Seldomseen is a well known site for bird watchers who want to glimpse some of the rarer and more secretive of the Southern African forest birds. The name is a pun: you seldom see the birds but you often hear them! So bird watching here can be hard work – but very rewarding if you are patient. Seldomseen offers the services of an extremely good guide for those that need help!
It was through the bird ringing work and publications of Alec and Cecilia Manson and Peter Mwadziwana that Seldomseen became well known amongst Southern African bird watchers and ornithologists. Alec published some of the first information on the little-known Swynnerton’s Robin, and is still quoted as an authority on the species. Dale Hanmer continued the ringing work on Seldomseen and regularly published her data in the BirdLife Zimbabwe journal, The Honeyguide. Research still continues, through members of Birdlife Zimbabwe, to this day.
The following annotated checklist is not a comprehensive list for the whole Vumba region, but focuses on those birds that are “special” or common to the area, particularly Seldomseen. There are brief descriptions and notes on the characteristics of the species that help in identification. Guide books such as Newman‟s or Sasol should also be used. Since there is so much argument and confusion over the common names of the birds, Latin names are given as the definitive reference.
Before you begin: please remember that Seldomseen is a private nature reserve, so take only photos and memories and leave nothing but footprints. Thank you.
139 Longcrested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis
A medium sized black eagle with a long crest. Often found perched on poles and trees on forest edges. In flight the white “windows” on the wings and banded tail are diagnostic. Feeds on rodents. Has a high pitched mewing call. Common. This species has expanded its‟ distribution with the development of gardens and is now found around Harare.
141 Crowned Eagle Stephanotus coronatus
Very large eagle with a large hunting territory. Uncommon. Can be seen soaring on thermals along cliff edges, checking for prey in the canopy below. Main predator of Samango Monkeys. Melodious display call. Rare. These birds are threatened by destruction of their forest habitat, particularly large trees for nest sites.
153 Augur Buzzard Buteo augur
Medium sized, above black, below white with rufous tail makes this an easy raptor to identify. Common. Often seen hovering in wind or perched. Yelping call. Preys upon snakes and lizards.
218 Buffspotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans
Small, skulking and hard to find! Scuttles across forest paths like a rodent. Fairly common resident. Has a deep, resonant fog-horn like call, usually at night or when overcast. Nests in leaf litter on the ground.
350 Rameron Pigeon (African Olive Pigeon) Columba arquatrix
Large, purplish brown pigeon with yellow eye-patch, bill and feet. Flies in small flocks above canopy. Shy and wary but can be located by loud wing flapping whilst feeding on fruits. Nomadic, following the fruiting patterns of the trees.
351 Delegorgue’s (Bronze naped) Pigeon Columba delegorguei
Medium sized, dark; male has white mantle and bronze head and neck. Shy and elusive. Perches on top of tall trees in early morning and evening light. Sometimes in company of Rameron Pigeons. Rare overall, but fairly common in Bunga Forest. Distinctive call.