South Africa: Birds

The South African adventure continues and this time I wanted to highlight some of the birds I encountered during my trip earlier this year. I bought a zoom lens especially for this trip and in particular for any birds I would see. Although it’s not one of those very fancy (and expensive) lenses, I was quite pleased with it as I wouldn’t be able to take these pictures without it. Here is a selection of the colourful birds I spotted during this trip!

European bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

The name already indicates it, but I could have spotted this bird in Europe as well. Even in the Netherlands (where I live) they can be seen, although they are rare visitors here. Some bee-eaters use South Africa as their winter holiday destination. This bird was one of the birds I was hoping to see, so when I saw one I was quite happy 🙂

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European roller (Coracias garrulus)

Another bird that I could have spotted closer to home. In fact, it is the only member of the rollers that live in Europe. Unfortunately though, the number of birds in Europe is declining. They also spent the winter in South Africa. One of the guides said that for them, this bird is more of a pest as they compete with local birds for food. Still, it is a beautiful bird to see!

Lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus)

This roller is a native African bird. We spotted both the European and the Lilac-breasted roller quite often. They can be quite aggressive and not only when they need to defend themselves. Sometimes they kick out other birds of a nesting place and make it their home. And any prey that is caught is beaten to death before they are swallowed. Yikes!

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)

Another odd bird I read about years ago and wanted to see for myself. I did not really count on it, but by chance we spotted one sitting in a muddy pool by the side of the road in a national park. It did not look too bothered by us, not even when we stopped the car to take some pictures. I later spotted more of them elsewhere, but then we weren’t able to take pictures, so this was indeed our only chance to really observe one.

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Southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas)

..or flying bananas as the safari guide jokingly called them 🙂 Their yellow, curved beaks do resemble the fruit. Males have larger beaks than females. I saw a bunch of them and they are fun to watch and make excellent models.

Southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)

Another odd bird for me. While on safari in Kruger park, the guide suddenly told us to look to one side. There, these fairly large birds appeared between the tall grass that was growing there. They walked around for a bit before disappearing again behind the shrubs. I was quite impressed by these birds and I do regret not having better pictures of them. The species is listed as vulnerable and in South Africa they are listed as endangered, so it was quite a treat to see these birds.

Which of these birds are your favorite?

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