One moment nothing was there, the next a Red-necked Spurfowl emerged from the flowery bank right next to our tent. It was unmoved by our presence.

Note: Click on a photograph if you prefer a larger view.



While I was growing up, most cryptically-coloured ‘chicken-like’ birds were erroneously known colloquially as ‘pheasants’ and later as ‘francolin’. Some still are francolin, but the Red-necked Francolin has became known as the Red-necked Spurfowl (Pternistis afer). Thanks to that marvellous book, Beat about the Bush: Birds by Trevor Carnaby, I learned that Spurfowl differ from Francolins both by being more robust and usually having a maximum of two spurs on each leg.

This is the only spurfowl in southern Africa with a red bill, red around the eyes, a red throat and red legs. While their colouring is similar, the females are tend to be smaller and lack the spurs.

I have seen these distinctive terrestrial birds in riverine scrub, savanna and grassland areas. These ones were photographed in the Addo Elephant National Park.


A visit to the Addo Elephant National Park is incomplete without observing some of the many birds in the area. Here are three we encountered recently:

A Grey Heron contemplating the prospects of food in the Ghwarrie Waterhole.

This Rednecked Spurfowl eyed us curiously as we drove past along one of the many dirt roads.

One of three Cape Wagtails bobbing across the lawn at Jack’s Picnic Site while searching for insects.


The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns is possibly among the most popular means of introducing young people to classical music and to the different instruments that make up an orchestra. The other is that wonderful symphonic fairy-tale for children, Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. At the end of May this year, the Grahamstown Music Society devoted the first half of their concert to a transcription by Werner Thomas-Mifune for cello and piano of The Carnival of the Animals. Parents were invited to bring their children and “nobody will take offence if they leave at interval!”

I cannot show you all of the animals, but will introduce you to a few – with a South African twist.

The Royal March of the Lion

Instead of hens and roosters you can see a Red-necked Spurfowl

Donkeys will stand in for the Wild Asses

Tortoises abound

I will have to skip the kangaroos and the aquarium, but a Zebra will step in for the Characters with Long Ears

Skip the cuckoo for now and come to an aviary

Of pianists I have no pictures, so perhaps some Bagpipers will do

The fossils will be represented by a skeleton

Alas, I have no swan so will show you a Yellow-billed Stork instead!