I’m no twitcher. I probably couldn’t distinguish the call of a starling from that of a swift. But in South Africa, while the big beasts – the lions and the leopards, the elephants and the cheetahs, the giraffes and the rhinos – grab the wildlife headlines, what really caught my eye was the birdlife. South African birds are  strikingly beautiful, varied and different. South Africa has almost 1000 different species, some 10 per cent of all the bird species in the world. I never travelled to the north-east of the country, which apparently is the most prolific area for birds, but there were species aplenty in the Cape. The photos here were taken in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, in the Kwandwe game reserve and in East London. They are (I think), from top down, Southern double-collared sunbird, White-fronted bee eater, Cape glossy starling, Southern masked weaver, Black-collared barbet, Helmeted guineafowl, Cape spurfowl, Fiscal flycatcher, Southern pale chanting goshawk, Southern black korhaan, Reed cormorant, Great blue heron, Grey heron, Black-winged stilt and Scarlet-chested sunbird. Being no birdwatcher, I have no doubt misidentified some of these. If I have, those who know better can put me right.

double collared sunbird

white fronted bee eater

cape glossy starling


black collared barbet

hemeted guineafowl

cape spurfowl

fiscal flycatcher

southern pale chanting goshawk

southern black korhaan

reed cormorant

great blue heron

grey heron

black winged stilt

scarlet chested sunbird


  1. So delighted that you enjoyed our other “rainbow” nation, and the pics are superb. Please visit S A again as we learn how to be what we could be. Thank you!

  2. flatbrain

    These really are beautiful pics Kenan. I was in the SA in January and the birds were a constant source of delight. I think we saw 99 species in a week in the Kruger!

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