During the second week of February, I spent a few days in the Dwesa Nature Reserve along the Eastern Cape of South Africa helping out with one of my professor’s research projects (about carbon sequestration/ fire ecology) and to build a relationship with students from Rhodes University (who were also camping with us, as well as working on a botany project). Luckily this offered me a lot of time out in the forests searching for birds.
One evening, a Rhodes University student; another Penn State Student; Jan Venter, a biologist from the Eastern Cape Parks Board; and myself went out searching for frogs and chameleons. About 15 minutes into our drive through the dirt roads transecting the pristine coastal lowland forest, we spotted an African Wood-Owl perched on a vine hanging over the road. The owl let us approach fairly close to it, and I was able to take the photo above. We continued to drive around for a few more hours and spotted a second wood-owl (photo below) and also heard two others.
This beautiful owl species was a life bird for me and it was great to stumble upon one naturally rather than have to coax one into view by using call playback. The African Wood-Owl is a fairly common resident along the southern and eastern coasts of southern Africa.