Grey-headed Parrot (Poicephalus fuscicollis suahelicus)

It seems every time I turn around this bird has a new taxonomy, my head is spinning!  The Brown-necked Parrot (Poicephalus fuscicollis) is a large Poicephalus parrot species endemic to Africa consisting of the savanna-dwelling brown-necked parrot (P. fuscicollis fuscicollis) and grey-headed parrot (P. f. suahelicus) subspecies. It formerly included the Cape parrot (now Poicephalus robustus) as a subspecies before the Cape parrot was re-classified as a distinct species.  Birdlife has the most recent explanation.

These guys are hard to find but if you are lucky you may get a glimpse of them flying overhead to their roosting sites on a Zambezi River cruise.  I did see a couple in the distance but didn’t get a photo so here’s Wikipedia’s pic.

The Birdlife distribution map has all 3 Poicephalus species – Cape, Brown-necked and Grey-headed Parrots.  The Grey-headed Parrots (suahelicus) are in the yellow shaded area with the Zambezi River indicated by the dot.  The easiest access is from Livingstone, Zambia.  We did the Lady Livingstone cruise and birders tend to congregate in the top level near the rear.  One of the staff is an experienced birder (I didn’t get his name but he will notice your camera and binoculars and offer to help) so just ask him to help you find these parrots.  He knows them by their calls.



World Parrot Trust



The Flacks Photography (nice photos of wild birds)


You think it’s hard to get a photo of these guys in the wild, try looking for videos!


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!