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With over 960 species of birds in South Africa, having the correct media to identify them is crucial to a birding tour. South Africa is blessed with multiple media formats of identification and field guides, the most popular being smart phone apps to compliment the trusty field guides.


Field Guide Book

Two of the most used field guides are the Roberts Bird Guide and the Sasol Birds of Southern Africa.

Both books have their merits and comparable information of each species, however the layout of the Sasol Birds Guide is more user friendly.

Both are A5 size and fit into a bag or daypack easily.

Other books to consider are the Sasol Bird Finder and Newmans Birds of Southern Africa, also both A5 size and ideal to carry.

If you are looking for more species detail then the Complete Photographic Field Guide Birds of Southern Africa, Beat About the Bush Birds and the large collectors edition of Roberts Birds of Southern Africa are well worth investing in.


Digital Apps

For sheer ease and convenience the digital apps that are available for birding in southern Africa will definitely enhance your birding experience.

Offering photos, bird calls, distribution maps, a check list, bird comparisons and bird names in up to 8 languages.

Using the an app for birding has become indispensable in the region.

Personally I favour the Roberts Birds app as it has the most comprehensive species information, though there is a personal preference depending how you enjoy the different interfaces. There are lite options for free with limited species on the app, but it is an ideal option before deciding which app you will purchase.

One quirk of the apps is that they like to validate the legality of the copy on a device and as such need to link to the internet regularly. Advice : always open the app while online before heading out to a remote location otherwise you can end up being frustrated as the app won't open.


Optical Equipment

Cameras and binoculars are often a personal and budget choice, but here are some pointers when buying new equipment for birding.


Binoculars : a good pair of 10 x 42 binoculars which have a close focal distance and give bright clear vision in forested areas should be your first choice. Many brands are available, but before buying a pair test it in the darker areas of the shop.


Cameras : Again a choice of point and shoot, bridge cameras and DSLR are both a personal and budgetary choice, but something that has quick focusing, aperture and shutter speed control and fast response to shutter release is vital.


Tripods, sand bags and gimbal mounts will all assist in getting the perfect images, all depending if you are walking or seated in a hide or a vehicle. Some of the best birding sites in southern Africa are accessed in a vehicle and being able to support your camera needs the correct mount for photography out of a window.

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