Extremely rare Caspian Terns spotted in Liwonde – a first for Malawi

In late January, we recorded our first-ever (reported) sighting of Caspian Terns in Malawian skies, and since then, the extremely rare bird species has been paying us periodic surprise visits. In our second sighting, we were fortunate enough to spot six Caspian Terns, which, according to birding experts, is characteristic of them, as they are usually found either singly or in small roosting flocks.


Sharing some important insights on this species of terns that we only started seeing recently in Malawi, renowned birding expert Dr. John Wilson shared this:

“The Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world, and has an unmistakable, huge red bill with a black tip. They have never previously been recorded in Malawi, but on the 26th of January, two very large terns with red bills, believed to be Caspian Terns, were seen flying south, down the Upper Shire River near Mvera, by 14 Mvuu guides who were with Eco-Trainer Ross Hawkins. Unfortunately no picture was taken. However, on the 18th of March, CAWS guide Samuel Chihana took two guests Ken and Ruth, downstream from Mvuu Camp to the mouth of the Ntangai River, and there they found no less than six Caspian Terns in the company of Grey-headed Gulls. The much larger size (47-56cm) of the Caspian Tern compared to the Grey-headed Gulls (40-42cm) was diagnostic. Caspian Terns occur around the coast of Africa, in coastal lagoons and estuaries. They also occur in large lakes near the sea. Occasionally, they have been recorded from large inland waters such as the Okavango Delta and Lake Rudolf, and up the Zambezi River.”

We were able to take a few more photos of these rare birds during one of Frank Weitzer’s recent photography workshops. It is encouraging to see an increase in sightings of Caspian Terns in Liwonde, as they have been listed as a near-threatened species due to the onset of habitat loss and other threats. To find out more about this interesting species, e-mail info@cawsmw.com.


About Central African Wilderness Safaris:

About Us: Central African Wilderness Safaris (CAWS) is an ecotourism company that offers the finest quality safari experiences and the ultimate holiday getaways in Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. CAWS offers both up-market tailor-made luxury safaris as well as more affordable budget safari options. The company is dedicated to offering personalised and authentic travel experiences that have a minimal impact on the planet and a lasting impact on people.

Photo Credits:

Featured image: Dr. Ruth Shakespeare

Inside image: Frank Weitzer

Contact: marketing@cawsmw.com for more information