Southern Africa - It's for the birds!

The diversity of its geography and eco-systems provides all of southern Africa with a wonderful environment for more than 500 bird species. It wasn't hard to spot them. In fact, sometimes it was hard to ignore them. Here's a sample of the birds we've seen in the past few days. The red bishop, a weaver so-named because red is traditionally the color of bishop's robes, flitted around in the reeds at the waterhole in Mlilwane. He was easy to spot because of his scarlet red color, but it was hard to capture a good photograph as he danced from reed to reed, then hid in the marshes.

red bishop in mlilwane

I've talked about weavers previously. We saw village weavers at Mkhuze. They are the most industrious, creative, energetic birds we've ever seen. In Mlilwane, we saw lesser masked weavers who prefer to build their nests over water. Despite the heat and humidity, these little guys worked dawn till dusk plucking blades of green grass from the marshy area around the mudhole at Mlilwane rest camp.

lesser masked weaver mlilwane

Starlings are not usually my favorite bird. They're raucous, ill-mannered and not particularly pretty. Not so for this violet-backed starling I spotted in a tree near our hut at Sandzela.

violet backed starling

This trumpeter hornbill was distinctive as he sat high up in a tree surveying his surroundings at Mkhuze. He was quite far away and the photo is not the best, but I wanted to share it anyway.

trumpeter hornbill mkhuse

The little African pied wagtail we saw at the mudhole at Nisela in Swaziland  reminded us of the willy wagtails in Australia.

african pied wagtail

Red-billed oxpeckers spend their time riding around on the backs of other animals, picking off insects. The animals don't seem to mind and the oxpeckers get free lunch.

redbilled oxpeckers

These lesser striped swallows gave me a run for my money at the Nsumo Hide in Mkhuse.

lesser striped swallows mkhuse

Beautiful European rollers were abundant in Mkhuse.

european roller

This white-fronted bee-eater was magnificent on the Shallows Trails at Mlilwane.

white fronted bee eater

Midst the herons and egrets and Egyptian geese at the Mlilwane waterhole, we saw this single thick-knee water dikkop. Strange looking bird. He's got Betty Davis eyes.

dikkop mlilwane

No, we're not twitchers, but we do enjoy seeing different birds and then my identification-itis kicks in and I have to figure out what they are. I'm sure we'll see more  on this trip and I'll share with you later.