As a trainee Ranger at Phinda Forest Lodge some of my time was spent exploring the Sand Forest. The Sand Forest is a very special habitat and although regarded as a “dry forest”, it hosts an incredible amount of species that depend on it for survival. Many of these species include insects, small flowering orchids, lichens, small mammals, reptiles and of course birds that are difficult to spot in the canopy, but easily identified by their call!
Part of being a trainee ranger was to walk to the bird hide in the mornings, to fill up the bird bath, sit and observe what came in to drink. On many occasions the bird hide was very quiet, not a single bird would come in to drink! On returning back to the ranger’s room and walking past all the guest rooms you would find Suni (the smallest antelope species in Northern Zululand), red duiker and nyala feeding very close to you. It is only then that you start hearing the calls of Square-tailed Drongos, Trumpeter Hornbills, Crowned Hornbills, Bearded Scrub-Robins, Eastern Nicators, Dark-backed Weavers, Black-backed Puffbacks and Golden-tailed Woodpeckers to name a few.
On one specific morning I sat at the bird hide whilst waiting for the bird bath to fill up and only a Red Duiker coming in close, but too scared to drink because of my presence. I started slowly making my way back to the lodge, scanning the canopy with the hope of finding something special perching looking at me! Half way back I realised that I had left the tap on and had to go back to turn it off. Approaching the bird hide I found out that suddenly there was a bird party!
As I continued, a bird unexpectedly came flying passed my head and landed on a branch about 4 meters away from me. To my disbelief it was an African Broadbill, one of the many extraordinary bird species found in the Sand Forest! Quickly I whipped out my camera and started snapping away. The little fella looked at me for a bit and then took off. It was at this moment that another bird caught my attention! It was a Woodward’s Batis, my first sighting of this species and it had to be caught by my lens! Not too far up the canopy I was lucky to get two photographs. Content with what I had spotted I turned off the tap and made my way back to the ranger’s room.
Hi there! My name is Paul and I am the new specialist guide for Tailor Made Safaris! On this blog I will keep you all updated with trip reports and interesting stories about the African Bush!
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