Close on 600 bird species have been recorded in the Kruger Lowveld region, making it one of South Africa’s premier birding destinations.
At higher altitude, in the Afro-montane forests and grasslands of the Mpumalanga escarpment, a keen birder may be lucky enough to see species such as Bush Blackcap, Knysna Turaco, Chorister Robin-Chat, Malachite Sunbird or Gurney’s Sugarbird. The chances of seeing White-necked Raven or Jackal Buzzard are also good.
The forested river valleys beneath the escarpment are home to the birders’ “holy grail”, the Narina Trogon, and other special species, such the threatened African Crowned Eagle and African Finfoot.
The Lowveld National Botanical Gardens in Nelspruit/Mbombela is home to an impressive number of bird species. During a walk along the extensive network of paths and boardwalks and through various habitats, a birder may be rewarded with the bright red flashes from the wings of a Purple-crested Turaco, colourful sunbirds and the African Paradise Flycatcher.
Over 500 bird species have been recorded in the Kruger National Park alone, including several endangered and vulnerable species, such as the Southern Ground Hornbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Bateleur. The park’s camps are rich with birdlife, most of which are generally unconcerned by human activity. There are also several excellent bird hides from which a keen bird photographer can get great images.
Another “birding hotspot” is Saddleback Pass and
Peddlars Bush, near Barberton, where one may be lucky enough to find Olive
Woodpecker or Grey Cuckooshrike. Kaapschehoop and surrounds is also a birding
paradise where species, such as Buff-streaked Chat, Cape Rock-Thrush, Mocking
Cliff-Chat or Drakensberg Prinia, may be found.
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