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Birds of Grootkolk

Birds of Grootkolk

Birds of Grootkolk - From the diary of a photographer in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Grootkolk is situated in the far north in the South African part of the KTP (Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) - the Bush Camp Grootkolk. Four units with a kitchen building in the centre are in the middle of the Kalahari Desert with unobstructed views of a waterhole. Lions, hyenas and leopards maybe directly pass by the lodges. But besides the big four-legged mammals, there are also many small entertainers with two wings - birds.

Grootkolk Wilderness Camp - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Birds are seldom on the wish list of the visitors of a National Park in South Africa but they are absolutely worth a look. On the one hand there are the nomads in the Kalahari, which eat mostly seeds. When food and water are available, they remain up to several months in a region before moving on. On the other side are the resident birds. These include chiefly raptors like eagle or goshawk. Stars or bulbuls are mixed eaters (seeds, insects and fruits) and they are resident species too. So is it worth to pay attention on the next game drive to the birds that are perfectly adapted to the dry environment with their beige-brown-gray-black plumage.

Who wants to watch birds directly from his cottage should visit the Wilderness Camp Grootkolk. The camp is situated in the part of the park which is managed by South Africa (SANparks). Located in the north there are only 20 km to Unions End. The accommodations are designed for two people and only the Braii area is fenced. Each cottage has a shower and a toilet. Although there is a central kitchen building, a kitchenette with sink is installed outside. The fridge with freezer is operated with gas and the electricity comes from a central solar panel.
And the view of nature is breathtaking. The eyes wander over the waterhole to the end of the valley up to the dunes. And for the little birds there are simple bird bath at the cottage.

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These bird baths are more likely ‘private by the guests' and make great bird watching up close. Recurring visitors are the weaver birds (sociable weaver) who have their nests in the trees about 50 meters away.

Throughout the day other visitors find the way such as this finch (scaly-feathered finch).

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And there is yet another finch (red-headed finch). Here he is still alone with his red head and observed the goings-on.

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And here he is in the middle in the refreshing water and surrounded by weaver birds. They are chirping on and drink on and seem to have forgotten the world around them.


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Around the hot time of the day larger birds also come to the water. Here we can see a starling (cape glossy starling), who will probably eat even a small bite in the next moment before he drink from the water.

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When you leave the camp in the afternoon for a game drive, you can find more birds and watching them.
A representative with colourful feathers often sits on upper branches of trees or shrubs directly beside the pad. It is a lilac-breasted roller.

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High up in the blue sky an eagle is circling in search of prey (black-chested snake-eagle).

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Back at the earth another eagle (tawny eagle) is well camouflaged resting in the tree. His beak is opened in the hot summer temperatures to breathe.

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A hornbill (southern yellow-billed hornbill) appears in front of the camera lens on the way back to the camp in the warm evening light. A little further in the distance there is a second one. The couple is completed now.

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When the sun in the evening slowly disappears behind the dunes the last flock of weaver birds passed and the African night with its smells and sounds brings its own mood.

The next morning starts a new day and it is time to fill up the bird baths. Immediately the first birds come for breakfast. Even a sparrow (cape sparrow) has mingled with the weaver birds.

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At the waterhole at 50 m distance to the cottages a secretarybird (secretarybird) has quenched his thirst and like a raptor he is now in search of mice, snakes or lizards.

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There are yet to see so many different birds like bulbul (african red-eyed bulbul) and prinia (black-chested prinia) and waxbill (black-faced waxbill). Or what do you say about this proud chat

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If the stay in Grootkolk nears its end and you look back to the bird bath with a last glance, it remains just one thought. It must not always be lions, leopards and cheetahs. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is also a great park for bird watching of any size whether on earth, in the trees or in the sky.

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