South Africans are no strangers to drought and so we can empathise with the extremely dry conditions being experienced in parts of Europe. Some spring rains have arrived here – the hope is always for more! We all need water to survive and so I share some pictures of various creatures taking a much needed drink in the Addo Elephant National Park. The first are vervet monkeys enjoying a drink from puddles in the road:

This elephant was slaking its thirst at the Marion Baree water hole:

The Woodlands water hole is where these zebra gathered for their drink:

On a different occasion a single warthog visited the same water hole:

Ring-necked doves took deep draughts of water at Carol’s Rest water hole:

This was before they were ousted by a red hartebeest:



The Addo Elephant National Park is a delightful place for watching birds. This Bokmakierie was perched close to the road.

I often hear them, yet rarely see them in my garden so am always pleased to find them here.

Red-necked spurfowl have been visiting my garden regularly over the past few weeks to peck at the seed spilled on the ground below the feeders. Jack’s Picnic Site in the Addo Elephant National Park provides wonderful opportunities to see them really close up.

Given the various groups of donkeys and the Urban Herd of cattle that roam around our town, cattle egrets are a common sight as they keep these animals company. It is refreshing to see a flock of them gathered at the edge of a waterhole.

This lone Egyptian goose was actually on its way to join a few others grazing nearby. I occasionally see these birds on the edge of town too.

The sound of Cape turtle doves – called Ring-necked dove (Streptopelia capicola) – filter through our suburb daily. Strangely enough, I seldom see them in my front garden as they seem to prefer the area behind our home. This one is looking for seeds in the veld in the Addo Elephant National Park.


I seldom get the opportunity to spend the time to stop and observe birds whilst driving through the Addo Elephant National Park with companions who are far more interested in animals than either birds or flowers. These are birds I managed to photograph during a day trip to that park last month. The first is a Green Woodhoopoe close to the reception. Naturally, it sauntered about in full view until I had retrieved my camera!

One can almost be guaranteed to come across a weaver or two either in or on the Spekboom hedge at Domkrag Dam. This is a Cape Weaver looking a bit disreputable since shedding its breeding finery.

A Speckled Mousebird watches me from a bush next to the road. Without its crest raised, it looks almost as though it has just woken up.

It was at Rooidam that a young Reed Cormorant flapped its wings to dry in the early morning sunlight.

Tripping lightly along the edge of the road was the surprising sight of a Three-banded Plover.

A Cape Turtle Dove inspected the gravel at Jack’s Picnic Site with a degree of success.

Of course there were many more birds seen but not photographed.


Often taken for granted, the ‘work harder, work harder’ call of the Cape Turtle Dove or Gewone Tortelduif in Afrikaans (Streptopelia capicola) – now called a Ring-necked Dove – takes me back to my years growing up in the Lowveld. This was one of the iconic evocative calls of the veld and hearing their cooing still reminds me especially of our farm in the De Kaap Valley. Among the strident duets of Black-collared Barbets, the admonition ‘better-get-started’ call of Red-eyed Doves and the soft burbling of Laughing Doves, I still thrill to the sound of the Cape Turtle Doves – usually calling from the trees in our back garden.

These pale grey doves have a striking black patch of feathers (collar) at the back of the neck – so it also known as a Half-collared Dove. They are not really pale doves for if you observe them closely, you will note that their feathers are a darker shade on the upper side with a blend of hues of brown, grey, and shades of lavender towards the nape. I think their black eyes have a gentle look about them.

Being mostly sedentary birds, they are commonly found in open habitats where they can feed on seed found on the ground. Our garden was bare when we arrived over thirty years ago and now that the front garden has become something akin to a forest, the Cape Turtle Doves prefer either the back garden or the street where it is more open.


As we are experiencing the heat of summer, it seems fitting to draw attention to the attraction of water for birds and animals. I start in my garden then travel through my archives to a wonderful time spent – oh so long ago – in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

An Olive Thrush chooses a quiet moment to step into the shallow bird bath tucked into a shady section of the garden, where there is plenty of cover nearby to duck into should the need arise. It glances around whilst standing stock-still, as if it is assessing what dangers might be lurking around before it takes a few sips of water then splashes itself liberally in the bird bath.

Five Cape White-eyes gather for a communal drink and bathe at a different bird bath in a sunnier spot – still with plenty of cover to dive into if necessary.

This Speckled Pigeon casts a wary eye upwards before settling into the same bird bath for a drink.

Further afield, a lioness slakes her thirst at a water trough in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

So does a Gemsbok, accompanied by a trio of Cape Turtle Doves.

Lastly, a Yellow Mongoose ignores a swarm of thirsty bees to drink at a bird bath set underneath a communal tap in one of the rest camps in the Kgalagadi.