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General News - January 2011

General News - January 2011

Migration in Hwange National Park - 30 January 2011

Migration in Hwange National Park
30 January 2011


Bird sightings and butterfly migrations in Zimbabwe

Hwange National Park

183 bird species were spotted in the month. In the morning of 19 December one of the greatest and easily overlooked migration took place. The striking brown-veined white butterflies started heading in the thousands in a north-easterly direction. Their destination is a secret; however, it is a race against time and survival. Birds do not need to look far in search of food. 

Red-Crested Korhaans are heard calling every day and the males are seen performing their unique seemingly suicidal 'rocket display' mating display where they fly straight up and drop down opening their wings just before they hit the ground. While some males are still vigorously advertising their bachelor status, some females have been spotted showing off their chicks.

New intra-African and Palaeartic migrants have made their way to Hwange this month. White-Winged Terns are regularly seen flying in small flocks around Ngamo. Banded Martins have also returned for the summer. One particular bird was observed quite closely as it was trying to find a place to roost for the night in the Davison's dining area. The classic White Storks as well as the Abdim's Storks are gracing the open vleis with their presence. 

The rains have also brought in the African Spoonbills. These birds are seen dotted around the edges of pans and rain flooded vleis. They keep us entertained as they hunt for small fish and aquatic invertebrates by moving their heads rapidly from side to side with their bill submerged and partly opened. The Retz's Helmet-Shrike has become a regular in camp this month as has a Gabar Goshawk.

The Yellow-billed Kites and Barn Swallows have been allowing for great photo opportunities and much amusement and awe as many gather in the open areas to feed on termites during the insects' nuptial flight. The bird's cunning manoeuvrability was observed as they scarcely avoid colliding with each other while flying after the termites. The soft whirr of the Barn Swallow calls and wings are barely heard amongst plaintive calls and sharp wing flaps of the kites as they all try to get their piece of the feeding frenzy.

Courtesy Davison's Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

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Record Zambezi river levels for January - 6 January 2011

Record Zambezi river levels for January
 6 January 2011


Record river levels for January

By: JANA-MARI SMITH of The Namibian

As rain continues to drench many parts of the country, rivers in the North have reached record water levels for this time of the year.

The flood reports compiled by chief government hydrologist Guido van Langenhove show that the Zambezi River has risen by almost 50 centimetres in one week, from 1,08 metres on December 29 to 1,50 metres measured at the same spot yesterday. 

The Kavango River stood at 6,57 metres at Rundu on Wednesday, up from 6 metres one week ago.

In the South, the Orange River level at Vioolsdrift has risen from 0.21 metres to almost one metre yesterday. Van Langenhove said the Kavango and Zambezi rivers “are rapidly rising and higher than normal and higher than in 2010 for early January. But it depends on the rains in the main months of the rainy season, January to March, whether we will get again the exceptional floods we had in 2009 and 2010”.

Van Langenhove added that meteorologists predict above-average rains for the coming rainy season. 

“The floods in the Lower Orange will be the highest since 1988. 

They result from heavy rains in South Africa.” He added that the present river levels are “more characteristic of the 1960s and 1970s, a period with generally high floods”.

Van Langenhove confirmed that the Cuvelai oshanas are filling up due to good rains in the area, although rain in the main catchment areas in Angola has been scarce so far. 

With regard to dam levels, only the Naute Dam near Keetmanshoop has had a significant inflow so far.

The Naute level rose from 72,6 per cent to 80,4 per cent in the last week. According to a NamWater dam bulletin issued this week, good rain has been received in the Naute Dam’s and Fish River’s catchment area. 

In contrast, the level of the Hardap Dam has dropped slightly, from 52,7 per cent last week to 52,4 per cent this week. Meanwhile, most parts of Namibia continue to receive regular bursts of rain. 

Rainfall figures in the far north have dropped from 20 mm or more on Sunday night to less than 5 mm on Tuesday and Wednesday at Katima Mulilo and Rundu. 

Ondangwa measured 13,8 mm on Tuesday night, while nearby towns received less.

The highest rainfall was measured in the central parts on Tuesday. Otjiwarongo recorded 14,2 mm on Tuesday night and Windhoek recorded 27,2 mm in some parts and 13 mm in other parts. On Tuesday morning, almost 40 mm of rain was recorded in and around Windhoek.

According to the Namibia Meteorological Service, the rainy weather will be confined to the central and northern parts of the country from Saturday, leaving the South   sunny and dry. 

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Zambezi white water rafting - 2 January 2011

Zambezi white water rafting
 2 January 2011

The water level has risen rapidly on the Zambezi river and as of the 2nd January 2011 white water rafting has changed from low water to high water level. This is in line with the safety regulations set out by RAZ (Rafting Association of Zimbabwe) that governs our industry. 

Rafting pick-up remains at 07h15 to 07h45 and rafting is between rapid #11 to #23. Clients will be returned to their accommodation between 14h00 and 15h00. 

Wishing you all the best for 2011!

Atta Atol British Airways Kenya Airways Trip Advisor

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