02 November 2006

the birds of South Africa

South Africa is among the top birding destinations in the world. This was a motivating factor for wanting to visit, at least for me. This site provides excellent information about the birds of South Africa.

Here's a partial list of the birds we saw in the wild. As much as I love birds, I'm not enough of an expert to be able to recognize everything. We also lacked binoculars - something which is now up towards the top of my wish list ;-)

    African, or jackass penguins (Spheniscus demersus)to be more precise. I wrote about penguins earlier. Yes, they're so special they got their own entry... :-)

  • Guinea fowl
    Guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) are very common, especially in places like Stellenbosch, where there are plenty of nice lawns for finding food, such the ticks that cause Lyme disease. When you get close to them, they run away (instead of flying). Even when they are in the street and a car comes along, they run, as fast as they can. They look really stupid when they run...

  • Ostriches
    We saw several ostriches (Struthio camelus) along the road that goes to the Cape of Good Hope (at Cape Point National Park), both times we were there. We also saw a couple of adult ostriches and a bunch of chicks at Bordjiesrif (also at Cape Point). From a safe distance, of course.

  • Rock kestrel
    We saw this gorgeous little birdie (Falco rupicolus, previously Falco tinnunculus) while up at the lighthouse at Cape Aghulas. I think we really hit the jackpot here; when we looked at some pictures of the lighthouse boyfriend of feitpingvin took before we went up, there were no birds there. But when I came up and started looking around, I saw it there, just sitting quietly on the rail, looking at me, and then boyfriend of feitpingvin, as if we were a bunch of freaks. In other words, too fascinated to be scared...

  • Sugar birds
    Sugar birds (Promerops cafer) are also very common, and come in different shapes and colors. They drink the nectar of the protea flowers, so if you see a protea, you're likely to see a sugar bird as well...

    Redwinged starlings
    Redwinged starlings (Onychognathus morio) are yet another very common bird species, and seem to like places where there are lots of people. If you're eating outside, they'll fly up to you, look at you, and start chirping very sweetly, hoping you'll toss them a little morsel...

  • Cape glossy starlings

  • Cape turtle doves (they like to start coo-coo-ing very early in the morning) and other pigeons

  • various birds of prey (in addition to the kestrel), out and about flying...

  • various ibises, such as the Cape sacred ibis, and cranes

  • various seagulls

  • various crows

  • various geese and ducks

  • Cape cormorants

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