SOME NOTES ON THE BIRDS OF THE ISOKA DISTRICT OF THE NORTHERN PROVINCE OF NORTHERN RHODESIA

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Arizona State University]On: 27 May 2014, At: 22:37Publisher: Taylor & FrancisInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number:1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street,London W1T 3JH, UK

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    SOME NOTES ON THEBIRDS OF THE ISOKADISTRICT OF THENORTHERN PROVINCE OFNORTHERN RHODESIAGervas ClayPublished online: 11 Oct 2010.

    To cite this article: Gervas Clay (1953) SOME NOTES ON THE BIRDSOF THE ISOKA DISTRICT OF THE NORTHERN PROVINCE OF NORTHERNRHODESIA, Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, 24:2, 76-97, DOI:10.1080/00306525.1953.9633803

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00306525.1953.9633803

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  • 'the Ostrich. September. 1953.

    SOME NOTES ON THE BIRDS OF THE ISOKA DISTRICTOF THE NORTHERN PROVINCE OF NORTHERN

    RHODESIA.

    By Gervas Clay.

    INTRODUCTION.

    Isoka is the modern name for the old Fife district. Lying on thenorthern border, it adjoins both Tanganyika Territory and Nyasaland, andhas therefore some importance from an ornithological standpoint. Littlecollecting has been done here in the past as far as is known, and I shallinclude any notes from the Check List of the Birds of Northern Rhodesia(Dr. J. M. Winterbottom, 1939) which refer to this district. My notes havebeen made during the period from June 1940 to June 1944, but they arethe notes of a beginner, as will no doubt be obvious. My justification isthe importance of the area in which I have collected and the interest ofsome of the records. To Dr. J. M. Winterbottom and Mr. C. M. N. WhiteI am very greatly indebted, for it is to them that I have sent skins foridentification and the latter was good enough to send me his native skinnerto teach my natives how to skin adequately. He has also sent me manyinteresting notes on the skins I have sent him, most of which are incorporatedhere. I am also greatly indebted to the papers of Mr. C. W. Benson onNyasaland birds to which constant references will be made.

    NOTES ON THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE DISTRICT.The district is normally divided into three main areas:A. The Western Plateau which includes the country west and north

    of the Luangwa Valley, lying at heights varying from 4,000 to perhaps6,000 feet. Of this, the centre is nearly flat and at the height of the dryseason there are no flowing streams and water is only found in pools andwells. In the rains, however, it becomes flooded, for it is so flat that therun-off is insufficient to deal with all the rain which falls. To the westthere is Lake Chanje and the Luanga Lagoon (not to be confused withLuangwa) where there is a considerable volume of water all the year round.As no natives in the area near Lake Chanje have canoes, and it is alwayssurrounded by swamp, I have never been able to reach it.

    In the north of this area the land rises along the border in a narrowplateau from the western border almost to Fort Hill. This is probablyclosely allied ornithologically with Southern Tanganyika, and it is likelythat there may be a number of Tanganyika species to be discovered there.Pycnonotus tricolor [ayi was found in that area, and the green pigeon isalso closely allied to the coastal wakefieldi.

    In the south of this area the land rises again to another narrow plateauon which the Boma stands. This plateau rises to 5,000 feet and its southern-most limits mark the boundary with the Chinsali district, in which Mr. W. V.Brelsford has worked. Another smaller plateau of about the same heightcuts off part of this area in the east from the Luangwa Valley. To the west,the country stretches out almost flat across the Chozi River into the Kasamadistrict.

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  • The Ostrich, September, 1953.

    B. The Luangwa Valley. The central area of the district lies in theLuangwa Valley, cut off by escarpment walls from both eastern and westernplateaux. I do not know the height above sea level of the area on thesouthern border-it may be about 2,500 ft. Round about Fort Hill, whichis just north of the head of the valley, the height is about 4,300, and I believethe height of the north end of the valley itself is about 4,100 ft. This areais lower and hotter than the rest of the district, and differs considerablyfrom it. There are patches of bamboo and mopane, but the baobab occurs

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    only south of the district, although a few trees reach almost as far as theborder. I have crossed the area just to the south of the Isoka border,

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  • The Ostrich, September, /953.

    and have seen there Eremialector bicinctus multicolor; which 1 am almostsure does not occur anywhere in the Isoka district.

    C. The Eastern Plateau. This area can be subdivided into tile(a) mountain areas and (b) the normal area between 4,500 and 6,000 feet.The whole of this area is very closely allied to the area of Nyasaland whichadjoins it to the east, and is carefully described in Mr. Benson's papers.It forms one ornithological area with that part of Nyasaland, and differencesare unlikely in the bird populations of the two areas. The mountains are inthree groups: Mafingas, Nyika and Mukutus. The Mafingas lie just southof Fort Hill, and Mr. Benson has collected there. 1 should say that over90~

  • The Ostrich, September, 1953.

    are really three very different areas incongruously thrown into one. Thatis inevitable for many years to come, and one can only hope that suchnotes as these may help in the eventual solution of the problems of distri-bution of birds in Africa, about which at present so comparatively littleis known.

    Abbreviations: W.P.~WesternPlateau. E.P.~Eastern Plateau. L.V.-Luangwa Valley.

    JI. SYSTEMATIC ANNOTATED LIST OF BIRDS.

    Phulacrocorax carbo lucidus.Seen Muyombe's, E.P., 19/10/43. Not noticed elsewhere, but probably

    occurs W.P.Phalacrocorax ajricanus ajricanus.

    Seen W.P. 29/3/41. It is curious how seldom cormorants have beennoticed, and that I have no record at all from the Luangwa Valley.Anhinga ruja ruja.

    Seen on the Luanga Lagoon, W.P., in December 1941 and December1942, and at Muyombe's, E.P., in October 1943. Never seen L.V.Ardea cinerea cinerea.

    Recorded by Brelsford from Luanga Lagoon, W.P. (See Brelsford,Ibis, 1942, p. 83.)Ardea goliath.

    Seen at Mbesuma on the Chambeshi River in 1940, west of the Isokadistrict. I have no records from within the district, but it probably occurs.Ardea purpurea purpurea.

    Seen L.V. 10/5/41 and Katonga stream, W.P., 1/44. Less commonhere than elsewhere.Mesophoyx intermedius brachyrhvnchos.

    Common on W.P.Bubulcus ibis.

    Common on W.P. and L.V.Scopus ubretta umbretta.

    Generally distributed W.P., E.P .. and L.V.Ciconia ciconia ciconia.

    Frequently seen on W.P. between November and the end of March.No records from L.V. nor from E.P., but the latter was not visited duringthe rains. Rings were recovered by natives as follows:

    August 1942: B-2833. N-Museum. Praha-Bohemia. 16527. BBInform Vogelwarte Rossitten Germania.Sphenorynchus abdimli.

    Many records from W.P., earliest 6/11/43, latest 26/3/42. Not recordedfrom E.P. or L.V. but E.P. was not visited during rains.A nastomus lamelligerus lamelligerus.

    Seen only once on the Chozi River, W.P .. 1942, on the Abercorn-Isokaboundary.Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis.

    Seen only once on W.P. and never on E.P. or in L.V. Definitely veryscarce.

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  • The Ostrich, September, 1953.

    Leptoptilos crumenijerus.Seen only once in fair numbers on Chozi River, W.P., Abercorn-Isoka

    boundary.Threskiornis aethiopicus aethiopicus.

    Never seen during four years in the district.Hagedashia hagedash erlangeri.

    Not uncommon on W.P. right up to the Tanganyika border (Ntatumbila)and L.V. Not noticed E.P.Thalassornis leuconotus leuconotus.

    Common on Luanga Lagoon, W.P., in December, but apparently absentin September.Aythya erythrophtha/ma.

    Seen on Luanga Lagoon, W.P., in December. I saw one get up fromthe water behind a frightened flock of T./. leuconotus, rapidly overhaul itand forge ahead.Anas undu/ata undulata.

    I have never come across it in the Isoka district, but I have a reliablerecord of its being shot at Kapendamaji Village, E.P., in 1943.Anas erythrorhyncha.

    A pair seen on a very small stream E.P. in September 1940 and a singlebird seen in flight near the Boma in early 1944.Dendrocygna bicolor.

    A dead bird, shot by a native, was brought to me at Shem Village, W.P.,on 5/8/43.Nettapus auritus.

    Only seen on Luanga Lagoon, W.P., and one nearby tributary, andnever noticed on E.P. or in L.V.Sarkidiornis melanonotos.

    Earliest date 10/8/43 at Shem Village, W.P., where it was commonand several were shot. Latest date 10/5/43, a single female, in L.V.Probably breeds in the mopani forests in L.V. in the rains.P/ectropterus gambensis.

    Ubiquitous, though not as common as it is in many other places. Onlyone seen in L.V. and that was in a deserted village 20 miles from the LuangwaRiver.Torgos tracheliotus.

    I believe I saw this vulture at David's Village on E.P., near the Nyasalandborder, 5/10/41.Trigonoceps occipitalis.

    Seen E.P. 5/10/40; south of the Isoka district in Chiwale's area ofLundazi 9{41; and at MweniYale Village near the Tanganyika-Nyasalandborder, W.P., 24/3/42, where 13 vultures were seen together, not all ofthem of this species.Necrosyrtes monachus pileatus.

    Seen once near Nyasaland border, E.P., 13/10/41.Falco cuvieri.

    A skin was col1ected near the Boma on the plains 26/12/43. I believeI had also seen one in March 1942 near the same place. There appear tobe very few authentic records of this bird from Northern Rhodesia, though

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  • The Ostrich, September, 1953.

    I myself collected a skin at Manyoka in Barotseland some years ago. W.P.Falco naumanni naumanni.

    Earliest date 15/11/43. Seen up to the end of March at any rate. Onlynoticed on passage W.P.Milvus migrans parasitus.

    Earliest date 5/8/40 and 5/8/43. Latest date 28/3/44. Towards theend of March each year I have seen large flocks on passage. It seems likelythat the kites seen were parasitus and not tenebrosus, One was collectednear Muyombe's, E.P. I have seen it at 7,200 feet on the Nyika Plateau.Aquila verreauxi,

    I believe I saw this eagle near the Mulungwishi River 19/10/41.Hieraaetus dubius.

    One was shot by my boy 2/4/42 very close to my house, W.P. It hadjust seized a Coracias spatulatus when shot, and the latter was able to flyaway apparently unharmed. Unluckily the skin of the H. dubius wasaccidentally destroyed, but I have no doubt at all it was H. dubius and notH. spilogaster.Polemaetus bellicosus.

    I think not uncommon throughout the district.Stephanoaetus coronatus.

    I saw what I take to have been a juvenile on E.P. 15/ JO /4 1. It had awhite crest and was seen sitting on a tree but was very shy.Lophaetus occipitalis.

    I have several records of this bird, in many cases sitting on a dead treein an old garden near a river or stream. It seems habitually to sit with thewind behind it, for the crest is always blown forward and not as usuallyseen in illustrations. My records are from all parts of the district W.P., E.P.and L.V., and in the months of March, June, September and October. AtMuyombe's 17/10 /43 one was seen with a long-tailed mouse in its beak.Kaupifalco monogrammicus.

    Fairly common at Isoka Boma, W.P.Terathopius ecaudatus.

    Very common. I have more than once seen one rising from besidethe road.Haliaeetus vocifer.

    Only seen at Luanga Lagoon, W.P.Accipiter minullus minullus.

    Immature female collected at Borna 16/2/43.Accipiter ovampensis.

    Seen at Boma 9/41. Winterbottom's check list gives a record fromFife (1899).Accipiter badius polyzonoides.

    Less common than in many places.Circus macrourus.

    Earliest date 20/10/43. Not seen after February.Francolinus coqui coqui.Francolinus coqui vernayi,

    Of two skins collected, one from the L.V. 27/1 0/42 was identified by

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  • The Ostrich, September, 1953.

    Austin Roberts as verna)'i, while the second from the B.P., near Muyombe's,1O{43 was identified by White as coqui. Also occurs W.P.Francolinus shelleyi whytei.

    Skins of two adults and two juveniles were collected. One adult fromthe top of the Mafinga Mountains was definitely whytei, and a juvenilefrom the top of the Mukutus was probably whytei also. E.P. A headlessadult and another juvenile from W.P. 50 miles north of Isoka on the roadcannot be certainly identified. The M ukutu juvenile collected 10{43 hada wing of 107 mm. and is probably similar to one commented on by Benson(Ibis 1940, page 293).Francolinus hildebrandti hildebrandti.

    Two males, one female. The female with its mottled hind neck appearsto belong to this race. It was collected in the L.V. at the foot of the westerlyescarpment. The two males were collected in or by riverain forest on theMafinga mountains and probably belong to the same race. This is a newrecord for Northern Rhodesia and the range of the sub-species is extendedslightly to the westwards.Pternistes cranchii intercedens.

    One immature speci...