The Silent Art of Birdwatching

| Tamlin Wightman

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I’d Rather Be Birding

For some, the sight of a bird in flight stirs an instant desire to move, to travel. But in the dedicated birdwatcher, there is something of the opposite, not desire, but, rather, a contentment. Quiet awe. Rather than restlessness, the true birder is taken over by an unflinching stillness, one broken only when the bird of the moment swoops out of sight.

It’s a nature versus nurture conundrum. Do twitchers possess this inner calm before birding? Is it what lures them to the art and enables them to detect the smaller details of nature? Or does the stillness arise out of necessity, as a result of the many hours spent in nature, searching for the different warblers and barbets, remaining silent to better hear their calls and so not to disrupt them?

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Either way, the birders on our stretch of the Zambezi all seem to exhibit this defining characteristic. As for the other characteristics, the great American writer, Gore Vidal listed: “tall, slender, and bearded so that they can stand motionless for hours, imitating kindly trees, as they watch for birds.” At least for the male ornithologists of the twitching community.

Seeing the sky through their eyes, I feel that stillness and I don’t want it to end. When the world gets a little too noisy, I go to the river and gaze up at the sky and the stillness returns.

Take a look at our latest images from a recent birding safari with Head Guide, SK, and Field Guide Trainer, Alan Yeowart.


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Above: The Call of Zambia – The African Fish Eagle

SK is one of our head birders at Royal Chundu. He knows the name and habits of everything that flaps its wings past our path. He learnt much of what he knows from reading birding books, but a lot of his knowledge comes from having grown up on the river. For him, birding is just a part of being. It’s not a sport, it’s life.

As for the birds, take a look at our comprehensive Royal Chundu Birding List before heading to the river.

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SK

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Parrotfish Run

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“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.” – Robert Lynd

Birding Safari

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Discover more about birding safaris at Royal Chundu in
The Birdwatcher’s Guide To The Galaxy

Choose from a morning (sunrise), afternoon (sunset), nighttime or full day birding safari, tailored to your individual requirements. The full day safari includes guided vehicle transfers to the plains and other indigenous forest areas and/or river transfers to the islands. This tour is catered specifically for birding specialists who want to look for specific birds. The shorter safaris last approximately two and a half hours.

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