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Bird Photos-six of my favourites from South Africa

Updated on May 17, 2020
Artic Tern at Nahoon Estuary-East London
Artic Tern at Nahoon Estuary-East London | Source
A pair of Ostriches in Karoo
A pair of Ostriches in Karoo | Source
Marabu Stork at Punda Maria-Kruger NP
Marabu Stork at Punda Maria-Kruger NP | Source
Pygmy Kingfisher at Nahoon Estuary NR.
Pygmy Kingfisher at Nahoon Estuary NR. | Source
Vulture landing Kruger NP
Vulture landing Kruger NP | Source
Hornbill in Kruger
Hornbill in Kruger | Source

Six favorite Bird photos

Wild bird photographs are difficult to take for several reasons. Wild birds are naturally suspicious of humans and so it is difficult to get close to them. Secondly birds do not often oblige by posing for any amount of time, especially the little colorful ones like the Sunbirds and Bee-eaters.

The answer then obviously is to have a really big lens for your camera and a lot of patience, both lacking in my armor. Add to that a good bird hide, an artistic eye, a lot of luck, and a bulldog determination and you are on your way. In the South African Game reserves you are usually not allowed out of your car, due to the presence of some big and dangerous animals, and so the car becomes your hide.

Be that as it may we try our best and rather than keeping my favorites to myself I am sharing them with you. My hope is that you will come and visit our country and take your own. Of course photos are very personal and they bring back memories that only you as the photographer have.

With your big lens and all the other attributes that you have I am certain you will get some really great ones and also add to the memories recorded in your mind. Meanwhile these will have to do for now.

Photo 1 Taken on the estuary at the Nahoon river in East London and flying birds like this tern are a challenge. You have to be patient and then using a fast shutter speed you may just be lucky if you manage to freeze the bird as it passes by. Fortunately birds at the coast tend to repeat their behaviour as they search for food and so you may get a few chances.

Photo 2 Taken in the Karoo these Ostriches are easy to capture on camera as they are not afraid of humans and are in fact quite curious. We spotted these from our car and the sunlight behind them in the early morning helped to make a better photo that one that is taken later in the day. Most of the National Parks will provide an opportunity to find and photograph these interesting birds.

Photo 3 Sometimes one finds birds doing strange things. These Marabu Storks were spotted from the Rest Camp in the northern section of the Kruger National Park. The reason why they stand with their wings open is debated and some feel it is to get rid of insects because they do not like the hot sun and so leave to find a shady spot. Another theory is that they are cooling themselves in the hot sunny tropical weather. The pattern makes an interesting photo.

Photo 4. This colourful Pygmy Kingfisher just asks to be photographed but at the same time are normally quite difficult to get near to. So when you get close as we did on the walkway along the Nahoon River you need to use the golden opportunity.

Photo 5 An unusual shot of a White-headed Vulture in the Kruger National Park. Here the bird was coming in to land and so I was following is in my viewfinder and the fast shutter speed and relatively low light produced an unusual effect that I like.

Photo 6 The Yellow-billed Hornbill quite likes posing in the picnic spots in the Kruger National Park and is relatively tame as it waits to pick up some tasty leftovers. So with a bit of patience it is easy to get a shot that high-lights this interesting birds famous feature, its large beak.

With about 900 different species of birds in South Africa it is easy to find a good selection of birds in one of the birding hot spots in the country. A much larger country like the USA has the same amount of birds but they are then spread over a much larger area. With any area in South Africa not much further away than a day or two's drive, it is also possible to visit more that one good area in a visit of just a couple of days. Then there is also the opportunity to see the "Big Five" animals in many of the larger game reserves. We have often seen all five in a day in the Kruger National Park. But don't forget to bring your camera!


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