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Kambaku | Blog | Blog | The feathered friends of the Timbavati: bird sightings you don’t want to miss out on for anything

The feathered friends of the Timbavati: bird sightings you don’t want to miss out on for anything

The feathered friends of the Timbavati: bird sightings you don’t want to miss out on for anything

Grey headed bush shrike @lydia5133

Did you know that South Africa is home to about a tenth of the bird species found worldwide? This makes our national parks an exceptional area for avid birders, as well as people here to enjoy the other diverse animal species that make up our rich biome. Kambaku Lodges offer superlative bird viewing for eager twitchers, and you’ll soon find our luxury accommodation on the Timbavati nature reserve is the perfect home base to spot feathery treasures.

Is the Timbavati a good area for birding?

The Timbavati is actually one of the best areas in South Africa for exceptional birding. Well over 350 bird species (of the 500 total Greater Kruger species) have been recorded in the area. While game lodges in the Timbavati tend to focus in on the ever-popular African mammals you’ll find here, serious birders will also find themselves dazzled and delighted, and we’d happily call it a birder’s paradise. During the migratory season, there’s some added beauty in the common visitors to the area, too. The distances roamed by these tiny creatures is remarkable! November to April sees birds arriving from all over Europe, Asia and the Americas to enjoy the African sunshine.

While the Timbavati river can be little more than a riverbed for most of the hot summers, you’ll find the flora there trends towards a mixed woodland that’s highly attractive to birds. That’s not to say you won’t encounter some spectacular winged sightings in the open plain too, however! In short, keep your eyes peeled- and your camera’s ready- wherever you roam, because a spectacular avian sighting can come at any moment.

More about the Greater Kruger’s unique bird species

So what treats await you as you explore the Timbavati with your Kambaku guide?

Southern Carmine bee-eater

This common migrant to the area makes a spectacular sighting, flocking in droves to areas of both South Africa and Namibia in the summer to dig deep nests and nurture their young. This spectacular mass migration is a favourite for photographers, especially as males will often ‘dogfight’ each other in spectacular aerial battles to impress the ladies.


Southern Carmine bee-eater
Instagram @wildeyeview

Grey-headed bush shrike

Grey headed bush shrike @lydia5133
Grey headed bush shrike
Instagram @lydia5133

The largest bush-shrike in our region and is known as the “Ghostbird” because of its mournful, haunting cry an iconic sound of the African bush.

The Pallid Harrier


Pallid Harrier Male
IMAGE: Prasanna Kumar Mamidala

If you spot a Pallid Harrier in the Timbavati, you know you’ve had a special treat. In fact, SAN parks, in conjunction with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, have actually asked for sightings of these rare and special birds to be reported to them, with notes on the date, time and specific location. They’re building a database on these unique animals, along with some species that might be found in other Kruger areas, for future scientific study. This migratory bird of prey hunts small mammals, lizards and other birds, and can sometimes be spotted looping in lazy circles as it scouts its prey.

These are far from the only spectacular sightings you can expect. The African spoonbill, Chinspot batis, Dideric cuckoo, collared pratincole, Harlequin  quail, Horus swift, Little bittern, plain-backed sunbird, Southern black flycatcher and Monagu’s harrier all call the Timbavati home too.

When is the best time to come to Safari lodges in the Timbavati specifically for birding?

For general wildlife viewing, the dry months of June to September are usually most recommended. If you’re keen to see all the beauty of the bush, this can be a good time to travel, and you’ll still have some magnificent bird encounters. From Nov to April, however, is prime birding season if that’s your sole focus for the trip. It’s the time of year our migratory birds arrive.

If you’re keen to make the very most of your birding experience, consider taking one of our specialised photographic safaris. These enhanced game drives combine the expertise of a guide with the keen eye of a wildlife photography specialist. Don’t just discover the birds of the bush- immortalise them forever.

Africa’s wildlife wealth shows in the gorgeous birds that play in the skies overhead. The Timbavati game reserve is prime for a birding experience, and with the luxurious accommodation of the Kambaku Lodges open to you, the holiday of your dreams awaits you.