Why I Love Birding In The Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park Birding

Why do I love birding so much? Many people have asked me this, especially from a young age. I fell in love with birding at a very young age in 2001. I have to thank my Aunt and late Uncle for introducing me into this fascinating World of bird life. My Uncle Bill and Aunty Anne from England were the antagonists for this obsession of mine.

They came on a holiday to South Africa from Nottingham in England when I was 12. The first thing they did was buy a bird book at the airport. I thought they were crazy! We were going to take them to the Eastern Cape and the Kruger National Park in August that year… Surely they wanted to see animals? At my age then you can understand I had very little understanding or interest in birding, unless it was a big raptor. Little did I know then, that they would have a significant impact on my life as a nature lover.

Our trip to the Eastern Cape was great, and I often sat on the balcony with them, trying to find out why they like birds so much. We then saw a Bush Shrike and I was amazed. The colour on this bird was amazing, and the call it made from the thickets in the garden was spectacular. I think that’s when I started to enjoy bird watching. I remember playing cricket on the beach with my Uncle Bill, watching the Cape Gulls and White-fronted Sand Plovers forage. This was starting to become my thing.

Then, back at home, after the Eastern Cape Trip, I heard what they saw in our garden and was amazed. Thirty bird species in a few days… I was now more excited to visit the Kruger National Park more than I have ever had been. As my father’s book says, “The Kruger Is Far More Than The Big 5”, and that is definitely the case. I laid my eyes on my first Lilac-breasted Roller and Burchell’s Coucal, and that is when everything officially kicked in. I love birding! We stayed at Skukuza, and managed to see over 150 bird species during our trip. I won’t forget it.

At the end of their South African trip, they left me their bird book, with all the bird species they saw, I still have it, what a memento. They are the reason I fell in love with birding, and I cannot thank them enough for it… And, that is why I love birding!

Rest in peace Uncle Bill, and thank you for the amazing gift of birding you handed to me…

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