Bearded Vulture by Warwick Tarboton

Clients : Kim & Sunneva Frost – Denmark
Dates : 28th September to 11th October 2008
Duration :
14 days

The tour started out from the City of Gold as Johannesburg is colloquially known following the gold strike in the late 19th Century.

The city today is still surrounded by sprawling grassland that rises up to 1971m in the vicinity of the hill or ‘kopje’ studded Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve to the south east of Soweto.

Our objective for the trip was to maximize on species sightings by incorporating as many diverse habitat types within the time frame as possible.

As such the circular route traversed across the open grassland of the Highveld to the rugged edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment, known amongst local tribes as the ‘ Barrier of Spears’, before plunging steeply into the heart of the KwaZuluNatal midlands and coastal belt to the north along the Indian Ocean.

In this regard the trip delivered well on biodiversity ranging from some of the rarest and most localized birds in SA to the exciting mix of mega fauna associated with the Kruger Park. As such the pace was reasonably brisk and focused on new sightings throughout without having to compromise on quality in the way of extended viewing opportunities. Within the potential bird mix all but a view of the international migrant species were in evidence with only the cuckoos and paleoarctic raptors absent in Kruger during our visit. Highlights along the way were many while the weather played its part admirably throughout making for a highly productive trip of close on 400 bird and 31 mammal species. Kruger turning up trumps in the way of excitement as each day unfolded into a medley of new sightings across the wildlife spectrum.

Listings: A total of 380 bird species were recorded over the 14 day period. Sightings ranged from a suite of cryptically colored larks and pipits at the start of the trip including good views of Rudd’s and Botha’s Larks – both of which are classified as highly endangered to impressive sightings such as Bearded Vulture and Saddle-billed Stork. Other highlights included Crested Guineafowl, White-backed Duck, Scaly-throated and Sharp-billed Honeyguide, Red-throated Wryneck, Bearded and Bennett’s Woodpecker, Golden-fronted and Red-fronted Tinker Barbet, Trumpeter Hornbill, Narina Trogon, Broad billed and Lilac-breasted Roller, Little Bee-eater, Olive and Gray-headed Bush Shrike, White and Retz’s Helmet Shrike, Woodward’s Batis, Wattle-eyed Flycatcher, Gray Cuckoo Shrike, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Fairy Flycatcher, Barratt’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-backed Cisticola, Rudd’s Apalis, Pink-billed Lark, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Green Twinspot, Grey Waxbill, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Green Coucal, Brown-headed Parrot, Livingstone’s Turaco, Giant Eagle and Wood Owl, Fiery-necked Nightjar, Delegorgue’s Pigeon, Tambourine Dove, Denham’s Bustard, Crowned and Blue Crane, White-bellied and Black-bellied Korhaan, African Rail, African Snipe, White-crowned Plover, Senegal Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, Palmnut and Lappet-faced Vulture, Brown Snake-Eagle, Bateleur, Lizard Buzzard, Wahlberg’s and Martial Eagle, Southern Bald Ibis, Wooly-necked and Yellow-billed Stork.

In the client’s own words: “Despite the term ‘leisure’ we cannot imagine a more skilled, energetic guided and indefatigable search. ‘ Leisure’ should here be understood as responsibility and avoidance of any possible risky situation which makes one totally relaxed and comfortable from first to last minute. Accommodation was pleasant and peaceful making every day enjoyable and leisurely. Every effort is made to secure top birding experiences. All birds are seen well. All round knowledge, cautious driving and meticulous caretaking. I cannot imagine what could be done to improve on the service”
Kim & Sunneva Frost

For more information contact Marie-Louise on

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