16th – 19th January 2020 – Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa – birds

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Clearly the main focus of the 6 games drives we did in the Thornybush Game Reserve was the animals. However, we had a fantastic opportunity to see a large number of birds too. I felt I probably tested the patience of our fellow tourists by me wanting to stop to see birds; but they were very tolerant and even helped to spot birds and point them out to me. Our guides were very good too and incredibly knowledgeable. They nearly always knew the names of the birds – the problem of identification has been my lack of memory.

However, with the help of my field guide (Newman’s) and the knowledge and great cooperation of Larry Swetman (back in Bristol) I have been able to identify most of them.

Labelling is a job for back home.

The slideshow is a selection of the photos I took (the slideshow can be pinched out on an iPad for optimum viewing).

Listed below are some of my favourite birds.

Probably the rarest bird we saw was the bronze-winged courser (certainly by the reaction of our guide Kilmore) especially as it is usually nocturnal.

DSC04357Bronze winged courser

The most exciting bird was the dark chanting goshawk which we saw swoop down on its prey and took it off to a nearby branch so that we were able to see it rip its prey apart and devour it.

DSC05241Dark chanting goshawk

The most startling was probably the southern yellow-billed hornbill – there were hornbills everywhere.

DSC00464Southern-yellow billed hornbill

The largest raptor was probably one of the vultures but I particularly liked the tawny eagle.

DSC03676Tawny eagle

There were lots of very colourful birds but I wasn’t always able to catch them in their full splendour because of the rain and cloudy conditions which prevailed for the last few days. A few of the contenders

DSC04850Woodland kingfisher

DSC03910Crested barbet

DSC02894Blue waxbill

The most fascinating bird for me was the long-tailed paradise whydah .

DSC04958Long-tailed paradise whydah

We saw quite a lot of shrikes and I liked this photo of a red-backed bush shrike which I photographed in the rain.

DSC04826Red-backed shrike

We saw oxpeckers mainly on buffalos but I love this photo of one on a giraffe.


I could go on …

We saw lots of other birds that I didn’t manage to photograph. I suppose I was disappointed most not to capture some of the cuckoos.




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