Habitat Shots

The “Habitat Shots” section presents a selection of our most prized “birds in their environment” photographs.

Habitat shots, birdscapes or “birds in their environment” images must rank as some of the most difficult photographs to master. In essence, they are small in the frame photographs of birds taken in a setting that exemplifies (or eludes to) their natural environment, and hopefully tell a story to the audience.

This genre of bird photography combines the art of landscape photography (texture, lighting, composition…) with the challenges of bird photography (movement, focus, eye contact…). It also affords the photographer more expression, as there is lots of subjectivity in these images i.e. they often evoke completely different responses from different people.

I personally find habitat shots the most satisfying to take, given this combination of challenge and creativity. They provide context and tell a narrative, and are definitely my favourite genre of bird photography.

To enlarge each photograph, click on the thumbnail.


A male, Drakensberg Rockjumper looks out on his boulder strewn, mountain side habitat at the top of Naude’s Nek. A Red-collared Widowbird calls from his carefully selected perch in the high altitude grasslands of Rietvlei Nature Reserve. A Burnt-necked Eremomela feeds low down in the canopy of an acacia tree on the Zaagkuildrift to Kgomo Kgomo birding route. A Lesser Swamp Warbler sits amongst tall reeds on the edge of a wetland at Marievale Bird Sanctuary. Marsh Owl “Early Morning Owlet” ~ As the early morning sun lights up the background, a petite, Pearl-spotted Owlet perches on a magnificent tree in the heart of the Waterberg. A female, Green Twinspot perches in her typical forest habitat in Magoebaskloof. (The forests here are dark and damp with occasional light streaming through the dense canopy. Lichen and moss cover the trees and their branches.) Pin-tailed Whydah – male A Capped Wheatear stands tall next to its nest on the baron plains of Kgomo Kgomo. “Eagle’s Eye View” ~ A Verreaux Eagle glides over the cliffs of the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. A European Bee-eater in its “spring time” grassland habitat. An exquisite Malachite Sunbird blending in to the hilltop tangles at Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg. “Busy Builder” ~ A male, Thick-billed Weaver building its nest in typical reedbed habitat, close to water. “A Robin’s Magical Garden” ~ A Bearded Scrub Robin in his magical garden on the banks of the Blyde river. “The Flight of the Bumblebee” ~ A male, Yellow-crowned Bishop bursts from the cover of his tall, grassland habitat in search of a nearby female. A Black Crake emerges from its dense reed habitat to investigate a dead crab. Courting White-throated Swallows select an open perch in one of the reed enclosed, waterways of Marievale Bird Sanctuary. A striking, male Drakensberg Rockumper standing characteristically on a rock amongst a field of beautiful, yellow flowers. A male, Malachite Sunbird helps himself to nectar in a Wakkerstroom garden. “Sunbird Babbler” ~ A Pied Babbler tries to be a sunbird amongst flowering succulents in the Dinokeng Nature Reserve. An endangered, Rudd’s Lark steps out onto a grass track in the middle of his dense, dew-filled, grassland habitat. “Busy Builder” ~ A male, Thick-billed Weaver building its nest in typical reedbed habitat, close to water. An exquisite Malachite Sunbird blending in to the hilltop tangles at Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg. An Orange River Francolin skulks through thick grass on the edge of a wetland in south east Gauteng. A male, Red-collared Widowbird sits amongst a sea of yellow flowers in the Central Drakensberg. A male, Red-collared Widowbird calls from his perch amongst the beautiful, summer flowers of Rietvlei Nature Reserve. A male, Drakensberg Rockjumper stands in his typical, upright stance on a moss covered boulder in early morning light. A Violet-eared Waxbill comes down to drink at a puddle in the red sands of the Kalahari. Bronze-winged Courser Bearded Vulture Lesser Swamp Warbler A Western Cattle Egret sits on his favourite perch as the sun rises over the grasslands of Rietvlei Nature Reserve. “Cisticola in the Cosmos” ~ A Leveillant’s Cisticola sings his heart out in the Cosmos of Devon’s Farmlands. Wattled Crane
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