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Field Guides Tour Report
South Africa 2019
Oct 3, 2019 to Oct 25, 2019
Joe Grosel & Jesse Fagan

We spent time in one of the world's most astonishing botanical regions, the Cape floristic region of South Africa. There, we found some wonderful endemic birds as well, like this lovely Cape Sugarbird, captured in a beautiful portrait by participant Randy Siebert.

Our 2019 South Africa tour began in Johannesburg, where we spent the night before catching a morning flight to Cape Town. After collecting our two mini-buses we started our journey northwards to the town of Ceres, birding along the picturesque Bain's Kloof Pass en route. This area, with its mountain fynbos habitats and rugged mountain peaks, produced our first notable birds of the trip in the form of Peregrine Falcon, Cape Francolin, White-necked Raven, Swee Waxbill, Bar-throated Apalis, Piping Cisticola, Malachite and Greater Double-collared sunbirds, at least three Booted Eagles (two of which performed a talon-grasping and tumbling display), a testosterone-filled Cape Batis that was intent on attacking a parked car, and a good sighting of a real skulker, the endemic Victorin’s Warbler.

The following day found us heading north across the Tanqua Karoo and beyond to the arid country north of Calvinia, where we concentrated our "Bushmanland" birding efforts around the village of Brandvlei. Our first hurdle was traversing nearly 300km of the infamous R355 dirt road through the Tanqua Karoo. Eight hours and two flat tires later we limped into Calvinia just before noticing a third flat tire. Despite this bit of 'adventure,' the R355 produced an array of good Karoo birds including Rufous-eared Warbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Ludwig’s and Karoo bustards, White-backed Mousebird, Fairy Flycatcher, Yellow Canary, Karoo and Tractrac chats, and Pale Chanting-Goshawk. During the two days spent in the Nama Karoo habitats around Calvinia we enjoyed many new birds, notwithstanding the worst drought in this region in more than 100 years. Bokmakierie, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Namaqua Warbler (actually a Prinia), Orange River White-eye, Pririt Batis, Karoo Scrub-Robin, White-throated and Black-headed canaries, plus a good variety of endemic larks, herds of Springbok, and the beautiful open Karoo landscapes were just some of the highlights from this region.

From the hinterland of the Karoo we headed to the western seaboard of South Africa, with our first port of call being the small port village of Lambert's Bay. En route we had good views of Greater Kestrel breeding in abandoned crow nests on utility poles, a displaying Capped Wheatear, a pair of elegant Blue Cranes with very young chicks, and a male Black Bustard. We also called in at the Paleisheuwel kloof (ravine) for a picnic lunch and to look for the ‘tricky’ Protea Canary. We got the canary plus a bonus bird in the form of a Spotted Eagle Owl which flew out of its rocky shelter. At Lambert's Bay itself, we spent a couple of hours at the local Cape Gannet colony where about 4000 pairs breed. The hide and viewpoint at the edge of the colony gave us excellent views of the birds going through their breeding rituals. On the island, which is connected to the mainland by a concrete causeway, we also enjoyed views of several tern species, breeding Cape and Great cormorants, Hartlaub's and Kelp gulls, African Oystercatchers, White-fronted Plovers, and a large colony of Cape Fur Seals lazing about on the rocks beyond the gannets.

From Lambert’s Bay we headed south for a three-night stay in the Cape Town area. Following the coast road, we birded along the way, stopping off at the Berg River estuary at the town of Velddrif. Here we saw a good variety of water birds including Cape Teal, Red-billed Duck, Pied Kingfisher, Great White Pelican, Caspian Tern, African Darter, Purple Heron, and our first African Spoonbill of the tour. Heading further south we called in at the West Coast National Park with its coastal fynbos and impressive lagoon. In the shrubland we picked up Common Ostrich, African Marsh-Harrier, Cardinal Woodpecker, Rock Kestrel, and at least three Black Harriers, while at the lagoon we saw hundreds of both Greater and Lesser flamingos plus good numbers of migratory shorebirds that had just arrived from their Palearctic breeding grounds. Most notable were Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Red Knot, and Black-bellied Plover. The park also gave two fine antelope species, Eland and Bontebok.

Simon’s Town is the southernmost village within the greater Cape Town area and close to Cape Point. This delightful harbor village was our base for three nights. On arriving there we were informed that, regrettably, all pelagic cruises had been canceled due to high winds and large offshore swells around the Cape, so our itinerary had to be altered accordingly. On our first morning in the Cape we took a daytrip around False Bay, stopping off at the scenic Rooiels village where, along a trail sandwiched between the rugged coastline and the Kogelberg Mountain, we found Cape Rockjumper, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, and Cape Rock-Thrush. At the lovely Harold Porter Botanical Gardens outside the town of Betty’s Bay we enjoyed good views of Cape Siskin, Sombre Greenbul, Dusky-Brown Flycatcher, Brimstone Canary, and Black Sawwing, while a persistent Cape Robin-Chat gave away the position of a large Boomslang. Before returning to Simon’s Town we visited the Stony Point Nature Reserve and penguin colony, where there were many exciting sights to take in, including good numbers of African Penguin, four species of breeding cormorant (including two endemics, the Crowned and Bank), Girdled Lizards, and many plump Rock Hyrax.

Our second day in Cape Town we spent at the lovely Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a highlight for many on this leg of the tour. Apart from the splendor of flowering endemic Proteas, Ericas, Pincushions, and Geraniums, we enjoyed some great birding with sunbirds around every corner, two nesting Spotted Eagle-Owls, and a host of ‘new’ birds for the list including Rameron Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Common Buzzard (from the resident Cape Town population), Forest Canary, Olive Thrush, Bronze Mannikin, Little Rush-Warbler, and Southern Boubou. Not a bad substitute for the canceled pelagic cruise.

The next part of our tour took us on a flight to Durban on the east coast, where after collecting our vehicles we headed inland to the town of Underberg for a two-night stay and our base from which to explore the Sani Pass and Lesotho the following day. What a great birding day this turned out to be, as with the help of our three knowledgeable and eager local guides we managed to see well over a hundred species in beautiful mountain landscapes. Some of the noteworthy birds seen on the lower slopes of the Sani Pass were Black Goshawk, Drakensberg Prinia, African Yellow Warbler, Cape Grassbird, Barratt’s Warbler, Rufous-necked Wryneck, Buff-streaked Bushchat, Wailing Cisticola, Ground Woodpecker, and Wahlberg’s Honeyguide. At the top of the pass (9500 feet elevation) and into Lesotho we added several more localized species. Cape Griffon, Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Drakensberg Siskin, Layard’s Warbler, Gray Tit, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Yellow-tufted Pipit, and a nesting Bearded Vulture were some of the species worth mentioning.

The following morning we back-tracked to the coast, but not before a quick visit to the Marustwa Forest at the town of Bulwer, where we had fine views of Brown-necked Parrot, Orange Ground-Thrush, Knysna Turaco, White-starred Robin, and Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler. At another stop north of Durban at the Umlalazi Nature Reserve, we picked up Purple-crested Turaco, White-eared Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Red-capped Robin-Chat, and new mammals in Vlei Rat, Red Duiker, and Black-faced Vervet Monkey. After spending the night at a comfortable guest house at Eshowe, we visited the neighboring Dlinza Forest in the morning with its canopy tower and boardwalks adding Narina Trogon, Green-backed Twinspot, Forest Weaver, Olive Sunbird, and the secretive Spotted Ground-Thrush. Seeing the tiny Blue Duiker in the forest was a real treat.

We then traveled farther north to the coastal town of St Lucia, surrounded by a National Park and flanked by a large estuary. Here we walked along the iGwalagwala trails in coastal dune forest, finding the likes of Rudd’s Apalis, Trumpeter Hornbill, Brown Scrub-Robin, Purple-banded Sunbird, Grosbeak Weaver, Woodward’s Batis, Crested Guineafowl, and the dazzling Livingstone’s Turaco. A walk along the estuary to the sea front afforded our group nice views of Goliath Heron, Hottentot Teal, Zitting and Winding cisticolas, Osprey (an important continent tick for some), and the opportunity to wet their feet in the Indian Ocean. The mudflats in the estuary provided the best ‘wader watching’ site of the tour as we added Ruff, Common Ringed Plover, Wood and Common sandpipers, plus Sooty and Little terns.

Heading inland, we then had two nights in the Bonamanzi private nature reserve and lodge situated on the western edge of the iSimangoliso Wetland Park. On arrival we were greeted by a ‘parade’ of Nyala and Impala antelope along with comical Warthog. The lodge lies within an interesting combination of woodland, forest, and wetland habitats, and a short introductory walk gave us some good birds. A mixed weaver colony with Lesser Masked, Village, and African Golden weavers provided lots of entertainment, while a rather large Nile Crocodile lay nearby. From Bonamanzi we did a daytrip to the Mkuze Game Reserve, and no visit to this park would be the same without spending time at one of its waterhole hides, and so we did, seeing a good variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles, with African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Southern Cordonbleu, Three-banded Plover, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Yellow-throated Petronia, along with Plains Zebra draped with Red-billed Oxpeckers, dozens of Marsh Terrapin, and a few harmless Spotted Bush-Snakes. Other highlights of the day in Mkuze included seeing Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Common Scimitarbill, Black Cuckooshrike, Red-chested and Black cuckoos, Broad-billed Roller, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Crested Barbet, African Jacana, Chinspot Batis, Malachite Kingfisher, and many more. The following morning before departing, we did one final walk in Bonamanzi’s sand forests, finding two real beauties, Four-colored Bushshrike and Pink-throated Twinspot.

In total contrast, after traveling further inland and skirting the border of Swaziland (now known as Eswatini), we found ourselves in the high-altitude grasslands of Wakkerstroom, home to many of Africa's most localized larks and other sought-after grassland birds. We had a serene two-night stay at a lovely estate outside the town of Wakkerstroom, from where we explored the surrounding grasslands, hills, and wetlands. In another area hit by the nationwide drought, all the above-mentioned habitats were much drier than usual; nonetheless we managed to get most of our ‘target’ species, namely White-bellied and Blue bustards, Southern Bald Ibis, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Orange-throated Longclaw, Southern Ant-eater Chat, South African Swallow, Cloud and Wing-snapping cisticolas, Long-tailed Widowbird, and of course the larks, ... Eastern Long-billed, Red-capped, Spike-heeled, Eastern Clapper, and the rare Rudd’s. African Swamphen, Squacco Heron, Southern Pochard, African Rail, South African Shelduck, Malachite Kingfisher, and African Snipe were just some of the birds seen at the local marsh, while Wakkerstoom’s grasslands gave us some great mammals in Mountain Reedbuck, Oribi, Black Wildebeest, Yellow Mongoose, and charming Slender-tailed Meerkats.

From Wakkerstroom we continued on a fairly long drive to the southern end of the world-famous Kruger National Park, where we entered via the Malelane Gate and stayed at two camps, Berg-en-Dal in the southern woodlands and Satara in central plains. Despite high temperatures and dry conditions we had a wonderful time in the park, with far too many great sightings to mention here. However, some of the ‘standout’ birds seen over the one-and-a-half days spent in the park included Southern Ground-Hornbill, Lilac-breasted and Rufous-crowned rollers, Crested, Natal, and Swainson’s francolins, Martial and Tawny eagles, African Openbill, Kori and Red-crested bustards, White-browed Robin-Chat, Greater Blue-eared, Burchell’s, and Violet-backed starlings, Brown-headed Parrot, Southern Red and Yellow-billed hornbills, Lappet-faced and White-backed vultures, and Saddle-billed Stork. We saw a great variety of mammals, varying from the tiny Dwarf Mongoose and Wahlberg's Epauletted Fruit Bat to the massive African Elephant, of which we saw well over 600. We also had Spotted Hyena, White Rhino (at least 4 sightings), several Lion sightings, dozens of antelope species with Impala dominating the numbers, Cape Buffalo, numerous Zebra and Giraffe, plus Hippo, Warthog, and Baboon. However, the highlight for most was a strapping male Leopard, of which we had brilliant close-up views at it crossed the road inches away from the vehicles.

Leaving the park we headed in a north-easterly direction to the northern Drakensberg and Wolkberg mountain ranges, with two worthwhile birding stops en route. At a bridge crossing the Blyde River we found a pair of African Finfoot, while at an avenue of towering Eucalyptus trees near the town of Tzaneen we had great looks at a pair of Bat Hawks. Our stay in the montane forests of Magoebaskloof was hampered by thick fog, so we had to travel to lower elevations to get in some birding. In Tzaneen we had a productive session, picking up some new birds in the form of White-browed Coucal, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, and Holub's Golden-Weaver, while in the forest patches around the Magoebaskloof Hotel we found Gray Cuckooshrike, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Square-tailed Drongo, Olive Woodpecker, and a stunning Black-fronted Bushshrike that showed very well.

We now began our return journey to Johannesburg, breaking the trip with a one-night stay outside the city of Polokwane, where we had two bites at the Polokwane Game Reserve with its dry Acacia savanna habitats. We saw a bouquet of ‘new’ birds in this reserve, which forms the easternmost limit for many dry western and Kalahari species. Crimson-breasted Gonolek, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Southern (Cape) Penduline-Tit, Desert Cisticola, Mariqua Flycatcher, Scaly Weaver, Short-clawed and Rufous-naped larks, Black-faced and Violet-eared waxbills, Groundscraper Thrush, and Little Sparrowhawk were the most notable. We also saw several interesting mammals here, with Southern Oryx, Topi, and Red Hartebeest getting onto our already impressive mammal list.

From Polokwane we had a 3-hour road trip back to where it all started 20 days earlier, Johannesburg.

On this extensive tour of South Africa we experienced ‘a world in one country’ with many regions reminding our participants of places they’d been to in other parts of the World. We explored the ‘fairest Cape’ with its beautiful fynbos vegetation, jagged peaks, and rugged coastline, and then the expansive karoo and the arid landscapes of Bushmanland before traveling down the windy west coast with its flamingos and gannets. The highlands of the Drakensberg and the tropical eastern coastline with its white beaches and dune forests were next, followed by the ‘bush’ country of Zululand. The highland grasslands, marshes and farmlands of Wakkerstroom contrasted with the primordial wilderness of Kruger and all its wildlife while the tour was rounded off with the tranquillity of the montane forests and the harshness of the dry ‘thorny’ savannas.

Despite all the time spent traveling and challenges in the form of the prevailing drought, the wind and a few vehicle-related problems we managed to notch up an impressive 452 bird species, 53 mammals, and 19 reptiles and, more importantly, we had a good time.

Thank you for sharing South Africa and all its treasures with Jesse and me.

Best wishes,

Joe Grosel

Our next South Africa tour runs in October, 2020.

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

We also saw some of Africa's most iconic mammals, including this gorgeous Leopard that stalked across the road near our car in Kruger National Park. Photo by guide Joe Grosel.

Struthionidae (Ostriches)
COMMON OSTRICH (Struthio camelus) – A few groups seen in the West Coast National Park and Polokwane Game Reserve.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata) – Fairly common in the wetlands of Zululand and St Lucia.
EGYPTIAN GOOSE (Alopochen aegyptiaca) – Very common throughout and seen on most days of the tour.
SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK (Tadorna cana) – Seen well in the Cape and again in the Wakkerstroom area. [E]
SPUR-WINGED GOOSE (Plectropterus gambensis) – Several small groups were seen at wetlands in the north east, particularly Zulululand and Wakkerstroom.
YELLOW-BILLED DUCK (Anas undulata) – Scattered sightings of this duck throughout the tour but particularly common at the Wakkerstroom marshes.
CAPE TEAL (Anas capensis) – Several small groups were recorded along the Cape west coast.
RED-BILLED DUCK (Anas erythrorhyncha) – Seen well in the Cape and again in the Wakkerstroom area.
SOUTHERN POCHARD (Netta erythrophthalma) – Seen only on the Wakkerstroom marsh where there were at least three birds.
MACCOA DUCK (Oxyura maccoa) – Distant views of a few on a pan near Wakkerstroom.

West Coast National Park was the home of many Greater Flamingos, captured so well here by participant John Kricher.

Numididae (Guineafowl)
HELMETED GUINEAFOWL (Numida meleagris) – Seen almost daily in most habitats exept for the high Drakensberg.
CRESTED GUINEAFOWL (Guttera pucherani) – Great sightings of these handsome birds in Zululand, particularly approachable at Bonamanzi Lodge.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
CAPE FRANCOLIN (Pternistis capensis) – A common species in the Fynbos habitats of the Western Cape. [E]
NATAL FRANCOLIN (Pternistis natalensis) – A few sightings in Kruger and in the Polokwane area.
SWAINSON'S FRANCOLIN (Pternistis swainsonii) – This rather widespread species gave us great views in Kruger and Polokwane.
COQUI FRANCOLIN (Peliperdix coqui) – Nice looks at this small francolin at our lodge near Polokwane.
RED-WINGED FRANCOLIN (Scleroptila levaillantii) – A sighting of a single bird running up a hill near Wakkerstroom.
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus) – Large numbers seen on the lagoon in the West Coast National Park and again on Fickland Pan near Wakkerstroom.
LESSER FLAMINGO (Phoeniconaias minor) – Good numbers seen along the Cape West Coast.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis) – We had scattered sightings from the Cape, Wakkerstroom and St Lucia.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus) – Good views of a few on a pan outside Ceres.

Livingstone's Turaco was one of four turaco relatives that we found on the tour. This beauty was photographed nicely by participant Craig Caldwell.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Small numbers seen in towns and cities throughout the tour.
SPECKLED PIGEON (Columba guinea) – Very common in the Cape and in the high ground of Underberg and Wakkerstroom.
RAMERON PIGEON (Columba arquatrix) – Nice views of this good looking pigeon in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and again at the Marutswa Forest.
LEMON DOVE (Columba larvata) – We saw this dove well in the Kirstenbosch gardens and at a small bird hide at the Dlinza forest in Eshowe.
MOURNING COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decipiens) – A single bird was seen at a waterhole in Kruger while a few more were spotted in Kruger's Satara Camp.
RED-EYED DOVE (Streptopelia semitorquata) – Seen on virtually every day of the tour.
RING-NECKED DOVE (Streptopelia capicola) – The 'work harder' call was heard on a daily basis while individuals were seen on most days.
LAUGHING DOVE (Streptopelia senegalensis) – Another very common dove, seen on most days.
EMERALD-SPOTTED WOOD-DOVE (Turtur chalcospilos) – First seen in the Mkuze Game Reserve and then quite regularly in Kruger.
TAMBOURINE DOVE (Turtur tympanistria) – Two brief sightings for some at the Dlinza Forest and Tzaneen.

Cape Gannets showed nicely for us at the colony at Lambert's Bay. Photo by participant John Kricher.

NAMAQUA DOVE (Oena capensis) – This pretty little dove was seen in the northern Cape and also in Kruger with the best sightings in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
AFRICAN GREEN-PIGEON (Treron calvus) – Good views of several birds in the fruiting wild fig trees growing in Skukuza Camp, Kruger National Park.
Pteroclidae (Sandgrouse)
NAMAQUA SANDGROUSE (Pterocles namaqua) – Small groups seen in flight and foraging on the ground near Calvinia and Brandvlei.
Otididae (Bustards)
KORI BUSTARD (Ardeotis kori) – Great views of this impressive bird in Kruger's central plains.
LUDWIG'S BUSTARD (Neotis ludwigii) – We had several sightings in the Karoo particularly around the town of Calvinia. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED BUSTARD (BARROW'S) (Eupodotis senegalensis barrowii) – Two sightings of pairs in the Wakkerstroom area. [E]
BLUE BUSTARD (Eupodotis caerulescens) – Good scope views of a pair near Fickland pan north-west of Wakkerstroom. [E]
KAROO BUSTARD (Eupodotis vigorsii) – At least three groups were seen in the Calvinia region of the Karoo. [E]
RED-CRESTED BUSTARD (Eupodotis ruficrista) – This small bustard was seen very well in Kruger.
BLACK BUSTARD (Eupodotis afra) – Saw a male doing its display flight near Niewoudville and a female in the West Coast Park. [E]
WHITE-QUILLED BUSTARD (Eupodotis afraoides) – Several males were displaying over some open shrubland in the Polokwane Game Reserve. [E]

A night-walk at our hotel at Bonamanzi gave us a great sighting of a pair of African Wood-Owls. Photo by participant Randy Siebert.

Musophagidae (Turacos)
LIVINGSTONE'S TURACO (Tauraco livingstonii) – After giving us the run around we eventually got great views of this beauty along the iGwalagwala trails of St Lucia.
KNYSNA TURACO (Tauraco corythaix) – Had sightings of this species in the Marutswa Forest in Natal and again in a forest patch near Magoebaskloof. [E]
PURPLE-CRESTED TURACO (Tauraco porphyreolophus) – Had several sightings in Zululand but the best views were enjoyed in Skukuza Camp in Kruger.
GRAY GO-AWAY-BIRD (Corythaixoides concolor) – Many sightings in Kruger and very good views of birds coming into drink at a waterhole in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
WHITE-BROWED COUCAL (BURCHELL'S) (Centropus superciliosus burchellii) – Very nice views of a pair in dense vegetation in the town of Tzaneen.
GREEN MALKOHA (Ceuthmochares australis) – Although we heard several birds in St Lucia's dense coastal forest, this skulker never showed. [*]
DIDERIC CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx caprius) – Reasonable looks at a bird in Tzaneen.
KLAAS'S CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx klaas) – Heard only in the coastal forests of St Lucia. [*]
AFRICAN EMERALD CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx cupreus) – We had good scope views of a bird in the Dlinza Forest at Eshowe.
BLACK CUCKOO (Cuculus clamosus) – A single bird was seen well in the camping grounds of Mkuze Game Reserve.

One of the most beautiful birds in Africa, if not the world, is the Lilac-breasted Roller. We had some great views of them in Kruger. Photo by participant Craig Caldwell.

RED-CHESTED CUCKOO (Cuculus solitarius) – Many heard but only one seen ..... in the Mkuze Game Reserve camping ground.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
FIERY-NECKED NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus pectoralis) – Heard at night in the Bonamanzi Nature Reserve. [*]
Apodidae (Swifts)
ALPINE SWIFT (Apus melba) – This species was often encountered on the high country.
COMMON SWIFT (Apus apus) – Seen by some in the West Coast National Park.
AFRICAN SWIFT (Apus barbatus) – Good numbers seen along Sani Pass and again in Magoebaskloof in the Limpopo Province.
LITTLE SWIFT (Apus affinis) – The most commonly seen swift of the trip. In Satara Camp Kruger we were able to watch them coming into their nests under the thatched roof eaves of the huts.
WHITE-RUMPED SWIFT (Apus caffer) – Several sightings throughout the tour.
AFRICAN PALM-SWIFT (Cypsiurus parvus) – Very common in the eastern parts of the country where they were seen on most days.
Sarothruridae (Flufftails)
BUFF-SPOTTED FLUFFTAIL (Sarothrura elegans) – Despite trying to entice a calling bird into a clearing in the St Lucia coastal forests, it stayed well hidden.
RED-CHESTED FLUFFTAIL (Sarothrura rufa) – Heard this shy bird in dense reed beds near Underberg and again in the Wakkerstroom marsh.

This Spotted Hyena was one that we found at Kruger. Photo by participant John Kricher.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
AFRICAN RAIL (Rallus caerulescens) – Brief views for some at a wetland near Underberg and then great views for all at the Wakkerstroom marsh.
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus) – Several good sightings in the Cape and in the marshes of Wakkerstroom.
RED-KNOBBED COOT (Fulica cristata) – Plentiful on reservoirs and pans in the Cape, around the foothills of the Drakensberg and in Wakkerstroom.
AFRICAN SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio madagascariensis) – Great views of this stunning bird at the Wakkerstroom wetlands.
BLACK CRAKE (Zapornia flavirostra) – Seen well in Wakkerstroom and several times in Kruger.
Heliornithidae (Finfoots)
AFRICAN FINFOOT (Podica senegalensis senegalensis) – A good sighting of a pair on the Blyde River west of Kruger's Orpen gate.
Gruidae (Cranes)
GRAY CROWNED-CRANE (Balearica regulorum) – Several groups were seen in the Drakensberg foothills and around Wakkerstroom.
BLUE CRANE (Anthropoides paradiseus) – A beautiful sighting of a pair with very young chicks near Niewoudville in the Karoo and several groups around Wakkerstroom. [E]
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
WATER THICK-KNEE (Burhinus vermiculatus) – First seen at the unlikely locality of the Stoney Point penguin colony and then several times in the more appropriate tropical wetland habitats of St Lucia and Kruger.
SPOTTED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus capensis) – Good sighting in the coastal fynbos south of Lamberts Bay on the west coast.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus) – We enjoyed many good sightings of this bird at several locations, ranging from the wetlands around the Cape to the perennial rivers of Kruger.
PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta) – Seen well on the wetlands of the West Coast and again on the east coast at the St Lucia estuary.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
AFRICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus moquini) – Several good sightings around Cape Town, even from our hotel in Simon's Town. [E]
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – Good views of this Palearctic migrant on the west coast mudflats.
BLACKSMITH LAPWING (Vanellus armatus) – Very common on most water bodies across the country.
WHITE-HEADED LAPWING (Vanellus albiceps) – A pair seen while having lunch at the Lower Sabie camp in Kruger.
SENEGAL LAPWING (Vanellus lugubris) – An obliging pair seen by the roadside as we left Kruger.
CROWNED LAPWING (Vanellus coronatus) – Several sightings in areas including the West Coast, Mkuze, Kruger and Polokwane.
WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus senegallus) – Seen exceptionally well in Kruger but also around Wakkerstroom.

The tiny but brilliant African Pygmy-Kingfisher was one of the birds we found on our day-trip to Mkuze. Photo by guide Joe Grosel.

CASPIAN PLOVER (Charadrius asiaticus) – Two birds were spotted at the Mazithi waterhole in Kruger. This species is considered to be a vagrant to South Africa.
KITTLITZ'S PLOVER (Charadrius pecuarius) – A nice sighting of several birds in the West Coast National Park.
COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula) – Good numbers on the West Coast and on the St Lucia estuary.
THREE-BANDED PLOVER (Charadrius tricollaris) – A number of sightings throughout the tour with some excellent close views at a waterhole in Kruger.
WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER (Charadrius marginatus) – Fairly common on the west coast and as far north as the St Lucia estuary and intertidal zone.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
AFRICAN JACANA (Actophilornis africanus) – Lovely looks at Bonamanzi, Mkuze and especially in Kruger.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – A few sightings from the West Coast park, Umlalazi Reserve (north of Durban) and the St Lucia estuary.
RED KNOT (Calidris canutus) – A single bird seen by some at the West Coast National Park mudflats.
RUFF (Calidris pugnax) – A few birds seen at the St Lucia estuary.
CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea) – Large numbers seen on the west coast and at the St Lucia mudflats.

This Cape Batis is one of several that we saw. Photo by participant Randy Siebert.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – Small numbers seen at St Lucia and in the West Coast Park.
LITTLE STINT (Calidris minuta) – This small sandpiper was seen in the West Coast Park and on the St Lucia estuary.
AFRICAN SNIPE (Gallinago nigripennis) – Nice views at the Wakkerstroom marsh.
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos) – A few sightings in the east, at Mkuze, Wakkerstroom and Kruger.
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia) – Several birds seen in the West Coast Park, St Lucia, Mkuze and Kruger.
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola) – Quite common in the north east at places including Mkuze and Kruger.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
GRAY-HOODED GULL (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus) – Seen in Johannesburg, at Velddrift (on the west coast), St Lucia and even at a waterhole in Kruger.
HARTLAUB'S GULL (Chroicocephalus hartlaubii) – The common gull around Cape Town and the west coast of SA. [E]
KELP GULL (VETULA) (Larus dominicanus vetula) – Many good views of this large gull from Cape Town to the West Coast Park. [E]
LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons) – A few seen at a tern roost at the St Lucia estuary.

Here's a shot of our group hiking; participant John Kricher took the photo, that he calls "Joe's Army". We do look well-armed -- for birding, anyway!

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – Seen well at Velddrif on the west coast and again at St Lucia.
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida) – Seen at Nsumo Pan in Mkuze Game Reserve and on inland pans near Wakkerstroom.
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – Nice sightings of non-breeding birds at Lamberts Bay and on the east coast at St Lucia.
GREAT CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bergii) – This handsome tern was fairly common on the west and east coasts.
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – Seen well at Lamberts Bay.
LESSER CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bengalensis emigratus) – A single bird seen by some near Velddrif and a vagrant to the west coast of SA.
Spheniscidae (Penguins)
AFRICAN PENGUIN (Spheniscus demersus) – Lovely views at Lamberts Bay and at a breeding colony near Betty's Bay. [E]
Ciconiidae (Storks)
AFRICAN OPENBILL (Anastomus lamelligerus) – First seen at Nsumo Pan in Mkuze and a few in Kruger with one giving us superb views as it hunted freshwater snails in the Sabie River.
BLACK STORK (Ciconia nigra) – A single bird seen flying over Sani Pass in the Drakensberg.
WOOLLY-NECKED STORK (Ciconia episcopus) – Several sightings on the east coast with great views of a 'frisky' pair showing off in our hotel garden in Eshowe.

White-eared Barbets were common along the east coast, where participant Randy Siebert got a very nice image of this one.

SADDLE-BILLED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) – A superb sighting of a pair fishing in a small pool north of Berg-en-Dal Camp in Kruger.
YELLOW-BILLED STORK (Mycteria ibis) – Several nice sightings in Kruger.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
CAPE GANNET (Morus capensis) – Excellent views of roughly 4000 birds in a breeding colony at Lamberts Bay.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
AFRICAN DARTER (Anhinga rufa rufa) – Several good sightings particularly in Mkuze, Wakkerstroom and Kruger.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LONG-TAILED CORMORANT (Microcarbo africanus) – Seen at most freshwater habitats.
CROWNED CORMORANT (Microcarbo coronatus) – Seen well at Lamberts Bay and at the Stony Point Nature Reserve. [E]
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo) – Nice sightings in the Cape with great views at Lamberts Bay.
CAPE CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax capensis) – Large numbers around the Cape coast with great views of breeding pairs at their nests in Lamberts Bay. [E]
BANK CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax neglectus) – Good looks at this peculiar cormorant at the Stony Point penguin colony. [E]
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
GREAT WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus onocrotalus) – Good views around Cape Town and the west coast.

A male Southern Red Bishop stands out in the midst of its reedy habitat. Photo by participant John Kricher.

Scopidae (Hamerkop)
HAMERKOP (Scopus umbretta) – Seen well at Bonamanzi with close-up views in Kruger.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea) – Scattered sightings throughout.
BLACK-HEADED HERON (Ardea melanocephala) – Seen in most locations on the tour.
GOLIATH HERON (Ardea goliath) – Seen well at the St Lucia estuary and again in Kruger.
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea) – Two sightings: in the West Coast National Park and St Lucia estuary.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Seen at St Lucia, Mkuze and in the Kruger National Park.
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) – Multiple sightings in various locations.
BLACK HERON (Egretta ardesiaca) – A single sighting at Nsumo Pan in Mkuze game Reserve.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Common throughout and seen on most days of the tour.
SQUACCO HERON (Ardeola ralloides) – Seen at Mkuze Game Reserve with lovely views at the Wakkerstroom marsh.

The subdued but handsome Sentinel Rock-Thrush is an endemic that we saw in the Drakensberg Highlands. Photo by participant Craig Caldwell.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – Seen at Mkuze, Wakkerstroom and Kruger.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – Seen well from the bridge over the Wakkerstroom marsh.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – Several sightings in the Cape and around Wakkerstroom.
SACRED IBIS (Threskiornis aethiopicus) – There were sightings of this widespread species throughout the tour.
SOUTHERN BALD IBIS (Geronticus calvus) – Two or three sightings around Wakkerstroom. [E]
HADADA IBIS (Bostrychia hagedash) – This species gets the 'full house' prize as it was seen on every day of the tour.
AFRICAN SPOONBILL (Platalea alba) – Several sightings from the the West Coast Park to the wetlands of St Lucia and Wakkerstroom.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (HALIAETUS) (Pandion haliaetus haliaetus) – One flew over the ..... St Lucia estuary.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-WINGED KITE (Elanus caeruleus) – Sporadic sightings throughout the tour.
AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK (Polyboroides typus) – A brief sighting of a bird on the wing at Skukuza Camp, KNP.

A family of Southern Ground-Hornbills showed nicely for us near Satara Camp in Kruger. These birds have surprisingly lovely eyes and eyelashes! Photo by participant John Kricher.

PALM-NUT VULTURE (Gypohierax angolensis) – An adult bird was seen flying over the Umlalazi Reserve east of Eshowe.
BEARDED VULTURE (Gypaetus barbatus) – Reasonable scope views of a bird on its cliff-top nest at an elevation of over 3200m in Lesotho.
AFRICAN CUCKOO-HAWK (Aviceda cuculoides) – Distant flight views of a bird soaring over the Mkuze Game Reserve.
LAPPET-FACED VULTURE (Torgos tracheliotos) – Nice flight views of an adult bird over Satara Camp in the Kruger National Park.
WHITE-BACKED VULTURE (Gyps africanus) – Many good sightings of soaring and roosting birds in Mkuze and Kruger.
CAPE GRIFFON (Gyps coprotheres) – A great sighting of a bird coming into land at the top of Sani Pass. A few more were seen soaring above the Polokwane Game Reserve. [E]
BATELEUR (Terathopius ecaudatus) – Nice views of flying birds in Mkuze and Kruger.
BLACK-BREASTED SNAKE-EAGLE (Circaetus pectoralis) – Two sightings of this species in the Karoo and West Coast regions.
BROWN SNAKE-EAGLE (Circaetus cinereus) – Seen in Mkuze with further good sightings in Kruger.
BAT HAWK (Macheiramphus alcinus) – Excellent views of a pair near their nest outside the town of Tzaneen. The female even gave us a fly past and landed on the nest.
CROWNED EAGLE (Stephanoaetus coronatus) – Two birds were seen flying over the town of Howick while we were enjoying lunch.
MARTIAL EAGLE (Polemaetus bellicosus) – We had at least three sightings of this special eagle in Kruger.
LONG-CRESTED EAGLE (Lophaetus occipitalis) – Possibly the most frequently seen eagle of the tour, often spotted on roadside utility poles.
WAHLBERG'S EAGLE (Hieraaetus wahlbergi) – A few sightings of flying birds in Kruger and one sitting on a nest in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraaetus pennatus) – At least three birds seen in the mountains of Bain's Kloof Pass near Ceres. Two birds gave us a good performance tumbling through the air with interlocked talons.
TAWNY EAGLE (Aquila rapax) – Seen in Mkuze and then again on a few occasions in Kruger.
VERREAUX'S EAGLE (Aquila verreauxii) – A single sighting of a bird soaring in the Bloukrans Pass near Calvinia in the Karoo.
AFRICAN HAWK-EAGLE (Aquila spilogaster) – A brief sighting of a bird flying across the road near Skukuza, KNP.
DARK CHANTING-GOSHAWK (Melierax metabates) – We had a great sighting near the Blyde River of a bird which was perched on a roadside telephone post that suddenly swooped down to attempt a kill in tall grass near our vehicles.
PALE CHANTING-GOSHAWK (Melierax canorus) – Several sightings in the arid karoo and Bushmanland. [E]

Kittlitz's Plover was one of a number of shorebirds that we found at West Coast National Park. Photo by participant Randy Siebert.

AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER (Circus ranivorus) – Seen in the West Coast National Park and again over the reed beds of Nsumo Pan in Mkuze Game Reserve.
BLACK HARRIER (Circus maurus) – After a decent search in the West Coast Park we were rewarded with no less than three different birds. [E]
LITTLE SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter minullus) – A juvenile posed nicely for us at the Polokwane Game Reserve's picnic site.
BLACK GOSHAWK (Accipiter melanoleucus) – A 'perched up' melanistic adult was seen in the village of Himeville while a juvenile was seen flying over the Dlinza Forest in Eshowe.
BLACK KITE (YELLOW-BILLED) (Milvus migrans parasitus) – This common intra-African, breeding migrant was seen on several occasions, particularly in the sub-tropical eastern regions.
AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus vocifer) – We had several sightings of this striking raptor in Mkuze and Kruger.
COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo) – A few birds of the small resident population were seen soaring over the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens while at least two individuals of the migrant population were seen near Underberg.
JACKAL BUZZARD (Buteo rufofuscus) – Several sightings in the Cape, the Drakensberg and near Wakkerstroom. [E]
Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)
BARN OWL (AFRICAN) (Tyto alba affinis) – One was perched in the rafters of the restaurant in Lower Sabie Camp, Kruger.
Strigidae (Owls)
AFRICAN SCOPS-OWL (Otus senegalensis) – Heard only in the Berg-en-Dal Camp in the KNP. [*]

Gray Go-Away Birds were common in Kruger, and we had good, close views at Polokwane Game Reserve, where they were coming to a waterhole. Photo by participant Craig Caldwell.

SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL (Bubo africanus) – We had nice sightings of this species on the Paleisheuwel Pass and two incubating birds in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden - one in a hanging flower basket!
PEARL-SPOTTED OWLET (Glaucidium perlatum) – Brief looks at a skittish bird in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
AFRICAN WOOD-OWL (Strix woodfordii) – We had a great sighting of a pair in the Bonamanzi Hotel grounds after dinner.
Coliidae (Mousebirds)
SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD (Colius striatus) – Fairly common in the eastern regions.
WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD (Colius colius) – We had several sightings of this species in the arid Karoo and coastal fynbos habitats. [E]
RED-FACED MOUSEBIRD (Urocolius indicus) – A number of sightings in the east, particularly at waterholes in Mkuze and Polokwane Game Reserves.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
NARINA TROGON (Apaloderma narina) – We had excellent views of at least two birds in the Dlinza forest, Eshowe.
Upupidae (Hoopoes)
EURASIAN HOOPOE (AFRICAN) (Upupa epops africana) – Seen on a number of occasions with good close-up views in Kruger.
Phoeniculidae (Woodhoopoes and Scimitarbills)
GREEN WOODHOOPOE (Phoeniculus purpureus) – Nice sightings of this flamboyant species in Kruger.
COMMON SCIMITARBILL (Rhinopomastus cyanomelas) – Good views in Mkuze Game Reserve and again in Kruger.

Participant John Krisher captured a group of tired-looking Red-billed Oxpeckers sunning on the back of a Plains Zebra. This is just one of the many wonderful behaviors we enjoyed, in addition to simply sighting the birds!

Bucorvidae (Ground-Hornbills)
SOUTHERN GROUND-HORNBILL (Bucorvus leadbeateri) – We had good views of a family group north of Satara Camp in Kruger.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
CROWNED HORNBILL (Lophoceros alboterminatus) – Seen in the coastal and sand forests of St Lucia and Mkuze.
AFRICAN GRAY HORNBILL (Lophoceros nasutus) – A few sightings in Kruger.
SOUTHERN YELLOW-BILLED HORNBILL (Tockus leucomelas) – Nice views in Kruger and in the Polokwane Game Reserve. [E]
SOUTHERN RED-BILLED HORNBILL (Tockus rufirostris) – The smallest of the southern African hornbills was seen well in Kruger.
TRUMPETER HORNBILL (Bycanistes bucinator) – Excellent views in St Lucia.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
MALACHITE KINGFISHER (Corythornis cristatus) – We had sightings at Mkomazana Lodge (at the base of Sani Pass) and at Mkuze, Wakkerstroom and Kruger.
AFRICAN PYGMY-KINGFISHER (Ispidina picta) – This little beauty was seen well from a hide in the Mkuze Game Reserve.
BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER (Halcyon albiventris) – First seen in Bonamanzi Nature Reserve and then again in Kruger and Polokwane.
STRIPED KINGFISHER (Halcyon chelicuti) – Brief looks for some in Kruger.

Purple-crested Turaco was one of our sightings at Umlalazi Nature Reserve near Durban. Photo by participant Craig Caldwell.

GIANT KINGFISHER (Megaceryle maxima) – Seen at the Nsumo Pan in Mkuze and at the Crocodile River as we entered Kruger.
PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis) – A number of sightings at freshwater habitats throughout.
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
WHITE-FRONTED BEE-EATER (Merops bullockoides) – Good views at the Crocodile and Sabie Rivers in Kruger.
LITTLE BEE-EATER (Merops pusillus) – Seen at Bonamanzi and in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
EUROPEAN BEE-EATER (Merops apiaster) – Several sightings in the karoo, Wakkerstroom and in Kruger.
Coraciidae (Rollers)
LILAC-BREASTED ROLLER (Coracias caudatus) – Nice views of this popular bird in Kruger.
RUFOUS-CROWNED ROLLER (Coracias naevius) – A single sighting near Skukuza in Kruger.
BROAD-BILLED ROLLER (Eurystomus glaucurus) – We had a great sighting of a bird in fever trees on the shores of Nsumo Pan, Mkuze Game Reserve.
Lybiidae (African Barbets)
CRESTED BARBET (Trachyphonus vaillantii) – Seen in Wakkerstroom and again in the Kruger.
WHITE-EARED BARBET (Stactolaema leucotis) – Quite common along the east coast with good views in Eshowe and St Lucia.

Participant John Kricher got a "kingfisher's-eye view" of a beautiful Malachite Kingfisher near Wakkerstrom.

YELLOW-RUMPED TINKERBIRD (Pogoniulus bilineatus) – Seen well at the Umlalazi Nature Reserve and at St Lucia.
RED-FRONTED TINKERBIRD (Pogoniulus pusillus) – Good views at the Mkuze camping ground.
YELLOW-FRONTED TINKERBIRD (Pogoniulus chrysoconus) – Briefly seen in the town of Tzaneen.
PIED BARBET (Tricholaema leucomelas) – Seen in Mkuze, Kruger and Polokwane.
BLACK-COLLARED BARBET (Lybius torquatus) – Fairly common with sightings throughout the north eastern regions.
Indicatoridae (Honeyguides)
WAHLBERG'S HONEYGUIDE (Prodotiscus regulus) – Normally difficult to find, we were fortunate to encounter this species in three different locations: Sani Pass, Mkuze and Tzaneen.
SCALY-THROATED HONEYGUIDE (Indicator variegatus) – Heard in the Dlinza Forest at Eshowe. [*]
GREATER HONEYGUIDE (Indicator indicator) – Nice views of a bird at the base of Sani Pass.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RUFOUS-NECKED WRYNECK (Jynx ruficollis) – Seen well on Sani Pass and again at our lodgings in Wakkerstroom.
CARDINAL WOODPECKER (Chloropicus fuscescens) – Seen well in the West Coast National Park and at the Mkomazana Lodge at the base of Sani Pass.

This pair of Saddle-billed Storks was fishing in a small wetland in Kruger National Park. Participant Craig Caldwell got a nice shot that includes a sneaky Striated Heron and a young Nile Crocodile in the background.

OLIVE WOODPECKER (Chloropicus griseocephalus) – Good views at Mkomazana Lodge and in a forest patch near the Magoebaskloof Hotel.
GROUND WOODPECKER (Geocolaptes olivaceus) – A small family group seen along the Sani Pass. [E]
GOLDEN-TAILED WOODPECKER (Campethera abingoni) – Sightings at the Dlinza Forest, Bonamanzi and in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
ROCK KESTREL (Falco rupicolus) – Seen in the mountainous regions of Ceres and again at sea level in the West Coast National Park.
GREATER KESTREL (Falco rupicoloides) – Several sightings in the arid karoo and Bushmanland regions around Calvinia, several utilizing crow nests to breed in.
LANNER FALCON (Falco biarmicus) – Fortuitously seen near a nesting Bearded Vulture on a cliff in Lesotho.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Seen on the Bain's Kloof Pass near Ceres and again at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty's Bay.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
BROWN-NECKED PARROT (Poicephalus robustus) – Excellent views of a pair at the Marustwa Forest near Underberg and a flock of 16 birds flying in the fog outside the Magoebaskloof Hotel.
BROWN-HEADED PARROT (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus) – Great views in the Satara Camp, Kruger.
Platysteiridae (Wattle-eyes and Batises)
CAPE BATIS (Batis capensis) – Several sightings in forest habitats from Kirstenbosch in the Cape to Magoebaskloof in the Limpopo Province. [E]

The pretty White-browed Robin-Chat showed well for us in Lower Sabie Camp at Kruger. Photo by participant John Kricher.

WOODWARD'S BATIS (Batis fratrum) – A pair seen well in the iGwalagwala coastal forest in St Lucia.
CHINSPOT BATIS (Batis molitor) – First seen in Mkuze then several more times in Kruger and Polokwane.
PRIRIT BATIS (Batis pririt) – Brief views at a dry river course near the town of Brandvlei in Bushmanland. [E]
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)
WHITE HELMETSHRIKE (Prionops plumatus) – Flocks of '7' and more seen in Mkuze, Kruger and Tzaneen.
Malaconotidae (Bushshrikes and Allies)
BRUBRU (Nilaus afer) – A pair showed well in the Mkuze main camp. Also seen in Kruger later on during the tour.
BLACK-BACKED PUFFBACK (Dryoscopus cubla) – Several sightings at St Lucia, Bonamanzi, Mkuze and Kruger.
BLACK-CROWNED TCHAGRA (Tchagra senegalus) – This vocal species was seen well in Kruger.
BROWN-CROWNED TCHAGRA (Tchagra australis) – Seen briefly in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
SOUTHERN BOUBOU (Laniarius ferrugineus) – Although it was heard more than seen we did get good views Kirstenbosch, Marustwa Forest and St Lucia. [E]
CRIMSON-BREASTED GONOLEK (Laniarius atrococcineus) – Nice views of this stunner in the Polokwane Game Reserve. [E]

The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town hosted a nesting pair of Spotted Eagle-Owls. This one peered at participant Craig Caldwell from the doorway of their nest box.

BOKMAKIERIE (Telophorus zeylonus) – Seen on a few occasions in the Cape with the best views at the Akkerendam Nature Reserve at Calvinia. Also seen and heard in the Drakensberg and Wakkerstroom. [E]
SULPHUR-BREASTED BUSHSHRIKE (Telophorus sulfureopectus) – Seen in Mkuze, Bonamanzi and again in Kruger by some.
OLIVE BUSHSHRIKE (Telophorus olivaceus) – Reasonable canopy views in the Dlinza Forest at Eshowe.
BLACK-FRONTED BUSHSHRIKE (Telophorus nigrifrons) – Stunning views of this 'canopy creeper' in a forest patch near the Magoebaskloof Hotel.
FOUR-COLORED BUSHSHRIKE (FOUR-COLORED) (Telophorus viridis quadricolor) – Normally a shy species, we were lucky to get reasonably good views at the Bonamanzi Reserve.
GRAY-HEADED BUSHSHRIKE (Malaconotus blanchoti) – Seen at the Orpen Gate just before leaving Kruger.
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
GRAY CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina caesia) – Patchy views in the Dlinza Forest but great looks at the Magoebaskloof Hotel.
BLACK CUCKOOSHRIKE (Campephaga flava) – A yellow-shouldered male showed well in the Mkuze camping ground.
Laniidae (Shrikes)
SOUTHERN FISCAL (Lanius collaris) – Very common throughout, particularly at higher elevations.
MAGPIE SHRIKE (Corvinella melanoleuca) – Good sightings in Kruger and Polokwane.

A Squacco Heron posed nicely for guide Joe Grosel. These birds are such a lovely color!

WHITE-CROWNED SHRIKE (Eurocephalus anguitimens) – A single sighting near Skukuza in the Kruger National Park.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
AFRICAN BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE (Oriolus larvatus) – Seen on a few occasions around Underberg (Drakensberg), Wakkerstroom and Kruger.
Dicruridae (Drongos)
SQUARE-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus ludwigii) – Fairly common and vocal in the coastal and montane forests.
FORK-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus adsimilis) – Common in the 'bushveld' habitats of Mkuze, Kruger and Polokwane.
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
AFRICAN CRESTED-FLYCATCHER (Trochocercus cyanomelas) – Brief sightings for some in the sand forests of Bonamanzi.
AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone viridis) – We had good sightings in the Underberg area, in Eshowe at our Wakkerstroom lodgings and in Kruger.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
HOUSE CROW (Corvus splendens) – Seen by a few while driving through Cape Town's hectic rush-hour traffic. [I]
CAPE CROW (Corvus capensis) – Sightings in the Karoo, the Drakensberg and around Wakkerstroom.
PIED CROW (Corvus albus) – The most common and widespread corvid seen.
WHITE-NECKED RAVEN (Corvus albicollis) – Seen in the mountainous regions of the Cape and Karoo.

The unusual Ground Woodpecker is a South African endemic; we found a family group at the Sani Pass. Photo by participant John Kricher.

Chaetopidae (Rockjumpers)
CAPE ROCKJUMPER (Chaetops frenatus) – Repetitively good sightings of a foraging male bird on a scree slope outside the village of Rooiels. [E]
DRAKENSBERG ROCKJUMPER (Chaetops aurantius) – At least two pairs seen at the top of Sani Pass and one of the first birds seen in Lesotho! [E]
Nicatoridae (Nicators)
EASTERN NICATOR (Nicator gularis) – Frustratingly heard only in the dense sand forests of Bonamanzi! [*]
Alaudidae (Larks)
SPIKE-HEELED LARK (Chersomanes albofasciata) – Good views in the Karoo (around Calvinia) and again along the farm roads of Wakkerstroom. [E]
SHORT-CLAWED LARK (Certhilauda chuana) – A displaying male seen well in the Polokwane Game Reserve. [E]
KAROO LONG-BILLED LARK (Certhilauda subcoronata) – This sizable lark was seen well near Calvinia in the Karoo. [E]
EASTERN LONG-BILLED LARK (Certhilauda semitorquata) – Great views on a rocky ridge outside Wakkerstroom. [E]
CAPE LARK (Certhilauda curvirostris) – At least two birds seen foraging on the vegetated coastal dunes just south of Lamberts Bay. [E]
CHESTNUT-BACKED SPARROW-LARK (Eremopterix leucotis) – Small groups seen on dry, bare patches on the plains north of Satara in the KNP.
SABOTA LARK (Calendulauda sabota) – The large-billed form seen near Brandvlei in the Northern Cape and the slender-billed form seen in Polokwane.
KAROO LARK (Calendulauda albescens) – A nice sighting of a male perched on a fence outside Calvinia. [E]
RUDD'S LARK (Heteromirafra ruddi) – After a good search we managed to find one in a field near Fickland Pan, Wakkerstroom. [E]
CAPE CLAPPER LARK (CAPE) (Mirafra apiata apiata) – Briefly seen by some as it flew up from Fynbos scrub near the town of Ceres.
EASTERN CLAPPER LARK (Mirafra fasciolata) – On another walk near Wakkerstroom we managed to flush a bird several times which provided reasonable flight views. [E]
RUFOUS-NAPED LARK (Mirafra africana) – Saw at least three singing males in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
RED-CAPPED LARK (Calandrella cinerea) – Seen in the Karoo, Lesotho and on the roads near Wakkerstroom.
LARGE-BILLED LARK (Galerida magnirostris) – Seen in the Karoo outside Calvinia and again in the karoo-like vegetation of Lesotho. [E]
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
PLAIN MARTIN (Riparia paludicola) – Frequently encountered at wetland habitats throughout.
BANDED MARTIN (Riparia cincta) – Seen at Velddrif on the west coast and in the upland grasslands of Wakkerstroom.

Barratt's Warbler showed nicely near Sani Pass, where participant Randy Siebert got a nice portrait of this shy species.

ROCK MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne fuligula) – Quite common in the Cape and Drakensberg regions.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Started seeing the first arriving migratory flocks in Mkuze with more in Wakkerstroom and Kruger.
WHITE-THROATED SWALLOW (Hirundo albigularis) – This elegant swallow was seen on a few occasions in the Cape, the Drakensberg and around Wakkerstroom.
WIRE-TAILED SWALLOW (Hirundo smithii) – A swallow of tropical wetlands, seen in St Lucia, Mkuze and Kruger.
PEARL-BREASTED SWALLOW (Hirundo dimidiata) – Seen in the arid Bushmanland near Brandvlei and again at the end of the trip in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
GREATER STRIPED SWALLOW (Cecropis cucullata) – Common in the Cape and at high elevations in the interior.
LESSER STRIPED SWALLOW (Cecropis abyssinica) – Very common at lower elevations - from the east coast to Kruger.
RUFOUS-CHESTED SWALLOW (Cecropis semirufa) – Nice sightings of this large swallow at Mkuze, in Kruger and at the Polokwane Game Reserve.
SOUTH AFRICAN SWALLOW (Petrochelidon spilodera) – Seen well at Wakkerstroom.
COMMON HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon urbicum) – A small flock was seen by some in the farmlands of Wakkerstroom.

Levaillant's Cisticola was a common bird in the wetlands of Wakkerstroom and the Drackensberg. Photo by participant John Kricher.

BLACK SAWWING (Psalidoprocne pristoptera) – Seen well at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens and again at St Lucia on the north east coast.
Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)
FAIRY FLYCATCHER (Stenostira scita) – A few nice views in the Karoo and in the low shrub lands of Lesotho. [E]
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
SOUTHERN BLACK-TIT (Melaniparus niger) – First seen at the Mkomazana Lodge below Sani Pass and then a few more sightings in Kruger.
ASHY TIT (Melaniparus cinerascens) – Heard only in the Polokwane Game Reserve. [*]
GRAY TIT (Melaniparus afer) – Nice views in Lesotho. [E]
Remizidae (Penduline-Tits)
SOUTHERN PENDULINE-TIT (Anthoscopus minutus) – This diminutive species was seen well in the Polokwane Game Reserve. [E]
Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
SOMBRE GREENBUL (Andropadus importunus) – Nice sightings in the two botanical garden visited in the Cape and again in the coastal forests of St Lucia.
YELLOW-BELLIED GREENBUL (Chlorocichla flaviventris) – This species was seen in a few localities including St Lucia, Bonamanzi, Mkuze Game Reserve and Skukuza in the KNP.
TERRESTRIAL BROWNBUL (Phyllastrephus terrestris) – First seen in the Marutswa Forest near Underberg and again in the coastal forests of St Lucia, the riverine thickets of Kruger and the Afro-temperate forests of Magoebaskloof.
YELLOW-STREAKED GREENBUL (Phyllastrephus flavostriatus) – Seen at the Magoebaskloof Hotel and nearby forest patches.

We saw several Tawny-flanked Prinias, including this one photographed by participant Craig Caldwell.

COMMON BULBUL (DARK-CAPPED) (Pycnonotus barbatus tricolor) – Very common in the east and seen on all of the last 13 days of the tour.
BLACK-FRONTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus nigricans) – Seen once in an Acacia-lined stream bed near Brandvlei in the Northern Cape Province. [E]
CAPE BULBUL (Pycnonotus capensis) – Quite common in the western Cape with multiple sightings there. [E]
Macrosphenidae (African Warblers)
CAPE CROMBEC (Sylvietta rufescens) – Seen in a variety of habitats - the fynbos of the Cape, the Karoo shrublands and the woodlands and savannahs of Kruger and Polokwane.
CAPE GRASSBIRD (Sphenoeacus afer) – Nice views of this attractive grass warbler at the base of the Sani Pass in the Drakensberg. [E]
VICTORIN'S WARBLER (Cryptillas victorini) – A nice sighting of this skulker at a stream on the Bain's Kloof Pass near Ceres. [E]
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
YELLOW-THROATED WOODLAND-WARBLER (Phylloscopus ruficapilla) – Seen in the Marutswa and Magoebaskloof forests.
Acrocephalidae (Reed Warblers and Allies)
AFRICAN YELLOW-WARBLER (Iduna natalensis) – Nice views of this warbler at a marsh near Underberg and for some in our Wakkerstroom lodge garden.
AFRICAN REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus baeticatus) – Seen at a few reed beds in the Cape region and again at a marsh near Underberg.
LESSER SWAMP WARBLER (Acrocephalus gracilirostris) – Good views at a wetland near Ceres and even better looks at the Wakkerstroom marsh.

Raptors were well-represented on the tour, including this majestic Martial Eagle. We had three sightings of these impressive raptors in Kruger. Photo by participant Randy Siebert.

Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
BARRATT'S WARBLER (Bradypterus barratti) – This shy but vocal species was seen well in the Leucosidea thickets on the Sani Pass.
LITTLE RUSH-WARBLER (Bradypterus baboecala) – Another skulking Bradypterus seen out in the open collecting nesting material in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
YELLOW-BELLIED EREMOMELA (Eremomela icteropygialis) – Seen in an Acacia patch on the edge of the Karoo near Ceres.
BURNT-NECK EREMOMELA (Eremomela usticollis) – A small group was seen well in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
GREEN-BACKED CAMAROPTERA (Camaroptera brachyura) – Several sightings in the north east with the best views in St Lucia.
BAR-THROATED APALIS (Apalis thoracica) – This confiding species was seen well on the Bain's Kloof Pass, in the Marutswa Forest and at the Magoebaskloof Hotel.
YELLOW-BREASTED APALIS (Apalis flavida) – Nice views in St Lucia. Mkuze and Kruger.
RUDD'S APALIS (Apalis ruddi) – After an initial struggle we got good views of this endemic in St Lucia and Bonamanzi. [E]
TAWNY-FLANKED PRINIA (Prinia subflava) – Seen in St Lucia, Mkuze and Kruger.
KAROO PRINIA (Prinia maculosa) – Very common and tame around Cape Town's fynbos habitats but also seen in the Karoo and west coast. [E]
DRAKENSBERG PRINIA (Prinia hypoxantha) – Nice sightings along Sani Pass. [E]
RUFOUS-EARED WARBLER (Malcorus pectoralis) – We had great views of this endearing little bird in the Tankwa Karoo. [E]
RED-FACED CISTICOLA (Cisticola erythrops) – Seen along the Sabie River at Skukuza Camp in the KNP.
RATTLING CISTICOLA (Cisticola chiniana) – Quite common in Mkuze and the Kruger.
RED-HEADED CISTICOLA (Cisticola subruficapilla) – Several sightings in the Karoo habitats. [E]
WAILING CISTICOLA (Cisticola lais) – Seen well in the montane grasslands of Sani Pass.
WINDING CISTICOLA (Cisticola galactotes) – Two or three seen in the reed beds adjacent to the St Lucia estuary.

This magnificent bull African Elephant put on a show for us at a waterhole. Photo by participant John Kricher.

LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA (Cisticola tinniens) – Fairly common in the upland wetlands of the Drakensberg and Wakkerstroom areas.
PIPING CISTICOLA (Cisticola fulvicapilla) – Seen well on the first afternoon along the Bain's Kloof Pass.
ZITTING CISTICOLA (Cisticola juncidis) – A few seen in the Wakkerstroom grasslands.
DESERT CISTICOLA (Cisticola aridulus) – A single bird whizzed around us in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
CLOUD CISTICOLA (Cisticola textrix) – At least two individuals were seen north of Wakkerstroom. [E]
WING-SNAPPING CISTICOLA (Cisticola ayresii) – This tiny cisticola was seen well in the hills around Wakkerstroom.
Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers)
LAYARD'S WARBLER (Sylvia layardi) – We missed it in the Karoo but caught up with it in Lesotho. [E]
RUFOUS-VENTED WARBLER (Sylvia subcaerulea) – First saw this bird on the edge of the Karoo and then again 18 days later in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
ARROW-MARKED BABBLER (Turdoides jardineii) – Had nice views of these vocal birds in Kruger.
Promeropidae (Sugarbirds)
CAPE SUGARBIRD (Promerops cafer) – Excellent views in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and again near Rooiels. [E]

Red-capped Lark was seen at several locations. Photo by participant Randy Siebert.

Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
DUSKY-BROWN FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa adusta) – Good views in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens.
MARIQUA FLYCATCHER (Bradornis mariquensis) – Several good views in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
CHAT FLYCATCHER (Agricola infuscatus) – Reasonable sightings of at least three birds south of Brandvlei in Bushmanland. [E]
ASHY FLYCATCHER (Fraseria caerulescens) – Seen well at St Lucia and in the Bonamanzi sand forests.
FISCAL FLYCATCHER (Melaenornis silens) – Nice views in the town of Calvinia and in the West Coast National Park. [E]
SOUTHERN BLACK-FLYCATCHER (Melaenornis pammelaina) – Sightings in Mkuze Game Reserve, Bonamanzi and in southern Kruger.
KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas coryphoeus) – Fairly common in the Karoo and along the west coast. [E]
BROWN SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas signata) – A single sighting in the coastal forests of St Lucia. [E]
BEARDED SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas quadrivirgata) – Great views on a walk through the main camp of Mkuze Game Reserve.
KALAHARI SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas paena) – A single sighting in the Polokwane Game Reserve. [E]

Malachite Sunbird was one of 14 sunbirds species we saw. These gorgeous birds were seen in the Karoo and Cape regions. Photo by participant Craig Caldwell.

RED-BACKED SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas leucophrys) – A nice sighting of a singing bird north of Satara in the KNP.
CAPE ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha caffra) – Very common in the western Cape and the highlands of Wakkerstroom and the Drakensberg.
WHITE-THROATED ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha humeralis) – Heard in a dense thicket adjacent to the Nsumo pan in Mkuze. [E*]
WHITE-BROWED ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha heuglini) – Nice views in Lower Sabie Camp, Kruger.
RED-CAPPED ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha natalensis) – Very common in the coastal thickets of St Lucia and sand forests of Bonamanzi and Mkuze.
CHORISTER ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha dichroa) – Briefly seen by some in the Marutswa Forest and heard in the Magoebaskloof area. [E]
WHITE-STARRED ROBIN (Pogonocichla stellata) – Nice sightings in Marutswa and Magoebaskloof forests.
SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola explorator) – This handsome endemic was seen well in the Drakensberg highlands and in the hills south of Wakkerstroom. [E]
CAPE ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola rupestris) – Seen well near the seaside village of Rooiels and again in the Drakensberg. [E]
AFRICAN STONECHAT (Saxicola torquatus) – Very common in the highlands and near rank marshland at lower elevations.

The Violet-backed Starling is one of the most striking of the starlings; we saw these colorful birds in Mkuze and Kruger. Photo by participant John Kricher.

BUFF-STREAKED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola bifasciatus) – Nice looks at this endemic along Sani Pass and in the hills south of Wakkerstroom. [E]
SOUTHERN ANTEATER-CHAT (Myrmecocichla formicivora) – Seen in the Karoo west of Calvinia and more regularly in the grasslands around Wakkerstroom.
MOCKING CLIFF-CHAT (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris) – Excellent views at the camping ground in the Mkuze Game Reserve.
SICKLEWING CHAT (Cercomela sinuata) – Widespread in the Karoo and probably the most common passerine in Lesotho. [E]
KAROO CHAT (Cercomela schlegelii) – Seen on a few occasions while traveling through the karoo and Bushmanland. [E]
TRACTRAC CHAT (Cercomela tractrac) – Seen in the Tankwa Karoo while replacing a flat tyre!!! [E]
FAMILIAR CHAT (Cercomela familiaris) – Seen in towns in the Karoo and on the Sani Pass.
MOUNTAIN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe monticola) – Good views in the rocky ridges of the Karoo and near Wakkerstroom. [E]
CAPPED WHEATEAR (Oenanthe pileata) – A great sighting of a male performing his territorial flight near the town of Niewoudville in the Karoo.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
SPOTTED GROUND-THRUSH (Geokichla guttata) – Great views of this 'tricky' bird in the Dlinza forest in Eshowe.
ORANGE GROUND-THRUSH (Geokichla gurneyi) – We had very nice close-up views of this forest dweller in the Marutswa forest.

This Red-fronted Tinkerbird was found in the Mkuze camp-ground. Photo by participant Randy Siebert.

GROUNDSCRAPER THRUSH (Psophocichla litsitsirupa) – Seen well on the last morning of the tour in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
KURRICHANE THRUSH (Turdus libonyana) – Seen well in Mkuze Game Reserve and again in Kruger.
OLIVE THRUSH (Turdus olivaceus) – Common in the gardens and forests in Cape Town and the eastern highlands. We had good views in Kirstenbosch and Underberg.
KAROO THRUSH (Turdus smithi) – Seen well at the hotel in Johannesburg and again in Calvinia. [E]
Sturnidae (Starlings)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) – Fairly common in and around Cape Town and along the west coast. [I]
WATTLED STARLING (Creatophora cinerea) – Seen foraging alongside Cape Buffalo in the Kruger National Park.
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) – This introduced species is extending its range annually and was recorded on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park on this tour. [I]
VIOLET-BACKED STARLING (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster) – Nice views of this striking bird in Mkuze and Kruger.
PALE-WINGED STARLING (Onychognathus nabouroup) – Seen only in the mountainous regions of the northern Karoo near Calvinia. [E]
RED-WINGED STARLING (Onychognathus morio) – Fairly common and seen in a number of localities.

Lesser Flamingos were seen along the Cape West Coast; participant Craig Caldwell got a nice portrait of one feeding in the marsh.

BLACK-BELLIED STARLING (Notopholia corrusca) – Fairly common along the east coast, we had them at Eshowe, St Lucia and at Bonamanzi.
BURCHELL'S STARLING (Lamprotornis australis) – This large, ground foraging starling was often seen in the central plains of Kruger.
AFRICAN PIED STARLING (Lamprotornis bicolor) – Often seen in the Cape, Karoo and highlands of the Drakensberg and Wakkerstroom. [E]
GREATER BLUE-EARED STARLING (Lamprotornis chalybaeus) – Brilliant views of this stunner in the Kruger.
CAPE STARLING (Lamprotornis nitens) – The most widespread starling species in the north eastern region of the country. [E]
Buphagidae (Oxpeckers)
RED-BILLED OXPECKER (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) – Good numbers seen on their mammal hosts in Mkuze and Kruger.
YELLOW-BILLED OXPECKER (Buphagus africanus) – One sighting of a few birds foraging on their buffalo hosts in Kruger.
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
COLLARED SUNBIRD (Hedydipna collaris) – Seen at St Lucia, Bonamanzi and again in Kruger.
ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD (Anthobaphes violacea) – Lovely looks at this endemic near the town of Rooiels and in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. [E]
OLIVE SUNBIRD (Cyanomitra olivacea) – Seen at the Umlalazi Nature Reserve, at St Lucia and in Bonamanzi.

One of the biggest mammals we saw was this mud-crusted White Rhinoceros; these giants were seen in Kruger, where they are protected. Photo by participant John Kricher.

MOUSE-COLORED SUNBIRD (Cyanomitra veroxii) – This unobtrusive sunbird was seen well along the iGwalagwala forest trails at St Lucia.
AMETHYST SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra amethystina) – Seen in Johannesburg and in the gardens of our lodge in Wakkerstroom.
SCARLET-CHESTED SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra senegalensis) – Seen well several times at St Lucia, Mkuze, Tzaneen and Kruger.
MALACHITE SUNBIRD (Nectarinia famosa) – This lovely bird was observed on several occasions, mainly in the Karoo and Cape regions.
SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris chalybeus) – Probably the most common sunbird in the Fynbos habitats of the Cape but also recorded in the montane forests further north. [E]
NEERGAARD'S SUNBIRD (Cinnyris neergaardi) – A brief view of a bird at the camping grounds in Mkuze Game Reserve. [E]
GREATER DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris afer) – Nice views on the Bain's Kloof Pass and again in the Drakensberg region. [E]
MARIQUA SUNBIRD (Cinnyris mariquensis) – Seen towards the end of the tour in Kruger and Polokwane.
PURPLE-BANDED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris bifasciatus) – Fairly common along the north-east coast where it was often encountered.
WHITE-BREASTED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris talatala) – Good views in the Mkuze Game Reserve and again at the end of the tour in Polokwane.

The private reserve at Bonamanzi had a lovely pond where we were able to see some good birds. Photo by participant Randy Siebert.

DUSKY SUNBIRD (Cinnyris fuscus) – Excellent views of the sunbird of the arid zone near Brandvlei in the Northern Cape Province. [E]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
CAPE WAGTAIL (Motacilla capensis) – A regularly encountered species, both in the south west and north east.
MOUNTAIN WAGTAIL (Motacilla clara) – One sighting, from the bridge crossing the Blyde River west of Kruger.
AFRICAN PIED WAGTAIL (Motacilla aguimp) – Seen well at St Lucia, Mkuze and in the Kruger.
AFRICAN PIPIT (Anthus cinnamomeus) – Very common along the west coast and in the grasslands of Wakkerstroom.
LONG-BILLED PIPIT (Anthus similis) – A single sighting of a bird on the mountain slopes of Sani Pass.
YELLOW-TUFTED PIPIT (Anthus crenatus) – Normally a difficult to find we had fine views of one on a rocky ledge in Lesotho. [E]
BUSH PIPIT (Anthus caffer) – Only seen from the lead vehicle in Kruger.
YELLOW-BREASTED PIPIT (Hemimacronyx chloris) – Nice views of this endemic in the hills to the south of Wakkerstroom. [E]
ORANGE-THROATED LONGCLAW (Macronyx capensis) – Quite common around Wakkerstroom but also seen on the West Coast. [E]

All visitors to South Africa want to see Lions, and we were lucky enough to see four in one day, including this handsome male. Photo by participant John Kricher.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
COMMON CHAFFINCH (Fringilla coelebs) – A pair was seen in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. [I]
YELLOW-FRONTED CANARY (Crithagra mozambica) – Seen often in Mkuze, Kruger and the Polokwane Game Reserve.
FOREST CANARY (Crithagra scotops) – Nice views in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
BLACK-THROATED CANARY (Crithagra atrogularis) – Good views of this small canary at a waterhole in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
BRIMSTONE CANARY (Crithagra sulphurata) – Seen well at the Harold Porter and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
YELLOW CANARY (Crithagra flaviventris) – This one is really yellow!!! and we had good sightings of it in most of the Karoo habitats.
WHITE-THROATED CANARY (Crithagra albogularis) – Seen well around Calvinia in the Karoo.
PROTEA CANARY (Crithagra leucoptera) – Nice views along the Paleisheuwel Pass in the Western Cape.
STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER (Crithagra gularis) – A few sightings around the town of Underberg and in the gardens of our B&B there.
CAPE SISKIN (Crithagra totta) – Seen well at the Harold Porter botanical gardens.
DRAKENSBERG SISKIN (Crithagra symonsi) – Good views at about 2800masl on entering Lesotho at the top of Sani Pass.
CAPE CANARY (Serinus canicollis) – Widespread in the Cape and highlands of the Drakensberg and Wakkerstroom. [E]
Emberizidae (Old World Buntings)
GOLDEN-BREASTED BUNTING (Emberiza flaviventris) – We had exceptional views at a waterhole in the Polokwane Game Reserve but also encountered this species in Kruger.
CAPE BUNTING (Emberiza capensis) – Seen in the Karoo around Calvinia and again up in the highlands of the Drakensberg. [E]
LARK-LIKE BUNTING (Emberiza impetuani) – A few sightings in Bushmanland and around Calvinia. [E]
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Seen on most days of the tour.
GREAT RUFOUS SPARROW (Passer motitensis) – Nice looks at this large sparrow in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
CAPE SPARROW (Passer melanurus) – Common in the Karoo and around Wakkerstroom. [E]
SOUTHERN GRAY-HEADED SPARROW (Passer diffusus) – Many seen at Mkuze, in Kruger and again at Polokwane.
YELLOW-THROATED PETRONIA (Gymnornis superciliaris) – Good views of this species at a hide in the Mkuze Game Reserve.
Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)
RED-BILLED BUFFALO-WEAVER (Bubalornis niger) – Seen well in Satara Camp in the KNP.

Participant Randy Siebert got a photo of our guides, Joe Grosel and Jesse Fagan posing with one of the "locals".

SCALY WEAVER (Sporopipes squamifrons) – Nice views of this finch in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
WHITE-BROWED SPARROW-WEAVER (Plocepasser mahali) – First seen at Brandvlei in Bushmanland and then again around Polokwane.
SPECTACLED WEAVER (Ploceus ocularis) – Good sightings in the Kruger camps of Skukuza and Satara.
CAPE WEAVER (Ploceus capensis) – Quite common in the Cape region but also seen in the Drakensberg and Wakkerstroom. [E]
AFRICAN GOLDEN-WEAVER (Ploceus subaureus) – Nice views of nest-building males at Bonamanzi.
HOLUB'S GOLDEN-WEAVER (Ploceus xanthops) – Seen once in a wooded patch in the town of Tzaneen.
LESSER MASKED-WEAVER (Ploceus intermedius) – Seen at St Lucia, Bonamanzi, in Kruger and Polokwane.
SOUTHERN MASKED-WEAVER (Ploceus velatus) – Quite common throughout.
VILLAGE WEAVER (Ploceus cucullatus) – Great views while having breakfast (both the birds and humans) at our Wakkerstroom dining room.
FOREST WEAVER (Ploceus bicolor) – Seen in the Dlinza Forest and again at St Lucia.
RED-BILLED QUELEA (Quelea quelea) – Sporadic sightings towards the end of the tour at Wakkerstroom, Kruger and Polokwane.

Magpie Shrikes were seen well at Kruger and Polokwane. Photo by participant John Kricher.

SOUTHERN RED BISHOP (Euplectes orix) – Nice views of males in breeding plumage near Ceres but also seen in non-breeding plumage further north in Wakkerstroom.
YELLOW-CROWNED BISHOP (Euplectes afer) – Non-breeding birds seen on a fence line north of Wakkerstroom.
YELLOW BISHOP (Euplectes capensis) – Good views on the Paleisheuwel Pass (east of Lamberts Bay).
WHITE-WINGED WIDOWBIRD (Euplectes albonotatus) – Flocks of non-breeding birds in Mkuze.
FAN-TAILED WIDOWBIRD (Euplectes axillaris) – Seen at the Wakkerstoom marsh.
LONG-TAILED WIDOWBIRD (Euplectes progne) – Nice views of males around Wakkerstroom close to full breeding plumage.
GROSBEAK WEAVER (Amblyospiza albifrons) – Excellent views of this large weaver at St Lucia and Mkuze.
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
SWEE WAXBILL (Coccopygia melanotis) – Seen in the Cape on the Bain's Kloof Pass and in the two botanical gardens that we visited. [E]
GREEN-BACKED TWINSPOT (Mandingoa nitidula) – Seen at a bird hide at the Dlinza Forest, Eshowe.
COMMON WAXBILL (Estrilda astrild) – Several sightings in the Cape and Drakensberg regions.

Red-billed Oxpeckers seemed to like handing out on Plains Zebras! Photo by participant John Kricher.

BLACK-FACED WAXBILL (Estrilda erythronotos) – Excellent views of this species in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
SOUTHERN CORDONBLEU (Uraeginthus angolensis) – Seen well at waterholes in Mkuze, Kruger and Polokwane.
VIOLET-EARED WAXBILL (Granatina granatina) – Brief views in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
PINK-THROATED TWINSPOT (Hypargos margaritatus) – Seen by some along a forest trail in Bonamanzi. [E]
GREEN-WINGED PYTILIA (Pytilia melba) – Two sightings in Kruger.
RED-BILLED FIREFINCH (Lagonosticta senegala) – A small group seen at a waterhole in Kruger.
JAMESON'S FIREFINCH (Lagonosticta rhodopareia) – Seen in a mixed flock of finches near Satara, KNP.
RED-HEADED FINCH (Amadina erythrocephala) – Nice views in the Polokwane Game reserve although some folks had them earlier at the Johannesburg hotel.
BLACK-FACED QUAILFINCH (Ortygospiza atricollis) – Seen by a few participants on the ground while the rest had views of tiny birds rapidly flying over a recently tilled field near Wakkerstroom.
BRONZE MANNIKIN (Spermestes cucullata) – Seen at Kirstenbosch in the Cape and again in Kruger and Magoebaskloof.
Viduidae (Indigobirds)
PIN-TAILED WHYDAH (Vidua macroura) – Nice sightings of males in partial breeding plumage in the Drakensberg and Wakkerstroom.
SHAFT-TAILED WHYDAH (Vidua regia) – Bird in non-breeding plumage seen well at a waterhole in the Polokwane Game Reserve.

WAHLBERG'S EPAULETTED FRUIT BAT (Epomophorus wahlbergi) – This small fruit bat was seen roosting under the eves of a building in Skukuza Camp, KNP.
SOUTHERN NEEDLE-CLAWED BUSHBABY (Euoticus elegantulus) – Seen by a few on an evening walk to the Berg-en-Dal Camp restaurant.
SYKES MONKEY (Cercopithecus albogularis) – A few seen at the Magoebaskloof Hotel.
BLACK-FACED VERVET MONKEY (Cercopithecus aethiops) – Very common and seen on most days in the north eastern region.
CHACMA BABOON (Papio ursinus) – Seen on a few occasions in the Cape while traveling but had time to watch a few troops in the Kruger National Park.
SCRUB HARE (Lepus saxatalis) – Seen well in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
CAPE HARE (Lepus capensis) – One animal seen on the seaside dunes south of Lamberts Bay.
CAPE GROUND SQUIRREL (Xerus inaurius) – A small family group was seen in the town of Brandvlei in Bushmanland.
RED BUSH SQUIRREL (Paraxerus palliatus) – A few sightings in the coastal dune forests at St Lucia.
TREE SQUIRREL (Paraxerus cepapi) – Also known as Smith's Bush Squirrel, a few were seen at the Satara Camp in Kruger.
FOUR-STRIPED GRASS MOUSE (Rhabdomys pumilio) – Seen in the vegetated dunes south of Lamberts Bay.
VLEI RAT (Otomys irroratus) – A single rat seen foraging on the road verge in the Umlalazi Nature Reserve north of Durban.
SLOGGETT'S ICE RAT (Otomys sloggetti) – Several seen on entering Lesotho.
CAPE GRAY MONGOOSE (Herpestes pulverulentus) – Seen by some in the town of Kleinmond in the Western Cape.
SLENDER MONGOOSE (Herpestes sanguineus) – Seen well in the Mkuze Game Reserve and again briefly in Polokwane.

Participant Randy Siebert took this video of the amazing encounter we had with the stunning male Leopard at Kruger. This gorgeous big cat strolled out of the bush, and nonchalantly into the road, allowing us an unparalleled view. This one one of the highlights of the trip, no doubt!
BANDED MONGOOSE (Mungos mungo) – Sightings of this gregarious species in St Lucia, Magoebaskloof Hotel and the Polokwane Game Reserve.
DWARF MONGOOSE (Helogale parvula) – Nice views of these little carnivores in the Kruger National Park.
YELLOW MONGOOSE (Cynictis penicillata) – Fairly common in the grasslands around Wakkerstroom.
SLENDER-TAILED MEERKAT (Suricata suricatta) – Great sighting of a family sunning themselves south of Wakkerstroom.
SPOTTED HYAENA (Crocuta crocuta) – Great views of individuals and a clan lazing about their den in Kruger.
WILD CAT (Felis silvestris) – One, of the famous Wild Cats that often enter Satara Camp in the KNP was seen briefly by the group on our way back from dinner at the restaurant.
LEOPARD (Panthera pardus) – A wonderful sighting of young male as it crossed the road between our vehicles and stuck around for a photo session. Seen near the Afsaal Picnic site in Kruger.
LION (Panthera leo) – We had at least four lion sightings in Kruger. All in one day.
CAPE (AUSTRALIAN) FUR SEAL (Arctocephalus pusillus) – A few seen out at sea but the at least 100 individuals at a colony on bird Island in Lamberts Bay.
AFRICAN ELEPHANT (Loxodonta africana) – Multiple sightings of lone bulls and breeding herds in Kruger.
ROCK HYRAX (Procavia capensis) – Good sightings of these strange little mammals at the Stony Point penguin colony.
BURCHELL'S ZEBRA (Equus burchelli) – Now Common or Plains Zebra Equus quagga - seen in Mkuze Game Reserve and many in Kruger.
WHITE RHINOCEROS (Ceratotherium simum) – Several sightings in southern Kruger.
WARTHOG (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) – Good views in Mkuze and Kruger.
HIPPOPOTAMUS (Hippopotamus amphibius) – Several sightings in Mkuze and Kruger.
COMMON GIRAFFE (Giraffa camelopardalis) – Many good sightings from Bonamanzi, Kruger and Polokwane.
NYALA (Tragelaphus angasi) – Very common and approachable in Zululand - mainly seen in Bonamanzi but also in Mkuze and southern Kruger.
BUSHBUCK (Tragelaphus scriptus) – Nice views of this shy antelope in Kruger.
GREATER KUDU (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) – Great views of this regal antelope in Kruger.
COMMON ELAND (Taurotragus oryx) – The largest of southern African Antelope seen in the West Coast National Park and the Polokwane Game Reserve.
AFRICAN BUFFALO (Syncerus caffer) – Good views of bachelor herds and large breeding herds in Kruger.
BLUE DUIKER (Cephalophus monticola) – This tiny antelope was seen well in the Dlinza Forest at Eshowe.
RED DUIKER (Cephalophus natalensis) – Nice sightings at Umlalazi Nature Reserve, St Lucia and Bonamanzi.
BUSH (GRAY) DUIKER (Sylvicapra grimmia) – A single sighting on Sani Pass in the Drakensberg.
COMMON WATERBUCK (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) – Several herds seen in Kruger.
MOUNTAIN REEDBUCK (Redunca fulvorufula) – A small herd was spotted in the hills to the south of Wakkerstroom.
RHEBOK (Pelea capreolus) – Seen well near Ceres in the Cape and again in the Drakensberg while traveling up Sani Pass.
GEMSBOK (Oryx gazella) – Also called Southern Oryx - a nice sighting of a herd with young in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
BONTEBOK (Damaliscus dorcas) – Seen in the West Coast National Park while the Blesbok subspecies was seen on a number of occasions in the grasslands around Wakkerstroom.
TOPI (Damaliscus lunatus) – The southern subspecies called Tsessebe was seen well in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
HARTEBEEST (KONGONI) (Alcelaphus buselaphus) – A herd seen briefly as it disappeared into the brush in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
BLACK WILDEBEEST (Connochaetes gnou) – Seen in the highlands around Wakkerstroom.
BLUE WILDEBEEST (Connochaetes taurinus) – Common in Kruger and Polokwane but also seen in Mkuze Game Reserve.
KLIPSPRINGER (Oreotragus oreotragus) – Seen by some on a rocky hillside on entering the Karoo north of Ceres.
ORIBI (Ourebia ourebi) – A single animal seen on a hillside in the company of Mountain Reedbuck south of Wakkerstroom.
STEENBOK (Raphicerus campestris) – Several sightings in the Cape and again in the savannahs of Kruger.
IMPALA (Aepyceros malampus) – Abundant in Kruger but also seen in other parks.
SPRINGBOK (Antidorcas marsupialis) – A few sightings in the karoo and also around Wakkerstroom.



Angulate Tortoise - Chersina angulata

Leopard Tortoise - Stigmochelys pardalis

Marsh Terrapin - Pelmedusa subrufa

Nile Crocodile - Crocodylus niloticus

Moreau’s Tropical House Gecko - Hemidactylus mabouia

Common Dwarf Gecko - Lygodactylus capensis

Western Sandveld Lizard - Nucras tessellata

Cape Girdled Lizard - Cordylus cordylus

Drakensberg Crag Lizard - Psuedocordylus melanotus

Common Flat Lizard - Platysaurus intermedius

Rainbow skink - Trachylepis margaritifer

Striped skink - Trachylepis striata

Nile Monitor - Varanus niloticus

Southern Rock - Agama Agama atra

Southern Tree Agama - Acanthocerus atrikollis

Olive Grass Snake - Psammophis mossambicus

Mole Snake - Pseudaspis cana

Boomslang - Dispholidus typus

Spotted Bush Snake - Philothamnus semivariegatus

Totals for the tour: 452 bird taxa and 53 mammal taxa