- Category: Birding
- Hits: 8
- Category: Birding
- Hits: 68
South Africa has one of the most diverse ranges of bird species in the world. There are 3 major categories of birds, namely seed-eaters, nectar-feeders and predatory raptors.
Raptors are also well represented here with African Hawk Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Secretary Bird, Wahlberg´s Eagle (summer), Greater Kestrel and Gabar Goshawk, all of which breed in the reserve. The Short-clawed Lark is best found where the main loop cuts through areas of short grassland with scattered shrubs.
Birds of prey are not always large birds. The little sparrow-hawk, the Lowveld’s smallest raptor, is the same size as a dove. Sightings of these birds are so fleeting that they can be confused with doves in flight.
Birdlife in the Bushveld winter is still excellent (in spite of the loss of our migrant species), and includes interesting residents such as bateleur, white-headed vulture, dark-chanting goshawk, barred owlet, trumpeter hornbill, southern ground hornbill, brown-headed parrot, green-backed camaroptera, sabota lark, Kurrichane buttonquail and Stierling’s wren-warbler. Waterbirds along the Olifants River include species such as African fish eagle, African openbill, black stork, African spoonbill, black-winged stilt, the uncommon white-crowned lapwing and beautiful giant kingfisher. These are but a few of the three hundred or more species which call this place home.
The Limpopo Province, with its vast unexplored areas and diverse habitats, offers one of the most exciting birding destinations in Southern Africa. Habitats range from vast tracts of montane grassland to afro-temperate forests, bushveld and wetlands. There have been over 600 species recorded in the province to date.The lowland rivers such as the Limpopo, Levubu and Letaba rivers form corridors for species normally associated with coastal forests with birds such as Mottled Spinetail, Lemon-breasted Canary, Pel’s Fishing Owl and White-fronted Plover on them.
There are a number of species that are easier to find in the Limpopo Province than in the rest of the country. These are Short-clawed Lark, Shelley’s Francolin, Grey-headed Parrot, African Broadbill & Crested Guineafowl. In addition to this, many Central and East African bird species reach their southern-most distribution here and thus will not be found anywhere else in the country. These include species such as Black-fronted Bush Shrike, Arnott’s Chat, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Racket-tailed Roller, Senegal Coucal and Tropical Boubou.
The province has three National Parks and numerous provincial and municipal reserves within its borders. Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe and Maraklele National Parks are visited by hundreds of birdwatchers every year. Provincial Nature Reserves and Municipal Reserves are important sites for bird conservation. For example Blouberg Nature Reserve which is the home to one of the largest Cape Vulture breeding colonies in Southern Africa and Polokwane Nature Reserves has healthy populations of Short-clawed Lark.Because Limpopo Province has tracts of relatively unexplored habitats as well as its more famous sites, intrepid birders are fortunate to have the opportunity to make exiting discoveries wherever they venture.
Home to Mkolo, the Fish Eagle is particularly common
A handsome bird, the African Fish Eagle is easily recognised by its pure white head, the striking contrast between the white upper-body and tail, the chestnut belly and the black wings. The sexes look alike but the female is the larger of the two.
So well known and clear is the call of this bird that it is often called "the voice of Africa".
The African Fish Eagle is most frequently seen sitting high in a tall tree from where it has a good view of the stretch of river, lakeshore or coastline which is its territory.
Range mass: 2 - 3.6 kg.
Range length: 63 - 77 cm.
Range wingspan: 175 - 210 cm.
Their main food is fish, sometimes dead, but mostly caught live. Catfish and lungfish are among the most frequent. They also catch and eat some water birds, including their young. The birds most frequently taken include ibis, storks, herons and spoonbills and especially the Lesser Flamingo. They also eat some carrion. Live caught fish account for about 90% of their diet.
The African Fish eagle usually lives in pairs and spend most of their time perched on branches, overlooking water. Extremely effecient hunters, they only spend little time hunting and most of their day at leisure after a successful kill made early in the day.
African fish eagles communicate vocally with each other and with other avian competitors to establish and maintain their territories. Duets between a breeding pair are common - more often heard at the start of their breeding season, this duetting creates a close bond between the mating pair.
The Kori Bustard is known as Africa's heaviest bird and can weigh up to 19kg.
It is an omnivore, eating both plant-like berries and animals like lizards and snakes. For chicks, the main course is insects. It has been found that they eat the gum from the Acacia tree.
The Kori Bustard is a ground dweller, meaning birds that walk. They fly only when necessary because of their weight.
They tend to remain in the same area as long as the food source is good, then they migrate as most animals do.
The birds have a majestic walk and for their size are remarkably strong fliers. They take off with very heavy wing beats, but once air-borne they fly quickly and strongly. They prefer to walk away from danger and only fly if pressed. When in a group, the birds walk in a loose line across the veld searching for food.
The Secretary bird is a bird of prey that is grey in colour with black accents on the wings, thighs and central tail feathers.
Secretary birds also differ behaviourally as they are mainly terrestrial, walking in search of prey items. They find most of their food on the ground. The diets of these birds consists largely of reptiles (with snakes featuring as a favourite) while amphibians, rats and other small mammals are also consumed.
Once a snake has been spotted, the bird will grasp it with its toes and beat it against the ground, then throw it into the air several times to stun it before enjoying a well-deserved meal.
The Kruger National Park is one of South Africa’s most popular safari destinations. Each year, thousands of travellers make their way to this iconic park to experience jaw-dropping scenery, unique wildlife encounters, and some of the finest game viewing in Southern Africa. However, for many visitors who book a Kruger National Park safari, it’s all about the birds.
Of the 900 bird species in Southern Africa, approximately 500 can be seen in the park, whose birdlife is as diverse as its landscape.
Each summer, between November and March, the park’s population expands by 200 migrant species that have flown south either from Eurasia and elsewhere in Africa.