Beginners Birding in the Kruger Park
With hundreds of different birds flying over you all year round, a trip to the Kruger Park becomes a conveyor belt of colour, sound, beauty and fun. But just how does one start birding?
Anyone can go birding or bird-watching in the Kruger Park, you don’t have to be a professional. Birding is something that improves with experience. The best part about birding is that you can do it all year around and you will always see something different because birding changes with every season and every location!
There are many different types of birds, with different colours, shapes, sizes and markings. Don’t let this scare you in the beginning, just enjoy identifying all of these unique characteristics. You will soon start to appreciate the magnificence of bird-watching.
The Kruger Park is one of the best places to start birding because it provides a unique combination of varied habitats, wilderness areas, easy road access and great pit-stops, together with a wide variety and concentration of bird species. Finding birds in the Kruger Park is not very difficult, you only need to stop at a hide or a watering hole and the fun will begin.
Most birds are very quick and active so you will need to practice spotting as many details as possible in a short amount of time. So what do you look for? Here are a few guidelines for identifying birds:
- Keep your eye on the bird and study its characteristics for as long as possible, don’t be tempted to immediately pick up your bird guide
- Try to remember its general size and shape, this will help a lot when trying to place it into the correct family of birds
- Take notice of the bird’s facial marking and bill characteristics, look for stripes, rings, colour changes etc
- Try to remember any distinct details on the birds body, wings and tail
- Take a quick look at the colour and length of the bird’s legs
If you managed to do all the above, you should be able to identify your bird from your bird guide book. Be sure to tick it off on your checklist, you will be amazed at how many different birds you can spot in one day. A check list is also a great way to speed up the learning process. Don’t get despondent if you were not able to identify your bird the first few times, it takes a bit of practice. It also helps to try and familiarise yourself with your bird guide before you enter the Kruger Park – sometimes you might be lucky to spot a bird you have just seen in your book!
What to take with:
- a pair of binoculars
- a good bird book such as the Roberts Bird Guide, Sasol or Newman’s
- a birding checklist or a pen and paper to write down your sightings