Republic of South Africa
South Africa is one of the best value birding destinations on the entire continent. The outstanding infrastructure, great accommodation, excellent food, wonderful South African hospitality, spectacular and varied scenery, and the presence of Africa’s big and small mammals makes it one of the most pleasant countries in the world to bird in. Typically, the birds are easy to find, and well over 500 species can be seen during a 3-week trip. But South Africa is not only one of the best countries to start one’s African birding in - it is also boasts more endemic species than any other country on this vast continent, making it an essential country for any world birder.
The vast majority of international birders fly into South Africa. The country has three international airports – Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The country is served with regular daily flights by most major airlines. The important domestic airports at Port Elizabeth, East London, George, Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Upington are all serviced by regular internal flights. It is also possible to reach the country via overland trips through Africa or via one of the many cruises that visit the country's major ports - Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban. For UK Birders the time zone is GMT + 2.
Major Topographical Features
Simply put South Africa is comprised of a high lying plateau (known locally as the Highveld) in the eastern interior largely 1,500m or more above sea level. This falls away in the west and north into a bowl-shaped feature known as the Kalahari Basin. These two features are rimmed by a mountainous escarpment - known as the Great Escarpment or simply the Escarpment - which varies in altitude from around 800m in the west to more than 3,000m in the Drakensberg range in the east. Finally there is a narrow coastal plain 50 to 200km wide and mostly below 500m in altitude.
Major Birding Regions
Bird-wise South Africa can be divided into seven major natural regions: Grassveld - almost treeless grassland; Fynbos (pronounced fain-bos) - a sort of Macchia or chaparral; Karoo - an arid to very arid semi-desert; Afromontane Forest - more or less evergreen with a closed canopy; Bushveld - a fairly arid to arid open to closed woodland often referred to in South Africa as Savannah; the East Coast Littoral - a moist tropical to sub-tropical mosaic of forest, coastal thicket and grassland; and Pelagic - open sea up to 200km off-shore. Each of these regions have their own suite of birds and the first four hold many endemic species.
There are now pages for each South African Province with links, Top Birding Spots, trip reports and all the usual links and facts… just click on the Provinces on the map below.
Birding hotspots abound throughout South Africa and birders are referred to the “Southern African Birdfinder” by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Jonathan Rossouw, published by Struik in 2006. The hotspots listed below are merely representative of those in each Birding Region and finally Pelagics
Pelagic trips are run out of various harbours in South Africa but, generally, Cape Town offers, by far, the best sea birding in South Africa. In fact, is considered to be some of the best anywhere in the world. The cold Benguela Current brings highly nutrient-rich waters up from the south, and the strong winds (predominately from the south-east) create an up welling that brings all the nutrients to the surface. This, in turn, sustains the phytoplankton that forms the basis of the marine food chain. Pelagic fisheries thrive in the area, and discards from the trawlers provide a constant food source for pelagic birds. There are around 85 species that have been recorded on South African pelagic trips including albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, skuas and a whole host of other exciting birds. Day trips can produce in excess of 30 species with, particularly winter trips, providing the spectacle of some 30,000 individual birds. Added to this, there are a number of whale and dolphin species that are encountered as well as some other interesting marine wildlife.
Pelagic trips are spectacular to say the least and will provide one with many cherished memories. If you are in South Africa, it should become a priority on your birding itinerary and should not be missed.
For more information on the seasonality of the various species, photographs and other general information regarding pelagic trips in South Africa, visit www.zestforbirds.co.za and http://birdingecotours.com/pelagic-birding-with-birding-ecotours/. Regular trips are offered out of Cape Town and Durban and occasionally trips are organised from Port Elizabeth. Interested birders should contact Zest for Birds/Trevor Hardaker firstname.lastname@example.org, Birding Ecotours email@example.com or Cape Town Pelagics firstname.lastname@example.org
The Afromontane Forests - Approx. 1,000 km²
South African Afromontane forests are highly fragmented and largely scattered along the southern and eastern slopes of the Great Escarpment. With the exception of the fairly extensive forests around the coastal towns of George and Knysna and to the south of Port Elizabeth, all are located more than 40 km inland. The southern forests are best accessed from Cape Town, Durban, George or Port Elizabeth. Johannesburg is the closest airport to the northern forests of Mpumalanga and the Northern Province. As is typical of mountainous areas everywhere the weather is rarely predictable except that it will be cold in winter. Summers are generally mild and evenings can be cool. Rain and mist can be expected throughout the year.
Some 120 species occur regularly in the Afromontane Forests. Nine of South Africa`s endemic species (two are endemic to the forests) and a further 15 species (eight of them are nearly endemic to these forests) endemic to southern Africa are found here. Birding hotspots include Grootvadersbos and the George-Knysna area in the Western Cape Province, Hogsback and Weza-Ingele forests in the Eastern Cape, Xumeni and Ntumeni in KwaZulu-Natal, the Barberton-Graskop-Blyde River Canyon area in Mpumalanga and Woodbush/Magoebaskloof in the Northern Province.
The Bushveld - Area 385,799 km²
The Bushveld can basically be divided into two areas - the arid Bushveld of the Kalahari in the west and the moist Bushveld in the east. It shares the Kalahari basin with the Karoo in the west and the north, but also extends into the lower lying area between the Great Escarpment and the East Coast Littoral in the east. The arid west is best accessed from Kimberley and Upington while the east and north is best accessed from Johannesburg. South Africa`s two giant conservation areas - The Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – as well as the Pilanesberg and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserves, are situated in the Bushveld and most of the country`s remaining large mammal population is found here. For the most part summers are warm to hot and winters mild to cool. What rainfall there is falls during summer. Malaria can be a problem throughout the year in the moister east, but particularly in summer so anti-malarials are needed.
Almost 550 species of birds occur regularly in the Bushveld. None of these are endemic to the South African Bushveld, but no fewer than 86 of the species endemic or nearly endemic to southern Africa as a whole can be found here. Birding hotspots are many in such a diverse area, but some of the best known ones include the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserves in KwaZulu-Natal, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in the Northern Cape and Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and Northern Province. Other less well-known spots include Nylsvley and Langjan Nature Reserves in Northern Province, the area north of Pretoria in Gauteng Province, the Kimberley area and Witsand Nature Reserve in the Northern Cape and Loskop Dam Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga.
The East Coast Littoral
This area is made up of a mosaic of sub-tropical to tropical grassland, woodland and forest and not surprisingly has a high diversity of species. As the name implies it is a narrow strip stretching up the east coast of South Africa from north of Port Elizabeth to the South African-Mozambique border. The area is best accessed from Durban or Port Elizabeth. The climate is generally humid with hot, wet summers and warm winters. Malaria can be a problem in the areas north of the towns of Eshowe and Mtunzini and anti-malarial drugs and other precautions are recommended when visiting these areas.
Nearly 430 regularly occurring species can be found in this narrow coastal strip. While no species are endemic to the South African portion itself, five species - Pink-throated Twinspot, Neergard`s Sunbird, Rudd`s Apalis, Lemon-breasted Canary and Woodwards Batis all have a very localised distribution in northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique, occurring only marginally outside this area. Overall, 38 species found here are endemic or nearly so to southern Africa. It is difficult to single out any particular birding hotspot - virtually the entire area is a hotspot! Mkuzi and Ndumo Game Reserves, the Greater St Lucia Wetland area (a World Heritage site); Mtunzini village, Ongoye, Ntumeni and Dhlinza Forests near Eshowe and Oribi Gorge near Port Shepstone are but a few that spring to mind.
The Fynbos - Area 59,282 km²
The Fynbos occurs on the coastal plain and southern mountain slopes in the southernmost part of the African continent. It stretches from north of St Helena Bay in the west to around Port Elizabeth in the east. The vegetation comprises mostly a macchia type of scrub and it is renowned for its botanical variety. It is best accessed from Cape Town, George or Port Elizabeth. Typically the climate consists of mild to warm, dry summers (wetter in the east) and cool, wet winters.
Some 270 species of birds occur regularly in the Fynbos, with a respectable suite of rather localised endemics. Birding hotspots include the Cape Peninsula, the West Coast National Park, the Berg River Estuary and De Hoop Provincial Nature Reserve.
The Grassveld - Area 280,047 km²
South Africa's Grassveld is concentrated in the high lying interior plateau and is best accessed from Johannesburg or Durban. East London, Bloemfontein and Kimberley are other possibilities, particularly for the more arid western areas. The climate is typically mild to warm, wet summers and cold, frosty, dry winters with snow sometimes in the higher lying areas.
More than 400 species occur regularly in the Grassveld, including a good number of South Africa’s endemics. In common with grasslands throughout the world South Africa's grasslands are under huge pressure from human development programmes. As much as 80% of South Africa's grasslands have been put to the plough, planted to alien trees, covered by urban sprawl or swallowed up by huge open-cast pits. These threats are reflected in its bird life.
Birding hotspots in the Grassveld include Wakkerstroom and Sani Pass (between South Africa and Lesotho) in the moist eastern area and Barberspan and the Bloemhof area in the arid west.
The Karoo - Area 369,946 km²
The Karoo stretches eastward from South Africa`s west coast, north of St Helena Bay across the southern portion of the Kalahari basin. The most arid parts are found in the north-west along the Namibian border, gradually becoming less arid to the east and south. It is best accessed from Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Kimberley or Upington. Generally summers are hot and dry with winters being cold and dry. What rain there is generally falls in spring and autumn and this is the best time for birding in this fascinating part of the country.
More than 300 species occur regularly in the Karoo, and the number of endemics here is staggering.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 847
(As at September 2018)
Prince Edwards Islands are geographically separate but politically part of South Africa - they have an additional 8 species which do not occur on the mainland
Number of bird species: National Bird
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradisea
Number of endemics: 18
Southern Black Korhaan Afrotis afra, Hottentot Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus, Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata, Cape Parrot Poicephalus robustus, Rudd's Lark Heteromirafra ruddi, Red Lark Calendulauda burra, Cape Long-billed Lark Certhilauda curvirostris, Agulhas Long-billed Lark Certhilauda brevirostris, Botha's Lark Spizocorys fringillaris, Orange-breasted Sunbird Anthobaphes violacea, Cape Rock-jumper Chaetops frenatus, Cape Sugarbird Promerops cafer, Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris, Cape Bulbul Pycnonotus capensis, Victorin's Warbler Cryptillas victorini, Knysna Warbler Bradypterus sylvaticus, Protea Seedeater Crithagra leucopterus, Cape Siskin Crithagra totta
In addition there is one 'Breeding Endemic': South African cliff-Swallow Petrochelidon spilodera
Number of endemics: 21 (Only in SA, Lesotho, Swaziland)
There are a further twenty-one bird species that only occur in South Africa and the two small countries (Lesotho & Swaziland) which are completely within South Africa’s borders:
Southern Bald Ibis
Eastern Long-billed Lark
African Rock Pipit
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Cape Rock Thrush
Sentinel Rock Thrush
And one further species that is a ‘breeding endemic’ in those three nations: Ground Woodpecker
Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Newman's Birds of Southern Africa
By Kenneth B Newman, Faansie Peacock & Vanessa Newman | Random House Struik | 2010 | Paperback | 536 pages, plates with colour illustrations; colour photos, colour distribution maps |
ISBN: 9781770078765Buy this book from NHBS.com
Roberts Birds of Southern Africa
By Phil AR Hockey, W Richard J Dean & Peter G Ryan | Jacana Publishers | 2006 (2018 Re-print) | Hardback | 1296 pages, 80 colour plates, maps, keys |
ISBN: 0620340533Buy this book from NHBS.com
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa
By Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, Peter G Ryan, Norman Arlott & Peter Hayman | Random House Struik | 2014 | (4th Edition) | Paperback | 464 pages, plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps |
ISBN: 9781775840992Buy this book from NHBS.com
Southern African Birdfinder
[Where to find 1400 bird species in southern Africa and Madagascar] | By Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode & Jonathan Rossouw | New Holland Publishers | 2006 | Paperback | 456 pages, 80 col photos, 100 maps, pull-out route map |
ISBN: 1868727254Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Complete Photographic Guide to Birds of Southern Africa
By Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan | Random House Struik | 2009 | Paperback | 432 pages, 2500 photographs, distribution maps |
ISBN: 9781770073883Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Important Bird Areas of Southern Africa
Edited by Marnewick MD, Retief EF, Theron NT, Wright DR and Anderson TA | 2nd Edition 2015 | (BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg)
ISBN: 0620234237Buy this book from NHBS.com
African Bird Club
The Republic of South Africa, a large country boasting extraordinary natural history, is probably better known for apartheid, a fading legacy in a new democratic society. A popular destination for the birder interested in Africa's southern latitudes, South Africa's varied climate and topography has produced a variety of habitats that supports an astounding array of nearly 850 species, a large number of which are endemic or near-endemic. Ornithologically the country is well researched, which is evident from the excellent field and site finding guides available to birders. Coupled with a well developed infrastructure and a stable economy, South Africa must rank as one of Africa's prime birding destinations…
Isdell House, 17 Hume Road, Dunkeld West 2196, Johannesburg, South Africa - Private Bag X16, Pinegowrie, 2123 - Tel: +27 (0) 11 789 1122 - Email: email@example.com
BirdLife South Africa has developed a number of position statements to assist staff, bird clubs, council members and indeed all members, to align themselves with the organisation's viewpoints on a range of important matters. These statements are intended to summarise and demonstrate a clear stance on specific viewpoints.
South African Bird List Committee
This committee updates the official Birdlife South Africa country checklist, which it publishes a printed version of annually (sponsored by Zeiss) as well as an online PDF and excel versions.
South African Rarities Committee
The BirdLife South Africa National Rarities Committee is tasked with the evaluation of records of birds which would constitute national rarities anywhere in South Africa.
VulPro - Vulture Conservation
VulPro approaches vulture conservation in an integrated, multidisciplinary fashion, with the benefits from the programme accruing to both vultures and society at large. VulPro combines education and good science, with networking, capacity building and knowledge generation. The veterinary disciplines of toxicology, pharmacology, clinical pathology and medicine are combined with the science of GSM/GPS telemetry and the banking of genetic and DNA resources, with the goal being to positively influence the well-being of our natural resources to ultimately benefit society. In this regard, VulPro engages in a number of interrelated activities, and uses a variety of resources, in endeavouring to meet its objectives.
Abbreviations used in reserves sections
GR = Game Reserve
NP = National Park
WR = Wildlife Reserve
Diamond Birding Route
The Diamond Birding Route is a partnership project between two Diamond companies and BirdLife South Africa and its mission is to maximise the potential of the rich and diverse natural resources of the Oppenheimer and De Beers properties to advance bird conservation, enhance environmental awareness and contribute to social development…
South African National Parks
The vision of the South African National Parks is that national parks will be the pride and joy of all South Africans. The mission of the South African National Parks is to acquire and manage a system of national parks that represent the indigenous wildlife, vegetation, landscapes and significant cultural assets of South Africa for the pride and benefit of the nation.
Guides & Tour Operators
My name is Sean de Nobrega and welcome to Absolute Birding ! Absolute Birding was founded on my passion for nature and its conservation. I am at my happiest when I am somewhere in nature away from the madding crowds appreciating what comes naturally. I have travelled Southern Africa extensively in search of the very best spots to see all sorts of animal life especially birds. Let me share my passion for all things wild with you…
Aves Birding Tours
Aves Birding Tours offers simply the ultimate in Birding. With 98 endemic and 62 near endemic bird species, it is no wonder that Southern Africa should be at the top of any international birder's list. More than 800 spectacular bird species to be seen whilst enjoying the rich botanical heritage, extensive wildlife and vast scenic beauty. The First World infrastructure, fine food and wine and great hospitality, makes it a must-visit destination.
Avian Leisure Tours
Essentially our business is organising birding and wildlife tours throughout South Africa - tailored to individual interests and requirements: both fully guided and self drive trips or a combination of self drive & guides in certain places. Patrick has an in depth knowledge of the country and puts together itineraries that are optimised for an individual client's requirements - minimising distances required to travel in one day and using accommodation in or near to the best birding localities. We do not run set departure tours (unless on behalf of another tour operator). Our focus is on small groups (between 2 and 6 ideally). We also run a self catering birder friendly guest house in Cape Town which is a convenient place for birders to stay whilst in the Cape, but this does not necessarily have to be part of the birders itinerary…
Birding Africa is run by three Capetonian birders and naturalists, Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Peter Ryan, all based at the University of Cape Town`s Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Callan and Claire are postgraduate research students, and have recently published an new birding site guide to Cape Town and beyond: Essential Birding - Western South Africa. Peter is a lecturer and researcher, and the author of numerous publications, most recently a new field guide to the birds of Afrotropics.
South Africa is one of the best value destinations on the entire continent. The outstanding infrastructure, great accommodation, excellent food, wonderful South African hospitality, spectacular and varied scenery, and the presence of Africa’s big and small mammals makes it one of the most pleasant countries in the world to bird in.
With over 20 years of birding experience throughout Southern Africa, Etienne Marais will be your host and guide, on a birding tour of note! Tours are designed to maximise your specific birding objectives, and you can be sure of a big list. Typically we make all arrangements, according to your requirements…
As Southern Africa is so diverse, with a great number of vastly different habitats, the birdlife is considerable. This makes the sub-region a popular birdwatching destination with over 900 species on the list. Lawson`s plan and run tailormade guided birdwatching tours for small groups throughout the sub-region. Most trips are led by Peter Lawson who is a highly experienced specialist tour guide. His knowledge and ability at finding and identifying difficult species is well known by birders from various parts of the globe. When Peter is not available to personally lead tours we engage the services of other knowledgeable registered guides and we have a good reputation for our expertise. P O BOX 16849, NELSPRUIT, 1200 SOUTH AFRICA
Merlan Adventure Tours
The people of the region carry a proud heritage of endeavour, wealth and traditions and the cultural diversity of it`s tribal and western civilizations are united to celebrate the African Century. The wildlife of our subcontinent is legendary and this, combined with our scenic beauty and cultural heritage makes Southern Africa a place of renewal and a sanctuary for the soul.
Ntaba African Safaris specialise in delivering bespoke safaris to Africa and creating the most memorable safari experiences.
Our tours are intended for birders who wish to spend most or all of their holiday time birding. To optimise the increased bird activity in the cooler morning hours, an average day on tour usually begins before sunrise and frequently ends well after sunset with a night drive in search of nocturnal birds and mammals, although we often take a rest during the heat of the day. We try, where possible, to divide the day`s activities into optional sections, allowing participants greater freedom and flexibility. Whilst the hours are often rigorous, most Rockjumper tours are not physically strenuous, requiring no more than moderate fitness. Less focused itineraries can be planned for groups who wish to concentrate on the cultural or other wildlife aspect of the countries in which we offer tours (although in no way are these ignored on our standard itineraries.)
Zest for Birds
We specialise in extended birding tours throughout South Africa as well as guided birding day trips in the Western Cape targeting all the endemic and near endemic species. These trips are designed either to maximise the number of species our client can see or to chase their specific target birds. All trips are led by highly experienced guides to ensure you get the most out of the time you have available.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2006 [10 October] - Bo Beolens
…the lanes around the village specifically to a spot where there are Broad-tailed Warbler which he taped out into the open for most of us to see; oddly Cape Grassbird also responded to the tape. In the area raptor sightings were confined to Yellow-billed and Black-shouldered Kites, Jackal Buzzard but we also saw our first Long-crested Eagles sitting on a telegraph pole close enough for photo silhouettes against the sky. In the fields there were also Fan-tailed, Red-collared and Long-tailed Widows, Cape Canary, White-throated Swallow, White-breasted Cormorant, Grey-crowned Crane and African Wattled Lapwing. He took us to a farm where he has regularly seen Black-bellied Korhaan and we got great views. Whilst looking for the Korhaan we also had a distant view of a magnificent Lanner Falcon…
2010 - [10 October] David & Amanda Mason - South Africa:- Cape to Kruger and beyond
South Africa has been on our wish list for a number of years. It’s such a big place, so narrowing down an itinerary which would enable us to see lots of birds, wildlife, flowers and still find time to relax and enjoy our holiday was quite a challenge. Our original agenda centred around Cape Town and the Kruger National Park, but when we started looking at logistics it soon became clear, if we were to make the most of one trip, we would need to clock up some mileage and stay for at least a month…
2010 [10 October] - Charley Hesse
Some highlights of our trip included: coming face to face with the adorable African Penguins at Simon’s Town, finding Cape Rockjumper at Sir Lowry’s Pass, watching Southern Right Whales basking close to the coast at De Hoop Nature Reserve, eating our breakfast in Wilderness with the gorgeous Knysna Turaco just a few feet away…
2010 [10 October] - Mark Finn & Geoff Crane
…The vast majority of the Cape’s specialty birds were observed including the uncommon and declining African Penguin, Bank Cormorant, Cape Rockjumper, Black Harrier, Black and Denham’s Bustards, Blue Crane, Knysa Woodpecker, Namaqua and Victorin’s Warblers and Cape Grassbird…
2012 [04 April] - Stephen Burch - South Africa (north east & south west)
With a business trip to Durban, South Africa in April 2012, this was a great opportunity I could not resist for some birding and photography afterwards! Making a full week available after the business part of this trip, I decided to spend about half my time in the coastal areas north east of Durban which are semi-tropical and promised to be rich in birds…
2013 [12 December] - John Tinkler
Namaqualand, Kalahari, Northern Cape, and Eastern Cape plus Garden Route Extension - Birds and Mammals
2015 [01 January] - Joe Grosel
...good birds were seen including Bokmakierie, Cape Grassbird, Horus Swift, Rufous-necked Wryneck, Cape Canary, Bush Blackcap, Cape Rock Thrush and Drakensberg Prinia. At the border control post we were informed that the pass had been closed due to rock slides...
2015 [04 April] - John Davies - South Africa's Rare Mammals
After the overnight flight, group members caught an internal flight to Kimberley. The plane landed at the small Kimberley airport on a nice, sunny day and John was waiting to meet the group. After loading the vehicle, we had a short drive to the north of town to view the large flamingo colony at Kamfers Dam. Although the area was rather overgrown, we did have distant views of a large number of Lesser Flamingoes. From here we drove the short distance back into town where we had a walk around the well-known ‘Big Hole’, reputed to be the largest site in the world excavated by hand and started when diamonds were discovered there in 1871.
2015 [12 December] - Bruce Wedderburn - South Africa, Zimbabwe & Mozambique
This was a month long trip to Southern Africa, from early November through to early December 2015, with a focus on a number of difficult to get birds, the key target being the Africa Pitta. The plan was to spend about four days in the Johannesburg/Pretoria area before doing an overnight trip to Dullstroom in Mpumalanga (Zulu for "the place where the sun rises") for the Cape Eagle Owl. Following this a one-week pre-tour from Johannesburg through to Harare in Zimbabwe looking for three species of Flufftail and other targets. Then a two-week main tour from Harare through the Eastern Highlands and central Mozambique, ending up in Beira on the coast.
2015 [12 December] - Chris Lotz - S Gauteng to Dullstroom
It’s one of the easiest places for several gre ater Drakensberg endemics such as Yellow-breasted Pipit (which lurks here in surprisingly high densities within its restricted habitat year-round, but which becomes elusive and cryptic in winter), Gurney’s Sugarbird, Buff-streaked Chat, and Sentinel Rock Thrush. And, Dullstroom is also a famous site for Cape Eagle-Owl, all three southern African crane species, and many other star birds.
2015 [12 December] - John van der Woude
For this December trip Nollie and I chose western South Africa as it would be one of the few regions in the tropics and southern hemisphere with little influence of the prevalent severe El Niño. Also, we like the Karoo region very much, and the Western and Northern Cape in general. Needless to say, any trip to South Africa is a sheer pleasure, even though we would see only very few lifer bird species. I had guessed that we might see five lifers, and was content with the four we got. This was our fourth trip to South Africa, although the last one was quite some time ago, in 2006.
2016 [01 January] - Lisle Gwynn
South Africa is a land of many contrasts and incredible natural wealth, and the set departure tour is designed to take in as mu ch of this as possible. From the fresh breezes and roaring ocean of the Cape to the dry savannah of the Kruger National Park, and down to the lush green montane forests of KwaZulu-Natal, we bird our way through many different habitat types and go in search of the myriad birds that call this place home, be it for the whole year or just part of it.
2016 [03 March] - Jason Boyce - Cape Town - Kruger National Park – Skukuza
BirdLife South Africa have done us all proud once again by hosting a truly fantastic Flock event in Skukuza, Kruger National Park.
2016 [03 March] - Matt Prophet - Northern Cape to Zululand
We managed to see a pair of Dusky Sunbirds , a target species for Stephen, of which many more sightings were had during the trip. Along the same stretch of road we obtained nice views of Desert Cisticola and the thick - billed form of Sabota Lark . We also sighted Fawn - colo red Lark , Yellow Canary , Ca pe Bunting , Ring - necked Dove , Laughing Dove , Pale Cha n ting Goshawk , Rock Kestrel , Fork - tailed Drongo , Yellow - bellied Eremomela , Scaly - feathered Weaver , Sociable Weaver , Swallow - tailed Bee - eater , White - backed Mousebird , Lesser Grey Shrike , Southern Fiscal , and White - browed Sparrow - Weaver . A foraging Kori Bustard close to the road gave u s very good views.
2016 [04 April] - Geoff Upton
Last year we had our first safari experience in Sri Lanka, which everyone enjoyed. I was particularly impressed that the drivers and guides knew and loved their birds as much as the animals. So this year we decided to take the family to Africa for more safari - and a new continent for all of us (excluding Sarah’s day trip to Tangiers back in the 70s!). I’d always wanted to go to Cape Town and the Cape area, and we found we could fairly easily combine that with the Kruger area. Because of our daughter’s teaching commitments we could only go for 10 days, but with careful planning and some early starts we managed to do all the things we most wanted to do.
2016 [09 September] - Greg de Klerk - Cape & Kruger III
The best of South Africa: Cape and Kruger provided our participants with the opportunity to witness these spectacular habitats at their very best with thriving populations of birds and mammals.
2016 [10 October] - Terry Stevenson & Joe Grosel
...Highlights here included Verreaux's Eagle, Karoo and White-quilled bustards, Namaqua Sandgrouse, White-backed Mousebird, Pygmy Falcon, Pririt Batis, Red, Karoo, Spike-heeled and Karoo Long-billed larks, Fairy Flycatcher, Black-fronted Bulbul, Rufous-eared Warbler, Yellow-rumped Eremomela, Karoo Thrush, Pale-winged Starling, Yellow Canary, and Social Weaver. Mammals varied from the small Bat-eared Fox and Yellow Mongoose to the far larger Springbok, Mountain Zebra, and Gemsbok...
2016 [11 November] - Pete Morris
...We recorded an astonishing 530 or so species of bird, and no fewer than 60 species of mammals! Top birds included the fantastic Spotted Ground Thrush which showed so well after making us wait, Knysna, Victorin’s and Barratt’s Warblers that were all bold as brass, magical Blue Swallows, and the stunning Drakensburg Rockjumper, which along with its close relative the Cape Rockjumper, and the two sugarbirds (Cape and Gurney’s Sugarbirds), are truly iconic species for this tour...
2016 [11 November] - Richard Webb
Focusing again on many of Southern Africa’s most enigmatic species we saw 56 species of mammal (excluding ‘uncountable’ introductions and bats only detected ultrasonically) compared to 54 in July. On the bird front we saw 250 species (compared to 191 in July) including Blue Crane and some fabulous displaying Long-tailed and Red-collared Widowbirds, and we also identified 14 species of reptiles and amphibians including a superb Puff Adder...
2016 [12 December] - Gergo Nagy - South Africa (plus Lesotho &Swaziland)
This journey was a three weeks independent birds and mammals tour in Southern Africa, including three countries: Republic of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Actually, we were for a short time in the latter ones, however we tasted these two small countries.
2017 [02 February] - Gareth Robbins - Eastern South Africa II
...A little further down the road, we managed to see Rattling Cisticola, Lesser-striped Swallows, Magpie Shrikes, Speckled Mousebirds and we also had great looks at a Diederik Cuckoo...
2017 [09 September] - Dylan Vasapolli
... With a total of 377 bird species (plus seven heard only), including many endemic and/or sought-after species, and considering that the majority of our time was spent in the less diverse arid regions of the country, along with this not having been the prime birding season, we were very pleased with our success...
2017 [10 October] - Lisle Gwynn
This year’s South Africa photojourney was a roaring success and arguably our greatest ever. With an altered itinerary making use of some new and spectacular photo locations we made our way across this spectacular and varied nation, shooting the absolute best that it had to offer...
2017 [11 November] - André Bernon
We ended up with a huge total bird list of 426, with special sightings such as many turacos, trogons, rare larks, all three crane species and all of the endemics that we target. We even found representatives of the two southern African endemics: namely Drakensberg Rockjumper and Gurney’s Sugarbird! All in all, it was a fantastic and muchenjoyed tour of this great part of the world.
2017 [12 December] - Gareth Knass
This report sets out a month visiting parts of the Kalahari, Karoo, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Highlands, Afrotropical forests, Savannahs and Bushveld of South Africa, with Duncan Wilson.
2017 [12 December] - Martin Benadie
An outstanding birding destination and this tour delivered, with an amazingly high proportion of the targets (the hoped for endemics, regional endemics and specialities) being not only found, but also seen remarkably well. 510 bird species were seen well by all group members (out of 523 species recorded on tour). The mammals also put in a good showing with over 50 species observed.
2018 [01 January] - Dylan Vasapolli
After the arrival of John, Margaret, and Gerry at Johannesburg, I met up with them in the mid-afternoon at our spacious guesthouse before we headed off for some afternoon birding.
2018 [01 January] - Wayne Jones
The beauty of South Africa lies in its richness of habitats, from the coastal forests in the east, through subalpine mountain ranges and the arid Karoo to fynbos in the south. We explored all of these and more during our 25-day adventure across the country. Highlights were many and included Orange River Francolin, thousands of Cape Gannets, multiple Secretarybirds, stunning Knysna Turaco, Ground Woodpecker, Botha’s Lark, Bush Blackcap, Cape Parrot, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Caracal, Oribi and Giant Bullfrog, along with spectacular scenery, great food and excellent accommodation throughout.
2018 [02 February] - Nick Buys
We just completed a very successful South Africa birding safari with 2 clients from Canada. This was their 4th African birding safari with Nature Travel Birding and the main focus was on finding key endemic and range restricted species and species still missing from their African lists.
2018 [03 March] - Gareth Robbins
...We finally arrived at the start of the Zaagkuildrift Road and immediately started to see birds like the ever-vocal Rufous-naped Lark, Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, as well as Black-chested Prinia and Desert Cisticola. We then continued along the road, stopping for the stunning White-throated Robin-Chat, Crested Barbet, Red-faced and Speckled Mousebirds, Rattling Cisticola and Tawny-flanked Prinia...
2018 [04 April] - Jason Boyce
...Highlights included Violet-backed Starling, African Green Pigeon, Black Saw-wing, an exciting couple of Blackcollared Barbets, and a few of the more common things in the area like Southern Black Flycatcher, African Stonechat, and the smart-looking Red-winged Starling...
Places to Stay
Agri South Africa`s 40,000 commercial and 30,000 small scale farmers proudly present this fully electronic gateway to agricultural and ecotourism in South Africa. Click around and discover the wide variety of farmstays and activities on farms and in rural areas offering quality facilities in attractive yet unconventional surroundings and at tariffs you can afford - bed and breakfast, self-catering, game viewing, bird watching, hiking, biking, 4x4 routes, fly-fishing, horse riding, and many more…
African Bird Fair
The itinerary is listed etc.
Animal Demography Unit
Animal Demography Unit, Deparment of Zoology, University of Cape Town - From 1 January 2008, the Avian Demography Unit (or the ADU for short) will become the Animal Demography Unit (still the ADU). What prompted this? Ever since the ADU initiated the frog atlas project a decade ago in 1998, there have been issues with the name Avian Demography Unit – “Why is the Avian Demography Unit doing the frog atlas?” This inconsistency has recently been heightened by our involvement with projects on reptiles (Southern African Reptile Conservation Assessment, effectively the reptile atlas), and with butterflies (Southern African Butterfly Conservation Assessment, the butterfly atlas), and with five postgraduate students doing PhD and MSc projects on seals, one on rare mammals in Namibia and even one on dwarf chameleons…
Ditsong National Museum of Natural History
The Ornithology Sub-Section currently consists of two permanent staff (Curator and Collections Manager) and a large, diverse ornithological research collection. The Bird Collection represents the largest assemblage of bird and bird-related specimens at any research institution in South Africa, and is also the fourth biggest museum bird collection in the Southern Hemisphere. The collection consists of 50 535 specimens including 33 527 study (flat) skins, 4836 skeletons, 3741 fluid-preserved specimens, 9221 egg clutches and >250 nests of more than 2040 bird species from over 8000 localities in 60 different countries. Most of our specimens originate from South Africa (e.g. 59.4% of study skins), with good representative material from Botswana and Namibia.
Ornithology Department - National Museum
National Museum, PO Box 266, Bloemfontein, 9300 SOUTH AFRICA
tel. +27 (0)51 4479609;
fax +27 (0)51 4476273
National Museum: http://www.nasmus.co.za - The Ornithology Department was established in the early 1970s, with the appointment of Dr Tibor Farkas (1973-1986). The organization of material on display, much of which was exotic in origin, was the primary objective at this time.
University of Cape Town Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology
Welcome to The Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology on line! This web site provides an overview of what the Institute is about, study opportunities, including the Institute`s Conservation Biology Masters Programme, and current research themes and projects. You can also familiarise yourself with the staff and students of the Institute, and visit our hot links page for some useful and interesting websites.
Mark Kirk - The '800 Challenge' - Southern Africa
Last Updated 2014 - Mark Kirk's challenge… 800 species targeted in the Southern African region in a single calendar year (2013)
BirdInfo is Run by two enthusiastic Zululand birder/photographers, Guy Upfold and Hugh Chittenden. With their passion for birds and photography, a website like BirdInfo seemed like a great way to share photographs and birding experiences, and with the participation of other birders in the region, it promises to be a very exciting project. It will essentially remain a non-commercial site that we hope will not only attract contributions (photographic and text), but will update birders on forthcoming events, new publications, conservation concerns and of course general bird news…
BirdLife South Africa Avitourism - Birding Routes
The objective of BirdLife South Africa's avitourism division is to provide domestic and international birders with a one-stop resource to enjoying birding in South Africa. The avitourism division is however not only an information provider. Under the umbrellas of the different birding routes we have become involved in a number of different conservation and community initiatives with the aim of having a positive impact upon the environments and communities that we work in.
Birds of Southern Africa
South Africa is home to more than 500 bird species of which only a few can be presented in this travel guide. Among them are migratory birds like the African Hoopoe, minute nectar birds like the Collared Sunbird, colourful Redbreasted Robins like the Green Twinspot, roller birds like the Lilac-Breasted Roller, innumerable birds of prey like the Martial Eagle, exotic cranes like the Crowned Crane…
Birdwatching info for Southern Africa
A very good developing site - worth dipping into.
PLANNED CONTENTS OF THIS SITE - CURRENT ISSUES Preparing for Birding Big Day? What`s new - recent additions. What is bird watching? - birding skills and types of birder. Southern African Birds A guide to the birds of the region, including specials, photographs and checklists. Birding links - finding birder information - regional organisations, links and worldwide web resources. Where to watch birds in Southern Africa - best birding places, trip reports & site checklists. Bird watching resources - Fieldguides, Birdsound products, software and links to on-line shopping. Birder Travel - Guides, Tour Companies & travel information.
South African Birding
Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa
Zest for Birds
This site's aim is to provide an up to date resource centre which will appeal to all birders, whether you are a beginner starting out and hoping to find out more about this fascinating pastime or an avid twitcher working on augmenting your life list. We will provide general information on both land based and pelagic birding and will also keep you up to date with all the latest news and views of the birding world.
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Frank Droge
Photographer - Hans Martens
Thank you for visiting this website on wildlife and nature photography. I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel over a dozen countries in Africa to photograph the natural beauty there. With this website I would like to share my passion for the natural wonders of that magical continent, through images that reflect my vision and through articles that provide enthusiast photographers with the things I learned over the years.
Photographer & Videographer - Carol Blackard
Still and moving images from an excellent photographer
Photographers - Russell & Rina Warren
Russell and Rina Warren’s bird pictures, mostly of South African species…