Intriguing nooks and crannies and abundant gardens, plantings and playing fields offer excellent opportunities for birding at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

 

Three months have passed since Vilis and I left our home in Nova Scotia, Canada, to spend six months in South Africa. We’ve spent much of that three-month period in Grahamstown, and in particular, on the Rhodes University campus, where we’re based. The sprawling campus, with its many intriguing nooks and crannies and its abundant gardens, plantings  and playing fields, offers a variety of micro-habitats for birds. I’ve explored nearly every bit of campus while birding at Rhodes University and have so far recorded more than sixty species.

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Rhodes University Chapel (© Magi Nams)

Rhodes University Chapel (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: African Hoopoe (Upupa africana) (© Magi Nams)

African Hoopoe (Upupa africana) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus) (© Magi Nams)

Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) (© Magi Nams)

Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: King Field, Rhodes University (© Magi Nams)

King Field, Rhodes University (© Magi Nams)

On my early morning birding walks, I scan King Field for Hadeda ibises and yellow-billed egrets. I hike uphill to the weedy patch beside the highest residences to look for streaky-headed seed-eaters and various species of canaries. I check out the lawn and shrubs adjacent to a ravine bordering campus and often spot fiscal flycatchers and seed-loving bishops and widowbirds.

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Olive Thrush (Turdus olivaceus) (© Magi Nams)

Olive Thrush (Turdus olivaceus) (© Magi  Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Dark-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus tricolor) (© Magi Nams)

Dark-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus tricolor) (© Magi Nams)

Hedges and dense plantings yield sightings of thrushes and gloriously iridescent sunbirds. The tile-roofed buildings provide perches for speckled pigeons, laughing doves, red-winged and European starlings and rock martins. Shade trees are frequented by orioles and insane-sounding Cape weavers, the males of which build pendulous nests that dangle from the ends of the finest twigs.

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Riparian Woodland on Rhodes University Campus (© Magi Nams)

Riparian Woodland on Rhodes University Campus (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Cape Weaver Male (Ploceus capensis) and Nest (© Magi Nams)

Cape Weaver Male (Ploceus capensis) and Incomplete Nest (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Rhodes University Residence (© Magi Nams)

Rhodes University Residence (© Magi Nams)

In essence, anywhere you look on campus, you’ll find birds – a wonderful array of species having different shapes, sizes, colours and lifestyles.

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix) (© Magi Nams)

Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix) (© Magi Nams)

Now that spring has arrived and migrants are returning to Eastern Cape, my tally of “lifers” increases nearly every day. Just this morning, I added greater striped swallow to my list. As well, the males of some resident species, such as southern red bishop, yellow bishop and red-collared widowbird, are moulting into their flamboyant breeding plumages. Although those males are rather untidy now, they’ll soon be a feast for the eye, as are so many other species I’ve seen while birding at Rhodes University.

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Greater Double-collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris afer) (© Magi Nams)

Greater Double-collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris afer) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Speckled Pigeons (Columba guinea) (© Magi Nams)

Speckled Pigeons (Columba guinea) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Cape Robin-chat (Cossypha caffra) (© Magi Nams)

Cape Robin-chat (Cossypha caffra) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Rhodes University: Amethyst Sunbird Male (Chalcomitra amethystina) (© Magi Nams)

Amethyst Sunbird Male (Chalcomitra amethystina) (© Magi Nams)

 

 

Please share this post.Share on Facebook
Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.