Different species of birds migrate for different reasons. One of the main reasons why South African birds migrate is to breed. Migratory birds migrate to their breeding grounds up north in Africa, or even further north into Europe. Some of our birds migrate as far as Russia and the far East to breed.
The other reason birds migrate is to move from areas with low or decreasing resources to areas where food is more abundant.
We spoke to Marc Cronje, an international bird guide to find out more about South African migratory birds and their fascinating journeys. More than 100 migratory bird species have been recorded in southern Africa, with 44 Palearctic migrant species (Europe, Asia, northern Africa as well as the northern and central parts of the Arabian Peninsula) and 35 Intra-African migrant species recorded in South Africa.
Most of South Africa’s migratory species will start arriving in the beginning of August. Yellow-billed Kites are some of the first species to arrive (August) and most of the migrants are present from September to February / March. A few species like the Southern Carmine Bee-eater will only show up in the Kruger National Park in December.
Some of the well-known migratory species in the Lowveld are:
- Lesser-striped Swallows: arrive towards the end of July
- Yellow-billed Kites: arrive in August
- The Woodland Kingfisher: arrive in November
- Sandpipers – Wood and Common will arrive September / October- some arrive over winter in northern parts of the Kruger National Park
- The Cuckoos (Diederik, Red-chested, Klaas, Black, African Emerald): arrive October / November
- European Bee-eaters mainly arrive in October from their breeding grounds in Spain and Portugal
- European Rollers arrive mostly in November, also from Spain and southern Europe
Most of the migratory species will leave South Africa by March / April.
Marc recently led a birding tour in Uganda and noted that it was particularly interesting to see the huge flocks of Yellow-billed Kites heading south. The group also spotted the migrant Sandpipers that have returned to Uganda already.
A fair amount of our birds are intra-African migrants, which means they migrate into East, Central and West Africa. A few of our species, like the Warblers, migrate to South Africa from Europe and sometimes even as far as parts of the United Kingdom. The Barn Swallows migrate to Europe and parts of Asia. The Steppe Buzzard is a summer migrant that is often spotted in the Lowveld. They leave their breeding grounds, which extend from eastern Europe to Siberia, in September and early October and start to arrive in the Lowveld late October / November.
The insect-eating Amur Falcon breeds in Northern China and south-eastern Siberia, migrating to southern Africa to escape the harsh winters of its home habitat. The Amur Falcon travels one of the longest migration routes of all the bird species – approximately 3800km.
White Storks breed in Europe and Asia and migrate to southern Africa via the Middle East to enjoy an African summer, while the Lesser Kestrel breeds in central Asia, wintering in central and southern Africa.
Migratory birds are not the only ones enjoying South African temperatures. Be like these birds and trade the harsh Gauteng and highveld winters for the much warmer Lowveld winters. The Lowveld enjoys warm summers and moderate winter temperatures so there’s no need to migrate.
Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate is a wildlife residential estate situated between White River and Mbombela in the heart of the Lowveld. Many people flock to the bushveld in winter, but residents at this sought-after estate get to experience carefree bushveld living every day of the year. Residents share the 765-hecatre Lowveld bushveld with free roaming giraffe, zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, sable and more than 200 species of birds.
Marc Cronje resides in the Lowveld, but travels both nationally and internationally to lead bird watching tours. He leads a couple of bird watching walks at Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate every year. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for all the details about upcoming walks.
Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate incorporates an income generating macadamia orchard on the property for the benefit of all homeowners. This innovative new concept in estate management is what sets Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate apart from other wildlife residential estates.
The location of the estate is unique in that you have nature on your doorstep, and convenience around the corner! It’s the best of both worlds where one can enjoy the best of estate living without compromising on convenience. White River is a 15-minute drive from the estate and the distance to Mbombela (Nelspruit) is approximately 25km. Both towns boast excellent public and private schools, tertiary education institutions, medical facilities, and shopping centres to name a few.
A huge drawing card for frequent travelers is that the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) is only 12km from Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate. KMIA offers flights to and from destinations like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Livingstone, and will soon commence with direct flights between Frankfurt and Mbombela through Eurowings Discover, Lufthansa group’s leisure carrier.
Blyde River Canyon
Why not make the Lowveld the destination for your family’s next holiday? The area is rich in culture with a variety of adventures, activities, and sightseeing opportunities for the whole family. The quality lifestyle offered by this beautiful part of our country is unrivalled and it won’t take long to realise why so many people are trading their busy lives in larger cities for a more tranquil lifestyle in smaller towns like White River.
Be sure to get in touch with one of our Estate Agents if you are in the area and would like to view Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate and the property for sale by appointment.
One hectare stands for sale at Likweti Views
Picturesque one-hectare stands with beautiful views of the Lowveld are now selling from R1,1m at Likweti Views.