The unmistakable sound of the African fish eagle is part and parcel of the call to visit the shores of the continent. No wonder it features as the national bird and in the coat of arms of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and South Sudan and is at home close to water throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
With spiricules at the end of its feet, the bird can grab hold of fish and other prey (other birds, smaller mammals, and even baby crocodiles) up to ten times its body weight. If it can’t lift the prey into the air, it will continue to fly at very low until it can get to firmer ground.
Even though it is a prolific hunter, the African fish eagle is not above stealing food from other species. This includes snatching prey from the goliath heron and also feasting on carrion. The African fish eagle numbers around 300,000 birds and is therefore regarded as ‘Least Concern’ when it comes to its conservation status.
The Okavango Delta is the best place to spot special species such as the wattled crane, lesser jacana, slaty egret, herons, larks and babblers.
With the Kafue, Luangwa and Zambezi Rivers providing sustenance, beautiful birds like the African pitta and shoebill stork will be a thrill to the searching eyes of birders.
For those keen on records, Kenya provides the opportunity to spot more than 300 species in any given day—the record is 342 in 24 hours.
The pristine coastline is home to coastal migrant waders, while further afield the red and blue double collared sunbirds, mangrove kingfisher, tiny greenbul, and olive-headed weaver can be observed.