I am getting itchy feet and so have been trawling through my archives to bring you another selection of South African birds far away from my regular garden offerings.

Kori Bustard

African Pied Wagtail

African Redeyed Bulbul

Whitebacked Vulture

Crimsonbreasted Shrike

Redheaded Finch



South Africa is blessed with several national parks. It takes time and travelling long distances to visit even some of them, yet none disappoint. Today I will feature scenes from a few of them. The Addo Elephant National Park is not very far from where we live and so, every now and then, we go there for a day visit. Given its name, visitors naturally expect to see elephants there:

It is also a good place for birding, where one might be fortunate to see raptors such as this Jackal Buzzard:

The Mountain Zebra National Park is also easily accessible to us and is the perfect place to spend a few days. Visitors here would obviously expect to see mountain zebras:

However, one might also be fortunate to spot a cheetah lying in the yellow grass:

There are red hartebeest in the Karoo National Park – which makes a good stopping point between where we live and Cape Town:

One can also enjoy seeing ostriches striding along the open veld:

The world famous Kruger National Park is several day’s journey from here and hosts an enormous variety of plants, birds, insects and animals. When we consider the alarming rate at which rhinos are killed in this country, we cannot help but feel privileged to see them from close quarters here:

The name on every visitor’s lips is ‘lion’. Mention the word and people speed up and jostle for space to see even the tip of the tail of one. Equally exciting to see though are leopards:

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the furthest away from us and – despite its remote location – is such a popular destination that one has to book accommodation about a year ahead. This is an incredible place for seeing lions:

It is also a marvellous place for seeing the very beautiful crimson-breasted shrike:


I could scarcely believe my eyes when I saw a Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus) for the first time years ago. Its striking crimson breast is a wonder to behold – such bold colouring in its natural environment of arid savanna and other semi-arid areas where thorny scrub dominates the landscape. The name atrococcineus means ‘black with deep red’ – a most apt appellation.

The white wing bar on the otherwise black feathers stands out clearly too so one could be forgiven for thinking that, despite their beauty, these birds would stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. Not so, if they turn their crimson breast away they ‘disappear’ into the bush they are perching on. I watched this one foraging on the ground as well as picking its way through the foliage of a nearby tree, possibly looking for insects or small fruits. Its mate must have been close by for I could hear its call too, but could not see it through the thicket of thorny scrub.

Crimson-breasted Shrikes occur in the western half of Limpopo, North West Province, Northern Cape, the whole of Botswana and Namibia.