Knysna Woodpecker – Special on the Garden Route

The Knysna Woodpecker is like a precious gem in my garden. You stumble upon them by chance, but if you go looking too hard, they vanish like a treasure hidden by a mischievous pirate! Even famous birdwatchers can miss them on their first few tries.

These birds are always around, like hidden residents in my garden, but they like to play peek-a-boo in the thick forests and bushes. They’re clever too, always seeming to stay on the opposite side of the tree trunk from you. Just as you think you’ve got a good look, they’ll sneak around the back to hide!

I often hear their loud calls echoing through the garden, but catching a glimpse for a photo is no easy feat. This week, however, I got lucky. While watering the plants and filling the bird bath, I heard their screech nearby in the milkwood trees. I spotted a flash of feathers, but the branches and leaves were so dense it was hard to see clearly.

Imagine my surprise when this little woodpecker hopped right down for a bath in the bird bath, just a few feet away from me! It was a magical moment. It took its time splashing and preening, completely oblivious to my excitement. Luckily, my camera was within reach and I managed to snap a few photos, my heart racing as I fiddled with the settings. The shade under the milkwood trees makes photography tricky, because you need good light to capture all the details of these beautiful birds.

As a tour guide, I see Knysna Woodpeckers often, but they’re always a challenge to find and photograph. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. So, if you want to see them for yourself, spend more time exploring the bushes, and maybe even team up with someone who knows their secret hiding spots on the Garden Route, South Africa.


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