Birds of a feather

In a recent entry, we wrote about one of our safari camp’s top rangers, Scotch, and his amazing ability to recite page numbers and details of various bird species found in our area.

Well, I unfortunately don’t have Scotch’s photographic memory (or his rugged good looks) but I do have a fairly decent camera, and have managed to capture a couple of decent photographs in the last few weeks.

The first photo is of a small group of Southern White-Crowned Shrikes.

These are fairly common birds in the Timbavati and can be found throughout the year. This photo was taken early morning, and the birds can be seen tightly bunched together for warmth. These birds are cooperative breeders and feed mainly on insects.

The second photo is of a fairly rare Yellow-Billed Oxpecker, perched on the back of a buffalo. A real cracker on any bird list, especially in the Timbavati. Its smaller cousin, the Red-Billed Oxpecker, is very common and both species have been seen travelling on the back of large herbivores in our area. Both species feed on ectoparasites (mites and ticks) and blood, and are both common residents that can be seen year round.

The last picture is of a Lilac-Breasted Roller busy displaying, a real favourite among our guests. These wonderfully coloured birds can often be found perching in dead trees on the side of roads keeping a lookout for potential prey. They are aggressive hunters and will feed on insects, scorpions and various frog species. With the onset of spring, we have already sighted some of our migratory species returning such as Yellow-Billed Kites and Wahlberg’s Eagles.

The birding will only get better moving into our summer months. Exciting stuff!

Words and photography by Dale Jackson

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