When it comes ‘avian charisma’, the two species of rockjumper found in Southern Africa are hard to beat…
Both are prized sightings for dedicated ‘listers’ in search of endemics within the diverse mix of habitat types within the sub-region.
While the Cape Rockjumper occurs in the Southwestern Cape, frequenting rocky ridge lines and boulder strewn slopes all the way down to sea level at False Bay, the Drakensberg Rockjumper is a high-altitude resident favouring the mountain heights above 2000m, and especially the interior of Lesotho.
Imbued with a sense of overt importance and curiosity of an endearing nature, both species are usually encountered in small family groups hopping about from rock to rock or actively searching for a variety of insects, larvae, caterpillars and grasshoppers.
Sexually dimorphic, the males, sporting pronounced white malar stipes and orange-red eyes, are exceptionally striking and quite unmistakable as clearly two distinctly different species.
Females lack the pronounced malar stripe and are generally more subdued and similar in overall plumage colouration with hazel-red eyes. Both sexes feature conspicuous white tail tips in flight bounding between perch points and during interactive tail-fanning territorial displays.
Rockjumpers are highly photogenic, with both species invariably rewarding a patient birder with an engaging and visually delightful interlude, as they forage about amusingly in close proximity.
Indeed, very much a noteworthy birding highlight that never fails to delight whenever a chance encounter presents itself!