Haroni – Rusitu forests, birding hot-spots

Crowned African Eagles are found in the two forests in Chimanimani

by BIRDLIFE ZIMBABWE
THE Haroni-Rusitu is a very special, though very threatened lowland forest, one of few in the subregion.

From the junction area on the Mozambican border at 312m it rises as high as 1400m over just 4km up to the dramatic southern tip of the Chimanimani Mountains.

Taita Falcon
Martial Eagle
Pel’s Fishing-owl

Access to the reserve is rough resulting in few visitors and illegal clearing continues despite its supposed protected status, threatening also its rare mammals, reptiles and amphibians and plants.

The area is well known for unusual birds including Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Tiny Greenbul, Black-and-white Flycatcher, Woodwards’ Batis, Black-headed Apalis, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike and Lesser Seedcracker.

Other great forest birds include Grey Cuckooshrike, African Broadbill, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Orange Ground-thrush, White-starred Robin, Barratt’s Warbler, Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler, Chirinda Apalis, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Olive and Gorgeous Bush-shrike and Yellow-bellied Waxbill.

African Pitta is known to breed here and Pel’s Fishing-owl and Bat Hawk occurs in the riverine forest, with African Finfoot in the rivers.

Silvery-checked Hornbills fly the forests and Blue-spotted Wood-dove, Green Malkoha, Lesser Cuckoo, Green-backed Woodpecker, Collared Palm-thrush, Short-winged Cisticola, Red-winged Warbler, Pale Batis, Black-bellied Starling, Red-throated Wryneck, Black-winged Bishop, Green Twinspot and many others are in more open habitat.

The miombo areas can give you Rufous-bellied Tit, Miombo Rock-thrush, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Plain-backed Sunbird, Western Violet-backed Sunbird and Black-eared Seedeater.

Interesting raptors occur with Taita Falcon, Southern Banded Snake-eagle, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Palm-nut Vulture, Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Ayres’s Hawk-eagle and even vagrant Egyptian Vulture!

Vagrant Egyptian vulture