Another of the Winter highlights of the Garden is the annual migration of the Half-collared Kingfishers from the sub tropical Wild Coast to our more temperate area. These large, magnificent Kingfishers are usually found on quiet rivers with entangled, over hanging vegetation from which they plunge dive for their prey. They are much larger than the similar Malachite Kingfisher and are separated by the black, not red, beak as well as more white on the breast. This bird was one of my “bogey’s” for many years. I would travel to sites where it was “guaranteed”, but I never found it where it was supposed to be. I did eventually track it down and since then, the drought being broken, have seen it regularly.
The various back water’s along the Garden Route are ideal habitat and I set out early last Saturday morning to canoe the Wolwe River in search of the Kingfishers in order to see if they where back yet. This river is the western tributary of Swartvlei estuary, named for the Brown Hyena that used to occur here, and large areas of mudflats are bisected by a narrow channel that threads between overhanging trees, ideal habitat.
Canoeing this backwater we did see this glorious bird, as well as Malachite, Giant and Pied Kingfishers. Other specials were African Black Duck, Glossy Ibis, African Fish Eagle and a true special of a White-backed Night Heron.This secretive bird is very difficult to see all along its range especially due to its nocturnal habits and the juvenile that we saw was tucked safely, sleeping in a collapsed tree. This is only the second time I have seen this bird and am planning a return to the spot soon to try and get a photograph.