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A Raptorous Delight | Jandre Verster

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to spend five days birding at Paradys Safaris, Ellisras. This is located in the Coal mining area of the Limpopo Province in South Africa.

Birding here was great, as I was able to chalk up quite a few lifers over the five days. One can clearly see why this area is highly regarded for birding given the quality of species that I was able to see. Top species for the area included Southern White-faced Owl, Bennett's Woodpecker, Harlequin Quail, Shikra, and Verreaux's Eagle-Owl as lifers over the time I was there. Luckily still, I was able to get some good photos of the different species.

Bennett's Woodpecker on a branch
Bennett's Woodpecker

To call this Raptor heaven may be an understatement as, during the day, the area is a dream for raptor enthusiasts (which I am sure that most birders are). The large open skies presented opportunities to see a good selection of raptors soaring in the thermals. Species that were seen included Lappet-faced and White-backed Vulture. Like with many places that one visits, working through the campsite can deliver some great species. Here I was rewarded with African Hawk-Eagle, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk, and a Martial Eagle.

Sub-adult Shikra, on branch
Sub-adult Shikra

The night times sitting around the bonfire was a special time. Two Barn Owls joined us, while the Southern White-faced Owl and Pearl-spotted Owlet called in the distance. I was able to get a photo of a Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, which I had to work hard for, but my patience was rewarded as it sat motionless on a dead tree!

Verreaux's Eagle-Owl perched
Verreaux's Eagle-Owl
 Pearl-spotted Owlet on branch