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Warblers, Nightingales & Rhinos

Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Goo-Moremi Gorge

4 Day Trip : 7 to 10 February 2023

About 200 bird species migrate south from the Palearctic region, more than 80 of these travelling as far south as southern Africa. Most follow routes where food sources are available e.g. coastlines, rivers and lakes. Very few land birds undertake long ocean or desert crossings.

But the most amazing group of migrants are the diminutive warblers, weighing only a few grammes, migrating by night and navigating by the stars between northern Europe or Siberia to southern Africa. Here they spend the European winter months, returning 6 months later to breed.

Warblers are notoriously secretive and difficult to identify. They are best identified not only by plumage, but also by habitat, height above the ground, season, shape and voice. They are generally skulkers that hide in dense thickets and are rarely seen in the open. Many spend their time within 1 m of the ground, but some species remain higher up in the canopy. Most species have protracted, rapid, varied songs which are different from other groups but hard to tell from one another. Most Palearctic species arrive from October to late November and leave during March and early April. They quietly and unobtrusively go about their business of moulting and fattening up for the return journey to their breeding grounds, becoming more vocal and less shy in late summer (February to March) which is the best time to find migrant species

In South Africa, warblers are generally considered to be a group of birds that look alike and are cryptically coloured and referred to as LBJ’s. This however is a generalisation of a large family of birds which includes species like cisticolas, apalises, crombecs, eremomelas and prinias. 

Our trip presents us with the possibility of encountering 7 species of migrant warblers in addition to a few resident species.

These migrant warblers are divided into 4 genera ie.:
Willow Warbler.
Icterine Warbler
Olive-tree Warbler
Common Whitethroat
Garden Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Marsh Warbler

If summer rains have been good, we also have a very good chance of finding Thrush Nightingale, a notorious super-skulker.


Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a community based wildlife project, established in 1992 to assist in saving the critically endangered rhinoceros, to restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its former natural state and to provide economic benefits to the local community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources.
The sanctuary is on about 8000 ha of Kalahari sandveld, and is centred on Serwe Pan, a large, grass-covered depression with several natural water holes. It is home to both Black and White Rhinoceros, 30 other mammal species and about 230 species of birds.
The surrounding habitat of predominantly Acacia thornveld offers a variety of bushveld bird species and dry biome specials. A fascinating variety of migrant warblers are well represented, and a night drive could produce several owls and nightjars.
Situated east of Palapye, the imposing Tswapong Hills rise almost four hundred metres above the surrounding plains. These billion-year-old titans extend 60 km west of the village of Moremi and measure a full 20 km in breadth. Comprised of sandstone, ironstone and quartzite, which give them their characteristic rich hues, Tswapong holds numerous fascinating, and very beautiful, archaeological, historical and natural history sites.
Situated deep within the hills, Goo-Moremi Gorge is the source of three permanent waterfalls. The first two are smaller, but fan out into large waterholes, whilst the uppermost falls is a full ten-metres high, giving rise to arresting scenes of clear water cascading over rocky outcrops, then collecting in a deeply hidden, lushly vegetated, fern-fringed lagoon. The Moremi Gorge is a designated National Monument and is managed by the Department of National Museum, Monuments and Art Galleries.
Over 350 species of birds have been recorded in the area, including the endangered Cape Vulture, Verreaux’s Eagle and Black Stork, as well as over a hundred butterfly species.

Birding Attractions

Cape Vulture, Verreaux’s, Martial and Tawny Eagles, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Bateleur, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, African and Southern White-faced Scops-Owls, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Secretarybird, Kori Bustard, Northern Black Korhaan, Orange River Francolin, Bronze-winged, Temminck’s and Double-banded Coursers, Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Caspian Plover (with luck), Crimson-breasted Shrike, Sabota, Fawn-coloured, Spike-heeled, Pink-billed and Rufous-naped Larks, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Thrush Nightingale, Olive-tree, Icterine, Great Reed, Marsh and Garden Warblers, Common Whitethroat, Barred Wren-Warbler, Tinkling Cisticola, Violet-eared and Black-faced Waxbills.


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Day 1

Johannesburg-Goo-Moremi Gorge

Depart at “sparrows” and travel via Martin’s Drift to Goo-Moremi Gorge.
Birding en route, arrive mid-afternoon.
Late afternoon birding in lodge surrounds.
Overnight at Goo-Moremi Lodge.

Day 2

Goo-Moremi Gorge-Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Morning birding walk around Goo-Moremi.
Depart for Khama Rhino Sanctuary after lunch.
Arrive at destination mid-afternoon.
Late afternoon birding and game viewing.
Overnight in Khama Rhino Sanctuary chalets.

Day 3

Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Day spent birding and game viewing
Night drive in open safari vehicle.
Overnight in Khama Rhino Sanctuary chalets.

Day 4

Khama Rhino Sanctuary-home

Early morning birding and game viewing
Depart after brunch for Johannesburg, arriving late afternoon

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