Verraux Eagle Owl With Prey

Turn your eyes to the sky in search of Okonjima's winged residents

Birding safari

The essence of a Birding safari

The sandstone outcrops of the Omboroko Mountains and the sandy highlands between the main escarpments have helped mixed woodlands to develop, enticing myriad avian life to populate the grounds, trees and airspace of Okonjima Nature Reserve, as opposed to the surrounding thornveld grasslands. With its massive plains, vast meadows, lush forests and deep lakes, the park and its surroundings are home to over 250 migratory and native bird species. These lushly forested lands create a magnificent setting for photographs of the technicoloured birdlife that dominates the landscape.

The key areas to witness the park’s graceful, feathered inhabitants are in and around the Leopard Trail, the leadwood trees, and the park’s watering holes. Witness the mating ritual of the red crested korhaan, as it plummets 25 metres (82 feet) towards the ground, effortlessly lifting its large frame mere centimetres away from the treacherous earth. This aerial display is actively used to announce territory and in courtship, with the korhaan proudly displaying its red crest and black belly to willing females.

The massive giant or Verraux’s eagle owl is a fierce predator, over 3 kilograms (7 pounds) in weight, mercilessly preying on the korhaan, secretary birds and even small, unaware deer. Alternatively, search for the minute pearl spotted owlet, under 100 grams, nesting contentedly in tree holes excavated by barbets or woodpeckers. Marvel at the unprecedented genius of the sandgrouse as they dip their plumage into watering holes prior to taking off, capturing droplets between their feathers that they use to water their chicks, securely placed in high nests. Witness the brisk shadows of birds flying overhead, their sharp features perfectly outlined by the African sun. Wander across the park, using the winged silhouettes of birds to guide your tour and discover a different, and completely animated, world in the skies.

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