Written by Tony Wood and Tisha Greyling
The enigmatic African Pitta can be very difficult to find. Way back, after two abortive trips to Masoka Camp in December 2012 and January 2013, my client John decided to return in December 2013 with friends, Andre and Pieter, so it was a very full Land Cruiser that made its way down the escarpment and into the Zambezi Valley. After leaving Harare around 6 a.m., we arrived in camp around noon and after a light lunch we set off looking for the elusive Pittas. Fantastic views of Livingstone’s Flycatchers got us off to a good start and within about 45 minutes – success! Whilst all acknowledged that this was not a brilliant sighting, it was, without doubt, an acceptable “big tick” for the boys. The Jesse Bush made up largely of Combretum spp, where the Pitta can normally be found, is very thick and being in big game country is also quite dangerous, with the occasional close elephant or lion encounter, where pitta hunts have been abandoned in preference for client safety!
This first pitta viewing certainly took the pressure off Mack and myself. Masoka is primarily a birding destination and is home to a number of very special species regarded as difficult birds to find. During the afternoon we ticked off Red-throated Twinspot, Emerald Cuckoo, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Lilian’s Lovebird, Thrush Nightingale and a Three-banded Courser. Other “specials” include Livingstone’s Flycatcher, African Broadbill, Narina Trogon and Arnot’s Chat to name just a few. Evening rolled in and with a fire made by the very helpful camp staff, we ate and drank well.
For more on Masoka Pita Camp and travel in Zimbabwe, you can buy our PDF online or find us at Spar and in hotels/lodges around Zimbabwe!