Umkumbe Safari Lodge Riverside. Birds

Not for this Woodland Kingfisher the fish-filled stream, Instead, it seeks a different dream. Insects, arthropods, its daily fare, Snake or frog, it hunts with care. With watchful eye and feathers bright, It scans the woodland in the fading light. No fish nor crab within its gaze, In this realm, a different phase.




Recently, Travel & Things undertook a Lowveld road trip that included 3 Sun Destinations™ properties. Umkumbe Safari Lodge Riverside was where the trip began.These are just some of the birds that I got to see.




This is a Burchell’s Coucal, known colloquially as the Rain Bird. This particular individual was getting a taste of its own medicine. Sitting in a downpour and looking rather forlorn.

At 40cm it is a large bird that can weigh as much as 180g. It has a brown back, pale underparts and a black head and tail. The sexes are similar.

It is a voracious predator and eats a variety of food types.




I have been told by many a field guide that if you learn no other bird call, then commit the call of the Red-billed Oxpecker to memory as it might save your life.

“Why”? I hear you ask?

This particular species is often found in the company of the larger and more dangerous species, and their call, if recognized, could save you from an encounter that might not end well.




The poster bird for the Lowveld! The lilac-breasted Roller. This one of five species that can be found in South Africa. The other 3 are: The Racket Roller,the European Roller, the Purple Roller and finally the Broad-billed Roller.

The lilac-breasted roller is Kenya’s national bird because of the wide array of colours on its feather coat. In total, it has 8 colours: green, white, black, yellow, turquoise, dark blue, reddish-brown, and lilac. The colours are supposed to represent the many different tribes that make up Kenya’s community. (It was also the national bird of Botswana)




This tiny bird is a Three-banded Plover.

They occurs mainly on inland rivers, pools, lakes and pans, frequenting their exposed shores. This species is usually seen as single individuals, but it will form small flocks. It can be observed as it hunts for insects, worms and other invertebrates.




The Cape Glossy Starling, who’s iridescent feather colours make for easy identification.

In many cultures/religions, including Christianity and Ancient Greek Mythology, Starlings are considered to be a sign of hope, good luck, and rebirth.




Wattled starlings.

A group of starlings can be called a chattering, a congregation, a cloud, a constellation, a murmuration, a clutter, a filth, a scourge, or a vulgarity.

Often called blackbirds, these smaller birds are actually dark brown with speckled patches.

Might these have been the “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”?




The alarm clock of the bushveld…Swainson’s Spurfowl.

Francolin and spurfowl were for a long time all referred to as francolin. Although the birds all look similar scientists have discovered that they are not even that closely related. Broadly speaking, a francolin is smaller and has yellow legs.




Looking like they would not be out of place in Jurassic Park, these ‘bush chickens’ are  Helmeted Guinea fowl.

They are noisy, gregarious birds meaning they live in large flocks. While they are capable of flight and will nest in trees, they prefer to spend their time on the ground, following grazing herds in search of insects and seeds found in the large herbivores’ dung.




Found in both urban and rural areas throughout South Africa, the colourful Crested Barbet is often the species of garden bird most easily identifiable.

These birds are territorial and also monogamous during mating season.




A must on any drive…a hot beverage and a cookie!




And we returned to possibly the largest omelette I have ever been served…




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