The Birdlife

Bird Watching Safari

Covering an area of 720 km≤, Madikwe Game Reserve is an impressive piece of Marico bushveld.
Due to its size, a minimum of two days is required to see a fair cross-section of the South African bird species which are present in Madikwe.

A weekend bird watching safari during the summer months may be expected to render 190 to 210 bird species out of the 313 species recorded to date, and, during the winter months, 120 to 130 species.

Besides good birding, one is likely to encounter a fair range of larger African game. The area is also of great cultural interest, with the old school building where Herman Charles Bosman taught in the reserve, and the outline of Abjaterskop looming just beyond the western boundary.

Special Bird Species

Madikwe Game Reserve is a good place to see many dry north-western species. Yellow-throated sandgrouse are resident on the plains, and are usually present in large numbers. Other bird species regularly recorded on the plains include

  • Kori bustard
  • Temminck's Courser
  • White Stork
  • Doublebanded Courser
  • Burchell's Courser
  • Bronzewinged Courser (a regular summer visitor to the wooded areas)
  • Pied Babbler (frequently heard rather than seen due to the dense bush)
  • Barred Warbler (if you are familiar with the almost supersonic call)

Habitats of Bird Species

The predominant habitat is typical dry acacia woodland, with severe Dichrostachys encroachment in many areas.

Other habitats include old cultivated lands (the so-called Madikwe Plains), riverine bush, koppies, and both small and large bodies of water. A section of the Molatedi Dam falls within the reserve boundaries, although this section has not yet been incorporated into the fenced area of the reserve.

Bird Species found in Madikwe

A visit to the Madikwe Plains is a must during the early morning or late afternoon, where many of the specials are to be found.
Following good rains, large numbers of quail are to be seen, amongst them the

  • Common Quail
  • Harlequin Quail
  • Kurrichane Buttonquail
  • Corncrake (in wet years)

Access may however be difficult at these times, due to the predominance of heavy black clay in the area.

Large numbers of larks are usually present

  • Chestnutbacked Finchlark
  • Grey-backed Finchlark (occasionally)
  • Melodious Lark
  • Redcapped Lark
  • Rufousnaped Lark

There are five pans on the Plains, which are excellent spots at any time of day, but particularly in the evening and early morning when the sandgrouse congregate.

The Marico River is fringed by dense bush thickets and tall riverine vegetation and is a good place to look for African Finfoot and for exercising one's warbler identification skills. Among the species that occur are the

  • Icterine Warbler
  • Olive Tree Warbler
  • Garden Warbler
  • Whitethroat

Madikwe is a good place for raptors. Those raptors which are regularly sighted include:

  • African Fish Eagle
  • African Hawk Eagle
  • Bateleur
  • Black Eagle
  • Black-breasted Snake Eagle
  • Brown Snake Eagle
  • Lesser Spotted Eagle (infrequent)
  • Martial Eagle
  • Steppe Eagle (infrequent)
  • Tawny Eagle
  • Wahlberg's Eagle
  • Cape Vulture
  • Lappetfaced Vulture
  • White-backed Vulture

A visit to the Molatedi dam wall, which is outside the park, is often rewarded with good sightings of various raptors, especially during migration seasons. Occasionally seen hunting over the plains are

  • Montaguís Harriers
  • Pale Chanting Goshawks
  • Gabar Goshawks
  • other Accipiters

Bluecheeked Bee-eaters are regularly seen at Tshukudu and other dams during the summer months, while Swallowtailed Bee-eaters regularly frequent the open woodland areas.

Pied Babbler and Barred Warbler are commonest in the central and eastern parts of the reserve, and are found in similar habitat to the colourful Melba Finch, fire finches and waxbills.

Seed eaters are well-represented in all parts of the reserve. A visit to any of the waterholes on the plains during the hot part of the day should be rewarded by good sightings of many seed and insect eaters. Amongst others, the following are resident:

  • All 5 species of Southern African sparrow
  • 5 bunting species
  • Pin-tailed Whydah
  • Shaft-tailed Whydah
  • Paradise Whydah

Come and experience the ultimate bird watching safari in our species-rich South African nature reserve.

Checklist of South African Bird Species

The complete Madikwe Game Reserves bird species checklist as of September 1997 is as follows:

Ostrich, Dabchick, Whitebreasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Darter, Grey Heron, Black-headed Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Squacco Heron, Green-backed Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Dwarf Bittern, Hamerkop, White Stork, Abdim's Stork, Marabou Stork, Yellow-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Hadeda Ibis, African Spoonbill, Lesser Flamingo, White-faced Duck, Fulvous duck, Egyptian Goose, South African Shelduck, Yellow-billed Duck, African Black Duck, Red-billed Teal, Garganey, Southern Pochard, Knob-billed Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Maccoa Duck, Secretary bird, Cape Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Yellow-billed Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Martial Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Black-breasted Snake Eagle, Bateleur, Fish Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Lizard Buzzard, Ovambo Sparrow-hawk, Little Sparrow-hawk, Banded Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Pale Chanting Goshawk, African Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Gymnogene, Peregrine Falcon, Lanner Falcon, European Hobby, Eastern Red-footed Kestrel, Rock Kestrel, Greater Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Coqui Francolin, Crested Francolin, Natal Francolin, Swainson's Francolin, Common Quail, Harlequin Quail, Helmeted Guineafowl, Kurrichane Buttonquail, Corn Crake, Black Crake, Moorhen, Redknobbed Coot, African Finfoot, Kori Bustard, Red-crested Korhaan, Black Korhaan, Old World Painted Snipe, Three-banded Plover, Crowned Plover, Blacksmith Plover, Wattled Plover, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Little Stint, Ruff, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Spotted Dikkop, Burchell's Courser, Temminck's Courser, Double-banded Courser, Bronze-winged Courser, Black-winged Pratincole, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Rock Pigeon, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Laughing Dove, Namaqua Dove, Jacobin Cuckoo, Klaas's Cuckoo, Diederick Cuckoo, Burchell's Coucal, Barn Owl, Grass Owl, Marsh Owl, African Scops Owl, White-faced Owl, Pearl-spotted Owl, Spotted Eagle Owl, Giant Eagle Owl, European Nightjar, Fiery-necked Nightjar, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Freckled Nightjar, European Swift, African Black Swift, White-rumped Swift, Little Swift, Alpine Swift, Palm Swift, Red-faced Mousebird, Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Grey-hooded Kingfisher, Striped Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Carmine Bee-eater, Little Bee-eater, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, European Roller, Lilac-breasted Roller, Purple Roller, African Hoopoe, Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, Scimitar-billed Wood Hoopoe, Grey hornbill, Red-billed Hornbill, Yellow-billed Hornbill, Black-collared Barbet, Pied Barbet, Yellow-fronted Tinker Barbet, Crested Barbet, Greater Honey Guide, Lesser Honey Guide, Sharp-billed Honey Guide, Bennet's Woodpecker, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Cardinal Woodpecker, Bearded Wooodpecker, Melodious Lark, Monotonous Lark, Rufous-naped Lark, Flappet Lark, Sabota Lark, Dusky Lark, Red-capped Lark, Chestnut-backed Finchlark, Grey-backed Finchlark, European Swallow, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Red-breasted Swallow, Greater Striped Swallow, Lesser Striped Swallow, Rock Martin, House Martin, Black Cuckoo Shrike, Fork-tailed Drongo, European Golden Oriole, Black-headed Oriole, Pied Crow, Black Crow, Ashy Grey Tit, Southern Black Tit, Cape Penduline Tit, Arrow-marked Babbler, Pied Babbler, Red-eyed Bulbul, Black-eyed Bulbul, Kurrichane Thrush, Olive Thrush, Ground-scraper Thrush, Cape Rock Thrush, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Familiar Chat, Mocking Chat, Ant-eating Chat, Stone Chat, White-throated Robin, White-browed Robin, Kalahari Robin, Garden Warbler, White-throat, Tit Babbler, Icterine Warbler, Olive Tree Warbler, European Marsh Warbler, Willow Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, Long-billed Crombec, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Bleating Warbler, Barred Warbler, Fan-tailed Cisticola, Desert Cisticola, Tinkling Cisticola, Rattling Cisticola, Lazy Cisticola, Neddicky, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Black-chested Prinia, Spotted Flycatcher, Fantailed Flycatcher, Black Flycatcher, Marico Flycatcher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Chinspot Batis, Fairy Flycatcher, Paradise Flycatcher, Cape Wagtail, Grassveld Pipit, Long-billed Pipit, Buffy Pipit, Striped Pipit, Bushveld Pipit, Lesser Grey Shrike, Fiscal Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, Southern Boubou, Crimson-breasted Boubou, Puffback, Brubru, Three-streaked Tchagra, Blackcrowned Tchagra, Orange-breasted Bush Shrike, Grey-headed Bush Shrike, White Helmet Shrike, White-crowned Shrike, Wattled Starling, Plum-coloured Starling, Burchell's Starling, Glossy Starling, Red-winged Starling, Red-billed Oxpecker, Marico Sunbird, White-bellied Sunbird, African Black Sunbird, Cape White-eye, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, House Sparrow, Great Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Grey-headed Sparrow, Yellow-throated Sparrow, Scaly-feathered Finch, Spotted-backed Weaver, Masked Weaver, Lesser Masked Weaver, Redheaded Weaver, Red-billed Quelea, Golden Bishop, White-winged Widow, Melba Finch, Jameson's Firefinch, Red-billed Firefinch, Blue Waxbill, Voilet-eared Waxbill, Common Waxbill, Black-cheeked Waxbill, Quail Finch, Cutthroat Finch, Redheaded Finch, Pintailed Whydah, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Paradise Whydah, Purple Widowfinch, Steel-blue Widowfinch, Yellow-eyed Canary, Black-throated Canary, Streaky-headed Canary, Golden-breasted Bunting, Cape Bunting, Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, Larklike Bunting.

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