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New Photos: South Africa 2021 Birds

In July we headed off to South Africa for a two-and-a-half week trip comprised of a guided tour (Kruger National Park and MalaMala Game Reserve) and some solo time (Tswalu Kalahari).

Yes, we traveled to South Africa during the pandemic (and at a time when there had been some civil unrest in various parts of the country), but it all went smoothly. Despite a mound of paperwork we had to take care of beforehand, the entire process was smooth, and we planned an itinerary that took us away from any crowded areas almost immediately. We never had to leave the Johannesburg airport in order to fly to and from the bush.

Overall, it was a much-needed escape, and a very fun experience. And Jenn and I took way too many photos. So many that I still haven’t finished processing them all as I write this. I’m back at the airport, about to fly to Africa yet again, so I wanted to get at least one South Africa gallery up before I left. As a result, we’re starting with a collection of bird photos from the trip.

It’s hard to have a bad bird trip in South Africa. We saw a variety of interesting and colorful species, including several favorites and many new species. I enjoyed the loads of owls we found, of course… an owl sighting every single day! We had five owl species total, including one new one (the Spotted Eagle-owl).

Check out the full gallery here. A short preview is below.

Saddle-billed Stork

Thought to be the tallest stork in the world, the Saddle-billed is also one of my favorite African birds. The male sports dark eyes, the female bright yellow eyes.

African Barred Owlet

We were fortunate to have a couple sightings of the African Barred Owlet on this trip.

South African Ostrich

An ostrich marches at sunrise in Kruger National Park.

White-fronted Plover

This was my first time photographing the White-fronted Plover. A Blacksmith Plover dwarfs it in size.

African Fish Eagle

We were fortunate to catch this eagle flying by from an elevated vantage point in Kruger National Park.

Bennett’s Woodpecker

This was my first time seeing the Bennett’s Woodpecker (this is the female), which was foraging on the ground below our lunch deck at MalaMala.

White-fronted Plover

Our visit to Tswalu presented my first opportunity to see and photograph the Spotted Eagle-owl. We ended up seeing several.

Malachite Kingfisher

It’s always nice seeing one of Africa’s prettiest birds again.

View the full South Africa 2021 Birds gallery (103 photos) in the archive.

Also see: South Africa 2021 Wildlife & Scenery

Stay tuned for Part 3: Big cats!

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