Distracted by birds in South Africa, by Megan Shersby
In the last few years, I have been to South Africa a couple times. Whilst I went there for mammalian purposes (studying the behaviour of zebras and then dwarf mongooses), I couldn’t help but be astounded by the beauty and diversity of the birds I saw there.
My favourite of the small birds had to be the Blue Waxbill (Uraeginthus angolensis). With roughly the same size and shape as our familiar House Sparrows, their chest is emblazoned with a fantastic powder blue colouration. Going around in flocks (again, similar to our House Sparrows), they provided small bursts of colour amongst the brown trees of the dry season.
|Blue Waxbill (Uraeginthus angolensis)|
|Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata)|
|Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)|
Another bird that has a special place in my memory is the Crested Barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii)! I saw it first on my zebra-watching visit, when we managed to catch one in a mist net. What stunning plumage, and such a character! On my return to South Africa to study dwarf mongooses, I saw this species often. I remember one particular time when I sitting by one of the tree refuges, waiting for the dwarf mongooses to awaken. It was a cloudy day so the mongooses were having bit of a lie-in and I was attempting to plough my way through Les Miserables on my Kindle (a difficult task at the best of times). A Crested Barbet alighted in a tree nearby and we watched each other for a good while, curiousity abounding on both sides and the clicking of my camera filling the silence between us.
|Crested Barbet (Trachyponus vaillantii)|
|Lilac Breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus)|
eventually resumed their foraging. To this day, I still don’t know what bird species it was, but I know that I’ll have the blurred memory of it forever.
|African Harrier Hawk (Polyboroides typus)|
Naturally, I couldn’t include all the bird species that I saw in South Africa, the previously mentioned birds are just a small fraction of the variety.
- Megan Shersby
Want to read more on Megan's adventures in South Africa? Then CLICK HERE!