By Lorna Rae Dupree

I woke up to a light tapping sound. What could that be, I thought. I got out of bed and opened the mosquito-netted roller doors. I poked my head around the corner and there he was. A small malachite kingfisher tapping on the mirror in the living room, giving himself the side-eye in-between knocks. He caught a glimpse of me and flew out on a branch near the pool.

Such a beautiful and colourful way to start the morning. The crested guineafowls were clucking their way towards the waterhole as a duiker sprang out of their path. I could also hear the usual birds rising now: the emerald-spotted wood doves, gorgeous bush-shrikes and more.

I made my way to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. When I turned around a beautiful purple lourie (a.k.a) purple-crested turaco swooped down to a tree by the waterhole.

So much activity in the morning!

Every now and then throughout the day, you can hear the call of a fish eagle in the distance. I must say, that is one of my favourite sounds. To me, it is the sound of Africa.

One night, by the firepit, we heard a toot and then a hoot. A torch was shone into the trees trying to follow the hooting sounds until finally, we found him. Small and neatly tucked into the tree right at the edge of the deck. A scowl at the light and another hoot, the wood owl peered down at us loftily. We turned off the torch and left him to his own devices, privileged to be listening to the hoots and toots over the crackling of the fire. 

Oh, and don’t be surprised if a Woolly-necked stork decides to hang out all day, strolling around the immediate lawn area and on the decks as if he is here to stay… because that happens too!

The most exciting spotting I had, which of course was when I didn’t have my camera or phone, was a Narina Trogon. Oh my! What a treat!!!

Thornwood has hosted many avid birders, ornithologists and birdlife photographers. This is because the Hluhluwe area has listed over 350 species of birds. Birdwatching enthusiasts would be excited to know that generally, birdwatching is good all year round but at its best is between November to April. The list of birds I have spotted from sitting in my comfy chair at the lodge is lengthy, not to mention the list from walking outside the borders of Thornwood into the wider areas of Kuleni Game Park.

Kuleni comprises of 4 eco-systems so it doesn’t surprise me that you will find a diversity of birdlife. However, I’ve also seen some amazing birds on day excursions to False Bay and Hluhluwe iMfolozi Game Reserve such as pelicans, cape vultures, bustards, Burchell’s coucals bright starlings, plenty of eagles and more.

Whether it is a cardinal woodpecker deciding to make his home in the shower, a little sunbird coming to say hi or even the bustling guineafowl. All the birds of the bush make it that much more alive!

Oh and don’t forget to download Thornwood’s birding list here.

Until the next adventure,



Contact us if you spot anything that isn’t on the list so we can update it or just share it and tag us on social media.