck chose that moment to drive past shrouding the bird in a cloud of dust. I didn't see it again and am not 100% certain, though I can't imagine what else it could have been!

 

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