Samango Monkeys & Other Birds – Magoebaskloof

Although we only had one day in the Woodbush Forest and we spent most of it on the Grey-headed Parrots, we still managed to see some other birds and the elegant Samango Monkey!  Kurisa Moya has a bird list.

This Olive Woodpecker was in the same tree as the Grey-headed Parrots.

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After the Grey-headed Parrots, Narina Trogons and any Turacos were next on my wish-list so David did his best to find them.  We did hear them but never saw them.

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I think this is a Dark-backed Weaver


These Samango Monkeys were a few metres down the road from the Grey-headed Parrots.


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So was this pretty butterfly.


Little Sparrowhawk


We drove around in the forest still hoping for Trogons & Turacos but no luck.



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Either an Amethyst or Malachite Sunbird

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Jackal Buzzard

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Not sure about this raptor.



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The Cape Parrots Of Magoebaskloof

I have already blogged about my encounter with the Cape Parrots in King William’s Town.  This post will be about the Cape Parrots in the Woodbush Forest in Magoebaskloof.

I should mention that there is another similar species found in savannahs further north called Grey-headed Parrots (Poicephalus fuscicollis suahelicus).  They were once a subspecies of Poicephalus robustus but have now been separated out into their own species.  If you look at maps in field guides, it can be very confusing as they aren’t very detailed as to which species is near which town.  Scientific taxonomy is not my field of expertise so I’ll refer you to Dr Steve Boyes’ explanation on Safari Talk.  There are also a number of researchers and biologists in the Cape Parrot Group on Facebook who can help if anyone needs more information.


After a good night’s sleep at Kurisa Moya, David Letsoalo picked us up in his jeep.  There was no way our little car would be up for the bumpy roads in the Woodbush Forest so we paid extra to hire David’s jeep.

I knew it would be interesting to see the birds at a different time of year as the last time it was so foggy, we could barely see the Cape Parrots.  We were lucky this time and the weather was clear.

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This time we didn’t have to hunt around for the parrots.  It was breeding season and David knew exactly where a Cape Parrot family could be found.  He said there were 2 chicks but we only saw one at a time so I can’t say for sure we saw them both, it could have been the same one poking his head out.  He wasn’t fledging age, he was actually a few weeks younger than the King William’s Town youngster.  We were there on 4 Nov 2014 and I was glad I had brought the trip forward.  If we had gone as planned in Sept 2015, the babies would still be in eggs, not nearly as cute as seeing youngsters!

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See the little head poking out!


At this point the parents flew off to get more food leaving the chicks in the nest.  They were gone around 45 minutes so we looked for other birds while waiting for them to return (will blog this part tomorrow).  When the parents returned, the chicks heard them right away and at least one poked his head out in anticipation.  One perched as a sentinel while the other went down to the baby.

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The parent feeding the chicks in the nest.

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I only managed one flight shot.

IMG_3718aNow it was getting later and David said the parents might not be back for awhile so we left the area to look for other birds.  I’ll post those pics tomorrow.


Revisiting Kurisa Moya – Magoebaskloof

It’s rare that we go back to the same place twice, mostly because I just don’t have enough miles to go back to places we have already been to.  We were extremely lucky that this trip to Africa gave us the opportunity to revisit the wonderful Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge in the Magoebaskloof area!  Although I have already done a detailed review on Kurisa Moya, sometimes things change to the point where I would do another one.  I am very happy to say that nothing has changed and that nothing needed to!  The location is amazing and the wonderful birding guide David Letsoalo is still based there.  We even had the same cabin we had the last time which was awesome!

Getting there from JNB was very easy once we figured out how to get on the main highway headed north.  The only difference from last time is that the toll booths in the Jo-burg area are now electronic and you have a beeper in your rental car.  We used Avis after doing a lot of research and were happy with them.  They didn’t mark up the tolls or add a service fee.  They just billed them to my credit card a couple days after we returned the car.  As usual, I did an inspection of the car and took photos to avoid problems when we returned the car.

IMG_3583 IMG_3584The motorway is in excellent condition and we made good time to Polokwane where we stopped for a quick meal and bought food for self catering in our room.  There are a couple supermarkets in town.



The roads pass through several rural villages enroute to Kurisa Moya.

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There are signs to point the way.  Print the detailed directions on their website to make sure you don’t get lost.


The access road leading to the property itself is still a shocker, especially in a sedan car but it’s doable.  Just take it slow.



We arrived at the farmhouse around 5pm and David was waiting for us.  He escorted us back to our cabin and kindly helped me with my backpack.

IMG_3765 IMG_3591It felt like a homecoming to be back in the same cabin!  They even still had the same guestbook I had already signed back in 2009!

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In this photo you can see the loft above the kitchen.  No wifi, you are in the bush!


In April 2009 it was cold enough we needed the stove but this time (Nov 2014) it was warm enough without requiring heating.


This was a quick one-night stay so no time to BBQ.  We were really just stopping by on our way to Madagascar.

IMG_3595David gave us our wake-up time and I set my iPhone.  It was early, around 5am-ish but worth it as you will see in the next post!

Meet David Letsoalo, Top South African Birding Guide

When you are looking for rare bird species, especially in terrain where they can be easily camouflaged, it is essential to have a birding guide who knows the area well and is familiar with the nesting spots and sounds of the targeted species.  If you are birding in the Woodbush Forest of Magoebaskloof, you are in luck as this is the home of the amazing David Letsoalo.


David Letsoalo, BirdLife South Africa-accredited Bird Guide won the Eagle Award for being the best local guide in South Africa.   David is a living legend in the birding world. He has been the focus of numerous magazine and newspaper articles including Die Beeld, Africa Birds and Birding Magazine, Limpopo Living Magazine, The Star Newspaper and Country Life Magazine.  He has also been interviewed for television slots including Kaelo, Miracle Stories on SABC 2, 50/50, Supersports and for BBC3. David is on the BirdLife SA Council, representing the Bird Guides countrywide. He also mentors the Limpopo Guides and assists in training workshops.

The best way to arrange a birding excursion with David is at Kurisa Moya, a stunningly beautiful lodge in Magoebaskloof.  He’s a really nice guy and we greatly enjoyed our birding excursion with him.  We never would have found the Cape Parrots without him!


This is a video interview I did with David back in April 2009.  It’s only a home-made video so the quality isn’t the best but you do get to know more about David, his dedication to conservation, Cape Parrots and even how to pronounce “Magoebaskloof”!