This chunky, olive green barbet is found in the montane forests of East Africa. Fortunately for us, it also occurs in southern Africa, where it is confined to a single forest; Ongoye Forest, in the north of KwaZulu Natal. This is the southern most race of this species and is also known as the “Woodward’s Barbet”, after its discoverer.
I first recorded this olive-green bird in September 2011 at Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve on the east coast of Kenya. Our first visit to Ongoye Forest in March 2014 produced incredible sightings of the southern most race. I have included an extract from one of our blogs, if you are ever interested in tracking down this awesome bird.
“We arrived at Ongoye on a beautiful, sunny afternoon (a rare event given the amount of rain this area can experience in summer) and were greeted by the local guide and caretaker, Abednigo Dube.
First challenge, see the said barbet. First bit of advice (especially if you have limited time)…. If you want to see the barbets and learn more about their behaviour and feeding habits, Abednigo is your man. He took us straight to one of their favoured areas and within minutes we had two pairs flying around us. Thanks so much Abednigo! (I read the visitors book and found that one couple had stayed at the birder’s camp for four nights without seeing the barbet. I assume this is because they tried to do it alone)
Next challenge, try and get a decent photograph! Next bit of advice…. arrive at one of their favoured spots between 07h30 and 08h00 in the morning. Position yourself with the sun behind you, near a tree without lots of leaves and hope for the best. This is what we did and were really chuffed with the results.
If on the back of this write up, you feel inspired to visit Ongoye, I strongly recommend a four wheel drive vehicle. Also remember to take lots of drinking water and insect spray as the accommodation is very basic (at the time of our visit there was no running water or working plugs) and I think this is where I contracted my tick bite fever, given the timing of my symptoms.
In a nutshell, we could not have asked for a more awesome experience with these beautiful barbets and would happily return.”