South Africa Trip, Day 18. Cape Town Area: Blue Cranes and Black Harriers

Kimberly Writes: Today, we had the distinct pleasure of birding with Callan Cohen, owner of Birding Africa Tours, and one of the authors of the Southern Africa Birdfinder guide! Our dear friend Ethan Kistler works for Callan, and together with Ethan's girlfriend Billi Krochuk, we spent the day in some really superb birding spots. If you're interested in a trip to Africa focused on birds, I highly recommend this company!

When we started out this morning, I mentioned three species we really hoped to see: Black Harrier, Blue Crane, and Verreaux's Eagle. And with impressive precision, Ethan and Callan found us all three, plus so many more amazing birds (and some mind-blowing insects, too)!

Blue Cranes are among the most elegant birds I've ever seen. With soft, curving lines, elongated wing feathers that flow behind the bird like jet-black ribbons, dancing and swaying in the breeze, and movements graceful enough for the finest ballet, it isn't hard to understand why this is the national bird of South Africa!

After enjoying great views of several Blue Cranes, we made a very special discovery. 
Look closely at the bird's feet. What do you see?!?!

Just when you thought you'd seen every cute baby animal in South Africa...
BOOM, a Blue Cranelet!  It's hard to imagine that this adorable little bundle of fluff will grow up to be one of the loveliest birds in the world!

Here's a short video I shot of the crane family.
You can hear the adults calling those supremely wild, haunting notes.

Black Harrier
Photographed from a long distance, but even so, you can see what a dramatic and impressive figure they cut as they power through the air.

It was a long distance view, but there are two Verreaux's Eagles perched at the base of this green bush. Verreaux's Eagles are birds of mountains, where they feed mainly on Rock Hyrax, which are a bit like huge Guinea Pigs.

This stunning European Bee-eater posed for us  in the most scrumptious 
light and in the perfect setting on a strand of barbed-wire.

I just had to include this image of the extraordinary Koppie Foam Grasshopper that Callan found for us! Not only is this thing colored like a mad entomological fantasy, it's also HUGE! These grasshoppers are highly toxic, able to ooze a noxious foam when threatened, and apprently their venom can kill something as large as a small dog, EGADS! But, oh boy, what a gorgeous grasshopper!

This was our last full day in South Africa, and I can't think of a better way to spend this precious time than seeing wonderful birds with great friends. Our flight doesn't leave until early evening, so we're going to try and spend our last few precious hours outside tomorrow, so we might have a few bonus photos to share!  


  1. Great posting, beautiful pictures about South Africa Trip, Day 18. Cape Town Area: Blue Cranes and Black Harriers, thank you for sharing

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Rinjani! It was an amazing trip, and it's so fun to share it with people through our blog! Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. We appreciate it very much!


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