Great garden birding

Post image for Great garden birding

by DaleForbes on October 16, 2011 · 4 comments

in Birding Africa

As a birder we pretty much always have our eyes peeled for birds. It is in us. And we cannot escape it. In the parking lot of the local grocery store, from my office window, and even while watching TV (heard a Willow Warbler in CSI Miami a few days ago). And besides when we actively choose to go somewhere to go birding, two places stand out as attracting a particularly large amount of my attention. The first is from my office window and between our various office buildings (Bonelli’s Warbler, Spotted Nutcracker, Black Redstart, Alpine Chough); and the second is from my balcony or through my lounge window at home (Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Wallcreeper!).

A few years ago, I was back in South Africa and we visited St Lucia, a cute little town on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast  set within tropical forest and wedged in by a great big estuary and the Indian Ocean. Hippos and Leopards roam the streets at night. Wonderfully bizarre.

A beautiful Aloe barberae dominated the garden view and made for great perching spots for the Trumpeter Hornbills

We had rented a small apartment with what has got to be just about the best garden birding I have ever come across. Getting up at dawn, we had wonderful views over the forest out to the sun rising above the ocean. What more could one want. Oh ya, birds. And there were tons of those too.

A Trumpeter Hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator) surveying the world. This is a rather small species of hornbill compared to the giant hornbills of southeast Asia, but has a proportionally massive bill.

The Crowned Hornbills (Tockus alboterminatus) would come in to the garden to feed off of the fruit figs (Ficus natalensis, Ficus sur et al.)

An African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) and Great White Egret (Ardea alba) over the forest

The Olive Sunbird (Cyanomitra olivacea) - one of my two favorite sunbirds, just because of its wonderful call that absolutely "makes" the forests of the area

Grey Sunbird (Nectarinia veroxii) - my second favorite sunbird for their demeanour and the surprisingly stunning little red shoulder patches

The Collared Sunbird (Hedydipna collaris) - the smallest of the 5 sunbird species regularly seen in the garden

Livingstone's Turaco (Tauraco livingstonii). Big. Bold. Loud.

White-eared Barbet (Stactolaema leucotis) is typical of the forests and forest edges of the region

A Yellow-breasted Apalis (Apalis flavida) shaking out. Although we saw them in the area, what really would have made my day would have been Rudd's Apalis (Apalis ruddi) up close and personal in the garden!

This one wonderful garden produced some really nice birding. What more could one ask for: a great view, fruiting figs, flowering Erythrinas, and hornbills, turacos and sunbirds up close.

All bird photos taken with a Swarovski telescope, UCA Adapter and a Canon 1000D.

Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris) hunting crickets and other small creatures on the lawn

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth October 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Absolutely gorgeous photos but I am surprised that you didn’t see any hummingbirds in St.Lucia.


DaleForbes October 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Hi Ruth,
Hummingbirds are only found in the Americas and there are three species of hummingbird that occur on the Caribbean island of St Lucia.

The town of St Lucia is on the northeast coast of South Africa where there are similar – but unrelated – birds called sunbirds. The sunbirds also feed on nectar, but dont hover while feeding (as the hummingbirds do), but rather perch and slide their really long bills in to the flowers to gather the nectar. Sunbirds are also expert hawkers of insects, catching them in mid-flight.

Happy birding,


AlexVargas October 17, 2011 at 12:51 am

Awesome post Dale… my favorite type of bird-photo spot!

Shared in Bird-Photography group, in LinkedIn!


Best Binocular Reviews November 21, 2012 at 9:41 am

Bit late finding this, but some fantastic photos – I’m looking forward to seeing similar ones next month, especially the Sunbirds & the vaguely similar (to the Livingstone’s) Purple-crested Lourie (Turaco) in my folks garden back home in Zimbabwe


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