Posted on the 14th November 2015

One of the ultimate destinations to experience the most beautiful 24/7 bird chorus must be the Sirheni private bush camp, situated more or less between Punda Maria and Shingwedzi in the Kruger National Park.

During our six days there we enjoyed the company of a host of Paradise and other Flycatchers, the haunting call of Fish Eagles reverberated throughout the day and a few Emerald-spotted Doves tried their utmost to drive us to suicide with their never-ending mournful song. A red-headed weaver frantically tried to please his mate with a very scruffy nest outside our bungalow, offering wonderful photo opportunities. Black-Collared and Crested Barbets joined in the choir, as well as Guinea Fowl, Crested and Natal Francolin, Gorgeous, Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bush Shrike, Scops Owl and African Nightjar, Chinspot Batis, Black-headed Oriole, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Piet-my-Vrou, Burchell’s Coucal and many many more.


(l) Red-headed Weaver; (r) Coqui Francolin.

Although the dam wall was destroyed by a flood and the plentiful water birds are no longer on offer at Sirheni, there is a continuous fly-past by, inter alia, Saddle-billed and Open-billed Stork. There is also a continuous parade of animals towards the small dam below one of the bird hides and we were treated to a daily Jungle Book type march by a huge breeding elephant herd, including the sweetest week old calf. They proved to be a menace on the roads close to the camp, however.


(l) Juvenile Martial Eagle; (m) Marabou Stork; (r) Warthog mom & baby.

The uncontested highlight of the week was a very rare sighting of a Red-crested Korhaan displaying mating behavior. My initial impression was that I was seeing some sort of ground-to-air missile being launched. I only just had time to focus my binoculars and the red crest was clearly visible. It soared some 30 metres straight up in the air and then dropped headlong back to the ground, as if it had been shot. Even the non-birders in our party were excited!

All in all we managed 151 species and were treated to a lot of summer migrants, some of which were lifers for me.

This time of year in the north of the Kruger is magical for birding despite the almost unbearable heat. We had the air conditioners at full blast while temperatures soared to 46 degrees C.

Article and images by Ilse Bigalke

Lappet-faced & White-backed Vultures enjoying a kill.



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