bluebird

Zambia--Best Field Guides/Apps?

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Now that our very first safari is booked for 2018, my dad and I want to start improving our ID skills for birds (especially) and mammals. We'll be in Zambia (South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks) in late August and September.

My searches thus far for field guides have not turned up a lot for Zambia. Do you have any recommendations of books that would help us for this area? Or should I just order guides that cover bordering countries and cross-reference lists from our chosen camps?

So far, I've purchased used copies of Birds of Southern Africa (Princeton; it does cover Zambia along with many other countries) and Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa (does not technically cover Zambia, although maybe it doesn't matter).

We won't likely take these books along with us, so if you have any apps or pocket guides that you'd also recommend, please let me know.

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Posted (edited)

HI @bluebird

 

So the problem with field guids on the birds side is that most of the examples I knew, only the southern part of africa is included. So it stops at the border of Botswana and Zimbabwe. Most of the times Zambia is not included but most of the birds are actually in the books like SASOL Birds of Southern Africa or Newmans Birds of Southern Africa.

https://www.amazon.com/Sasol-Birds-Southern-Africa-Sinclair/dp/1770079254/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499290576&sr=8-1&keywords=sasol+birds

https://www.amazon.com/Newmans-Birds-Southern-Africa-10th/dp/1770078762/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499290652&sr=8-1&keywords=newmans+birds+of+southern+africa

 

The copy that I use for birding in Zambia and the southern part of Africa is the following:

https://www.amazon.com/Birds-Africa-South-Sahara-Sinclair/dp/1770076239/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499290365&sr=8-1&keywords=birds+south+of+sahara

 

It's quite thick and can't be regarded as a pocket guide anymore, definitely a field guide but with the geographical tables inlcueded and all the Zambian Birds and their distribution are shown on a map. So in my opinion it's the bird guide for Zambia. But I must admit, that this copy is always with me on Safari.

 

For Mammals I use the following field guide:

Kingdon is the reference here:

https://www.amazon.com/Kingdon-Field-Guide-African-Mammals/dp/0691164533/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499290746&sr=8-1&keywords=kingdom+mammals

 

The Pocket guide version is always with me on Safari, very handy:

https://www.amazon.com/Kingdon-Pocket-African-Mammals-Princeton/dp/0691122393/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1499290831&sr=8-2-fkmr1&keywords=kingdom+mammals+pocket

 

The absolute non plus ultra:

https://www.amazon.com/Mammals-Africa-Volumes-Jonathan-Kingdon/dp/140812257X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1499291003&sr=8-4&keywords=mammals+of+africa

6 Volumes, very detailed and a lot of information in there more for zoologists. But I'm very happy to have that one as well in my library at home. Especially for the studies at home after a Safari but not necessary for a first timer.

 

So that are the ones that I use and I hope it wil help you. Nevertheless good choice Zambia and SL and the Kafue in particular.

 

Cheers

 

 

Edited by Grasshopper_Club
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As I'm heading to Zambia in a couple of months, I can give you some info as regards to what I've found.

 

@Grasshopper_Club is correct in that the Birds of Southern Africa that you got actually does not cover Zambia, although of course many of the birds will be in there. Depending where you are going in Zambia, MOST of the birds may be covered--but not all. A friend of mine (a tour operator in South Africa) made me a list of the birds NOT in that guide that are in South Luangwa, and there surprisingly weren't that many. Most were birds that would most likely be found on the escarpment where we likely won't be. Kafue may be another story, though.

 

I did buy the Birds of Africa South of the Sahara but it is far too heavy to carry on this trip...its definitely worth getting as a reference guide, but I'm not going to bring it. I'll bring the SASOL and hope that our guides/lodges will have the Birds of Africa South of the Sahara.

 

I did find a very interesting Zambia guidebook which is a bit hard to get in the USA, but I was able to order it from Book Depository in the UK (and it came quickly.) You could also get it from Amazon UK. This is the Hupe Nature Guide to the Luangwa Valley, its written by a German couple who travelled extensively in the area, and it gives a lot of background information and history which is really interesting. It is not technically an field guide but it does have sections on wildlife and plants. Its really quite a nice book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Luangwa-Unique-Wilderness-Africa-Nature-Guide/dp/3932084705

 

For mammals, I like the Stuart's Field guides; the Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa includes Zambia. I got the Kindle edition so as to carry one less book. I like this series as it includes range maps, tracks, and more in a concise format.  The Kingdon is of course a great book as well but it is also large, heavy, and includes ALL of Africa, so more to wade through.

https://www.amazon.com/Stuarts-Field-Mammals-Southern-Africa/dp/1775841111

 

 

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Posted (edited)

For some reason I wasn't able to post my comment when I wanted to a short while ago, something wasn't working properly so @janzin got in just ahead of me. 

 

I agree with everything that has just been said by @Grasshopper_Club as far as I am aware Birds of Africa South of the Sahara which I first bought ahead of a trip to Zambia is really the only good bird field guide that covers the country. There is a book called the Birds of Zambia: An Atlas and Handbook but as its title suggests it’s not a field guide it has lots of maps but not many illustrations. Otherwise there is Ber Van Perlo’s Birds of Southern Africa which does cover Zambia but I don’t know if it is still in print and it’s not a great book as his illustrations aren’t the best. The best thing to be said for the book besides covering Zambia and Malawi, Angola and northern Moz. not covered in other Southern African books is that it’s light weight. The only other option but this is out of print so you’d have to look for a secondhand copy is A Field Guide to Zambian Birds not found in southern Africa, this book is intended to be used as a supplement to one of the Southern African books. Maybe at some point it will be reprinted. Zambia only has one true endemic bird species Chaplin’s barbet but does have a couple of near endemics, if you are going down the electronic route then I would guess a Southern African guide like SASOL combined with Stephenson and Fanshawe’s Birds of East Africa should cover every species you’re likely to see but obviously neither would have maps for Zambia.

 

For mammals I think the Kingdon Pocket Guide is best for reasons of weight, I have his original field guide and the new second edition and the new version is a big improvement on the first one but it is bigger and therefore heavier, I will likely keep it on my bookshelf at home and just take the pocket guide when I go to Africa. I can refer to the field guide or the Mammals of Africa books when I am at home. I've not used the Stuart's Field Guide but it would be a good choice if you get the electronic version, I don't if kingdon is available as an ebook yet I haven't checked.

 

Most camps/lodges usually have a reasonable library of books so they may well have various field guides that you can refer to.

Edited by inyathi
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>>> The only other option but this is out of print so you’d have to look for a secondhand copy is A Field Guide to Zambian Birds not found in southern Africa,

 

FYI I have searched and searched and this book is just not available anywhere, even from the out-of-print shops like Abe Books etc. I've had it on my "watch list" on ebay for a year, but its never even come up. I do believe my friend in South Africa who made me the list used that to refer to. For reference, here is the entire very short list--but keep in mind this only applies to South Luangwa.

 

Northern Carmine Bee-eater
Pale-billed Hornbill
Black-backed Barbet
Grey-olive Bulbul
Cabanis’s Bulbul
Bocage’s Robin (Akalat)
Central Bearded (Miombo) Scrub Robin
Evergreen Forest Warbler
Laura’s Warbler
Miombo (Stierling's) Barred Warbler
Trilling Cisticola
White-tailed Blue Flycatcher
White-winged Starling
Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-weaver
Bar-winged Weaver
Black-bellied Seed-cracker

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@janzin thanks for the useful list above. I was planning to take my Sasol guide next year and this will be a useful list to also include. I have been thinking about buying Important bird areas in Zambia by Peter Leonard, does anyone know of this book and have any comments?

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@janzin  I'm a bit surprised to see Northern Carmine Bee-eater on that list.

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Posted (edited)

22 minutes ago, Geoff said:

@janzin  I'm a bit surprised to see Northern Carmine Bee-eater on that list.

 

Me too, but its on the South Luangwa list by Peter Leonard, which is what my friend was working off of. I suppose its a vagrant/rarity.

Capture.JPG.ee01e14765c9468a5155ca15a80c7426.JPG

 

In fact if you look at the full checklist, SLNP is the ONLY place its listed in Zambia. Listed as RR restricted range.

Edited by janzin
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For Kafue I recommend A Visitor's Guide to Kafue National Park Zambia by @Peter de Vere Moss

This excellent guide has checklists for mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some common trees and fishes.

It contains a fold out map and sections on the park's history,geology,climate etc

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 have the SASOL  eBirds of Southern Africa app on my IPad.  It is not cheap, but it works for me and is better than packing a book.

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@Grasshopper_Club thank you so much for the advice and all the links. It is more than I could have hoped for. I have two of the books on the way as I type this.

 

@janzin thanks for your recommendations and especially the list of species--so helpful! I'll look for that Hupe guide and your trip report when you get back.

 

@Caracal I've started a search for the Kafue guide, but it appears to be sold out. I'll keep looking for used copies, though--it sounds perfect, especially for my dad.

 

Lastly, @marg, the Sasol app was just what I was looking for. I've downloaded it and will get it for my dad for his birthday. 

 

This forum is filled with remarkably helpful, generous people. I feel fortunate to have found it!

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@Treepol are you heading to Zambia next year? Would love to hear your itinerary.

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@bluebird I have just paid deposits on this itinerary for a group of 7 The safari will be operated by Doug Macdonald Safaris and guided by Johnny Russell.

 

9 July - pickup Iringa, overnight Utengele Coffee Lodge

 

10-11 July - Kapishya/Shiwa N'gandu

 

12-13 July - Mutinondo Wilderness

 

14 July - Lusaka

 

15-17 July - Kafue, Hippo Bay Campsite

 

18-19 July - Kafue, KaingU Lodge

 

20 July - Kafue, Nanzhilla Plains Lodge

 

21-22 July - Vic Falls, Lokathula Lodge

 

I have wanted to see Shiwa N'gandu for many years, as well as returning to Ruaha NP so 2018 I get to do both of these. Actually I am excited about all of this itinerary, and am looking forward to visiting kafue and staying in the reed huts at Hippo Bay.  I am working on finalizing the Southern Tanzania itinerary today (she types hopefully).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think there's one record of a northern carmine bee-eater in Zambia (the one in Luangwa). There actually is a book called 'Fieldguide of birds found in Zambia which are not found in Southern Africa' : Here 

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2 hours ago, egilio said:

I think there's one record of a northern carmine bee-eater in Zambia (the one in Luangwa). There actually is a book called 'Fieldguide of birds found in Zambia which are not found in Southern Africa' : Here 

 

Yes, I mentioned that book above, but it is SO out of print that it is impossible to find at any price.  I presume that it was a small printing to begin with.

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51 minutes ago, egilio said:

I think there's one record of a northern carmine bee-eater in Zambia (the one in Luangwa). There actually is a book called 'Fieldguide of birds found in Zambia which are not found in Southern Africa' : Here 

 

@egilio  Interesting about the bee-eater sighting 

 

@janzin yes I imagine only a fairly small number were printed and when it was first published in 1998 there were no other books covering Zambia, but then in 2003 Birds of Africa South of the Sahara came out, with this book available I would think the market for the Zambian book is just too small to bother reprinting it. 

 

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2 hours ago, inyathi said:

I would think the market for the Zambian book is just too small to bother reprinting it. 

 

Then wouldn't it be good of the  book's authors to release it into the public domain?

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21 hours ago, Treepol said:

9 July - pickup Iringa, overnight Utengele Coffee Lodge

 

10-11 July - Kapishya/Shiwa N'gandu

 

12-13 July - Mutinondo Wilderness

 

14 July - Lusaka

 

15-17 July - Kafue, Hippo Bay Campsite

 

18-19 July - Kafue, KaingU Lodge

 

20 July - Kafue, Nanzhilla Plains Lodge

 

21-22 July - Vic Falls, Lokathula Lodge

That sounds like an incredible itinerary. I'm especially jealous of your stop at KaingU Lodge, mostly because KaingU has been so helpful on this forum and I'd love to see their camp now!

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@bluebird where are you going in South Luangwa and Kafue?

 

I'm looking forward to KaingU as we plan to do some river trips there.

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12 hours ago, Treepol said:

@bluebird where are you going in South Luangwa and Kafue?

 

I'm looking forward to KaingU as we plan to do some river trips there.

 

@treepol, here's the itinerary. I feel like a little kid waiting for it.

Aug. 28-Sept. 8, 2018
1 Night, Mfuwe Lodge, SLNP (Bushcamp Co.)
2 Nights, Bilimungwe Bushcamp, SLNP (Bushcamp Co.) 
2 Nights, Chamilandu Bushcamp, SLNP (Bushcamp Co.)
3 Nights, Mwamba Bushcamp, SLNP (Shenton) **Wish this one were longer.
3 Nights, Busanga Plains Camp, Kafue (Wilderness Safaris)
1 Night, Shumba Camp, Kafue (Wilderness Safaris) **We're doing a quick stop here because of a double-booking 
Departure

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@bluebird thats a lovely itinerary, I'm sure that you will have a fabulous time.  I dream of staying at Mwamba, maybe one day!

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