Most productive birding territory in SA: Pafuri & Punda
If you are based at Punda Maria, birding is always rewarding. You can spend an entire day at the hide in the campsite, or book an outing from the Pafuri Picnic Site with one of SA’s best bird guides. By Carin Malan
Finally we turn onto the H13-1 towards Punda where we had our first sightings of magnificent baobab trees. Punda seems like going back in time, the original thatch huts date back to 1933. Our accommodation was a beautiful safari tent with a lovely open deck overlooking the valley. We took our drinks and spent two hours at the bird hide. We saw nyalas and elephants and lots of birds: grey-headed parrot, black-headed oriole, red-billed buffalo-weaver, crested barbet, and both blue and violet-eared waxbills. That evening a large-spotted genet came begging for food. We also had both barn owl and spotted eagle-owl calling, together with some nightjars. An entire day can be spent at Punda as the hide and the Flycatcher Trail offer great birding.
Early the next morning we walked part of the Paradise Flycatcher route, not picking up on a lot of species – I suspected it was probably too cold for the birds. We left Punda along the S61 that leads to the Klopperfontein Dam, which was a hive of activity with zebra, kudu, buffalo and one huge elephant keeping the rest of the animals out of what remaining water there was (the Klopperfontein dam has just about run dry). We then left for the Pafuri Picnic Site, the Holy Grail for most local and international birders. One drives over a little hill, and then in front of you lies the most beautiful site with huge trees and the river barely visible in the background, the sun just penetrating the thick leaf cover – it is beautifully neat, clean and quiet!
We started walking around and saw lots of new species. This was all a bit overwhelming and we decided to sit down, have our lunch and rather let the birds come to us. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the camp and made an appointment for the next day with Frank Mabasa, BirdLife South Africa’s trained bird guide.
We met with Frank at 07h00: what a wonderful and knowledgeable guide – a huge asset for Kruger and a wonderful ambassador for BirdLife South Africa. Frank also pointed out mottled spinetails in the baobabs on route to Crooks Corner. This must be the most productive birding territory in South Africa and besides from the many species of robins, sunbirds and firefinches, we must have seen another 30 species, if not more. Later that day we also found what we actually came for: a Pel's fishing owl on the Luvuvhu river, what a wonderful bird!
Extracted from a trip report posted on www.westerncapebirding.co.za
© Photographs and text by Carin Malan
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