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First thoughts of visiting the African bush-veld are usually focused on the Big 5. The infamous Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhinoceros will be the first aiming point when trying to complete checklists. But, what about the other check boxes waiting to be marked off while searching for the five?

We all remember the classic intro of Lion King, where the other animals gather to bear witness to the introduction of Simba. Some members that are always missed during these iconic scenes, would be the feathered. Birds species make up most of the animal kingdom. Camp Jabulani houses approximately 350 species and yet they are the most over-looked.

The first thing that you would find out in the bush, other than the ever so common Impala, is the chatting of Southern Masked Weavers.  The males attract potential mates to inspect their newly built nest and the Red-and-Yellow Billed Hornbills are seen greeting each other with an interesting dance routine. The ever so beautiful Lilac-breasted Roller, with its combination of approximately seven different colours that catch every guest’s eye. Not to even mention the impressive birds of prey! Stretching from the iconic look of the African Fish Eagle to the gravity defying hanging skills of the African Harrier Hawk as it is in search of some small lizards or squirrels hiding in tree openings.

How does one start with birding as a part time hobby?

This is pretty easy!  All you need is an illustrative bird book with real time illustrative photos as preferred option. Normal art illustrations of birds would work just fine as well. Useful tools such as binoculars are also needed, as all birds vary in comfort when a safari car approaches. Even when the binoculars seem difficult to come by, your trusty Ranger will be happy to provide it during your visit.

Fortunately, technology is ever adapting with some of the most impressive birding Apps available right from your smart phone (if weight were to be a factor for your travels).

And last but most important the keen eye for seeking these little winged friends. Identifying birds would vary between different species, but the fundamentals stay the same.

You will need the following::

  • Overall size and colour/s found on the body
  • Colour of legs/talons
  • Shape and colour of beak
  • Any other distinctive markings on the body (a white stripe over the eyebrow/long crown or crest ect.)

Taking these points into consideration, you are ready to take a leisurely stroll through the bird book. It would be wise to have a general idea of where birds are found in the book. From here it is as easy as playing Cluedo! You will need to take the clues provided and match it to the right bird.

Fish-eagle-and-Osprey-fighting_Lappet-faced-vulture
Images by André de Jager. Left: Fish eagle and Osprey fighting. Right: Lappet faced vulture 

Not only is it the widest variety of animals to find, but also provides some serious photo opportunities for the creative wildlife photographers.

Did you know that the South African National Parks Organisation is busy compiling a listing of not only the Big 5, but the BIG 6 of Birds in the Limpopo province?

Jackal-Buzzard_Little-Bee-eater
Images by André de Jager. Left: Jackal Buzzard. Right: Little bee eater 

Keep an eye out for the following jewels during your next visit:

  • Kori Bustard
  • Martial Eagle
  • Lappet-faced Vulture
  • Pel’s Fishing Owl
  • Saddle-billed Stork
  • Southern ground Hornbill

 

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