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Birding in Marakele National Park

Arguably the Park’s biggest birding attraction is the largest colony of Cape Vultures in the world (around 800 breeding pairs). However the park is also appealing to birders as it falls within the transition zone between the dry western regions and the moister eastern regions of the country.

Thus it is possible to see certain closely related species alongside one another. These include (eastern species first) Southern Boubou and Crimson-breasted Shrike, Arrow-marked and Southern Pied Babbler, Tawny-flanked and Black-chested Prinia, Pin-tailed and Shaft-tailed Whydah, Dark-capped (Black-eyed) and Red-eyed Bulbul, Grey and Cape Penduline Tit and White-browed and Kalahari Scrub Rob in .

The park is an excellent place to look for raptors, with many species using the uplift generated off the cliff faces of the Waterberg to ride thermals. Apart from the vultures, visitors should look for African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene), Jackal Buz za rd and several eagle species, including Verreaux’s (Black), African Hawk, Black-chested (breasted) Snakeand Brown Snake Eagle. In summer Wahlberg’s Eagle becomes prominent. Rock Kestrel are prominent on the mountain plateau, while Peregrine and Lanner Falcons should be watched for.

On areas of high ground Cape Rock Thrush, Buff Streaked Chat, Mocking Cliff-Chat; Mountain Wheatear, Cape Bunting , MalachiteSunbird, Lazy and Wailing Cisticola, Gurney’s Sugarbirdand Swee Waxbill should be searched for.

Other species to look out for in the lower lying bushveld and broadleaf woodland regions include Purple Roller, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Brubru, Southern White-crowned Shrike and White Crested Helmet-shrike and the exquisite Blue, Violet-eared and Black-cheekedWaxbills. Bee-eaters are conspicuous, particularly White-fronted and Little with Swallow-tailed (winter) and Carmine and European (summer) present as well. The Matlabas River (formerly home to the Tented Camp, but now only accessible from the Hoopdal Road ) can be scanned for signs of Half-collared Kingfisher and African Finfoot. From the relocated tented camp, now called Tlopi, water birds have a different profile. Black Crake may be seen in the rushes just in front of the units. A steady stream of woodland species uses the foliage around the safari tents to drink from the water’s edge. At night Freckled and Fiery-necked Nightjars and Spotted Eagle and African Scops Owl compliment the pulse of crickets and cicadas.

An annual birding census in the park and surrounding farms is organised by the Marakele Honorary Rangers . Check the Big Birding Day link for sightings records and details on how to take part.

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