Birding in Pilanesberg Game Reserve is an exciting experience because of the wide variety of habitats that shelter over 300 bird species.

Good roads, affordable accommodation and plenty of opportunities to get out of your vehicle and stretch your legs make Pilanesberg a popular, rewardingdestination for birders.

Choose any of the roads that criss-cross the park and have your binoculars ready. Look for Secretary birds in the grasslands – they are regular breeding residents. Listen for the Flappet lark clapping its wings in the air, as Grassveld pipits dart about the ground.

Endemics in the woodlands and bushveld include the Southern yellow-billed hornbill, Swainson's spurfowl, the Southern Black tit and the White-backed mousebird. During summer you can also spot up to 15 species of shrike, including the dazzlingly beautiful Crimson-breasted shrike.

You'll find Short-toed Rock-Thrushes in rocky terrain and keep an eye out overhead for raptors, including the Black-chested snake eagle, the Brown snake eagle, the Martial and Verreaux (Black) eagles and the White-backed vulture.

Mankwe Dam attracts many water birds (as well as hippos and all sorts of game), including Blacksmith lapwings, Grey, Black-headed and Goliath herons, Great white egrets, Egyptian geese and White-faced whistling ducks.

Make yourself comfortable in the big hide and prepare to witness an extraordinary passing show of birds and animals.

You'll see huge crocodiles dozing on the banks as herds of antelope graze nearby. If it's early morning or evening, you may even find a breeding herd of elephants, a pride of lions or a leopard coming to drink.

As you leave the dam, look out for that most attractive of all waxbills – the Violet-eared – as well as the Black-faced waxbill, foraging low down in the undergrowth.

Finally, take yourself off to Manyane camp, which boasts a delightful walk-in aviary with more than 80 species of indigenous birds represented.

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