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The Birds Are Back!

By Matthew Hopkins 3 years ago
Categories Limpopo and KZN

Over the past few weeks, we at GVI Karongwe have been noticing the appearance of some of the migratory birds arriving back, after trips to Europe and other parts of Africa. Species such as the Wahlberg’s Eagle, Woodland Kingfisher and Red Chested Cuckoo have been heard or seen while on research drives. Some of these birds travel thousands of kilometres following the rains, going to feeding grounds. Amazingly some species like the Wahlberg’s Eagle will travel all this distance, and once arriving back to South Africa will use the exact same nest as the year before. How these birds navigate so well is astonishing!


As we are coming into the breeding season for the resident birds here in South Africa, we are getting some amazing sightings. For example, the Red Crested Korhaan, aka ‘the suicide bird’ has been thrilling us with its flying dance. The male Red Crested Korhaan will fly up into the air to about 30 metres, flip upside down and plummet towards the ground, pulling up at the very last minute. Unfortunately not all pull up in time, hence the nickname. All of this is done in an attempt to attract a female. Other birds have other techniques of attracting a mate. We have been fortunate to have some sightings recently of a Kori Bustard. The Kori Bustard is the heaviest flying bird in the world and is classified as near threatened. In the Kruger National Park, although rare you can see them commonly in certain areas, however here on Karongwe we rarely see them. So to have multiple sightings has been a treat. The male Kori Bustard has a different technique to the Korhaan. To attract a female the male will inflate his neck making him look bigger and more impressive. Other birds have bright colours to attract females like the Lilac Breasted Roller in the photo above.


Birding can be a specialist subject and not everyone finds them as interesting as the mammals. However here on Karongwe we find that birds will always keep drives varied and fun, and its not all about seeing sleeping lions. Especially if you sit and watch the behaviour during the breeding season. We are looking forward to seeing more and more migrants arrive back to our reserve and further techniques males will do to attract a mate.