Monthly Archives: June 2013

The King 6

Many people come to game reserves to find “The Big 5” and forget the other sometimes more impressive or beautiful little creatures out there. SIBUYA is lucky enough to be home to what I call “The King 6”.

There are 10 KINGFISHER SPECIES found in Southern Africa and 6 of these we find on our part of the estuarine system that flows right through SIBUYA GAME RESERVE. Luckily, the Kariega River is in pristine condition and therefore supports many kinds of fish and crustacean species which allows for us to have a large variety of water birds and other aquatic animals such as the CAPE CLAWLESS OTTER (Aonyx capensis).

Many guests have had the chance of spotting ”The King 6” on the boat cruises or just relaxing at camp on the river. Those with a camera have lots of fun trying to capture ”that ultimate shot” of these striking, brilliantly coloured iridescent blue, orange, chestnut, or black and white birds. An interesting fact about the nesting habits of KINGFISHERS is that they excavate their own tunnels in sandy banks and then line the nesting chamber at the end with the bones, scales or carapaces of their prey.


The Brilliantly coloured Pygmy


and the less colourful Brown-Hooded Kingfishers

Like the name suggests, one would think that the KINGFISHERS are master fishermen but what many people don’t know, is that not all kingfishers eat fish! The non-aquatic AFRICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER (Ispidina picta)… a brilliantly coloured intra-African migrant, is  found mostly far from water as it prefers woodland or forested areas and  feeds mostly on insects, spiders, frogs and lizards.The BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER (Halcyon albiventris) survives almost completely on insects, small snakes and lizards.


A Giant Kingfisher captures a baby terrapin


and a female Pied Kingfisher

A fish-eating species found on the reserve is the shy black, white and chestnut GIANT KINGFISHER (Megaceryle maximus), by far the largest at 43-46cm, in contrast to the tiny Pygmy… like the name states, only being about  12cm high.

The most common of the species found here, is the master fisherman, the PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis) with its beautiful black and white colouration. It is frequently seen hovering over the water before making a splendid dive for its lunch and then slapping its catch around on a convenient rock to kill it or tenderize it before gobbling it down. The male Pied is easily distinguished from the female with his black vest and underline, whereas the female only wears a black bra (two black spots on the shoulder).


The brilliantly coloured Malachite


and Half-Collared Kingfishers

The last two species are my favourite, the brilliant iridescent turquoise-blue of the HALF-COLLARED KINGFISHER (Alcedo semitorquata) and the MALACHITE KINGFISHER (Alcedo cristata) with its red bill are superb sightings along the estuary. As a photographer, I have lots of fun chasing them up and down the river to get that perfect shot!  I’ve included my best photo of each… hope you enjoy the beauty of these birds as much as I do!

Sibuya Game Reserve

Sibuya has recently started team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Apollo’s Rescue

Four BUFFALO calves have been born recently much to our delight. It’s been a real treat to see these tiny little creatures bounding along on still wobbly legs!

Mike called us urgently the other day to say that the newest little member was being “bullied” by the two juvenile RHINO bulls….they were apparently just being very nosey and pushing the little new-born creature around…even rather roughly lifting its hind-legs off the ground! The bullies got discouraged briefly by the large BUFFALO bull charging them but couldn’t resist coming back for more sport…Wisely the buffalo herd moved off as soon as the little ones were strong enough to manage the hike.


The Buffalo calf now fully recovered from its ordeal

While returning on a tractor from a day of bush-clearing for a wedding, at a spectacular view-point, Apollo came across a tiny ZEBRA foal (Equus burchelli) which seemed to be healthy but appeared to have been abandoned. The foal must have been extremely hungry and desperate because it came straight towards the idling tractor, seemingly appealing to him and unafraid of the loud noise. Apollo decided that regretfully he couldn’t really do anything constructive as evening was approaching and he still had a long drive home. He slowly moved off and much to his surprise and delight, the foal followed… A slow three km further, it was still behind him and making vocal attempts to create a “bond” with the tractor or slow it down! At that stage Apollo had to go through a barrier and onto a public road…with regret he took his leave of the now fairly exhausted baby but didn’t feel too bad as there was at least water near-by. He hoped the foal would drink after its long walk. About a km further along his journey he spotted a family group of zebra in the veld and his conscience nagged him enough that he turned the tractor around and returned to the foal. When the foal saw him approaching, it seemed delighted, again making attempts at vocal communication… and then, as before, the little foundling started to follow. Apollo took another longer route back through the veld towards the group of zebra who were now curiously watching his noisy approach. Suddenly, there was a huge commotion as the mother spotted and recognized the foal and many “joyful” zebra sounds followed as they were noisily reunited! How this baby got left behind, we’ll never know but at least the story had a happy ending! Apollo admitted that he went to sleep with a warm heart and a smile as he remembered his wonderful “rescue”… Thank you Apollo!


Zebra family happily reunited

Sibuya Game Reserve

Sibuya has recently started team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve