BIRDING OVERVIEW – SOUTHERN AFRICA
Birding the ‘Deep South’ of the ‘dark continent’, as Africa was described in medieval times, is a rich and rewarding experience embracing over 900 bird species occurring within a wide range of habitat types, from coastal forest along the Indian Ocean coastline to the fog-shrouded shore of the cold grey Atlantic flanking the oldest desert in the world – the iconic Namib.
A narrow belt of forest in low-lying coastal regions along the east and southern coasts. Species include Rudd’s Apalis, Woodward’s Batis, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Lemon Dove, Grey Sunbird, Green Malkoha, Livingstone’s Turaco, Trumpeter Hornbill, Green Twinspot, Emerald Cuckoo, White-eared Barbet, Palmnut Vulture.
A composition of broad-leaved species occurring east of the Great Escarpment in areas of higher than average rainfall for the country. Species include White-throated Robin, Yellow-bellied Bulbul, White-browed Scrub Robin, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Gorgeous Bush Shrike, Purple-crested Turaco, Martial Eagle, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Barred Owl and Cape Robin Chat.
A mix of deciduous and typical thornveld with Acacia species dominating the mix within this semi-arid ‘parkland’ environment. Species include Rattling Cisticola, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Pearl-spotted Owl, Lilac-breasted Roller, Grey Turaco, Crested Francolin, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Brown Snake Eagle, Secretary Bird and Crimson-breasted Shrike.
A scattered mix of relic forest patches of evergreen species found mainly at higher altitudes in protected valleys and ravines along the eastern escarpment. Species include Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Olive Woodpecker, Black-fronted Bush Shrike, Orange Thrush, Narina Trogon, Grey-headed Parrot, Crowned Eagle, Greater Double-collared Sunbird and Bar-throated Apalis.
A treeless region in the high-lying central interior known as the ‘high-veld’ that encompasses open plains and alpine grasslands. Typical species include Cloud Cisticola, Rudd’s and Botha’s Lark, Ant-eating Chat, Orange-throated Longclaw, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Grey-winged Francolin, Crowned Lapwing, Blue Korhaan, Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane, Bald Ibis and Ground Woodpecker.
A floristically rich biome that extends along the southern and western part of the sub-region. Characteristic species include Restio, Erica and Protea. Compositions in turn form shrublands that include mountain fynbos, coastal fynbos, renosterveld and strandveld. Species include Victorin’s Warbler, Neddicky, Grassbird, Orange-bellied Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Protea Canary, Cape Siskin, Cape Rockjumper, Cape Bulbul, Cape Canary and Cape Bunting.
A mix of succulent plant species in low rainfall areas lying within the rain shadow of the Southern Cape mountains as well as semi-desert plant species adapted over time to the environmental hardships of the arid interior. Species include Namaqua Prinia, Karoo Eremomela, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Karoo Chat, Chestnut-vented Tit Babbler, Karoo Lark, Double-banded Courser, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Karoo Korhaan and Pale Chanting Goshawk.
A north-south strip of desert along the Namibian coast characterized by extremely low rainfall and open alluvial gravel plains and sand dunes. Species include Trac Trac Chat, Gray’s Lark, Herero Chat, Dune Lark, Sociable Weaver, Red-necked Falcon, Ruppell’s Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard, Lappet-faced Vulture, Pygmy Falcon and Burchell’s Courser.
Wetlands and Oceans
A broad mix of wetlands exist throughout the country ranging from natural lakes, artificial water bodies, marshlands, floodplains, rivers, estuaries and the plankton rich Atlantic Ocean off Cape Town. Species include a wide range of waterfowl and shorebirds as well as an astounding mix in both variety and number of pelagic seabirds including albatross, petrels and shearwaters.