Fabulous fowls at Brahman Hills - for the bird herd

Bird watching isn't just the preserve of middle-aged, myopic enthusiasts - although we fill the ranks too. No, its popularity is on the rise with the millennial generation as well. In a world awash in instant gratification, perhaps the lure of chasing something a little less easy to find is a welcome challenge. So if you are keen to start a hobby, or maybe continue one that you've been following, then read on to see what Brahman Hills has to offer the fowl fanatic.

Wanna be a bird nerd?

What exactly is the draw to this pursuit? There's no getting around it; birding has achieved a geeky name for itself in the hobbyists' world. And perhaps that's ideally where it should stay - after all, something gets too mainstream and what drew enthusiasts in the first place gets lost. No, let's keep birding the preserve of those who don't truly care to be cool - the genuine adventurists who are there for the birds.

So what's in it for you?

That's not to say that birding does not have some great benefits and newbies shouldn't be hopping on the birding boat. According to Bird Watchers Digest, there are plenty of reasons for you to grab a pair of binocs and head outdoors. The hobby is economical, it gets people out in nature, birding groups develop a sense of community, and it fosters conservation. Furthermore, it improves mental wellbeing, so says an article from Psychology Today.

And finally, it's good for the kids. According to Bird Watching Daily, the reasons to pursue this hobby with your children are well worth the effort it takes to rein in their short attention spans or teenage contrariness. That's right, they'll reap the physical health benefits, have a love of the outdoors fostered in their hearts, and it'll help tackle mental challenges such as ADHD, ADD and depression from a different angle. Just search Google for tips on how to make birding fun for your kids, and you'll be well on your way to enjoying a pastime everyone in the family can benefit from.

Birds on parade at the Blue Crane Nature Reserve.

Once, you are all set for your bird watching adventure, then come around to our nature reserve at Brahman Hills - the Blue Crane Nature Reserve - and our Springholm estate. We have all the hoppers, waders, shriekers, divers, hoverers and gliders you could want. Below is a round-up of a few of our most beloved feathered residents.

Starting things off is our eponymous blue crane. These elegant birds are not only South Africa's national bird, but also world-class dancers. They are often spotted posing, bowing, flapping and throwing around sticks as part of their dance routines. Another dignified crane on calling our backyard home is the striking grey crowned crane. Sadly, this species is on the endangered list and needs all the habitat protection it can get. Easily identified by its pincushion of golden head feathers, the grey crowned crane form monogamous pairs and put on dazzling mating displays.

Settle around the waterways at Brahman Hills or Springholm and keep an eye out for our resident water birds. The hydrophilic fowls include heron, crake, reed cormorant, stork and the occasional half-collared kingfisher renowned for its jewel-toned feathers and flighty fishing skills.

Seen flitting about the forests, bush and grassy veld on the reserve are a wide range of feathered friends to satisfy any birder: black-headed oriole with their iconic bright yellow plumage, the African hoopoe boasting its distinctive crest and rich cinnamon colouring, the weavers of nest-building-fame, the blue swallow - an aerial insectivore bearing a vulnerable status - and gemlike malachite sunbird (the showy males that is). This is a tiny nectar-feeding hoverer that forms monogamous mating pairs with the males prone to intricate aerial displays.

Kicking around the countryside are also the big-name birds of prey, including eagles and owl. Keep an ear open for the distinctive call of the African fish eagle as it soars overhead in search of, most often, a dishy fishy or an eye on the sky for the lofty crowned eagle. At night, you can catch a glimpse of the swooping silhouettes of the nocturnal barn owl or hear their hauntingly shrill screech.

As the world's foremost aviator, Charles Lindbergh famously said:

"If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes."

What's not to like? Grab your binocs and welcome to the bird herd.


The Brahman Hills Team
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