On Kaingo we have birds. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they fly. They have modified scales with vibrant colours called feathers, and hollow bones to make them lighter for flight. Did I mention that Kaingo have about 250 recorded and a possible 300+ bird species?
Kaingo is blessed with a varied topography including high mountain plains, water soaks, deep, well wooded valleys, and a 13-km river frontage. Birding in these areas will produce different birdlife and could be your next Lifer on the list.
Let’s start at the Mogol river shall we. The Mogol river that starts in the mountains South of Kaingo is fed by a series of waterways from the Modimole, Alma, Welgevonden and Bulgerivier areas in the Limpopo province. It is a lifeline for both crop and game farmers and reserves in the Waterberg Biosphere. Birdlife on the banks of this largely protected river is prolific, and it is not uncommon to record 50 or more species in a single morning on the river banks.
Waders are common on the sandbanks, and the enigmatic cry of the African Fish Eagle is never far away. Look out for White-backed Night Heron, Black Stork, African Black Duck, African Finfoot and Little Bee-eaters in the reedbeds on the river’s edge. Kaingo has a dedicated boat on the Mogol river which, weather and water level permitting, will provide another angle to look for these shy bird species.
A good deal of the Kaingo landscape is covered by deep Sand veldt. Dominated by Combretum tree species, this area hosts birds like the Striped kingfisher, Southern Black Tit, Green Wood Hoopoe, and the oft mistaken Southern Black Flycatcher. Look out for Temminick’s Courser running on the ground and try to spot the Red-crested Korhaan before its impressive mating display.
Typically ground loving species like the Groundscraper Thrush, Neddicky, Rattling Cisticola and Ant-eating chat can be seen hopping and bopping in the open areas of Kaingo that is typified by short grass. The colourful Swallow-tailed Bee-eater is another species that are found in this environment. Look out for bird parties: Yellow-fronted Canaries, Blue Waxbills, Jameson’s Firefinch… they tend to stick together where food abound.
One feature of the Kaingo landscape that tends to catch the eye are the rolling hills and mountains available for our enjoyment. Sights that draws the eye into seeming infinity; hues of blue, greens and yellows delight the eye. A soaring Verreaux’s Eagle breaks your line of sight; or was it an African Hawk-Eagle? Fimiliar Chats flit amongst the rocks and if you are very observant, a Short-Clawed Lark may show itself for a fleeting moment. A party of White-crested Helmet shrikes may fly by and the ever-present Arrow-marked Babbler makes for a noisy yet satisfying sighting.
Kaingo is also home to the most magnificent Waterberg valley foreststhat is home to Great Yellowwood trees, Thorny elms, Tamboti, Waterberry. These trees create an ideal habitat for Cardinal Woodpeckers, Lesser Honeyguides and the very rare Narina Trogon to live in harmony with Black- collared Barbets, Brubru and Yellow-bellied Greenbulls. Listen out for the Piet-my-vrou (Red-chested Cuckoo) or the ‘I’m so saaaad’ of the Black Cuckoo.
And after a day exploring the wonder that is Kaingo, sitting back in a comfortable chair at Elephant lodge with an ice cold beverage in hand, look out for the resident garden birds. Dark-Capped Bulbul, a breeding pair of Red-billed Oxpeckers and a host of waxbills and finches in the tall grass awaits scrutiny. Try to spot the resident Marsh owl, and listen out for the Western Barn Owl’s screech when having a well-deserved dinner. Go on a night safari to look for Southern White-faced Owl, African Scops Owls, or a rare Verreaux’s Eagle Owl. You may even come across the Pennant-winged Nightjar on your drive.
Birding in our varied topography is good all year round, but the prime time for Twitchers and enthusiasts alike is in Spring or Summer when all of the migratory species are visiting our area.
Then, after logging all your bird sightings with the Birdlife South Africa’s Birdlasser program, drag yourself to bed. Well satisfied with a days’ worth of birding in the magnificent Waterberg.
See you and your trusty binoculars soon!
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