Village Indigo BirdRaptors are abundant in the Madikwe - tell us which ones guests are likely to see and share your tips on finding and photographing these. I would say that some of the more common raptors would have to include the Black-shouldered Kite, African Hawk Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Martial Eagle, Common (Steppe) Buzzard, Pale Chanting Goshawk and the African Fish Eagle
Common BuzzardTell us about your most thrilling and unexpected sighting of a raptor I had British guests at the time and had just been in a sighting of male lions for which we had to drive through some sickle bush (a vehicles worst nightmare, as it contains very tough spines which puncture game viewer tyres) and subsequently we had a flat tyre. My tracker and I were off the vehicle busy changing the tyre and the guests pointed out a Brown Snake Eagle which decided to perch itself on the branch of a tree a mere 5m away from the vehicle. As we were all having a good look at this magnificent specimen, it decided to fly away spreading its massive 1.5m – 1.8m wing span. I have never been so close to this beautiful raptor and the guests where in awe of what they had just witnessed. Owls are part of the raptor family - which types can be spotted Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Southern White-faced Owl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Scops Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet and Western Barn Owl
Southern White-faced Owl
Marsh OwlThe largest flying bird in the world is the the Kori Bustard and luckily for visitors to Morukuru these can be spotted in the Madikwe - is it rare to see these in flight? It is not rare but uncommon. Kori Bustards are not often seen flying as they generally spend most of their time on the ground. Flying is used mainly as a mechanism of moving short distances but mostly to escape predation. The rare yellow form of the Crimson-Breasted Shrike has been recorded every so often. This extremely rare species gets rangers and trackers excited - have you had the thrill of spotting this beauty? I unfortunately have not. It is most definitely on my bucket list. A good friend of mine has had the opportunity and showed me photographic evidence (which is important) of both species in the same tree at the same time. Do you use a reference book for you birding - and if so which of the most recognised - Roberts, Newmans or Sasol - do you prefer and why? I most definitely do. I currently use Roberts App and the Sasol book. The Roberts App is very well laid out and easy to find what you are looking for. I also use the Sasol book to compare information as not every book tells the same story. What about apps and other digital resources? I use the Roberts App religiously as it has everything laid out in a very logical manner. The App also has a few features to keep track of your progress and compare similar birds. It is an amazing resource for the avid birder and I would feel lost without it. We think the following the following quote sums up how best to approach birdwatching: “Binoculars, and a hawk-like vigilance, reduce the disadvantage of myopic human vision.” (The Peregrine: The Hill of Summer Diaries: The Complete Works of J. A. Baker). Which binoculars do you carry with you - and is there a special story behind them? I currently use Nikon Aculon 10x50. They are a very good all-rounder with rubber armoring to prevent damage from bumps and drops. There is no real story behind them I’m afraid. Every season is different in the reserve - which are your favourite birding months and why? The wet, summer months (October to March) are always the best for birding as you will get to see the migrant species; however the winter months are also great as we have a vast amount of resident species as well.
African Wattled LapwingThere is a popular saying that goes: Good birders don’t wear white! Do you agree with this...and what do you recommend guests wear for a birding expedition? I don’t think it will make too much difference in the bigger scheme of things, but I suppose if you really want to creep up on a bird to get that “perfect shot” it could possibly have an effect. The general rule of thumb is always try and adapt to your surroundings. I would say that wearing natural, earthy colors is best.