This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most significant bird protection law in history. To celebrate the occasion, National Geographic have named 2018 the ‘Year of the Bird,’ and are encouraging nature lovers worldwide to do the same. The scheme aims to raise awareness of bird protection initiatives and the increasing loss of natural habitat.
As a National Geographic Lodge, Bushmans Kloof is thoroughly committed to caring for and protecting its local South African birdlife, which includes a staggering 150 varieties. From fairy flycatchers to the grey-winged francolin, these are some of the species that budding birders can expect to spot at Bushmans Kloof.
Native to southern Africa, the Cape Batis is most at home in wooded areas or mountain forests. Small but with an eye-catching pattern, with grey, black, brown and white stripes, these birds live off insects and make compact nests in bushes or low levels of trees.
The wonderfully named fairy flycatcher uses the fynbos as its breeding ground before migrating north. It can be spotted thanks to its black eye mask and long white stripes on its wings and tail, and tends to stick with one mate throughout its lifetime. Expect to glimpse the fairy flycatcher alone or in small groups.
Keen on the shrublands and grasslands that surround Bushmans Kloof, the Ant-eating Chat keeps itself close to the ground, where its prey – ants and termites – can be found. A sociable breed, ant-eating chats also nest in the ground, digging their own nests in the burrows of other animals such as mongoose and aardvarks.
Similar to a pheasant or partridge, the grey-winged francolin is most likely to be spotted in grassland, nibbling on bulbs and roots. Adorned with grey freckles, it’s a rather sedentary bird but its young tend to be more active.
Classed as an African warbler, the Cape grassbird is a resident of the fynbos and is recognisable thanks to its jingling, nasal song. You’re likely to glimpse it either alone or in a pair.
Cape Clapper Lark
The fynbos is also the habitat of choice for the Cape clapper lark, which is so called due to the way it claps its wings when it flies. Cape clapper larks are fairly shy by nature, meaning they may prove trickier to locate, but can sometimes be seen searching for insects and seeds.
Known as both the large-billed lark and thick-billed lark, these birds create their nests on the ground, where they also forage for ants, termites and other insects. Bushman’s Kloof’s combination of high altitude grasslands and fynbos make it an ideal habitat for the large-billed lark.
Southern Double-collared Sunbird
This dazzlingly colourful bird is a long established resident of the Western Cape. Visitors may well spot it taking nectar from the flowers of the fynbos and it’s known for its meticulously made closed nests, fashioned using plants stuck together with spider webs and snugly lined with a mixture of feathers and wool.
Found in shrubland and woodland in South Africa, the diminutive grey tit is recognisable to birders thanks to it grey body and black head with a white stripe below the eye. Favouring caterpillars for sustenance, grey tits are also partial to fruit and spiders.
Happiest on rocky hillsides or mountainous regions, Layard’s tit-babblers are both vocal and curious. A forager of fruit, seeds and insects, you’re most likely to see one flitting around the surroundings of Bushmans Kloof in search of some food.
Admire the best of the Cederberg’s birdlife on an expert-led Nature Drive at Bushman’s Kloof.
Image credits: Lead image © Red Carnation Hotels. Cape Batis © iStock/leopardinatree. Fairy Flycatcher © istock/Tersius. Ant-eating Chat © iStock/THEGIFT777. Grey-winged Francolin © iStock/Binty. Cape Grassbird © iStock/Binty. Cape Clapper Lark © iStock/aaprophoto. Large-billed Lark © iStock/aaprophoto. Southern Double-collared Sunbird © iStock/RobMousley.