Some people find it strange that I love my hometown of Windhoek so much. They say it is dry and drab, but I see it completely differently.
t sits at 1700 metres above sea level (12th highest capital in the world) in the Khomas Highland plateau area between the Auas and Eros mountain ranges. It is home to about 400,000 people at a low density of only 63 per square kilometre and has over 300 sunny days per year.
It is also very rich in avifauna, with over 300 species possible in and around Windhoek, many of them near-endemics of Namibia. So, if, like me, you are a keen birder, there are several key areas to visit to maximise your bird count here.
The Daan Viljoen Game Park on the western side of the city provides excellent dry-country birding and could yield Monteiro’s Hornbill, Rockrunner, Carp’s Tit, Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Orange River Francolin and Barred Wren-Warbler. The park also hosts gemsbok, eland, greater kudu, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe and other antelope.
East of the city is Avis Dam, a spot that should see you add Shaft-tailed Whydah, Violet-eared Waxbill, Rock Kestrel, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Desert Cisticola to your list. If there is water in the dam you could also see South African Shelduck, Red-billed Teal or other waders and warblers.
The sewage works in the city is, as always, a productive, if somewhat strange, spot to visit. Only a birder would understand! Here you should see Maccoa Duck, Purple Heron, Common Moorhen or even Black-necked Grebe and Baillon’s Crake, if you are lucky.
Another must-visit spot is the area around the strange ‘ice cream cone’ structure on the hill in the city centre. You can’t miss it! This is a good spot for White-tailed Shrike, Pririt Batis, Rosy-faced Lovebird (pictured above) and Chestnut Weaver.
So you see, even in a supposedly dry and drab place like Windhoek, there is plenty of birding excitement to be had. That is why I love the city so much and am proud to call it home.
With training in guiding and veterinary science, Nick Buys’ work in the field and passion for birds resulted in him setting up Nature Travel Namibia, through which he guides specialist trips around the country as well as the rest of Africa, www.naturetravelnamibia.com
To see the pics below in full size, click on one of them and scroll through…