An array of birds

Pamushana | July 2016

Birds come in such an amazing array of sizes, with such different behaviours, diets and requirements. Each has something so very special about it, and it is a thrill to see this quietly by yourself or to share it with guests. Birds remind me of how wonderful, precious and fragile life is – and that we can’t have it all. Imagine how cool it must be to just spread your wings and fly!

This first photo is of a crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) that was calling for its mate. It is perched in a huge baobab, and in the fork of the branches you can see its nest. One of our guides who works here has noticed that this nest has been used by a pair of crowned eagles since he arrived here almost 15 years ago. Nests like this that are used and added to over several years can be 2.5 metres wide and 3 metres deep. Crowned eagles are superbly built for the kill, maverick forest flyers and considered Africa’s most powerful eagle when measured in terms of the weight of their prey items.

The second and third photos show the gentle beauty and soft shades of Cape turtle (Streptopelia capicola) and laughing doves (Streptopelia senegalensis) as they drink cautiously yet thirstily from the water’s edge. When you study them very closely you realise that each is quite different from the other. Every dove is unique and its feathers are ever so slightly different in colour to those of that next to it.

The fourth photo is my favourite to date of white-backed vultures (Gyps africanus). They are ripping into a buffalo carcass that they mobbed a pride of lions for, and the lions eventually and reluctantly left it for them. What a powerful feeding frenzy of feathers flying, squawking and jostling it was.

In total contrast, in the fifth photo, is a tiny red-billed firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala). He only measures 10 cm in length, and eats small seeds and grain.