It is difficult to do any serious bird watching whilst travelling along rough dirt roads that are very muddy and slippery in places. Thus, during a recent trip to Fort Beaufort and Post Retief, it was the larger birds that caught my attention.

I was thrilled to see a small flock of White Storks in an open grassy field near the road for their numbers seem to be on the decline here and I haven’t seen any for a while. Unfortunately, as soon as I emerged from the vehicle with my camera in hand they took off and this is all I could record of their presence.

white storks

It was a privilege to enjoy a close view of a Steppe Buzzard perched on a fence post right next to the road. Even though it too took off under such close scrutiny, it obligingly stopped on other fence posts along the route we were taking anyway.

steppe buzzard

It was on our way home that I saw this small flock of South Africa’s National Bird, the Blue Crane, sharing a field with a herd of merino sheep. They made my day!

blue cranes



    • The Steppe Buzzard is indeed a smart looking bird. It is a Palearctic migrant which used to have the lovely sounding scientific name of Buteo buteo (which I associated with ‘oh you beautiful thing!) but that has been changed to Buteo vulpinus. I understand the fox-like appellation is a reference to its tawny colour.

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