In our bird-rich country it’s quite a task for Mark Anderson, CEO of BirdLife South Africa, to choose his top ten hotspots and birds to ensure you see as often as you can in your lifetime.
Mark Anderson, CEO of Birdlife South Africa is a respected ornithologist, a passionate bird and wildlife photographer and a conservationist. These are his top 10 birds:
- The White-backed Vulture (Witrugaasvoël) is most common in the northern parts of South Africa. Its distribution is largely restricted to bigger game reserves as a result of persecution and, in particular, poisoning for the illicit muti trade.
- Smaller and pinker than the Greater Flamingo, the Lesser Flamingo (Kleinflamink) is highly nomadic, gregarious and found in flocks of several thousand in brackish and saline inland and coastal waters.
- The Blue Crane (Bloukraanvoël) is one of 14 crane species found worldwide and, during the non-breeding season, may form loose flocks of up to 300 birds. The nest is a shallow scrape on bare ground and may be thinly lined with pebbles or droppings.
- Breeding in the extreme northern Europe and Asia, the Little Stint (Kleinstrandloper) migrates to Southern Africa in summer. Birds ringed in the south-western Cape have been recovered in Russia.
- Mainly found on shallow, temporary pans and vleis, the Cape Shoveler (Kaapse Slopeend) feeds by dabbling with its bill immersed for small crustaceans, tadpoles and insects. The nest is a grass-lined hollow that is ringed with down and is well hidden in dense vegetation.
- The Black-browed Albatross (Swartrugalbatros) breeds on sub-Antarctic islands and is the most commonly viewed albatross of the south-western Cape. It gathers in large numbers of 1 000 or more to feed on fish offal from pelagic trawlers.
- With one of the most characteristic calls of the bushveld in summer, the Woodland Kingfisher (Bosveldvisvanger) is easily recognised. It displays by pivoting on a perch with outspread wings flashing alternately between blue and white.
- One of the best songsters of Southern African birds, the White-browed Robin-Chat (Heuglinse Janfrederik) has a variety of loud, melodious calls. It also imitates other birds and will sing in duet mainly at dawn and late evening.
- The jet-black back and crimson belly makes the identification of the Crimson-breasted Shrike (Rooiborslaksman) unmistakeable. A rare yellow-bellied form also exists. It is a common resident of the dry interior where it inhabits acacia savanna and semi-dry scrub.
- In Southern Africa, the Red-necked Falcon (Rooinekvalk) is an uncommon to rare resident that is found in the dry west and northeast. 98% of its prey is birds that are mainly taken on the wing and it will also hunt cooperatively with Gabar Goshawks when birds enter shrubby trees.
Words and Photography Peter Chadwick www.peterchadwick.co.za