Birders visiting Shamwari Private Game Reserve this Birding Big Day (Saturday 27 November) will have a substantial advantage. Jéan Taute, senior ranger at Shamwari Private Game Reserve and experienced birder will host the weekend.

Six of South Africa’s eight biomes occur at Shamwari, providing incredible biodiversity which, in turn, attracts 275 species on the reserve’s official bird list, but Jéan believes more than 300 bird species visit Shamwari.

Large tracts of grassland and savanna draw LBJ’s as well as raptors such as Martial Eagles and Secretarybirds. The splendid colours of Knysna Turacos, Narina Trogons, and Crowned Eagles fill the forests on the reserve while the woodlands hold the ruddy morph of Olive Bushshrikes and enigmatic Knysna Woodpecker.  Mountains towards the north of the reserve also has pockets of fynbos, where the proteas attract Cape Sugarbirds and Malachite Sunbird.

The white-fronted Bee Eater pictured at Shamwari by Jéan Taute

One of the highlights to look forward to is the Red-billed Oxpecker.  Before the Shamwari conservation project began 25 years ago, arsenic-based dips, which local farmers used to keep parasites off their cattle, wiped out all the oxpeckers in the area.

After explaining the consequences of the practice and farmers agreeing they would stop using these dips, the birds were reintroduced.

Dr. Johan Joubert, Shamwari’s wildlife vet, recalls how when they first landed on the reserve’s rhinos and started pecking the ticks, the big animals stampeded because they’d never before encountered oxpeckers.

The Shamwari Big Birding Day 2021 provides South African birders with an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy a three-day ornithological safari at one of Africa’s top private game reserves for R4 150 per person per night sharing.

The itinerary

  • Friday 26 November

1300 Arrive

1330 Lunch

1530 Afternoon Tea

1600 Afternoon birding/ game drive

1900 Return for early dinner

  • Saturday 27 November

0330 Wake-up call

0400 Birding drive departs

0900 Breakfast in the bush

1300 Lunch

1430 Off-site birding visit to the coast or afternoon birding on the reserve

2000 Boma dinner

2130 Night drive for nocturnal species

  • Sunday 28 November

0500 Wake-up call

0530 Birding/ game drive at leisure

0930 Boma/ bush breakfast and award ceremony for most birds recorded

1100 Checkout