Summer is back and here at Mashatu, we are ready to welcome back the many migrant birds that have travelled long distances to come spend their summers in the Land of the Giants. Here they will take advantage of the warm weather and abundance of food.
Migrants to Southern Africa can be roughly divided into two main groups.
Travelling incredible distances are the palearctic migrants who come from North of the Sahara, as far afield as the Artic Circle and Eurasia. These migrants head south to escape the harsh winters in the Northern Hemisphere. At Mashatu some of the more common paleartic migrants include red-backed shrike, wood and marsh sandpipers, the beautiful European roller and White storks who, like most palearctic migrants, breed in Europe or Asia and then migrate to southern Africa via the Middle East to enjoy an African summer.
Not all birds travel such a vast distance to get to Mashatu Game Reserve. Many species stay on the African continent and travel south from the central regions. Many of these birds breed while here. The majority of the cuckoos fall into this category well as the strikingly beautiful woodland’s kingfisher with it’s very distinctive call. In lodges across Southern Africa, guides and staff often place bets on the arrival date of the Woodlands Kingfisher… My money this year is on the 18th November … It will be any day now and we are all listening for the charactersitic kri-trrrrrr call – the sound of summer.
Greater Spotted Cuckoo
As this is written, the earth is dry and scorched, water is scarce and we await the arrival of the first rains and with it, our most welcome avian visitors. Within a short period, Mashatu will be transformed into a lush, green haven with holiday makers of a winged variety making the best of our summer.
Images & text by Janet Kleyn