About the Author

James Tyrrell


James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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on The Best Alarm Clock in the World

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Love francolins. Can’t get used to calling them spurfowl. Their call is such a typical bushveld call. They can be comical to watch. Camping at Balule one (must be a male) always peck the rubber edging.around the solar panel. We think he can see his image and is looking for that other male, runing around the panel and pecking again. It is lovely memories remembering the coffee and rusks waiting for the gate to open. Camping, waiting for the kettle to boil on the gas cooker and listening for the first bird calls is magical.

I especially like your storytelling today, James. Whereas you have birds that pipe out their morning alarm for you, I have a bevy of various birds that all sing together very early. It’s almost like my own personal morning symphony. Seems we both have: “Our merry minstrels of the morn” as James Thomson would say.

Senior Digital Ranger

love to wake up to the sound of birds!

Insightful, James. Sometimes it is the little things…

I love this post, I knew from the instagram post that it was going to be about francolins! I love crested francolins and their calls, not to mention the Natal, Swainson’s and red-billed spurfowls!

Hi Callum,
Natal Spurfowls would be second on my alarm clock list.

The call of a Swainson’s is a little too harsh for a nice awakening…

I haven’t heard swainson’s enough to make a judgement, so I’ll take your word on it! Crested is definitely my favourite too.

Oh, so silly me before my first bush visit, thought that these creatures were called Franklins, like Benjamin! One of my very first and fondest memories involved a flock of these females and chicks NOT getting out of the way of the game drive vehicle for at least a mile on the track. Not everything needs to be big 5 to be magical.

Hi Kim,

Don’t worry, you’re not the first to mix up Francolin and Franklin 😉

So agree with what has been written above AND below. Love the Frank O’Lynnes but also so enjoy the Hornbills. The bush wouldn’t be the same without them making themselves heard outside the chalet! They are SUCH characters. Wendy

On a long drive recently I was thinking about what my 10 most favourite bird calls are; near the top of my list is the Crested Francolin because it is such an evocative call. When you hear it you know you are ‘really in the bush’. To me it is THE call of the Lowveld as the birds are present all year round. There is a Portuguese word “Saudade” which is difficult to translate into English, but means a fond longing for something lovely or beautiful, of a wonderful memory. When I hear a recording of the call, or say on a wildlife programme it makes me have true ‘Saudades’ for one of the best places in the world – the bush of the Lowveld!

Hi Paul,

I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say!

Beautifully written James. Your prose brings back memories of the francolins attempting to wake me but I was so happy to be in the Bushveld once again, I was already awake.

During game drives it was amusing to watch these little birds dart back and forth in front of our vehicle and then suddenly veer off into the brush. Their songs are magical- nothing like it here in SF Bay Area, although I do have the mourning doves outside my window singing their mournful tunes. Only to outdo them are the mockingbirds – comical needless to say.

Thank you for sharing!

You’re welcome Denise!

Very interesting post! Enjoyed your comments, James, as always!

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