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06 March, 2023

Nik Vounnou reaches an amazing birding milestone

Royal Malewane

Nik Vounnou’s birding list now contains 800 names.

According to BirdLife South Africa, 856 species of bird have been recorded in the region. That’s out of a global estimate of some 10 000 species. On any given day, you might see 5 – 10 species in your garden, while on safari at Royal Malewane you could see a few dozen over the course of your perfect stay. Having one of our expert Guides with you will certainly make a difference.
Speaking of experts, congratulations are due to Royal Malewane Guide and dedicated ‘twitcher’ Nik Vounnou who recently notched up his 800th different species in southern Africa. While on a birding trip at Thohoyandu in the far north of South Africa’s Limpopo Province (and close to the border with Zimbabwe), he identified a blue-spotted wood dove (Turtur afer) – a type of small pigeon that most authorities regard as being absent from southern Africa (although it is abundant elsewhere in Africa).

You may well have seen the closely related Emerald-spotted wood dove in South Africa, but almost certainly not the bird that Nik tracked down. Although they are superficially similar, the colour of the dots on the wings is a dead giveaway.

Fall in love with birding at Royal Malewane

As a Guide at Royal Malewane, Nik has not only racked up an impressive bird list, but he’s also helped many of our guests do the same. We often find that while people are not especially interested in birds when they arrive here, spending time with Nik or our other Guides and Trackers can soon turn them into dedicated birders.
You may not always be in sight of one of the Big Five, but the chances are that there will always be a bird or two to watch. The sheer variety of colours, shapes and sizes and behaviours of the birds in the Greater Kruger can keep you entertained and fascinated for hours.

Birds are the closest living relatives to the dinosaurs, so they’re a link to the past. Thanks to passionate birders like Nik and the way they raise awareness of bird conservation challenges, we can look forward to a future in which all 856 species of southern African bird can flourish, from the tiny bronze mannikin to the impressive ostrich.
As for Nik, he still has around 50 elusive birds to tick off on his list. Of the birds he’s not yet spotted in the region, the one he most wants to see is the green tinkerbird (found in the forests of Mozambique), while within the Greater Kruger, his priority is the green sandpiper, a summer migrant from Europe.
To add more ‘lifers’ to your list contact us to enquire about Royal Malewane.

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