Summer is a time for birds to begin their annual courtship and for many this involves relocating to make advantage of improved resources. The stunning African Paradise Flycatcher is an example of an intra-African migrant which spends the winter in areas north of South Africa but makes its way to the Kruger area when the insects peak during the summer. It is one of the most beautiful birds to be found in the area with male developing long tail streamers as a means of attracting a mate and showing off his genetics. Their bright orange feathers and striking blue facial features light up the bushveld like a beacon as they dart between the branches looking for small insects.
During the height of the summer, the paradise flycatchers construct delicate open cup nests using small twigs. However, these miniature architects utilize the natural resources in the bush to stabilize and camouflage its nest. They collect spider silk and then use it to attach the nest to the branch and as a form of glue to attach lichen and leaves to the outside. Predatory birds and snakes constitute the main threats to the chicks and the former hunts almost exclusively by sight, therefore avoiding detection is paramount.
The chicks will only be provided for for approximately 2 weeks before they leave the nest but will commonly associate with the parents until the next clutch is produced. Therefore, to actually capture the event of adults feeding the chicks is a rare thing indeed. Martin, a guide at Sabi Sabi’s Selati Camp was lucky enough to locate a nest and was delighted to find that the parents were busy tending to their new arrivals. Due to the nest’s proximity to the lodge, the habituation levels of the birds allowed Martin to get some great shots of this intimate moment. Selati’s position amongst the dense vegetation on the banks of the Msuthlu riverbed provides a haven for birdlife and is a delight for any twitcher visiting this remarkable corner of Africa’s Eden.
by: Ben Coley (Bush Lodge Ranger)
images by: Martin Frollick (Selati Camp Ranger)