Work harder/drink lager: birding in South Africa

white fronted bee-eater, Kruger National Park
White-fronted Bee-eater

Leading on from my first blog on South Africa, here are the birding highlights of my recent trip with Eco Training. The Mukaleke concession has some of the best bird life in the whole Kruger National Park, and I was lucky enough to see and learn about all of the following (click each image for a larger pic):

Blacksmith Lapwing – which makes a noise like the chinking of a hammer on metal

Yellow-billed Hornbill – with a beautiful, large, curved yellow bill. The female closes herself up inside a tree trunk to lay and hatch her eggs, and they use millipede toxins to keep predators away

Cape Turtle Dove – which chirps “work harrrrrder” in the morning. In the afternoon, it sounds more like “drink laaaaager”, just around sundowner time….

Red-eyed Dove – which sings “I AM a red-eyed dove”


Oxpeckers – these hang around rhino and buffalo so are useful to follow/avoid as appropriate

yellow-billed hornbill
Yellow-billed Hornbill

Lesser Honey Guide – which  sings “Victor”

African Palm Swift – which sticks its eggs to tree. It can’t turn the eggs like a bird in a normal nest would (to make sure yolk doesn’t touch the side of the shell), but the wind blowing does the job instead

Little Bee-eater

White-fronted Bee-eater – the term ‘white-fronted’ doesn’t do this one justice; it’s absolutely stunning

Swainson’s Spurfowl – quite chicken-esque with a bright red
ring around the eye

Mosque Swallow

European Swallow

swainson's spurfowl
Swainson's Spurfowl

Barn Owl

European Storks – we saw a huge flock getting ready to fly back to Europe

Pin-tailed Whyder – with a long clumsy tail that made him look ridiculously clumsy in flight

Splendid Starling – heaps prettier than the one we see in Britain



Lilac-breasted Roller and the European roller – two of my favourites

African Hawk Eagle – which has lovely feathery legwarmers

european roller
European Roller

Orange-breasted Bush Shrike

Grey Goaway Bird – which has a crazy, fluffy mohawk

Grey-headed Parrot

Nightjars – a right pain in the arse. They jump in front of the Landrover’s headlamps at night and mean you have to crawl along so you don’t hurt them

South Africa Tourism:
Eco Training:

little bee-eater
Little Bee-eater
splendid starling
Splendid Starling
European storks
European Storks
Tawny eagle
Tawny Eagle

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