Namibia, day 1 ... Windhoek

This is the first of what is intended to be a series of Honeyguide blog postings about Honeyguide's holiday in Namibia, November 2018. 

Namibia Day 1, 10/11 November – Heathrow to Windhoek

A bright English morning turned to driving rain on the M25, but everyone made it to Heathrow Terminal 2, including David and Steph who had flown in from Manchester. A walk to the distant departure gate was followed by the long, smooth and very full overnight flight to Johannesburg, punctuated by meals and sleep as best everyone could manage while sitting. Passport control and luggage reclaim was quick, on this occasion. 
Southern marked weaver, Windhoek (Tim Hunt)

Observant Jeremy noticed the rock martins outside as we walked – albeit not far – from Terminal A to Terminal B to check-in for Windhoek, then walked back to Terminal A to go through security again and catch the Windhoek flight. Outside there were little swifts. The onboard meal, an early lunch, was welcome; less so the wobbles in turbulence as we descended. The pilot took us round again and then it was a smooth landing, though he said he nearly postponed it for a second time on account of baboons on the runway. There was full African heat as we walked the short distance to the terminal, with pale, long-tailed African palm swifts buzzing round the buildings and palm trees. Passport control here was very slow, but eventually we were through, meeting Geoff and Darrin who’d driven with the vehicles from Cape Town.

Joe's Beer House, Windhoek,  with eccentric paraphernalia

With cash and sim cards sorted, we noted laughing dove, fork-tailed drongo and house sparrows around the airport car park. We then drove west to Windhoek, Geoff explaining how recent rain had brought green to the scrubby acacia trees. We seemed to be earlier than expected at Klein Windhoek Guest House, but keys and rooms were found. In the meantime some of us watched a southern masked weaver on a new nest, and Geoff showed us the bird bath he’d filled earlier which drew in red-faced mousebirds. We went to rooms to freshen up. Outside my room I found blue waxbill, white-crowned sparrow weavers and acacia pied barbet, and the theme of easy birds close to home continued for everyone who gathered for a cold beer. The star species was certainly swallow-tailed bee-eater; fly-over European bee-eaters called on occasions too. A yellow mongoose wandered across the plot of land we overlooked on at least three occasions.

After a bit of a rest, most of the group gathered at 4pm for a short drive to Avis Dam, a popular spot for dog walkers and others out on a Sunday this hot afternoon. Where there is sometimes water today it was dry, though the mixture of scrub behind the dam and dry grassland where water might have been was still productive. Aerial feeders stayed with us in good numbers the whole time: white-rumped and little swifts, rock martins and striped swallows. A plain bird in the scrub had the chestnut undertail area that is a feature of chestnut-vented tit-babbler (actually a Sylvia warbler); a dark bird under a bench revealed the red underside of crimson-breasted shrike. There was more: a familiar chat perched alongside more swallow-tailed bee-eaters; three African hoopoes landed on a bare tree-top; a black-headed heron and six blacksmith plovers flew into the grassy area.

We gathered at 6:20 for the short drive to the celebrated Joe’s Beer House for our evening meal among its eccentric paraphernalia.
Swallow-tailed bee-eater, Windhoek (David Bennett)


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