Far too many tourists drive about seeking one species of animal after the other in their quest to chalk up as many as they can – even driving past elephants, zebra and kudu because of a “we’ve seen them” attitude – with eyes peeled for the ultimate prize: the sight of a lion. We see bored faces in vehicles as the day progresses, listless looks of bafflement when a passing vehicle asks what we are looking at and we respond “birds” or even tell them what bird we might be looking at. “Birds,” one might say or simply give a nod of the head as they move on in their quest.
Watching out for birds in any game reserve adds to the enjoyment of the environment as a whole. Here are a few of the many seen on our recent trip to the Addo Elephant National Park:
A ubiquitous Common Fiscal. Note how it is holding on to the twigs to keep it steady in the stiff breeze.
A young Olive Thrush perching inquisitively on our picnic table. Notice that it is still covered with speckles.
Cape Bulbuls, such as this one abound in the rest camp.
Large flocks of Pied Starlings can be seen all over in the park.
It is always fun seeing Speckled Mousebirds fly across the road or to working their way through bushes as they look for leaves, berries or flowers to eat.
Beautiful Malachite Sunbirds show flashes of metallic green as they pass by in a flash.
Who can resist the delicate beauty of a Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk?
How fortunate it was to find a Greater Striped Swallow at rest!
One can almost be guaranteed to find a Bar-throated Apalis at the picnic site.
Lastly, for now, is a Sombre Bulbul (now called a Sombre Greenbul!).
The mournful calls of Emerald Spotted Wood Doves wafted across the Spekboom from around four in the morning. By first light several birds had begun methodically combing the camping area for bits of food that may have been dropped during suppers the night before. Among them were:
A Southern Boubou looking quizzically at the camera before resuming its search between the gravel stones.
An adult Olive Thrush that seized upon a baby tomato at the base of the Spekboom hedge, crushed it in its beak, and then fed it to the spotted juvenile following it around.
This Laughing Dove looks as if it has just woken up!
A more alert Redeyed Dove stretching to pick up a tiny seed lodged between the gravel.
This brightly coloured Cape Weaver flew down to see what may be hiding behind the leaves.
As did a sharp-eyed Southern Masked Weaver. You can tell the sun had risen by then!
While a curious Cape Bulbul watched the proceedings from on high.
Of course there were many more, but we had poured a warm drink and gone off to explore …
We were at Jack’s Picnic Site in the Addo Elephant National Park in the company of some little people. What an interesting place it was for them to explore while the rest of us got a delicious picnic ready: a large dung beetle obligingly made its way across the gravel; two songololos (millipedes) explored the logs and crossed in front of several pairs of fascinated feet.
Other delights included a quick witted Boubou that stole a strip of ham from the picnic table in a flash before anyone else had even had a chance to partake of their own salad buns.
We were serenaded by several Cape Bulbuls – you can tell from the background that this was a dull day weather-wise.
A Sombre Bulbul came to see what could be scrounged from both the ground and the table – it was at this point that one of the little ones pointed out a sign warning visitors not to feed the animals [SO low down and completely overgrown that it was rendered invisible to adult eyes].
The visit from a Cape Robin was a fleeting one.
Perhaps because it had not seen one of these before!