February Program – Deserts and Rivers: Birding Namibia and Botswana


Located in southern Africa, Namibia and Botswana contain some of the most exciting birding in Africa. Travelling there in August 2017, our speaker, Brent Bitz, birded the diverse habitats in each of these countries.

Located on the west coast of southern Africa, Namibia is almost twice the size of California but has only 2,100,000 people, giving it one of lowest population densities in the world. Bordered by a chilly Atlantic ocean on the west, the Namib Desert at approximately 55M year sold, is the oldest desert in the world. However seasonal rivers flowing out of the adjacent highlands provide birders with an abundance of local, migratory and endemic species. Swallow-tailed Bee Eaters foraging in Acacia trees, Pale Chanting Goshawks trying to catch Namaqua Sand Grouse at waterholes and thousands of Greater and Lesser Flamingos provided lots of excitement.

The highlands of Namibia are home to Etosha National Park. Centered around a vast seasonally flooded saltpan, Etosha provides habitat for Lilac-breasted Rollers, Martial Eagles, four species of Hornbill as well as large herds of Elephant, Zebra and excellent opportunities to see Black Rhinos, Cheetah and Leopard.

Moving inland, Botswana is home to the Okavango River and it famous delta. The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland river delta and is home to hundreds of bird species. Brent spent some days on an island in the river, which gave him an opportunity to cruise it in a skiff. While the bird of the trip was the Pell’s Fishing Owl, also known as the Flying Pumpkin, he also saw four species of Stork, fifteen species of Heron, including the Goliath Heron, largest in the world together with Hippos, Crocodiles and Malachite Kingfishers.

Brent Bitz is a Board Member of Northern Audubon and Friends of the Verde River and has had a life long interest in the outdoors and habitat preservation. A retired businessman, Brent and his wife, Dion, now live in Sedona and enjoy the wonderful diversity of northern Arizona.

Please join Brent on Thursday, Feb.15/18- 7:00PM at our monthly program in Flagstaff (Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church) and on Wednesday Feb.21/18- 7:00PM in Sedona (Sedona Public Library).