As the first of our summer rains have begun to pelt down, Karula has turned into a “birder’s paradise” overnight.
Many species found on the reserve are insectivorous and this food source causes them to migrate as it’s availability fluctuates. Obviously as the rains arrive the insect activity levels increase and especially the termites seems to be everywhere. Some species such as the Steppe Eagle and Steppe Buzzard make an epic journey all the way from Russia to take advantage of this smorgasbord – a total flight time of around 60 hours! Possibly the most anticipated summer arrival is the spectacular turquoise Woodland’s Kingfisher. Their unmistakeble “chip- chirrrrrrr’ call is the surest sign that we are well and truly into the swing of summer.
Situated along the perennial Klaserie River, Karula creates the perfect habitat for the most reclusive species found on the reserve. Many of these are attracted by the multitude of fruit-bearing trees and their flowers, another product of the summer rains. The most vocal of these is the Purple-Crested Turaco. Their distinctive “kok- kok- kok- kok- kok” calls can be heard throughout the day. If you follow the sound you will often be rewarded with a brief glimpse of the bright scarlet feathers which only Zulu royalty may wear in their crowns. The diminutive, yet spectacular Collared Sunbirds have also become regular breakfast visitors as they dance with their reflections in the windows of the lodge. They must be trying to establish who these brilliant little green and gold intruders are!
Some exceptionally rare water birds have been making appearances as well. The likes of the Half-Collared Kingfisher and African Finfoot to name but a few. But perhaps the most prized sighting of all would have to be the Pel’s Fishing Owl, seen from the new bridge close to camp on at least two or three different occasions – INCREDIBLE!
Cameron Pearce – Kapama Karula Head Ranger