Anywhere you go in the world, there are birds: small, large, drab, gaudy. Noisy or silent, they are hunters of both seed and flesh. They owe their feathers and guile to the dinosaurs.
Birds of Kruger National Park in South Africa are as diverse a group as any. From cuckoos to vultures, they inhabit the park as if they own it. Furtive owners, maybe, depending on their rank in the food chain, but owners none-the-less.
With my Animals of the Greater Kruger guidebook in hand, I hurried to identify all the birds I had seen, much less the birds I actually got photos of, or rather, usable photos. I can accurately say that I easily saw 50% more birds than I could photograph. The Daring Dixon told us that birding trips are available in Kruger, a tantalizing idea.
Travel the world joining birding groups? If only I was in a certain very high income strata.
So here are the birds I captured on digital—one can’t say ‘film’ any more—with my beloved Samsung 21X telescoping camera, with info about habits and habitat gleaned from my guidebook.
Wildlife companion birds.
The cattle egret forages in the company of large animals, like the elephant, giraffe and rhino, because as these beasts stroll through the bush, they kick up delicious insects and grubs.
Seen perched on giraffe and Cape buffalo, the red-billed
oxpecker dines on parasites—fleas, fly eggs, whatever may prefer to live in the pelts of these beasts.
The African hoopoe uses his beak to penetrate deep into the soil looking for beetles.
Mixing reptiles into her diet along with insects, the yellow-billed hornbill is an beautiful omnivore.
My book tells me Burchell’s coucal is a reclusive bird, but I managed to get several shots of this guy.
Magpie shrikes were everywhere, not at all concerned to show off their long tales–I meant ‘tails’.
The European roller is a colorful bird, and my book tells me it follows locust swarms. See his photo at the top.
Hunters of bigger game.
The amusing hammerkop—hammer head—wades in shallow water looking for small animals. Frogs? Fish?
My eagle photos are not that great, but I tried, how I tried. Here we have the brown snake eagle and the martial eagle. The martial eagle is bigger, and the brown snake eagle eats snakes, crushed, head-first. My vulture photos are just too blurry, sadly.
Does anyone know of a birding photography class?
Birds I saw but was unable to photograph: the pied crow, jacobin cuckoo, carmine bee-eater, African fish-eagle, and marabou stork. Sigh.
Anyway, enjoy the photos. There was so little time to pay attention to birds, when lionesses and black rhinos were in around.