Have you ever seen a stranger looking bird than a Hamerkop? It has oddly shaped head feathers which make it look as if it’s been flying into a strong wind for a few hours. It also builds massive nests, biggest in the world for any one bird, near water sources. They tend to stand on the edge of ponds or rivers or fly past on their way to their nests. I have never really spent time with these birds, but recently I saw one standing in the road and eyeing a shallow puddle of murky water. I didn’t think there could be anything in the puddle, but after waiting a minute or two, the Hamerkop caught its first platanna frog.
We were very surprised and excited because we had just witnessed a kill! It wasn’t a lion attacking a zebra but it was still amazing to see. The frog was very slippery and gave the poor Hamerkop a bit of a run around. The Hamerkop responded by knocking the frog a few times and then trying to swallow it, which didn’t work out as planned everytime.
I had to hold my breath when the Hamerkop tried to swallow a big frog and it got stuck in its throat. He spat it out and after a few more knocks and a dip in the water, it went down smoothly. In 15 minutes the Hamerkop swallowed 3 big platannas and we left it to digest its huge meal. What an awesome sighting! It just goes to show that if you’re patient and spend some time observing animals, they will show you the wonders of nature.
Words by Ranger Jone’ Fick