Beautiful African birds

Some of the species spotted in Southern Africa

Beautiful African birds
26th March 2007 Jane Tomlinson

It’s no secret that I’m quite keen on birds. But I have so much to learn about the birds of southern Africa! I was hoping that on our trip to southern Africa last month there might be an expert birder whose brains I could pick. But the keenest birdwatcher on the trip turned out to be me. Here are just a few of the beauties we saw. I’ll start with the ordinary-looking or ‘everyday’ birds.

This is the white-browed sparrow weaver which hung around our camp in the Kalahari.

They may only be small and brown, but this is a village weaver and I love ’em. They live in huge, untidy nesting colonies and fly around in groups of 20 to 50 birds.

We were at Sossusvlei in Namibia, a very arid place, when we saw this red-headed finch (in flight) and his wife (perching) catching bees which were excitedly swarming around a bowl of water.

Common as muck throughout southern Africa are starlings like these. With deep blue iridescent plumage there is nothing ordinary about them. These are pale-winged starlings.

You don’t have to be out in the bush very long until you come across small bands of helmeted guines fowl:

The same applies to redbilled francolins which are very relaxed and don’t fly away when you approach them.

On the coast of Namibia, pink-backed pelicans are as common as blackbirds in Oxfordshire. They even perch on top of lampposts in the towns. This squadron of them flew after our boat, hoping to be thrown some fish.

In Walvis Bay lagoon in Namibia, flamingoes are everyday birds.

We saw plenty of bee eaters. This one is the astonishingly-hued carmine bee eater. Get a load of that rosy plumage!

Photos: by Moth Clark