A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

South Africa 2022

October 1-23, 2022 with Doug Gochfeld & Tarry Butcher guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Leopard greeted us a quarter of a mile after we entered Kruger National Park, trotting across the road in front of us before hopping up into this tree to survey its domain in the late afternoon sunlight. This sighting set off a madcap first couple of hours in the park, being followed in quick succession by Lions, White Rhinos, African Elephants, Southern Ground-Hornbills, African Buffalo and more. We would not have dared imagine such a wonderful introduction to this legendary park. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

It’s hard to sum up a trip to as rich and varied a place as South Africa. That said, I’ll try - rich and varied is a good place to start, as our voyage around the country took us from the windy shores and unique Fynbos habitat of Cape Town, through the brightly flowering desert plains of the Tankwa-Karoo, and farther north in the arid country of the Karoo desert, before heading back to the scenic coast and its lagoons and rocky shores full of bird life. That would be enough variation to suffice, but that was only the first week! Our travels then took us from the indescribably gorgeous (and bird-filled) Sani Pass at 10,000 feet, down through the remnants of lush afro-montane forest, into the wet coastal dune forests, up to the ever-shrinking high elevation grasslands and thence into the Acacia savannah of Kruger.

As we made our way up to the Karoo, we fortuitously encountered our first Cape Rockjumper along with a great performance by Orange-breasted Sunbird, and several good Verreaux’s Eagle sightings, including a pair prospecting for a nest. We also got acclimated to some of the birds that would keep us company through much of the trip, like the vibrant Southern Red Bishops in their reed-bed colonies, alongside Cape and Southern Masked weavers. We saw many new birds as we drove north, but it was the landscape that really stole the show during the long drive through Tankwa Karoo, and we also saw Gemsbok (an Oryx species), Rufous-eared Warbler, and had a great fun watching Pale Chanting-Goshawks, Secretarybirds, and Ostriches, and encountered our first (and then many) Springbok, the national animal of South Africa. Our memorable morning stop with flocks of drinking Namaqua Sandgrouse was a great way to kick off our time in the Karoo, and we also added a nice variety of dry-country birds and lizards around Brandvlei, including two species of sparrow-larks, scores of Lark-like Bunting, Pririt Batis, and a very nice experience with Karoo Long-billed Lark. We made a couple of birding stops on our way west to Lambert’s Bay, seeing Maccoa Duck, Gray-winged Francolins, our first Southern Anteater-Chats, Mountain Wheatear, and plenty of Black-headed Canaries. We were serenaded by bird song during our lunch stop at a lushly vegetated canyon, highlighted by the habitat-specific Protea Canary. Our lovely afternoon at Lambert’s Bay included the large colony of thousands of Cape Gannets (the blinds at the colony were closed for some kind of construction, but we had nice views of the spectacle from the waterfront just outside the gate), and then hundreds of flamingoes (both Lesser and Greater) and many shorebirds at the edge of town, all in perfect golden hour light.

The next day, we got ourself into more waterbirds and more scenery, and this drive (including West Coast National Park (WCNP for short)) provided Black Harrier, thousands of Eared Grebes, many shorebirds, and Speckled Cape Tortoise. Our evening visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden was another memorable one, with Spotted Eagle-Owl, Orange-breasted & Malachite sunbirds, and cracking views of several individuals of our biggest target: Cape Sugarbird! The weather gods did not smile on us for our pelagic trip, so we then had two full days with which to explore the Cape Town area by land. We paid a visit to the legendary Cape of Good Hope, and watching the roiling ocean beat upon the rocky shore here was an experience that will live on in our memories (as will the Cape Siskin defending its nest from a roving Red-winged Starling). Hundreds of terns and cormorants were at the point, an unbothered troop of Ostriches marched along the shoreline road, and we even saw some Eland in the uplands! Strandfontein, Roi Els, and Harold Porter Botanical Garden all came through for us as well, with excellent Cape Rockjumpers, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Marsh Mongoose, constantly cavorting White-necked Ravens, waterfowl and Black-headed Ibis nearly beyond count, and too much else to list here. Betty’s Bay deserves a standalone mention of course, with all four species of cormorants showing quite well (Bank and Crowned were the highlights) among the obvious headliner: African Penguins!

We then left the southwest of the country behind, and flew to Durban, from whence we launched the rest of our expedition. We dove right into the spectacular, starting off with a magical day around Sani Pass, including spending a few hours in the highlands of Lesotho and paying a visit to “the highest pub in Africa” (which is apparently now merely the highest pub in Southern Africa). Sampling the Lesotho beer is not all we did though – The bird highlight of the day may have been the active family of Drakensberg Rockjumpers we encountered, but multiple large flocks of Southern Bald Ibis (including one toting a Black Stork), groups of Ground Woodpeckers, Lammergeier, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Drakensberg Siskin, Mountain Pipit, Large-billed Lark, and African Rock (Yellow-tufted) Pipit provided some great additional avifaunal diversion. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the highlight non-bird of the day: Drakensberg Crag Lizard…just kidding, it was of course the Sloggett’s Ice Rats at the top (though the regional endemic crag lizard was also quite fancy)!

While it was hard to top Sani Pass, that didn’t stop us from giving a shot – The next few days at Dlinza Forest, St. Lucia and several spots in between provided a bounty of birds including multiple Palm-Nut Vultures, African Pygmy-Goose, Lemon Dove, Knysna and Livingstone’s turacos, Narina Trogon, Crowned and Trumpeter hornbills, Mangrove Kingfisher, Brown Scrub-Robin, Woodward’s Batis, Pink-backed Pelican, Rudd’s Apalis, Humpback Whales, the endangered Cape Parrot, and of course – an eye-popping Four-colored (nee Gorgeous) Bushshrike!

Then we turned north and it was time to get into savannah and acacia, and more big game. Our afternoon/evening night drive at Bonamanzi gave us our first taste of Elephants, many Impala and Nyala, and an adult and baby White Rhino as the gloaming set in. One of the most memorable visits of the tour was our time at the Kamasinga hide at Mkuze Game Reserve – we got to watch Plains Zebras, Blue Wildebeests, Nyalas, Warthogs, and mongeese use the hole, as well as a pair of Leopard Tortoises come charging down slope at a blistering pace to drink some water. The birds here were also spectacular, with finches, sparrows, and even Purple-crested Turacos coming down to the water’s edge. We had an intimate encounter with a family of White-throated Robin-Chats at their nest, and also had great views of Cliff Mocking-Chat and Eastern Nicator.

Thanks to our excellent local guide, Lucky, the high elevation grasslands of Wakkerstroom provided another pile of fantastic birds. We found the very rare Rudd’s Lark, range-restricted Yellow-breasted Pipit, Pink-billed Lark, Marsh Owl, three species of bustard (including Blue and White-bellied), Black-winged Lapwings, African Rail, and the cryptic and retiring Quailfinch! We also saw multiple species of mongoose, Cape Clawless Otter, and some delightful Meerkats!

And after all that, it was finally time to head to Kruger at long last. Kruger is the most famous of the destinations on this tour, and some wondered whether it would live up to the hype. We entered the park at 4 PM, and those wonderings were firmly answered within our first hour and half within the boundaries, during which we saw, in quick succession: Leopard, a pair of Lions, three White Rhinos (including a baby), a troop of Elephants, several African (Cape) Buffalo, and four Southern Ground-Hornbills. We didn’t encounter a partridge in a pear tree, but it sure seemed like that could’ve been next. The best part of this afternoon was that all the sightings were quality experiences, rather than fleeting glimpses, and we’ll expand more on them in the species comments below. The day after was a long but rewarding one, as we drove through a goodly swath of the park from our lodge in the south to our next night’s lodge in the center/east of the massive park. It was a day jam-packed with birds and other animals, including two more Leopards, Hyenas, more Elephants, herds (and hordes) of Cape Buffalo, a fantastic Hippo out-of-water sighting, Saddle-billed Stork, Red-crested Korhaan (Bustard), Giant Kingfisher, Lilac-breasted Rollers, and African Green Pigeons. We had one more morning in the park before we skedaddled, and we made the most of it, with an early drive north of Satara, which quickly paid dividends with a pair of Honey Badgers, Hyena, and multiple Kori Bustards. Just as we were about to turn around, we spotted two female Lions walking through the grass. We stuck around to watch these lionesses for the next hour as they stalked a pair of Burchell’s Zebras, ultimately failing to secure the zebra as prey, before we returned to the lodge and our waiting breakfast.

We birded our way out of Kruger (Brown-headed Parrot, more Elephants, etc.), and headed towards our penultimate destination of Magoebaskloof, stopping for a serenely roosting pair of Bat Hawks before our dusk arrival. From our cushy accommodation here at the forest edge, we made an early departure to the Woodbush Forest for our last bit of true forest birding of the tour. Between there and the lodge, we added several new birds species (including Barratt’s Warbler, White-starred Robin, Orange Ground-Thrush, and Yellow-streaked Greenbul), and a new primate in Samango Monkey (Sykes Monkey). After a lovely brunch at Bramasole, we moved west once more, arriving in Polokwane with enough time for a nice bit of lounging around on the lodge grounds followed by a late afternoon trip to Polokwane Game Reserve. After a nice sampling of Polokwane (including surprisingly cooperative Barred Wren-Warblers) and dinner, some folks took an optional walk around the lodge grounds and were rewarded with a few night critters, including a trundling Cape Porcupine. After an early breakfast, we made our way back over to Polokwane GR for more action, and ultimately had two separate sightings of the exceptionally range restricted Short-clawed Lark, and encounters with Violet-eared Waxbill, Black-faced Waxbill, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Great Rufous Sparrow, and Crimson-breasted Gonolek, not to mention the frequent encounters with Gray Go-Away-Birds, including a flock of eight together in a treetop. Thus ended our whirlwind birding tour of this exceptional country, and we made our way to Johannesburg for flights home.

The landscape and animals of South Africa certainly held their own, and we had outstanding natural history experiences one after another. Beyond the subject matter though, this was a fantastic group, and I thank you all for being such a pleasant party to travel with, supplying laughs, excitement, and general good cheer throughout. Tarry and I really enjoyed your company as we drove hither and yon from habitat to habitat around this fascinating country. I hope we’ll get to travel with each of you again somewhere on this great globe of ours. Until then, good birding!



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

Struthionidae (Ostriches)

COMMON OSTRICH (Struthio camelus)

Really fun experiences with these giants in the wild at several places, including Tankwa Karoo, West Coast National Park, and the Cape of Good Hope. Seeing them in the flesh is quite an experience - they're huge - and they made it into Linda G.'s top 3 birds.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the two Lionesses that we watched stalk a Plains Zebra for a couple of hours on our final morning in Kruger. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata)

FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor)

At least a half dozen at Strandfontein, where they are generally uncommon.

WHITE-BACKED DUCK (Thalassornis leuconotus)

5 in the marsh on day 11.

EGYPTIAN GOOSE (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

Every day without fail.


A few scattered around

SPUR-WINGED GOOSE (Plectropterus gambensis)


Field Guides Birding Tours
Lunchtime in Lesotho for our group, smiling over the plateau above the breathtakingly scenic Sani Pass. Photo by participant Mike Boss

AFRICAN PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus auritus)

We picked up a beautiful male in the marsh on the way to St. Lucia, and it was so dapper and unique that it made it into Ahmet's top 3.

BLUE-BILLED TEAL (Spatula hottentota)

Day 16

CAPE SHOVELER (Spatula smithii)



A pair of them along a large stream in Kruger was a really nice save for these shy riverine ducks.

YELLOW-BILLED DUCK (Anas undulata)


CAPE TEAL (Anas capensis)

Five days in a row in the early going

RED-BILLED DUCK (Anas erythrorhyncha)

A few early on

SOUTHERN POCHARD (Netta erythrophthalma)

Strandfontein and Wakkerstroom

MACCOA DUCK (Oxyura maccoa)

Encountered these fancy ducks on at least four days

Field Guides Birding Tours
South Africa is infested...by scenery. This realization started on day one at Bainskloof Pass. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Numididae (Guineafowl)

HELMETED GUINEAFOWL (Numida meleagris)

Common and widespread

CRESTED GUINEAFOWL (Guttera pucherani)

Real nice views at St. Lucia, and then a couple of other sightings over the next couple of days. The St. Lucia experience was particularly entertaining, as we got to watch some interbirdonal strife play out amongst a small group.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

CRESTED FRANCOLIN (Ortygornis sephaena)

Mkuze & Polokwane

COQUI FRANCOLIN (Campocolinus coqui)

Great views of one in Kruger

RED-WINGED FRANCOLIN (Scleroptila levaillantii)

Day 15, around Wakkerstroom

GRAY-WINGED FRANCOLIN (Scleroptila afra) [E]

At least three days

COMMON QUAIL (Coturnix coturnix)

One or two flushed as we followed Lucky around Wakkerstroom

CAPE FRANCOLIN (Pternistis capensis) [E]

Common around the Cape Town area

NATAL FRANCOLIN (Pternistis natalensis)

Three days in a row at the end of the trip

SWAINSON'S FRANCOLIN (Pternistis swainsonii)

Common in the Kruger area

Field Guides Birding Tours
African Penguin was the consensus favorite bird of the group, and it's hard to argue against such fun, goofy, charismatic birds! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)

GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Really fun experiences with these in the early going

LESSER FLAMINGO (Phoeniconaias minor)

Most of our flamingo encounters involved a mix of species, and our best looks at Lesser were at Lamberts Bay and West Coast NP.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)


GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus)

Two sleeping at Strandfontein

EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)

Including over 1000 at one of the salt works we visited.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)


SPECKLED PIGEON (Columba guinea)


RAMERON PIGEON (Columba arquatrix)

Ran into these on five days, spaced widely across our time in country

LEMON DOVE (Columba larvata)

Spectacular views at Dlinza

Field Guides Birding Tours
Yellow-billed...Buffalopeckers? Oxpeckers were with us for much of the last third of the tour, and they didn't seem to discriminate too much on what species of large mammal they were using as restaurants...nor where they ate within the restaurants. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

MOURNING COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decipiens)

Great in Kruger

RED-EYED DOVE (Streptopelia semitorquata)

Common. Only missed on one day.

RING-NECKED DOVE (Streptopelia capicola)

Work haaard-er (or is it "drink laaa-ger"?). Heard on most days, and also seen plenty as well.

LAUGHING DOVE (Streptopelia senegalensis)


EMERALD-SPOTTED WOOD-DOVE (Turtur chalcospilos)

Nice views at Bonamanzi and Mkuze

NAMAQUA DOVE (Oena capensis)

Scattered sightings throughout


Best views were at Kruger

Field Guides Birding Tours
Crested Barbet is certainly one of the showiest of a very showy group of birds, and we had several excellent views. Photo by participant Linda Rudolph.
Pteroclidae (Sandgrouse)

NAMAQUA SANDGROUSE (Pterocles namaqua)

Magical experience with these wonderful birds on the morning drive up to Brandvlei. So cool!

Otididae (Bustards)

KORI BUSTARD (Ardeotis kori)

Kruger came through for us for Koris on our final morning excursion, and in a big big way!

LUDWIG'S BUSTARD (Neotis ludwigii) [E]

We ran across this endemic on three consecutive days in the early stages of the trip

WHITE-BELLIED BUSTARD (BARROW'S) (Eupodotis senegalensis barrowii) [E]

A mad dash through plenty of possible spots on our Wakkerstroom evening was punctuated at the last possible moment with three of these elusive endemics.

BLUE BUSTARD (Eupodotis caerulescens) [E]

A distinctive bustard, and we saw them well early on during our Wakkerstroom outing.

RED-CRESTED BUSTARD (Eupodotis ruficrista)

Good views in Kruger.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Emerald-Spotted Wood-Doves showed well at Mkuze, and this one flew right by us after being startled off the shoreline of the water hole by some mammals. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BLACK-BELLIED BUSTARD (Lissotis melanogaster)

Nice views at Dirkiesdorp and Wakkerstroom, and a surprising point blank roadside (in the road, as a matter of fact) sighting at Kruger.

Musophagidae (Turacos)

LIVINGSTONE'S TURACO (Tauraco livingstonii)

Nice views of this stunner at St. Lucia.

KNYSNA TURACO (Tauraco corythaix) [E]

Brief views for some folks standing in the right spot at Marutswa, and then heard several times at Dlinza.

PURPLE-CRESTED TURACO (Tauraco porphyreolophus)

Our most satisfying turaco views were probably of this species. We saw them in several places, but none better than the ones drinking at the Mkuze water hole.

GRAY GO-AWAY-BIRD (Corythaixoides concolor)

We saw this each of the last five days, and we it seems like this one got the short end of the naming stick (as good a conversation starter as it is), and we took to calling it "Desert Turaco" by the end.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

WHITE-BROWED COUCAL (BURCHELL'S) (Centropus superciliosus burchellii)

Plenty during the second half.

GREEN MALKOHA (Ceuthmochares australis)

St. Lucia.

KLAAS'S CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx klaas)

St. Lucia and Mkuze.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Eastern Long-billed Lark was one of the last species we added to our large haul of larks during the tour, and it was worth the wait. We got to watch this one perform its roller coaster aerial display several times. Just after this (let's call it the banana stage), they tip over and plummet back towards the earth with wings tight to the body, gracefully pulling out of the dive at the last moment before they hit the ground to settle atop a prominent perch. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

AFRICAN EMERALD CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx cupreus)

Dlinza, St. Lucia. Right nice views.

RED-CHESTED CUCKOO (Cuculus solitarius)

Their conspicuous calls were heard often during the second half, and we got a few really good views too.

AFRICAN CUCKOO (Cuculus gularis)

During our long drive through Kruger.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

FIERY-NECKED NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus pectoralis)

Nice views for the night walking folks at Berg-en-dal

Apodidae (Swifts)

ALPINE SWIFT (Apus melba)

Several encounters with these huge Apus early on.

AFRICAN SWIFT (Apus barbatus)

Two flying over the water hole just outside Ceres.

LITTLE SWIFT (Apus affinis)

Nearly every day, and we saw a couple of particularly large aggregations of hundreds of individuals.

HORUS SWIFT (HORUS) (Apus horus horus)



The majority of days.

AFRICAN PALM-SWIFT (Cypsiurus parvus)

Most days during the second half

Sarothruridae (Flufftails)

BUFF-SPOTTED FLUFFTAIL (Sarothrura elegans) [*]

We heard one of these calling from a fragment of Dlinza Forest while we were owling on the lodge grounds.


Heard in two spots, and even briefly seen by Eric and Mike at the wetland on the way to St. Lucia.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Guides Tarry Butcher and Doug Gochfeld enjoying some Maluti, one of Lesotho's endemic beers.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

AFRICAN RAIL (Rallus caerulescens)

Nice views in Wakkerstroom!

EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)

Several spots.

RED-KNOBBED COOT (Fulica cristata)

About half of the days.

AFRICAN SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio madagascariensis)

Several encounters, with 6-8 individuals at Strandfontein.

BLACK CRAKE (Zapornia flavirostra)

Seen at least four times. This species is quite bold for a crake, and we got some excellent in-the-open views.

Gruidae (Cranes)

GRAY CROWNED-CRANE (Balearica regulorum)

Several spots, including a pile of non-breeders around Underberg.

BLUE CRANE (Anthropoides paradiseus) [E]

An (maybe the) iconic bird of South Africa, and we found them on five days, almost always in pairs. It is stately, elegant, and yet a little bizarre looking for a crane. The couple of encounters where we saw their bustles blowing in the wind were especially evocative. This garnered the second most votes (behind the penguins) for favorite bird of the trip.

WATTLED CRANE (Bugeranus carunculatus)

A mad race against an incoming rainstorm paid off in the form of two of these scarce and threatened cranes at the end of our jam-packed Underberg/Sani Pass day.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Ground Woodpeckers exceeded even our wildest expectations, and their antics defy description. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)

WATER THICK-KNEE (Burhinus vermiculatus)

Mkuze and the Kruger area.

SPOTTED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus capensis)

The night walking crew saw a pair of these on the lodge property at Polokwane.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)

A feature of many of our watery stops.

PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Likewise, seen in several of our encounters with appropriate avocet habitat.

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ostralegus)

A big rarity in South Africa, we had one fly by us heading up the beach while we were watching whales at St. Lucia! St. Lucia seems to be the best place to see them in South Africa, but even here they are infrequently encountered!

AFRICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus moquini) [E]

Linda R. spotted the first one camouflaged in the black rocks at Lamberts Bay, and then we saw them on each of the next four days as we toured around the coast of Cape Town.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

West Coast NP.

BLACKSMITH LAPWING (Vanellus armatus)

Common and widespread, and encountered on most days. We even saw some newly hatched fluffy babies running around at one point.

SENEGAL LAPWING (Vanellus lugubris)


BLACK-WINGED LAPWING (Vanellus melanopterus minor)

Wakkerstroom, where Lucky took us to a field were we got to see several of these often tough-to-find lapwings

CROWNED LAPWING (Vanellus coronatus)

First were at West Coast, then seen on four subsequent days

WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus senegallus)

Mkuze and the next two days

KITTLITZ'S PLOVER (Charadrius pecuarius)

Several spots in the early going

COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula)

Lamberts Bay and points south

THREE-BANDED PLOVER (Charadrius tricollaris)

This very dapper looking plover was the most common Charadrius through our travels

WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER (Charadrius marginatus)

Lamberts Bay, Macassar Dunes, St. Lucia

Field Guides Birding Tours
Purple-crested Turacos look like something Dr. Seuss dreamt up, and we saw them several times. They broke out of their shy and retiring shells at the water hole at Mkuze, and it was here we had our most prolonged and unobscured views. Photo by participant Kevin Watson
Jacanidae (Jacanas)

AFRICAN JACANA (Actophilornis africanus)

Strandfontein and then a couple of other encounters during the second half, including at Mkuze pan

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus)

West Coast

BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica)

West Coast

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

West Coast

RUFF (Calidris pugnax)

Dam at Calvinia and then good views in comparison with other shorebirds at Lamberts Bay

CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea)

Several spots, including Lamberts Bay, Macassar Dunes, and West Coast

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

One at West Coast

LITTLE STINT (Calidris minuta)

Common in a couple of places, including Lamberts Bay and Macassar Dunes

AFRICAN SNIPE (Gallinago nigripennis)

Nice views of a few at Wakkerstroom

COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)

Macassar Dunes, Underberg

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Drakensburg Rockjumper was one of the many highlights of our Sani Pass day, but it seemed to stand alone, given the anticipation of the encounter, distinctiveness of the bird, and the show they put on for us. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.

COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)

Underberg, St. Lucia, the two spots between Lamberts Bay and Cape Town

WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola)

Four were at Strandfontein, and then we had a couple between Wakkerstroom and Kruger.

Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)

COLLARED PRATINCOLE (Glareola pratincola)

One flew by in front of the front vehicle on day 10

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

GRAY-HOODED GULL (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)

Macassar Dunes and St. Lucia

HARTLAUB'S GULL (Chroicocephalus hartlaubii) [E]

The common small gull on the west coast of the Cape Town region, and around Cape Town in general

KELP GULL (VETULA) (Larus dominicanus vetula) [E]

All around Cape Town, with a huge rooftop breeding aggregation opposite the hotel in Lamberts Bay

LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons)

St. Lucia

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

Three encounters around Cape Town, and also our post-Underberg day and St. Lucia

WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida)

Best views were at Strandfontein and Wakkerstroom

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)

A few scattered around the Cape, best views at the Cape of Good Hope

GREAT CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bergii)

Lots around the Cape region, and then some at St. Lucia

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

Seen on three days between West Coast and Macassar Dunes

Field Guides Birding Tours
The group strolling through the late afternoon at Harold Porter Botanical Garden (not to be confused with Harry Potter Botanical Garden), where we had a lovely ending to another fantastic day. Photo by participant Jean Bickal
Spheniscidae (Penguins)

AFRICAN PENGUIN (Spheniscus demersus) [E]

One of these was observing us as we lunched in Simonstown, and then we had a whole slew of them at Betty's Bay, where they cemented themselves as the group's favorite bird of the trip (they were four people's #1!).

Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)

SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea)

A couple seen in the distance from Cape Point, but the roiling seas made it hard for us to stay on them.

Ciconiidae (Storks)

BLACK STORK (Ciconia nigra)

One was circling with a large flock of Bald Ibis over the plateau in Lesotho

WOOLLY-NECKED STORK (Ciconia episcopus)

Two around Underberg and then again the next day on the way to St. Lucia.

SADDLE-BILLED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)

We squeaked one out when Andrew decided to check out a water hole with loads of Wildebeests as we headed towards Satara. What a looker!

MARABOU STORK (Leptoptilos crumenifer)

Flying circles over us at Polokwane.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We got some splendid looks at Southern Bald Ibis. What a weirdly beautiful and beautifully weird looking bird! Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)

CAPE GANNET (Morus capensis)

We drank in the big breeding colony spectacle of thousands from medium distance at Lamberts Bay (the hides were closed due to construction), and then also were treated to a few hundred in a distant feeding frenzy and passage off the Cape of Good Hope.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

AFRICAN DARTER (Anhinga rufa rufa)

Four different days

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

LONG-TAILED CORMORANT (Microcarbo africanus)

Seen on about 75% of days

CROWNED CORMORANT (Microcarbo coronatus) [E]

A couple in the Cape Cormorant mass at Cape Point, and then really nice views of a small breeding aggregation of them at Stony Point.

BANK CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax neglectus) [E]

Over a hundred at Stony Point

CAPE CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax capensis) [E]

Very high numbers at both Cape Point and Betty's Bay

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Also known as "White-bellied Cormorant," we saw these very distinct forms of Great Cormorant at many places along our wanderings

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

GREAT WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus onocrotalus)

Nice views in the channel near the salt pans on the way to WCNP, and then again at the park

PINK-BACKED PELICAN (Pelecanus rufescens)

Great views of a very tame bird at Mtunzini

Field Guides Birding Tours
African Oystercatcher showed well a couple of times, but the best views were on our final full day in the Cape Town region. Photo by participant Eric Gustafson.
Scopidae (Hamerkop)

HAMERKOP (Scopus umbretta)

This special and strange bird is in its very own monotypic family (Scopidae), and we encountered a few times, including twice in Boston, which probably accounted for our best views.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)

BLACK-HEADED HERON (Ardea melanocephala)

Common and seen quite well

GOLIATH HERON (Ardea goliath)

We saw this massive heron at Umlalazi, St. Lucia, and Kruger.

PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea)

Scattered sightings

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Just a couple

INTERMEDIATE EGRET (YELLOW-BILLED) (Ardea intermedia brachyrhyncha)

Strandfontein, Wakkerstroom

Field Guides Birding Tours
Four-colored Bushshrike is a heckuva bird, and we watched this on singing in this shady tangle until our joy tanks were full and we could walk away. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)


BLACK HERON (Egretta ardesiaca)

Eric spotted a very distant one way across Mkuze pan

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

SQUACCO HERON (Ardeola ralloides)

Mkuze, Wakkerstroom

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)


Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

Ten flying over the estuary on the way to WCNP, then one at Strandfontein

Field Guides Birding Tours
We found a very habituated/unbothered Pink-backed Pelican as we made our way along the coast northeast of Durban. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

AFRICAN SACRED IBIS (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

SOUTHERN BALD IBIS (Geronticus calvus) [E]

We saw these unique ibis on a couple of occasions, with an especially high number in the plains of Lesotho. This species is doing better than its on-the-brink cousin to the north.

HADADA IBIS (Bostrychia hagedash)

We saw these nearly every day (we missed them on only our very deserty day between Calvinia and Brandvlei), and we will surely not soon forget their harsh, loud, long-carrying vocalizations.


A flyover at Ceres, and then real nice views of one in Wakkerstroom.

Sagittariidae (Secretarybird)

SECRETARYBIRD (Sagittarius serpentarius)

A couple in Tankwa Karoo, and then at least five across days 14-16 (approaching, exploring, and departing Wakkerstroom). Sagittariidae is a monotypic family, inhabited solely by Secretarybird. They are amazing to watch, and in addition to seeing them stalking across the landscape, we got to see them hunting, attacking, and eating small prey out in one of the fields near Wakkerstroom. It was a definite highlight, and made Linda R.'s and Ellen's top 3 birds list.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (HALIAETUS) (Pandion haliaetus haliaetus)

St. Lucia, off shore.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Participant Kevin Watson duly immortalized our best view of Tawny Eagle during our drive through Kruger.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BLACK-WINGED KITE (Elanus caeruleus)

Seen on more than half of the days, often roadside while we were in transit.

AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK (Polyboroides typus)

Circling high over Kirstenbosch.

PALM-NUT VULTURE (Gypohierax angolensis)

A difficult bird to pin down in South Africa, we saw these two days in a row - once flying in to roost at Mtunzini, and then at the farm pond on the way to St. Lucia the next day.

BEARDED VULTURE (Gypaetus barbatus)

Really fun views at and above Sani Pass. What a spectacular raptor!

HOODED VULTURE (Necrosyrtes monachus)




CAPE GRIFFON (Gyps coprotheres) [E]

One at Sani Pass, than a rarity of one circling with other vultures over Kruger, and finally two more at Polokwane.

BATELEUR (Terathopius ecaudatus)

One or more in the air on the way to Wakkerstroom, and then several encounters at Kruger.

BLACK-CHESTED SNAKE-EAGLE (Circaetus pectoralis)

Seen twice

BROWN SNAKE-EAGLE (Circaetus cinereus)

Multiples at Mkuze, and then one in Kruger

BAT HAWK (Macheiramphus alcinus)

This is an odd species, with an equally odd worldwide distribution, through which it occurs patchily. We found a long staying pair near a known breeding area after we departed from Kruger.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Lion King characters were well represented during our tour, and Zazu's yellow-billed cousins were wolfing down a restaurant's worth of leftovers during breakfast on our first morning at Kruger. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.

MARTIAL EAGLE (Polemaetus bellicosus)

One big mama jama as we headed west from Calvinia.

LONG-CRESTED EAGLE (Lophaetus occipitalis)

Several days - funky hairdo and all!

WAHLBERG'S EAGLE (Hieraaetus wahlbergi)

Common in a couple of locations towards the end.

BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraaetus pennatus)

Several very nice views over the course of the first five days, including perched at the water's edge at Akkerendam.

TAWNY EAGLE (Aquila rapax)

Mkuze and Kruger.

VERREAUX'S EAGLE (Aquila verreauxii)

It's hard to believe that these distinctive looking eagles are in the same Aquila genus as the large more familiar and worldly types of eagles (like the above). We had several great encounters with this fantastic raptor, especially around mountainous and cliffy areas.

AFRICAN HAWK-EAGLE (Aquila spilogaster)

A pair perched along a riparian corridor in Kruger, and then one circling overhead at Polokwane.

DARK CHANTING-GOSHAWK (Melierax metabates)

One in Kruger

PALE CHANTING-GOSHAWK (Melierax canorus) [E]

This very cool bird gave us many opportunities to enjoy its long-legged vigilance in its dry Karoo home.

AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER (Circus ranivorus)

Encounters on four days

Field Guides Birding Tours
Cape Sugarbird was one of our big endemic targets in the cape region, and we had a great afternoon with several of them on the Protea rich slopes at the edge of Cape Town. Doug Gochfeld

BLACK HARRIER (Circus maurus) [E]

One flying alongside the road between Brandvlei and Calvinia, and then multiples at WCNP a couple of days later. An exceptionally high flying harrier seen on day one on the way to Ceres was also certainly this species, though we didn't get particularly good looks at it.

LITTLE SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter minullus)

Two in Kruger


This is a hard one to track down, but we had a fortuitous encounter with an adult grabbing prey at Harold Porter

BLACK KITE (YELLOW-BILLED) (Milvus migrans parasitus)

Seen on the majority of days

AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus vocifer)

Seen on four days during the second half of the tour, and even heard only on an additional day.

COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo)

A couple of the expected Steppe Buzzards along the way, and then a very smoky individual that looked okay for the nominate subspecies as we made our way through the backroads to Wakkerstroom.

FOREST BUZZARD (Buteo trizonatus)

Two at Kirstenbosch, and up to four around the Woodbush area.

JACKAL BUZZARD (Buteo rufofuscus) [E]

Five widely scattered days for this crazy looking Buteo

Field Guides Birding Tours
Marsh Owl was a great surprise while following Lucky around in lark land, and we found at least three of them in a small area. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Strigidae (Owls)

SOUTHERN WHITE-FACED OWL (Ptilopsis granti) [*]

The night walkers near Polokwane heard this one.

SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL (Bubo africanus)

Sitting down in its rock nest behind the barricades at Kirstenbosch.

PEARL-SPOTTED OWLET (Glaucidium perlatum)

Margaret spotted this one as we made our way out of Kruger, and we were able to back up and get great looks for all at this little murderous cutiepie!

AFRICAN WOOD-OWL (Strix woodfordii)

A pair dueted adjacent to Dlinza, and we got drop-dead walk away views of one of them.

MARSH OWL (Asio capensis capensis)

A nice surprise that Lucky pulled out of his hat in the afternoon of our Wakkerstroom birding day, and we saw three individuals!

Coliidae (Mousebirds)

SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD (Colius striatus)

The most widespread of the mousebirds we encountered.


Common early on up in the Karoo and Karoo-adjacent areas, with some really good views in Calvinia.

RED-FACED MOUSEBIRD (Urocolius indicus)

The hide at Mkuze produced our best views of this.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

NARINA TROGON (Apaloderma narina)

Heard at Dlinza and Woodbush, but seen so well and for so long at St. Lucia that we had to walk away from it.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Narina Trogon was one of the big showy highlight birds at St. Lucia. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld
Upupidae (Hoopoes)

EURASIAN HOOPOE (AFRICAN) (Upupa epops africana)

Seen on the majority of days, including some lovely views. This one was at the top of Ahmet's top 3 birds due to its deep connection to elsewhere in the world.

Phoeniculidae (Woodhoopoes and Scimitarbills)

GREEN WOODHOOPOE (Phoeniculus purpureus)

Nice at Kruger

COMMON SCIMITARBILL (Rhinopomastus cyanomelas)

Common in the Acacia scrub areas we visited towards the end

Bucorvidae (Ground-Hornbills)

SOUTHERN GROUND-HORNBILL (Bucorvus leadbeateri)

We lucked out with a phenomenal run-in with a troop of four males very close to the roadside during that first magical evening at Kruger. We also saw another three the next day as we explored the park. This was one of Mike's top 3 birds.

Field Guides Birding Tours
African Wood-Owl posed well for us during one of our evening strolls around the lodge grounds in the east. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)

CROWNED HORNBILL (Lophoceros alboterminatus)

Several around St. Lucia.

AFRICAN GRAY HORNBILL (Lophoceros nasutus)

Early on in the Kruger full day


This seemed to perhaps be slightly more common than the next species in the Kruger area, and we had great fun with them.


Likewise, very fun, and yet another one of the characters from the Lion King brought to life in front of our very eyes.

TRUMPETER HORNBILL (Bycanistes bucinator)

Several good sightings between Mtunzini and St. Lucia.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A Pale-chanting Goshawk surveying its habitat as we approached the Karoo. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

MALACHITE KINGFISHER (Corythornis cristatus)

Mtunzini and Bonamanzi, and one of Ellen's top 3

MANGROVE KINGFISHER (Halcyon senegaloides senegaloides)

Walk-away views at Mtunzini

BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER (Halcyon albiventris)

St. Lucia and Kruger

STRIPED KINGFISHER (Halcyon chelicuti)


GIANT KINGFISHER (Megaceryle maxima)

Standout encounters were at Harold Porter and along the bridge in Kruger.

PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis)

This widely distributed kingfisher was seen on just under half of the days.

Meropidae (Bee-eaters)

WHITE-FRONTED BEE-EATER (Merops bullockoides)

We encountered these Bee-eaters a couple of times while in Kruger, with the first ones coming right at the front gate!

LITTLE BEE-EATER (Merops pusillus)

Also seen on a couple of occasions, on Bonamanzi and in Kruger.

EUROPEAN BEE-EATER (Merops apiaster)

We saw these long distance migrants that had recently arrived from Europe in a few regions - Tankwa Karoo, Mkuze, Kruger, and then west of Kruger.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Ratel is much better known worldwide as Honey Badger. And indeed as the saying goes, the two Honey Badgers we saw on our final morning in Kruger did not seem to care one bit. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Coraciidae (Rollers)

LILAC-BREASTED ROLLER (Coracias caudatus)

What a smokin' bird, and we had a few good roadside views.

RUFOUS-CROWNED ROLLER (Coracias naevius)

Also/formerly known as Purple Roller, we had run-ins with just a couple of these during our Kruger explorations.

BROAD-BILLED ROLLER (Eurystomus glaucurus)

Nice views at Mkuze

Lybiidae (African Barbets)

CRESTED BARBET (Trachyphonus vaillantii)

Mkuze and then a couple of days at Kruger.

WHITE-EARED BARBET (Stactolaema leucotis)

Common between Mtunzini and St. Lucia.

YELLOW-RUMPED TINKERBIRD (Pogoniulus bilineatus)

Same as above, plus Dumazulu.

RED-FRONTED TINKERBIRD (Pogoniulus pusillus)


PIED BARBET (Tricholaema leucomelas)

Good views at Calvinia and Polokwane.

BLACK-COLLARED BARBET (Lybius torquatus)

Great bird, and bold and confiding to boot. Mkuze, Wakkerstroom, and a nest at Skukuza.

Indicatoridae (Honeyguides)

SCALY-THROATED HONEYGUIDE (Indicator variegatus)

A pair at Dlinza

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw Livingstone's Turaco quite well in St. Lucia, and participant Kevin Watson halted one in perfect position fas it lauched itself. What a bird!
Picidae (Woodpeckers)


Drakensberg National Park and Wakkerstroom. Very nice looks and listens. Another big winner.

CARDINAL WOODPECKER (Chloropicus fuscescens)


BEARDED WOODPECKER (Chloropicus namaquus)

Days 16 & 17, in Kruger.

OLIVE WOODPECKER (SOUTHERN) (Chloropicus griseocephalus griseocephalus)

At the lodge in Underberg.

GROUND WOODPECKER (Geocolaptes olivaceus) [E]

One of the big highlight birds of this tour, and of course one of Tarry's top 3 birds of the trip (you know it's good when the guide loves it!). We had a really quality experience with a troop of these flicker-like woodpeckers at Sani Pass.

GOLDEN-TAILED WOODPECKER (Campethera abingoni)

Several encounters including at Orpen Gate.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

ROCK KESTREL (Falco rupicolus)

Common and relatively widespread

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Mkuze water hole ended up being a stationary safari, with a panoply of wildlife keeping us company during our time in the blind. These Plains Zebras seemed to all be on the same wavelength once they arrived. The thirsty wavelength. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

GREATER KESTREL (Falco rupicoloides)

We ran into a good stretch of them as we drove west from Calvinia

LANNER FALCON (Falco biarmicus)

We found our first ones, around a nest, when we stopped to look at our only Reedbuck of the tour. We then had a couple of other encounters in the Wakkerstroom area.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

Adult with prey as we made our way north towards Calvinia, and then singles at Cape Point and Harold Porter.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

CAPE PARROT (Poicephalus robustus)

Very endangered, and a great pickup. A couple at the dead snag at Bulwer early on, and then 10-11 as we approached Woodbush.

BROWN-HEADED PARROT (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus)

A couple of run-ins at Kruger.

Calyptomenidae (African and Green Broadbills)

AFRICAN BROADBILL (Smithornis capensis)

One of these sitting low and motionless (as they do) near the hide at Mkuze.

Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)

GRAY CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina caesia)

Several spots along the east coast

Field Guides Birding Tours
Long-tailed Widowbird has one of the most incredible and entertaining flight displays of any animal on the planet, and we got to see our fair share of these displays during our time around Wakkerstroom. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)


Marutswa and Kruger were best

Platysteiridae (Wattle-eyes and Batises)

CAPE BATIS (Batis capensis) [E]

Harold Porter and Bulwer were best

WOODWARD'S BATIS (Batis fratrum)

Great up-close views of this specialty on both birding days at St. Lucia

CHINSPOT BATIS (Batis molitor)

Mkuze, Skukuza, Satara etc.

PRIRIT BATIS (Batis pririt) [E]

Excellent views of this dry country endemic outside Brandvlei

Field Guides Birding Tours
Bateleurs are easiest to see in flight (where they are equally, if not more, eye-popping), but we lucked into one roadside during a morning at Kruger. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)

WHITE HELMETSHRIKE (Prionops plumatus)

Mkuze and Kruger for this crazy looking helmetshrike.

RETZ'S HELMETSHRIKE (Prionops retzii)

Linda R. spotted a pair prospecting for nest sites (and possibly even occupying a nest) around the cabins as we got ready to depart Berg-en-dal in the early morning.

Malaconotidae (Bushshrikes and Allies)

BRUBRU (Nilaus afer)

Eric and Linda got on one on day 13 before the rest of the group finally caught up to it at Kruger and especially nicely at Polokwane

BLACK-BACKED PUFFBACK (Dryoscopus cubla)

Most days of the second half, and at one point we even got to see how it earned its name, and this puffing brought it onto Margaret's top 3

BLACK-CROWNED TCHAGRA (Tchagra senegalus)

The final morning at Kruger supplied one of these relatively close

BROWN-CROWNED TCHAGRA (Tchagra australis)

A couple of days towards the end of the tour

Field Guides Birding Tours
We went to see a pair of Bat Hawks, a very patchily distributed crepuscular raptor. Perhaps the most interesting thing we noticed during this observation was the contrast between their vibrant orange-yellow eyeballs and their opaque white eyelids, giving a bizarre appearance when they blinked. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.

SOUTHERN BOUBOU (Laniarius ferrugineus) [E]

Kirstenbosch, lower Sani Pass, St. Lucia, and several other places.

CRIMSON-BREASTED GONOLEK (Laniarius atrococcineus) [E]

Five of these stunners at Polokwane.

BOKMAKIERIE (Telophorus zeylonus) [E]

Several scattered from day 2 to day 19, with best views coming at Akkerendam and Wakkerstroom.

SULPHUR-BREASTED BUSHSHRIKE (Telophorus sulfureopectus)

St. Lucia and Orpen Gate.

OLIVE BUSHSHRIKE (Telophorus olivaceus)

Eventually got some reasonable views of this tricky forest bushshrike at Woodbush.

BLACK-FRONTED BUSHSHRIKE (Telophorus nigrifrons) [*]

Only heard this one at Woodbush this year.

FOUR-COLORED BUSHSHRIKE (FOUR-COLORED) (Telophorus viridis quadricolor)

Definitely one of the highlight birds of the tour. It's a great looking bird, but can be very hard to see well, yet we saw it magnificently, and had frame filling scope views before we walked away with it still in view.

GRAY-HEADED BUSHSHRIKE (Malaconotus blanchoti)

Dumazulu and a couple at Kruger

Field Guides Birding Tours
Pririt Batis was one of the Karoo specialties that we tracked down around Brandvlei, and this cooperative bird ended up in trees right alongside the road. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Dicruridae (Drongos)


St. Lucia

FORK-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus adsimilis)

Very common once we left the Cape region

Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)

AFRICAN CRESTED-FLYCATCHER (Trochocercus cyanomelas)

Brief views here and there


Several good views, especially along the east coast

Laniidae (Shrikes)

MAGPIE SHRIKE (Lanius melanoleucus)

Absent before Kruger, and then abundant in appropriate habitat from there through Polokwane.

SOUTHERN FISCAL (Lanius collaris)

Seen nearly every day, with misses just on our big Kruger days.

WHITE-CROWNED SHRIKE (Eurocephalus anguitimens)

A couple at Kruger.

Field Guides Birding Tours
South African Swallow is also known as the African Cliff Swallow, which makes sense given that it is in the same genus as Cliff Swallow and Cave Swallow of the Americas, and shared their habit of building mud nests under on the side of man-made structures. We found this one amongst 300 of its closest friends at a large colony under a small bridge. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

CAPE CROW (Corvus capensis)

More than half a dozen days, including lots of good nests early on.

PIED CROW (Corvus albus)

These shapeshifters were common and widespread

WHITE-NECKED RAVEN (Corvus albicollis)

Several fun encounters with these wind-loving corvids, as they played around in the strong air currents around the Cape region

Chaetopidae (Rockjumpers)

CAPE ROCKJUMPER (Chaetops frenatus) [E]

One at Bainskloof and 8(!!) at Roiels. One of the iconic birds of southern Africa, and we sure did get an eyeful.

DRAKENSBERG ROCKJUMPER (Chaetops aurantius) [E]

Well, we didn't see this bird in South Africa...but boy did we see it! Great views of a family group in Lesotho above Sani Pass, and we got earfuls and eyefuls of their great antics in their strikingly beautiful home habitat.

Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)

FAIRY FLYCATCHER (Stenostira scita) [E]

At least three of these newly arrived intra-African and altitudinal migrants at and above Sani Pass.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Coqui Francolin hot-footed it across the road while we were at Kruger. Does this count as a flight photo? Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

SOUTHERN BLACK-TIT (Melaniparus niger)

Drakensberg National Park, Mkuze, and Kruger

ASHY TIT (Melaniparus cinerascens) [E]

A last day save at Polokwane

GRAY TIT (Melaniparus afer) [E]

Best experience with this species was at Sani Pass and in Lesotho.

Alaudidae (Larks)

SPIKE-HEELED LARK (Chersomanes albofasciata) [E]

Brandvlei and Wakkerstroom

SHORT-CLAWED LARK (Certhilauda chuana) [E]

A huge rarity with a tiny range, we saw a couple of these on our final birding outing at Polokwane.

KAROO LONG-BILLED LARK (Certhilauda subcoronata) [E]

Brandvlei and Akkerendam

EASTERN LONG-BILLED LARK (Certhilauda semitorquata) [E]

Great views of birds singing away at Wakkerstroom

CAPE LARK (Certhilauda curvirostris) [E]


BLACK-EARED SPARROW-LARK (Eremopterix australis) [E]

Seen, but difficult to pin down, at Brandvlei


A flock of 25+ on our final morning in Kruger

Field Guides Birding Tours
Sani Pass is surely one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

GRAY-BACKED SPARROW-LARK (Eremopterix verticalis)

Several around Tankwa Karoo, and then abundant around Brandvlei

SABOTA LARK (Calendulauda sabota)

Common at Kruger and Polokwane

KAROO LARK (Calendulauda albescens) [E]

West of Calvinia and then WCNP

RUDD'S LARK (Heteromirafra ruddi) [E]

Another extremely range restricted endemic. We got to see one giving its impossibly high flight display during our hilly morning hike with Lucky at Wakkerstroom.

EASTERN CLAPPER LARK (Mirafra fasciolata) [E]

roadside on day 15

RUFOUS-NAPED LARK (Mirafra africana)


RED-CAPPED LARK (Calandrella cinerea)

Common at Brandvlei, and also seen on four other days (including in Lesotho)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Participant Linda Rudolph captured these Nyala going at it and scattering all the oxpeckers at the Mkuze water hole.

PINK-BILLED LARK (Spizocorys conirostris) [E]

Yet another of the range restricted endemics we look for in Wakkerstroom - we found two of these for nice scope views at the end of the post-lunch walk with Lucky.

LARGE-BILLED LARK (Galerida magnirostris) [E]

Eierkop, Brandvlei, and Lesotho.

Nicatoridae (Nicators)

EASTERN NICATOR (Nicator gularis)

Great views at the roadside just as we left Mkuze in the evening. Very cool bird.

Macrosphenidae (African Warblers)

CAPE CROMBEC (Sylvietta rufescens)

Ahmet spotted one for the group during lunch in the gorgeous canyon on the way to Lamberts Bay, and we also had sightings from vehicles: a couple briefly at Mkuze, and another Kruger

CAPE GRASSBIRD (Sphenoeacus afer) [E]

Very good views during one of our very first birding stops, at Bainskloof

VICTORIN'S WARBLER (Cryptillas victorini) [E*]

Heard at Bainskloof and Harold Porter

Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)

YELLOW-BELLIED EREMOMELA (Eremomela icteropygialis)


YELLOW-RUMPED EREMOMELA (Eremomela gregalis) [E]

On the way up towards Calvinia

BURNT-NECK EREMOMELA (Eremomela usticollis)

Very good at Polokwane

NAMAQUA WARBLER (Phragmacia substriata substriata)

Really nice views of this cool "warbler" that is really more like a giant prinia, thanks to Tarry's tireless downtime sleuthing in Calvinia

BARRED WREN-WARBLER (Calamonastes fasciolatus) [E]

We managed to see a pair of these very, very well at Polokwane

GREEN-BACKED CAMAROPTERA (Camaroptera brachyura)

Their monotonous songs filled our days along the east coast

BAR-THROATED APALIS (Apalis thoracica)

Three days


Four days, all second half

RUDD'S APALIS (Apalis ruddi) [E]

A pair of this coastal range-restricted endemic on our afternoon birding in St. Lucia, and then a few more birds seen very well the next morning as well.

TAWNY-FLANKED PRINIA (Prinia subflava)

Several encounters during the second half, including great views at Skukuza

BLACK-CHESTED PRINIA (Prinia flavicans)


KAROO PRINIA (Prinia maculosa) [E]

Seen on most days during the first half of the tour

Field Guides Birding Tours
Quailfinch was another one we didn't expect, but then at Wakkerstroom, there it was! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

DRAKENSBERG PRINIA (Prinia hypoxantha) [E]

Sani Pass morning.

RUFOUS-EARED WARBLER (Malcorus pectoralis) [E]

Tankwa Karoo and Brandvlei

RED-FACED CISTICOLA (Cisticola erythrops)


RATTLING CISTICOLA (Cisticola chiniana)

Common in Mkuze and Kruger

RED-HEADED CISTICOLA (Cisticola subruficapilla) [E]

Bainskloof, Lamberts Bay etc.

WAILING CISTICOLA (Cisticola lais)

Sani Pass

RUFOUS-WINGED CISTICOLA (Cisticola galactotes) [*]


LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA (Cisticola tinniens)

Open habitats throughout

PIPING CISTICOLA (Cisticola fulvicapilla)


ZITTING CISTICOLA (Cisticola juncidis)

Just a couple of encounters

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Hippo appeared in late afternoon as we made our way north through Kruger, but luckily there was a small river between it and us. It was a biggun! Photo by participant Jean Bickal.

DESERT CISTICOLA (Cisticola aridulus) [*]

Heard it well on our final Kruger morning, but we didn't try to see it because we had bigger cats to fry

CLOUD CISTICOLA (Cisticola textrix) [E*]

Heard at Wakkerstroom and Kruger

PALE-CROWNED CISTICOLA (Cisticola cinnamomeus)


Great displays of this bird at Wakkerstroom, showing how it got its evocative name

Acrocephalidae (Reed Warblers and Allies)


Drakensberg NP

AFRICAN REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus baeticatus)

Common in wet reedy habitats

LESSER SWAMP WARBLER (Acrocephalus gracilirostris)


Field Guides Birding Tours
Kevin Watson did a great job freezing this Black-winged Kite in perfect light.
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)

BARRATT'S WARBLER (Bradypterus barratti)

Finally got eyeballs on this striking (not!) species during our last moments of birding at Magoebaskloof

LITTLE RUSH WARBLER (Bradypterus baboecala)

Brief views on the way to Lamberts Bay

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

PLAIN MARTIN (Riparia paludicola)

Ran into this Riparia on five days

BANDED MARTIN (Neophedina cincta)

Good views of this big un at Wakkerstroom

ROCK MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne fuligula)

The subspecies group for these is the fuligula group (Large Rock Martin), and we likely saw two subspecies (fuligula in the west, pretoriae in the east).

Field Guides Birding Tours
We visited the "highest pub in Africa" overlooking Sani Pass, and had birds, brews, and views. Certainly among the most scenic pubs any of us had ever been to. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

Common for final four days

WHITE-THROATED SWALLOW (Hirundo albigularis)

Scattered throughout

WIRE-TAILED SWALLOW (Hirundo smithii)


PEARL-BREASTED SWALLOW (Hirundo dimidiata)

Day 5

GREATER STRIPED SWALLOW (Cecropis cucullata)

At least six days

LESSER STRIPED SWALLOW (Cecropis abyssinica)

A great swallow, and we got some really good looks at them, including on the ground at St. Lucia. The dense, fine painterly streaking put it onto Ahmet's top 3 birds list

RUFOUS-CHESTED SWALLOW (Cecropis semirufa)

Mkuze, Kruger, Polokwane

SOUTH AFRICAN SWALLOW (Petrochelidon spilodera)

Also known as African Cliff Swallow, we had a very fun experience with a colony of ~300 of these under a bridge on the way to Wakkerstroom. One of the more fun swallow encounters.

BLACK SAWWING (Psalidoprocne pristoptera)

This striking, superficially swift-like, swallow was first seen at Kirstenbosch, and last seen at Polokwane, with several good encounters in between.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Lesser Striped Swallow is a helluva swallow, and we never tired of seeing that intricate underpart streaking contrasting with the clean pumpkin orange head. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)

SOMBRE GREENBUL (Andropadus importunus)

Five days

YELLOW-BELLIED GREENBUL (Chlorocichla flaviventris)

Four days

TERRESTRIAL BROWNBUL (Phyllastrephus terrestris)

Three days

YELLOW-STREAKED GREENBUL (Phyllastrephus flavostriatus)

This is a fun greenbul that behaves somewhat like a nuthatch, creeping along tree branches and trunks, and we found a couple at Woodbush.

COMMON BULBUL (DARK-CAPPED) (Pycnonotus barbatus tricolor)

Abundant away from the Cape

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Chestnut-vented Warbler was gorgeous in the evening light at Lambert's Bay. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BLACK-FRONTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus nigricans) [E]

We had this endemic at Lamberts Bay

CAPE BULBUL (Pycnonotus capensis) [E]

Common in the Cape region

Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)



Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers, Parrotbills, and Allies)

BUSH BLACKCAP (Sylvia nigricapillus) [E]

On the way from Dirkiesdorp to Wakkerstroom we pulled over alongside the road and finally saw this fun looking Sylvia.

LAYARD'S WARBLER (Curruca layardi) [E]

A couple of views early on in the tour

CHESTNUT-VENTED WARBLER (Curruca subcoerulea)

Excellent views at Lamberts Bay

Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)

CAPE WHITE-EYE (CAPE) (Zosterops virens capensis)

This was the taxon we encountered in the west

CAPE WHITE-EYE (GREEN) (Zosterops virens virens)

St. Lucia for this taxon

SOUTHERN YELLOW WHITE-EYE (Zosterops anderssoni)


Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)

ARROW-MARKED BABBLER (Turdoides jardineii)

Kruger and Polokwane

Buphagidae (Oxpeckers)

RED-BILLED OXPECKER (Buphagus erythrorynchus)

This was, for us, the common oxpecker, and we saw especially high numbers at Mkuze, where there were no Yellow-billeds

YELLOW-BILLED OXPECKER (Buphagus africanus)

Quite a few as we got farther north into Kruger, especially in the afternoon as we approached Satara

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Cape region

WATTLED STARLING (Creatophora cinerea)


COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) [I]

Second half

Field Guides Birding Tours
The desserts throughout the tour were consistently delicious, and participant Mike Boss immortalized this one just right.

VIOLET-BACKED STARLING (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)

Dlinza, Mkuze, Kruger

RED-WINGED STARLING (Onychognathus morio)

Widespread, though not in Acacia veld

BLACK-BELLIED STARLING (Notopholia corusca)

All along the east coast

BURCHELL'S STARLING (Lamprotornis australis)

This big starling was common in Kruger

AFRICAN PIED STARLING (Lamprotornis bicolor) [E]

Cape region and Wakkerstroom

GREATER BLUE-EARED STARLING (Lamprotornis chalybaeus)


CAPE STARLING (Lamprotornis nitens) [E]

Eastern third of the route

Field Guides Birding Tours
Drakensburg Siskin is one of the range restricted specialties we look for at Sani Pass, and wow did they ever oblige! We watched this one from the balcony of the highest pub in Africa (or at least Southern Africa). Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

ORANGE GROUND-THRUSH (Geokichla gurneyi)

Good views at Woodbush

GROUNDSCRAPER THRUSH (Psophocichla litsitsirupa)

Wakkerstroom, Kruger, Polokwane

KURRICHANE THRUSH (Turdus libonyana)

Mkuze, Kruger

OLIVE THRUSH (Turdus olivaceus)

Common and confiding at the two botanical gardens

KAROO THRUSH (Turdus smithi) [E]

Johannesburg hotel and the Cape region

Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)


Kirstenbosch, Sani Pass, Magoebaskloof

MARIQUA FLYCATCHER (Bradornis mariquensis)


PALE FLYCATCHER (Agricola pallidus)


GRAY TIT-FLYCATCHER (Fraseria plumbea)

Andrew reeled one in as we were leaving Skukuza

ASHY FLYCATCHER (Fraseria caerulescens)

St. Lucia, Kruger

FISCAL FLYCATCHER (Melaenornis silens) [E]

Calvinia, Simonstown, Harold Porter

SOUTHERN BLACK-FLYCATCHER (Melaenornis pammelaina)

A few scattered sightings from east coast to Kruger

KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas coryphoeus) [E]

Common in the west

BROWN SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas signata) [E]

This scarcity was around St. Lucia and heard at Woodbush

Field Guides Birding Tours
The group entranced by our first Verreaux's Eagle at Bainskloof Pass. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BEARDED SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas quadrivirgata)

Mkuze and Dumazulu

KALAHARI SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas paena) [E]

A couple at Polokwane

RED-BACKED SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas leucophrys)

Mkuze, Kruger, Polokwane

CAPE ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha caffra)


WHITE-THROATED ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha humeralis) [E]

A very fun experience with a pair at a nest that Tarry found at Mkuze

WHITE-BROWED ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha heuglini)


RED-CAPPED ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha natalensis)

St. Lucia, Dumazulu

CHORISTER ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha dichroa) [E]

Days 10-12, and heard only at Woodbush. A shy songster.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Hadada Ibis was our constant companion, so no summary would be complete without a photo of one! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld

WHITE-STARRED ROBIN (Pogonocichla stellata)

Very nice views at Woodbush and the lodge at Magoebaskloof

SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola explorator) [E]

Good views at Sani Pass and Wakkerstroom

CAPE ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola rupestris) [E]

A male at Roiels was the best

AFRICAN STONECHAT (Saxicola torquatus)

Especially prevalent in the east

BUFF-STREAKED CHAT (Campicoloides bifasciatus) [E]

Another great Southern Africa endemic, seen very well at Sani Pass

SICKLE-WINGED CHAT (Emarginata sinuata) [E]

KAROO CHAT (Emarginata schlegelii) [E]

TRACTRAC CHAT (Emarginata tractrac) [E]

MOCKING CLIFF-CHAT (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris)

Very nice views of a pair nesting in a campground building at Mkuze

SOUTHERN ANTEATER-CHAT (Myrmecocichla formicivora)

A great name for a fun and conspicuous bird.

MOUNTAIN WHEATEAR (Myrmecocichla monticola)

Six different days, over twenty individuals, and one of the species we picked up in Eswatini.

CAPPED WHEATEAR (Oenanthe pileata)

Several good views of this looker between Tankwa Karoo and WCNP.

FAMILIAR CHAT (Oenanthe familiaris)

Surely familiar by the end

Promeropidae (Sugarbirds)

GURNEY'S SUGARBIRD (Promerops gurneyi) [E]

Very nice looks at a couple of these unique endemics at Sani Pass, despite the fact that the flowers weren't in full swing yet.

CAPE SUGARBIRD (Promerops cafer) [E]

Fabulous intimate experience with several of these at Kirstenbosch

Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)

COLLARED SUNBIRD (Hedydipna collaris)

St. Lucia, Bonamanzi, Mkuze, Woodbush

ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD (Anthobaphes violacea) [E]

Restricted to the coastal Fynbos of the Cape region, we got excellent views of this endemic a couple of times, at Bainskloof Pass and the botanical gardens

OLIVE SUNBIRD (Cyanomitra olivacea)

East coast

MOUSE-COLORED SUNBIRD (Cyanomitra veroxii)

St. Lucia

AMETHYST SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra amethystina)

Young male at Kirstenbosch, a nest at Harold Porter, and then several encounters during the second half, including at the feeders at Underberg.

SCARLET-CHESTED SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra senegalensis)

A true stunner, these large sunbirds were particularly conspicuous at Mkuze

MALACHITE SUNBIRD (Nectarinia famosa)

It's real fun that these overstated sunbirds are so widespread in the country, because it ensured birding delight on the regular


Especially around the Cape, and particularly abundant (a couple of dozen) at Kirstenbosch


Underberg area and Woodbush

MARIQUA SUNBIRD (Cinnyris mariquensis)

Kruger, Polokwane

PURPLE-BANDED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris bifasciatus)

East Coast, especially Mkuze

Field Guides Birding Tours
You know it's an amazing place when Lilac-breasted Rollers aren't the constant headliner despite their ubiquitous presence. Kruger was just that good. That said, it is quite an extraordinary bird. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

WHITE-BREASTED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris talatala)

Mkuze and Kruger

Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)


A nice troop at Kruger on the final morning

SCALY WEAVER (Sporopipes squamifrons)



Common once we got towards Polokwane

SPECTACLED WEAVER (Ploceus ocularis)

CAPE WEAVER (Ploceus capensis) [E]

AFRICAN GOLDEN-WEAVER (Ploceus subaureus)

HOLUB'S GOLDEN-WEAVER (Ploceus xanthops)


LESSER MASKED-WEAVER (Ploceus intermedius)


VILLAGE WEAVER (Ploceus cucullatus)

FOREST WEAVER (Ploceus bicolor)

One of the non-social weavers, we had a couple of encounters with these snappy lookers, at St. Lucia and Dumazulu.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Rufous-necked Wryneck perched amidst its camouflaged background. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.

RED-BILLED QUELEA (Quelea quelea)

We didn't see millions, but we did see plenty

SOUTHERN RED BISHOP (Euplectes orix)

Another of the very common birds that is just spectacular looking. Easy to take it for granted due to its commonness, but watching the males puff up around the breeding colonies was lots of fun.

YELLOW BISHOP (Euplectes capensis)

Several encounters, with some especially good looks at Harold Porter

WHITE-WINGED WIDOWBIRD (Euplectes albonotatus)

Final Kruger morning


Some folks saw molting males around Wakkerstroom

FAN-TAILED WIDOWBIRD (Euplectes axillaris)

Kind of like a Red-winged Blackbird, but not quite

LONG-TAILED WIDOWBIRD (Euplectes progne)

Truly one of the spectacular birds of this tour. Their display flights never stopped forcing our jaws to the ground, despite how many times we watched them. Both Kevin and Ellen put in into their top 3 birds. Lots of birds in South Africa have great flight displays, but this definitely takes the cake.

GROSBEAK WEAVER (Amblyospiza albifrons)

East Coast, with nice terrestrial views at Mkuze and St. Lucia

Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)

BRONZE MANNIKIN (Spermestes cucullata)

BLACK-AND-WHITE MANNIKIN (RED-BACKED) (Spermestes bicolor nigriceps)

St. Lucia

SWEE WAXBILL (Coccopygia melanotis) [E]

Both botanical gardens, Magoebaskloof, Polokwane

GREEN-BACKED TWINSPOT (GREEN-BREASTED) (Mandingoa nitidula nitidula) [*]

One singing away at Woodbush

BLACK-FACED WAXBILL (Brunhilda erythronotos)

Finally caught up tot a couple of these in a mixed estrildid flock at Polokwane

COMMON WAXBILL (Estrilda astrild)

QUAILFINCH (Ortygospiza atricollis)

Phenomenal pickup of this super skulky bird at Wakkerstroom, thanks to Lucky's expertise

RED-HEADED FINCH (Amadina erythrocephala)

A couple at the hotel in Johannesburg

VIOLET-EARED WAXBILL (Granatina granatina)

A couple of nice groups at this gaudy little estrildid at Polokwane

SOUTHERN CORDONBLEU (Uraeginthus angolensis)

Plenty, and some great views to boot


Mkuze and Polokwane - good views

PINK-THROATED TWINSPOT (Hypargos margaritatus) [E]

Particularly good views at Dumazulu

RED-BILLED FIREFINCH (Lagonosticta senegala)

Excellent views at St. Lucia

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Klaas's Cuckoo at St. Lucia was a true stunner, and quite confiding to boot! Photo by participant Eric Gustafson.

AFRICAN FIREFINCH (Lagonosticta rubricata)

Three spots in the east

JAMESON'S FIREFINCH (Lagonosticta rhodopareia)

Mkuze vicinity

Viduidae (Indigobirds)

PIN-TAILED WHYDAH (Vidua macroura)

Talk about sexual dimorphism!

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

GREAT RUFOUS SPARROW (Passer motitensis)

A couple on the final morning at Polokwane

CAPE SPARROW (Passer melanurus) [E]


YELLOW-THROATED BUSH SPARROW (Gymnoris superciliaris)

Good views at the Mkuze water hole

Field Guides Birding Tours
The plains of Kruger, complete with elephants, giraffes, and acacias. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

CAPE WAGTAIL (Motacilla capensis)

MOUNTAIN WAGTAIL (Motacilla clara)

A nice surprise along the Blyde River!

AFRICAN PIED WAGTAIL (Motacilla aguimp)

AFRICAN PIPIT (Anthus cinnamomeus)

MOUNTAIN PIPIT (Anthus hoeschi) [E]

Excellent views of this range (and habitat) restricted pipit in the highlands of Lesotho, in the upper reaches of Sani Pass

NICHOLSON'S PIPIT (Anthus nicholsoni petricolus)

One at the lower Sani Pass

YELLOW-TUFTED PIPIT (Anthus crenatus) [E]

Another big specialty, also at upper Sani Pass in Lesotho

YELLOW-BREASTED PIPIT (Hemimacronyx chloris) [E]

Around the Rudd's Lark display field near Wakkerstroom. Highly range restricted. Great views.

ORANGE-THROATED LONGCLAW (Macronyx capensis) [E]

Plenty during the second half. What a stunner when seen well!


We assure you that this isn't a meadowlark!

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

COMMON CHAFFINCH (Fringilla coelebs) [I]

One of these introduced, but still quite localized, birds at Kirstenbosch.

YELLOW-FRONTED CANARY (Crithagra mozambica)

Abundant at Mkuze

FOREST CANARY (Crithagra scotops) [E]

Kirstenbosch, Woodbush

BLACK-THROATED CANARY (Crithagra atrogularis)

Dirkiesdorp, Polokwane

Field Guides Birding Tours
Wow. Not much more to be said about male Malachite Sunbirds. They were widespread, but we never once tired of seeing them. Another amazing bird. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.

BRIMSTONE CANARY (Crithagra sulphurata)

Harold Porter, Sani Pass, St. Lucia

YELLOW CANARY (Crithagra flaviventris)

Along the west coast and in Lesotho

WHITE-THROATED CANARY (Crithagra albogularis)

A Karoo adjacent dry country special for us

PROTEA CANARY (Crithagra leucoptera) [E]

This very localized endemic performed well for us on the way to Lamberts Bay


Best views were at the feeder in Underberg

CAPE SISKIN (Crithagra totta) [E]

One mobbing a pair of Red-winged Starlings which were clearly investigating the area for a nest to pillage, at the Cape of Good Hope.

DRAKENSBERG SISKIN (Crithagra symonsi) [E]

Really good views in the Drakensberg region, in both countries.

CAPE CANARY (Serinus canicollis) [E]


BLACK-HEADED CANARY (BLACK-HEADED) (Serinus alario alario)

A dry country special, we had a particularly large flock at Akkerendam

Emberizidae (Old World Buntings)

GOLDEN-BREASTED BUNTING (Emberiza flaviventris)

A total stunner, seen at all the Acacia Veld preserves

CAPE BUNTING (Emberiza capensis) [E]

Some great views throughout

LARK-LIKE BUNTING (Emberiza impetuani) [E]

Indeed they do look a bit like larks, and we had loads of them at Brandvlei.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Cue the dramatic music for this one. As this Lioness got closer to the Zebra, the tension rose quite a bit in all the spectators, and likely in the two stalking Lions too. The only animal that didn't seem tense for most of it? The stallion Zebra, though eventually he realized something was afoot. This evocative photo was captured by participant Kevin Watson.


GREATER RED MUSK SHREW (Crocidura flavescens)

One of these was, very oddly, staggering across the parking lot at the Cape of Good Hope in broad daylight. While there are several species of Musk Shrew that look similar, this seems to be the species we encountered, based on the combination of appearance and range.

EPAULETED FRUIT BAT SP. (Epomophorus sp.)

The fruit bay hanging from the tree with a cute bat baby under its wings was one of either Wahlberg's Epauletted Fruit Bat or Peters' Epauletted Fruit Bat, both of which occur in mixed roosts on the premises. The only way to differentiate the two species are by looking inside the mouths and counting the number of palatal ridges on the roof of the mouth.

SYKES MONKEY (Cercopithecus albogularis)

These somber looking monkeys also go by the name "Samango Monkey," and we saw a small troop of them that showed surprisingly well in the vine covered subcanopy at the Woodbush Forest.

BLACK-FACED VERVET MONKEY (Cercopithecus aethiops)

The most common primate during the second half of the tour, and seen every day except for the two Wakkerstroom days after we landed in Durban.

CHACMA BABOON (Papio ursinus)

We ran into these sometimes funny, sometimes menacing primates throughout the tour, including at Tankwa Karoo, Cape Town, Roi Els, and Kruger.

SMITH'S RED ROCK HARE (Pronolagus rupestris)

The lead van had one of these roadside on day 15 around Wakkerstroom.

SCRUB HARE (Lepus saxatalis)

One of these dove out into the road in front of the lead vehicle on day two as we drove from Ceres to Calvinia, in a near suicide. Then we saw several of them around Polokwane.


We encountered these terrestrial squirrels in the arid karoo around Brandvlei.

RED BUSH SQUIRREL (Paraxerus palliatus)

This was the squirrel we repeatedly encountered during our morning walk around the woods at St. Lucia.

SMITH'S BUSH SQUIRREL (Paraxerus cepapi)

The common squirrel in the acacia scrub and open country of the east - it was what half the group was pried away from when our first Leopard came into play.

FOUR-STRIPED GRASS MOUSE (Rhabdomys pumilio)

Several of these around the edges of the upper slopes of Kirstenbosch.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Side-striped Jackal put in an appearance on the checklist on the second to last day of the tour, on the outskirts of Woodbush Forest. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

SLOGGETT'S ICE RAT (Otomys sloggetti)

This much anticipated rat didn't fail to disappoint when we finally ran into them at 10,000 feet, up at the very top of Sani Pass, right on the South Africa/Lesotho border. We even got it for both countries!

BRANTS'S WHISTLING RAT (Parotomys brantsii)

A couple of colonies of these social desert rats at Tankwa Karoo.

GREATER CANE RAT (Thryonomys swinderianus)

The group that went out on the night walk around the lodge at Polokwane cape back with a couple of new mammals, including one of these oversized rodents.

CAPE PORCUPINE (Hystrix africaeaustralis)

Talk about oversized! Another one from the Polokwane night walk was one of the huge porcupines, with came trundling out of the brush and across the footpath in front of us!

HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Several were surfacing off shore in the distance while we were at the beach at St. Lucia.


A surprise one of these was galloping through the pine plantation along the entrance road to Woodbush Forest.

BLACK-BACKED JACKAL (Canis mesomelas)

Kruger and Polokwane

RATEL (HONEY BADGER) (Mellivora capensis)

A much desired one for many, we got to see two of these legendary animals galumphing through the savannah on our final morning at Kruger

CAPE CLAWLESS OTTER (Aonyx capensis)

A couple of these were swimming across the back of the marsh pond at Wakkerstroom on our second morning there.

LARGE-SPOTTED GENET (Genetta tigrina)

Linda and Tarry had one of these on day 16.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A procession of Nyalas warily arriving at the water hole at Mkuze. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

CAPE GRAY MONGOOSE (Herpestes pulverulentus)

One of the more widespread and common species of mongoose during our travels, and often seen in disturbed/inhabited areas, including along (and crossing) roads.

SLENDER MONGOOSE (Herpestes sanguineus)

Several sightings, spread out over Mkuze, Wakkerstroom, and Kruger.

BANDED MONGOOSE (Mungos mungo)

A couple of groups of these social mongeese over the last few days of the tour.

DWARF MONGOOSE (Helogale parvula)

Several of these in one brief stretch on that first magical evening at Kruger.

MARSH MONGOOSE (Atilax paludinosus)

A nice surprise, and one that is not particularly common or expected. One or two of these were swimming around the impoundments at Strandfontein.

YELLOW MONGOOSE (Cynictis penicillata)

Two brief sightings early on in the tour, but then several on our full day birding around Wakkerstroom.

SLENDER-TAILED MEERKAT (Suricata suricatta)

A real nice highlight for many in the group around Wakkerstroom. We had at least three individuals in our morning driving the local roads, and got to see a couple of them on sharp-eyed sentinel duty.

SPOTTED HYAENA (Crocuta crocuta)

A couple of encounters with these slinking carnivores in Kruger.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Many of our doves were variations of brown, and not terribly inspiring. Not so with African Green Pigeon! Photo by participant Kevin Watson.

LEOPARD (Panthera pardus)

It's hard to fully encapsulate what our leopard experience like with mere words. The first was during that magical first evening at Kruger, and for a while, it was our very own (thanks to Eric for spotting it as it jogged across the road while the rest of us were distracted by Warthogs and squirrels), which is a rare thing to be able to say in Kruger. This one was active, another treat, since the other couple we saw the next day were not moving around much. Truly great experiences all around, and we covered our substrates pretty well - we got to see ground leopard, tree leopard, and rock leopard.

LION (Panthera leo)

We saw a lone pair that had detached from the pride to mate, and then we had that edge-of-our-seat experience watching the two Lionesses stalking the Zebras on our final morning.

CAPE (AUSTRALIAN) FUR SEAL (Arctocephalus pusillus)

Lamberts Bay and the Cape

AFRICAN BUSH ELEPHANT (Loxodonta africana)

What fun animals, and we saw a couple of nice-sized troops, as well as some very up close animals

ROCK HYRAX (Procavia capensis)

Their closest relatives are elephants, but it would take you a whole lot of guesses to get there if you were just watching them cavort around the oceanside rocks at Betty's Bay, the scenic walls of Sani Pass, or the distant rock outcrops at Bainskloof Pass.

BURCHELL'S ZEBRA (Equus burchelli)

Plenty of eat out on the savannah

WHITE RHINOCEROS (Ceratotherium simum)

A mother and youngster during the gloaming at Bonamanzi, and then a couple more at Kruger.

WARTHOG (Phacochoerus aethiopicus)

Kruger and Polokwane

HIPPOPOTAMUS (Hippopotamus amphibius)

Several, with best experiences at Mkuze pan and out of the water at Tshokwane

COMMON GIRAFFE (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Plenty of these necky beasts during the second half

NYALA (Tragelaphus angasi)

Great and repeated views at this cool looking, highly sexually dimorphic, bovine antelope at Mkuze and Bonamanzi, and then we also encountered again near Kruger and at Polokwane.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Yellow-billed Oxpeckers getting ready to do some oxpecking. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BUSHBUCK (Tragelaphus scriptus)

Common around Berg-en-Dal, and especially prominent there at night. Inside the fence is a good place for a game animal to be, what with their natural predators stuck prowling around the outside.

GREATER KUDU (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)

Mkuze & Kruger.

COMMON ELAND (Taurotragus oryx)

Several gave good views at West Coast NP, and then we also saw a very distant one trying to blend into the trees at Polokwane GR.

AFRICAN BUFFALO (Syncerus caffer)

One of the big five, and perhaps the most dangerous of all those. We ran into several of those, with attitudes ranging from placid to surly. I certainly wouldn't want to encounter one of these on foot!

RED DUIKER (Cephalophus natalensis)

Also known as Natal Red Duiker, this was the small red duiker which we had every day between Underberg and St. Lucia.

BUSH (GRAY) DUIKER (Sylvicapra grimmia)

West Coast National Park, Mkuze, Wakkerstroom, etc.

COMMON WATERBUCK (Kobus ellipsiprymnus)

Two of them at the water's edge, seen from the bridge over the Crocodile River.

REEDBUCK (Redunca arundinum)

One of these was standing out in a field just after passed close to the Lesotho border.

RHEBOK (Pelea capreolus)

Best views were at Sani Pass

GEMSBOK (Oryx gazella)

We saw this large, impressive Oryx across the plains at Tankwa Karoo

BONTEBOK (Damaliscus dorcas)

At least 7 at WCNP

BLESBOK (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi)

One of these as we were driving around Cape Town

COMMON TSESSEBE (Damaliscus lunatus lunatus)

These were at Polokwane Game Reserve. They're variously considered a subspecies of Topi, or closely related separate species.

RED HARTEBEEST (Alcelaphus buselaphus caama)

One or two of these were blending into the sparse vegetation near a water hole in Tankwa Karoo NP.

BLUE WILDEBEEST (Connochaetes taurinus)

We had particular fun watching them at the water hole at Mkuze with their Zebra buddies.

KLIPSPRINGER (Oreotragus oreotragus)

Best views of this tiny and cute antelope were at Bainskloof

STEENBOK (Raphicerus campestris)

Akkerendam, Kruger

IMPALA (Aepyceros malampus)

Lots of this delicate grace on the savannah to our eyes, and lots of meat to the eyes of the cats.

SPRINGBOK (Antidorcas marsupialis)

The national animal of South Africa, and the namesake of the famous rugby team. We had nice experiences with these over the four days we were in and adjacent to the Karoo.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Cape in the distance, as seen from the edge of False Bay. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.


TROPICAL HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus mabouia)

Several places in our travel, mostly around our lodgings after dark.

KARASBURG TREE SKINK (Trachylepis sparsa)

Scurrying around the bushes outside the restaurant in Brandvlei.

GROUND AGAMA (Agama aculeata)

The colorful orange and blue Agama in the desert at Brandvlei was this species.


One of the large agamas that we encountered on our day up in and above Sani Pass.

ANCHIETA'S AGAMA (Agama anchietae)

This was another of the agamas we had in the Karoo between Brandvlei and Calvinia.

SPOTTED SAND LIZARD (Pedioplanis lineoocellata)

We saw one of these scampering around our feet as we were birding at Eierkop.

NAMAQUA SAND LIZARD (Pedioplanis namaquensis)

These were the common small lizard in the desert around Brandvlei.


We saw these at a couple of locations around Cape Town, including at the Cape of Good Hope and near our hotel.

DRAKENSBERG CRAG LIZARD (Pseudocordylus subviridis)

This very range restricted lizard graced us with its presence on a rock wall as we ascended Sani Pass.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Leopard Tortoise slurping away at algae along the shoreline of the Mkuze water hole. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

NILE CROCODILE (Crocodylus niloticus)

Several in the Kruger area, including a couple seen from the Malelane Gate bridge.


This snake slithered in front of several of our group as we were walking down the hill after seeing Rudd's Lark. Many people would run away from this, but after Mike yelled "Snake!" our group instead converged on it, only to find out, as it slithered down into a hole to hide, that it was a Spitting Cobra. A super cool sighting, especially for our only identified snake of the tour!

MARSH TERRAPIN (Pelomedusa subrufa)

Mkuze water hole

SPECKLED CAPE TORTOISE (Chersobius signatus)

We encountered one of these range restricted and endangered tortoises near the salt pans along the west coast as we went from Lambert's Bay to Cape Town.

ANGULATE TORTOISE (Chersina angulata)

One of these crossed the road to the small water hole at Polokwane GR.

LEOPARD TORTOISE (Stigmochelys pardalis)

Mkuze and Kruger.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The African Buffalo spectacle in Kruger was unparalleled. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.


Ahmet Baytas compiled a list of butterfly species he was able to identify during the course of our tour. Here is the list he generously put together:


Papilio demodocus CITRUS SWALLOWTAIL




Papilio ophidicephalus EMPEROR SWALLOWTAIL


Graphium sp. (antheus/policenes) STRIPED SWORDTAIL sp.




Colotis calais TOPAZ ARAB


Colotis annae SCARLET TIP


Colotis antevippe RED TIP



Belenois zochalia FOREST CAPER WHITE

Belenois aurota PIONEER (CAPER WHITE)





Leptosia alcesta AFRICAN WOOD WHITE

Pinacopteryx eriphia ZEBRA WHITE

Eronia cleodora VINE-LEAF VAGRANT


Nepheronia argia LARGE VAGRANT

Nepheronia buquetii BUQUET’S VAGRANT

Mylothris agathina EASTERN DOTTED BORDER



Eurema desjardinsii ANGLED GRASS YELLOW

Catopsilia florella AFRICAN MIGRANT


Aloeides trimeni BROWN RUSSET

Chrysoritis zonarius DONKEY DAISY COPPER

Chrysoritis thysbe THYSBE OPAL

Chrysoritis pan PAN OPAL

Chrysoritis turneri KAROO OPAL


Leptotes pirithous LANG’S SHORT-TAILED BLUE

Lampides boeticus LONG-TAILED (PEA) BLUE

Zizeeria knysna AFRICAN GRASS BLUE

Lepidochrysops glauca SILVERY GIANT CUPID

Azanus natalensis NATAL BABUL BLUELER

Azanus mirza PALE BABUL BLUE


Danaus chrysippus PLAIN TIGER

Amauris niavius SOUTHERN FRIAR

Amauris ochlea NOVICE

Acraea horta GARDEN ACRAEA

Telchinia serena DANCING TELCHINIA


Neptis goochii STREAKED SAILER

Hamanumida daedalus GUINEAFOWL

Pseudacraea lucretia FALSE CHIEF

Eurytela dryope GOLDEN PIPER

Vanessa cardui PAINTED LADY

Hypolimnas anthedon VARIABLE DIADEM

Junonia hierta YELLOW PANSY

Junonia oenone DARK BLUE PANSY

Charaxes varanes PEARL CHARAXES




Cassionympha cassius RAINFOREST DULL BROWN

Pseudonympha trimeni WHITE-NETTED BROWN

Styhionympha robertsoni KOPPIE HILLSIDE BROWN


Spialia mafa MAFA SANDMAN

Metisella metis GOLD-SPOTTED SYLPH

Acleros mackenii MACKEN’S DART


Larsenia gemella TWIN SWIFT

Parnara monasi WATER WATCHMEN

Totals for the tour: 469 bird taxa and 59 mammal taxa