As the winter approaches and the aloes start to flower, a walk through the botanical gardens is bound to deliver a feast for the eyes.
It was a quiet weekday morning in the Lowveld National Botanical Gardens in Nelspruit. I knew that foot traffic along the pathways would be minimal so I set myself up near a clump of flowering aloes. I could hear a chorus of birds chirping away in the nearby trees. It was simply a matter of minutes before the sunbirds would visit this section.
As I’ve learned many times before, patience is the key. Soon enough I heard the chirps of a White-bellied Sunbird heading my way.
I caught some quick glimpses of the larger Amethyst and Scarlet Chested Sunbirds flying around too. One of the females perched on some plants nearby and posed for a brief moment.
Suddenly, an array of nasal whistles broke the silence nearby. I had heard this call before, but I had to look around to confirm which bird it was. To my surprise three Crowned Hornbills flew in and perched in a tree above me. I certainly was not expecting them and had no idea that they even frequented the gardens.
These comical birds seemed as curious with my presence as I was with theirs. They hopped between the branches, looked for a bite to eat and then moved on to another. I was in awe with how close they moved around me. I sat still and enjoyed this special sighting and soon enough they flew off towards the Crocodile River.