In addition to our crucial team of nest-finders, all our work relies totally on the support of the wonderful farming community of the Choma district:
Ian, Emma and Mel Bruce-Miller of Nansai and Muckleneuk Farms have been our home base for over a decade and, together with their brilliant staff, have made everything possible. We are also very grateful to Molly and Archie Greenshields for giving us a home in the miombo woodlands.
Our main study area comprises several private farms owned by Richard and Vicki Duckett, John Musonda, Troy and Elizabeth Nicolle, Ackson Sejani, and the nuns of MaSistah, who very generously give us free access to their land.
Our many other friends in Zambia have helped in countless ways, and we’re especially grateful to the Aston, Bell-Cross, Chance, Counsell, Danckwerts, Fisher, Green, Kirkpatrick, Naik, Nyman-Jørgensen, Ross, Taylor and Willems families.
Special thanks to two heroes: Ian Taylor who built our predator-proofed aviaries, and Ailsa Green who pioneered cuckoo finch hand-rearing.
Further afield in Zambia (and now beyond), Zambian birders Pete Leonard, Lizanne Roxburgh and Chris Wood all helped greatly in various ways during the early stages of the project. Lizanne studied Zambian Barbets (the species in the header image above) in the Choma area for several years. The Bruce-Miller farm is the best place in the world to see this threatened species, which is endemic to Zambia and is (alas for it) a host species of the Lesser Honeyguide.
Major John Colebrook-Robjent
Major John Colebrook-Robjent (1935–2008) was one of the twentieth century’s greatest oologists, as well as a tobacco farmer on Musumanene Farm, Choma, for 40 years. His fascination with brood parasites laid the basis for all our current studies, and he first introduced Claire Spottiswoode to Choma’s intriguing array of avian cheats. His vast and beautifully documented egg collection remains a remarkable resource for research on coevolution and many other subjects. His farm, Musumanene, is now owned by Troy and Elizabeth Nicolle and much of our fieldwork still takes place here.
The photo at right was taken in 2005 when John visited the Natural History Museum in Tring. He is holding the type (and only) specimen of the White-chested Tinkerbird Pogoniulus makawai, discovered in north-western Zambia by John’s old friend Jali Makawa with whom he worked in Madagascar in the 1960s.
More information about John can be found in an excellent obituary written by Pete Leonard published in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club, and in the book The Running Sky written by Tim Dee (Claire’s husband).
We are very grateful for the kindness and support of Dr Lackson Chama and his team in the Department of Zoology and Aquatic Sciences at Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia. Copperbelt University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Cape Town signed a three-way Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 (see News item here).
Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Zambia
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (formerly Zambia Wildlife Authority) have warmly supported our work from the outset and we’re grateful for their kind provision of research permits and interest in our work.
Our work has been or is currently funded by all these generous and supportive organisations: