Teeming with wildlife, including Africa’s Big Five, Chobe’s diverse landscape provides ample game viewing. At the same time, the Chobe River, which forms the border to the north of the park, is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Boasting more than 450 species of birds, Chobe provides bucket-list sightings for birding enthusiasts. Pangolin Photographic Safaris take the legwork out of catching the perfect shot, even providing cameras and lenses for less-experienced photographers.
Travellers visiting Chobe find themselves spoiled with the largest elephant population in Africa, great predator sightings and spectacular birding. They’ll find that there is just about everything they could hope to photograph from both land and water on a Chobe photographic safari.
Expect to see Bateleurs, African marsh harriers, African fish eagles, Crimson-breasted shrikes, African skimmers, and Meyer’s parrot. However, birding enthusiasts looking for something a little more special should take note of the top five birds of Botswana, as seen in the Chobe National Park.
If you’re a keen twitcher and want to view the birds of Botswana, be sure to read our post The Top Five Birds of the Okavango Delta.
Top Five Birds to See in Chobe National Park
1. Long-toed lapwing
The Long-toed lapwing can usually be found foraging along the water’s surface, looking for beetles, ants, and small snails. It has a white face, black nape, hindneck and breast that sheens with an almost blue-ish gloss.
While it may seem reasonably sedate as it wades through the water, it is striking to see in flight and a rare sighting for travellers on safari in Southern Africa
2. Pennant-winged nightjar
A common bird on almost every birder’s wish list is the pennant-winged nightjar. This remarkable bird has an incredible silhouette, that when seen against the evening sky, is said to take on the appearance of a bat or even a child’s kite.
The male’s elaborate streamers (or pennants) last for only about six weeks from the end of October to the beginning of December. With this, timing your visit to the Chobe National Park is important. The pennant-winged nightjar can be identified by a soft, high-pitched, insect-like twittering that lasts for approximately 10 seconds.
3. African finfoot
Another famous bird that enthusiasts can’t wait to cross off their list is the African finfoot. This bird is notoriously shy, but when it is sighted ‘walking’ on water, its bright red-orange feet with lobed toes give it away.
The male African finfoot can be identified by its grey body, while the female appears browner with a boldly patterned brown and white face.
4. Rosy-throated longclaw
Standing a mere 20cm tall, the male Rosy-throated longclaw is identified by its bright pink throat and breast and a broad black band across the chest. It is often spotted foraging on the ground for insects or along marshy areas such as wetlands for frogs and other invertebrates.
Its distinctive call is what often gives away its location. Often heard from atop a bush, the call sounds like ‘cheet errr’ or ‘cheet eet eet eet eer’, according to Sasol Birds of Southern Africa.
5. White-backed night heron
The medium-sized white-backed night heron is, as its name suggests, mostly nocturnal. Despite this, it feeds during twilight hours, and here, can be spotted foraging for frogs, snails, and invertebrates.
Another shy character, this heron prefers to hide away in the backwaters and roosts in trees along the waterways during the day, making it a challenging bird to spot.
The white-backed night heron has a rufous upper chest and neck with narrow, white plumes on its back, which are concealed when the bird is perched. It has a black head and large eyes that are surrounded by a white eye-ring.
There’s no doubt that a safari vacation in Chobe National Park is special. With its proximity to the iconic Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, not to mention Zambia and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, extending a holiday or even an overnight trip into the neighbouring reserves and countries makes a safari vacation to Chobe National Park one for the memory books.
Image credit: Goh Su Fen