The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is a woodland species that is also common in wooded urban areas. For a number of years one was more or less resident in our garden, perching in the branches of a tree close to the swimming pool. It would be so still that we often only noticed its presence when the sun highlighted its pale blue patches. For some reason we have not seen one here for some time, nonetheless, Brown-hooded Kingfishers (Bruinkopvisvanger) are commonly seen throughout sub-equatorial Africa.

The scientific name, Halcyon albiventris, is interesting for Halcyon is the Greek name of a mythical bird that was said to calm the seas and albiventris refers to the white underparts of the bird. It has a brown crown, which is darker in adult females than males, a red bill, and the male has a black back while that of the female and juveniles is brown. Note the brown colouring of the juvenile below.

We have noticed the Brown-hooded Kingfisher can often be seen perching patiently on a branch in the shade, from where it will swoop down on its prey. This one is overlooking a dry dam – clearly fishing is not on its mind! They follow a varied diet consisting of insects, spiders, small reptiles, amphibians, and rodents.

Despite their colouring, Brown-hooded Kingfishers are not all that conspicuous. I almost passed this one perched in an acacia tree above my head while I was walking through a wooded area.


Only six birds? No, there were many more for the montane grasslands of the Mountain Zebra National Park is an interesting environment for bird watching. I have featured birds in previous posts and so have chosen only these. Within minutes of passing through the entrance gate I was enchanted to spot a flock of Scaly-feathered Finches perched in the low bushes.

White-browed Sparrow-Weavers flocked around us in the camp site while we pitched our tent and kept us company throughout our stay: their cheerful calls were evident from first light until the last and they were so tame that they would happily hop between our feet to peck at tasty crumbs of anything that might have fallen from our laps.

Their untidy nests are evident both in the camp and in the veld.

The camp site is an interesting place to see birds, among which was this Pied Starling feeding its youngster:

It was along the Rooiplaat Loop that we spotted our first pair of Blue Cranes, and saw at least two other pairs elsewhere in the Park. This pair was happy to wander among a herd of Black Wildebeest.

I found it difficult to photograph the Rock Kestrels perched atop trees in the valley next to the Wilgerboom River for the light always seemed to be wrong. This is the best of a poor bunch:

This is the area where I found a very co-operative Brown-hooded Kingfisher:

The weather was overcast and dull; the temperature was cool, and a fairly strong breeze blew for much of the time. Given that this two-day stay was not focused on birding, I am pleased with my list:

African Darter
African Red-eyed Bulbul
Ant-eating Chat
Barn Swallow
Bar-throated Apalis
Black-shouldered Kite
Blue Crane
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Cape Sparrow
Cape Teal
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Wagtail
Cape White-eye
Cardinal Woodpecker
Common Fiscal
Common Moorhen
Egyptian Goose
Emerald-spotted Wood-dove
Fork-tailed Drongo
Hadeda Ibis
Helmeted Guineafowl
Laughing Dove
Namaqua Dove
Pearl-breasted Swallow
Pied Crow
Pied Starling
Pin-tailed Whydah
Red-knobbed Coot
Rock Kestrel
Scaly-feathered Finch
Secretary Bird
South African Shelduck
Speckled Mousebird
Speckled Pigeon
Spur-wing Goose
Verreaux’s Eagle
White-breasted Cormorant
White-browed Sparrow-weaver
White-necked Raven
Yellow-billed Duck