Birdlife

Westford Bridge boasts more than 160 bird species that have been sighted within the boundaries of the estate, ranging from the popular Knysna (Turaco) to exotics such as the Narina trogon, Veraux’s eagle and Knysna warbler.

A walk around the estate is not complete without a pair of binoculars and your favourite bird book.
A few of the more common species that one may encounter. Click here to view a full list of birds that have been sited on the estate.

The Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus infuscatus) is 46-51 cm long with a 59-73 cm wingspan. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. The adults are unmistakable in summer with head and neck decorations. In winter, this is whiter than most grebes, with white above the eye, and a pink bill. It is the largest of the Grebe family. The young are remarkable because their heads are striped black and white, much like zebras. They lose these markings when they become adults.
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) is a small water bird with a pointed bill. It is 23 to 29 cm in length and is the smallest member of the grebe family The adult is unmistakable in summer, predominantly dark above with its rich, rufous colour neck, cheeks and flanks, and bright yellow gape. The rufous is replaced by a dirty brownish grey in non-breeding and juvenile birds. Juvenile birds have a yellow bill with a small black tip, and black and white streaks on the cheeks and sides of the neck as seen below. This yellow bill darkens as the juveniles age, eventually turning black once in adulthood. Source - Wikipedia
The White-breasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax lucidus) is the only form of Cormorant found in sub-Saharan Africa. As its name suggests, the 80-100 cm long White-breasted Cormorant has a white neck and breast when adult.
The Reed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus africanus), also known as the Long Tailed Cormorant, is a common and widespread bird species. It breeds on freshwater wetlands or quiet coasts laying two to four eggs in a nest in a tree or on the ground. This is a small cormorant at 50-55 cm length and an 85 cm wingspan. It is mainly black, glossed green, in the breeding season. The wing coverts are silvery. It has a longish tail, a short head crest and a red or yellow face patch. The bill is yellow
The African Darter (Anhinga rufa rufa), sometimes called the Snakebird, is a water bird of tropical sub-Saharan Africa. This species builds a stick nest in a tree and lays 3-6 eggs. It often nests with herons egrets and cormorants. It is an 80 cm long cormorant-like fish-eating species with a very long neck which occurs in both saline and fresh water, especially near mangroves. It often swims with only the neck above water. Unlike many other waterbirds the feathers of the African Darter do not contain any oil and are therefore not waterproof. Because of this, the bird is less positively buoyant and its diving capabilities are enhanced
The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea cinerea) , is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae It is a large bird, standing 90-100 cm tall, with a 175-195 cm wingspan and a weight of 1-2 kg. Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. Adults have a white head with a broad black supercilium and slender crest, while immature have a dull grey head. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped). This is characteristic of herons and bitterns , and distinguishes them from storks , cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks. The call is a loud croaking "fraaank"
This species breeds in colonies in trees close to lakes, the seashore or other wetlands, although it will also nest in reedbeds. It builds a bulky stick nest.
The African Fish Eagle ( Haliaeetus vocifer) is a large bird, and the female, at 3.2-3.6 kg (7-8 lbs) is larger than the male, at 2-2.5 kg (4.4-5.5 lbs). Males usually have a wingspan of about 2 m (6 feet), while females have wingspans of 2.4 m (8 feet). The length is 63-75 cm (25-30 in). They are very distinctive in appearance with a mostly brown body and large, powerful, black wings. The head, breast, and tail of African Fish Eagles are snow white and the hook-shaped beak is mostly yellow with a black tip.
(Source – Wikipedia)
The Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus) is an African passerine. It has a very striking appearance with a bright yellow body, contrasting black head and flesh-coloured beak. It breeds in much of sub-Saharan Africa from Sudan and Ethiopia in the north to South Africa in the south. It inhabits dry tropical forests, especially acacia and broad-leaved woodlands, and dense shrubland areas, where it is more often heard than seen despite the brightness of its plumage. The voice is a liquid-sounding warble, accompanied by imitations and whistles. It forages in the canopy, feeding on small fruit as well as large insects. The young are fed mostly with caterpillars. Source – Wikipedia
The Chorister Robin-chat (Cossypha dichroa) is a species of bird in the Muscicapidae family. It is found in South Africa and Swaziland. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland. This is a large robin-chat, about 20 cm. The Chorister Robin-chat is identified by its dark upperparts (the ear coverts and lores are slightly darker than the rest of the face, head, neck and back) and yellow-orange underparts. It has no white eye stripe. Juveniles have a sooty, mottled tawny-buff above and below and its tail is red-orange with a dark centre. The Chorister robin-chat moves from the interior to coastal forests in winter. (Source – Wikipedia)
The Cape Batis (Batis capensis) is a small passerinebird in the wattle-eye family. It is resident in the highlands of southern and eastern South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is a small stout insect-eating bird, usually found in moist evergreen mountain forests and wooded gorges. The nest is a small neat cup low in a tree or bush. Strikingly patterned the adult male has a grey crown, black eye mask and white throat. Its back is brown, with a black rump and tail and rufous wings. The under parts are white with a broad black breast band and rufous flanks. Both the male and the female will aggressively defend their territory. When larger birds of prey, animals or humans approach, the bird will often perch conspicuously near the intruder and angrily protest audibly. It hunts by fly catching, or by taking prey from the ground like a shrike. The song is typically a triple whistle cherra-warra-warra or foo-foo-foo.(Source Wikipedia)
The Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis is a common and widespread resident breeder in Africa south of the Sahara. These insect-eating birds are usually found in open forests or bush. Two to four eggs are laid in a cup nest in a fork high in a tree. Aggressive and fearless birds, given their small size, they will attack much larger species, including birds of prey if their nest or young are threatened. The male is mainly glossy black. It is large-headed and has the forked tail which gives the species its name. The female is similar but less glossy. The bill is black and heavy, and the eye is red. It is 25 cm long, has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched prominently, like a shrike. It flycatches or takes prey from the ground and is attracted to bush fires. The call is a metallic strink-strink. (Source – Wikipedia)
The Brown-hooded Kingfisher has a height of 24 cms and weighs around 60 gms. The head is brown, the bill is red and it has a white coloured throat, orange legs and a black coloured back. The eyes are brown. This bird forages for food on the ground and feeds on tree trunks. It also forages for fish and other aquatic dwellers through surface sizing and diving for food in the water. It has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water. It also feeds on insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten . (Source – Wikipedia)
The Knysna Turaco, or, in South Africa, Knysna Lourie, is a large turaco, one of a group of African near-passerine birds. This species lays two eggs in a shallow platform nest made from sticks and placed in a tree or clump of creepers. This is an unmistakable bird, although often inconspicuous in the treetops. It is 40-42 cm long, including a long tail. The small but thick orange-red bill and a white line just under the eye contrast with the mainly green plumage. It has a tall green crest, which is tipped with white. The eye is brown and the eye-ring deep red. In flight, the Knysna Turaco shows conspicuous crimson primary flight feathers. Sexes are similar, but juvenile birds have a shorter crest without the white tips. The Knysna Turaco is usually seen flying between forest trees, or hopping along branches. It feeds on fruit, insects and earthworms. It has a loud kow-kow-kow-kow call. (Source – Wikipedia)
Common resident. Pied bird with crimson eyes. Female with white forehead and eyebrow, both with distinctive wing-barring. When excited male erects it's back feathers to form a puff. Flies in a heavy manner, the wings making a distinct purring sound. Pairs, often in bird parties, in woodland, riverine bush, and evergreen forest, favouring the canopies of the larger trees. Size 18cm (Source-Newman's Birds of South Africa)
This large sunbird is found in hilly fynbos, protea and aloe habitat and cool montane and coastal scrub. It also occurs in parks and gardens. It is resident, but may move downhill in winter. Sunbirds feed largely on nectar, although they will flycatch for insect prey, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on short wings, taking nectar either by hovering or perching. They have long thin down-curved bills. The breeding male Malachite Sunbird, which has very long central tail feathers, is 25 cm long, and the shorter-tailed female 15 cm. The adult male is metallic green when breeding, with blackish-green wings with small yellow pectoral patches. The female has brown upperparts and dull yellow underparts with some indistinct streaking on the breast. (Source-Wikipedia)
The Greater Double-collared Sunbird is 14 cm long. The adult male has a glossy, metallic green head, throat upper breast and back. It has a broad brilliant red band across the chest, separated from the green breast by a narrow metallic blue band. The rest of the underparts are pale grey. When displaying, yellow feather tufts can be seen on the shoulders. As with other sunbirds the bill is long and decurved. The bill, legs and feet are black. The eye is dark brown. The male can be distinguished from the similar Lesser Double-collared Sunbird by the latter's smaller size, narrower red chest band and shorter bill. (Source-Wikipedia)
Common resident. Males appear pure black; females identified by creamy underparts and dusky throat with pale yellow moustachial-streak. Call, often given in flight, is "tschiek" or "zit"; also makes a stuttering "chichichichi" and a pleasant subdued warbling song uttered for long periods while concealed in foliage. Pairs and single birds occur in woodland, forest and riverine forest fringes, less often in bushveld, frequently in suburbia. Lively and conspicuous. Size 15cm. (Source-Newman's Birds of South Africa)
Very common resident. Told by blue neck, red cap and horny casque on head. Normal adult call is much repeated "ker-bek-ker-bek,ker-bek,krrrrrrr....." Females also make a continual piping "t-phueet-t-phueet....." Flocks when not breeding, sometimes very large, in grasslands, bushveld and farmlands. Go to water regularly in the evenings. 53-8cm. (Source-Newman's Birds of South Africa)