Yellow-Billed Kite in Flight
Each year toward the end of July most South African birdwatchers scour the skies for Yellow-Billed Kites in anticipation of their return to our part of Africa to breed. Facebook is full birders announcing their first sighting for the season.

Today I was with a group of birdwatchers at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, the first topic of conversation was who had seen their first kite.


Every year it was a tradition for my father and myself to compete as to who would see the first Yellow-Billed Kite. Dad always won. He had retired in Scottburgh and would go walking twice a day. Often he visited TC Robertson a nature reserve nearby. I was working and stuck in an office, so my only opportunity was the weekends. For all those years, Dad would phone and announce he had found “his” kite and I was still trailing behind looking for “mine”.

When my Dad grew older he moved to a retirement home near where I live. So the race was now on for a kite in the same area.   I honestly thought I had a chance as he wasn’t walking that much anymore. No such luck. His verandah where he spent most of his time overlooked Burman Bush. He won the competition hands down.

Never once in all the years did I win. It became a standing joke and a tradition in the family. Often times if one of my siblings saw their “first” kite they too would inform Dad. But he always had his bird under his belt.

Dad looking through his binoculars
Dad and I at Kruger Park after a day birdwatching
Then in January 2015 my parents had to move to frail care. Dad insisted both his bed and his chair faced the window – which overlooked Burman Bush. This was the first year I beat my Dad. In November my father peacefully passed away and the competition finally came to an end.

This competition has however left a legacy for our family. Two Yellow-Billed Kite seasons as have passed since Dad left us. Now, whenever they arrive not only do I welcome them even more warmly, my siblings are reminded of my Dad and even some of my friends who followed the competition much to their amusement.

quote from Michael Bolton’s song “Fathers and Daughters” :


  1. Ann Rein

    Very special memories! We may be lost without our parents but they are always in our hearts! You very fortunate to have such an amazing time with him.

    • Cheryl King

      Thank you Ann. I am privileged.

  2. Carol-Ann Sharpe

    What a beautiful story. xx

    • Cheryl King

      Thank you Carol. Loved this time with my Dad.

  3. Debbie

    Knew you and your dad shared so many times together that are now wonderful memories………..this on going one is a legacy that will, I’m sure, reach many years into the future…….thank you for sharing it with us………beautifully told as well……

    • Cheryl King

      Too true Debbie, everyone knew about this competition, was so much fun.

  4. Rosalyn

    Yes I miss my dad very much, I know that my sister Cheryl Share many things with our beautiful father, but we all share his love for his 5 children. I still look out for the yellow Bill kite every year knowing that Cheryl is doing the same.
    Thankyou Cheryl for sharing this beautiful story with us.
    Love and miss you Rosalyn. Xxx

    • Cheryl King

      Thank you Ros. Dad really left us a wonderful legacy, we can be so grateful.

  5. Rach

    What a moving story. As a mum of littles with my empty nest far away I like the idea of reading what happens in life later on. I also read in your about me that you were a single mum too which I also am so life is busy. Anyway I really enjoyed this post. So sorry for your loss but a wonderful keepsake of a memory in that tale. Your blog looks beautiful btw. I found you at Suzie’a blog party. Rachael x

    • Cheryl King

      Thank you for visiting Rachael. My father was a wonderful man, I was blessed. I know how busy and consumed a single mom gets, hang in there. I think it is wonderful you write about it.

  6. Nicola

    What a beautiful post indeed, thanks for sharing. Isn’t it so amazing how memories, both photographic and those in our minds, serve as healing and eases the pain? It may never go away but having wonderful memories and sharing them, for me, personally, has been so significant

    • Cheryl King

      Thank you for visiting Nicola. My father was a very special man, I was very blessed.

  7. Carol-Ann

    He was our brother not our brother in law Len & lmelda.

    We were visiting Aunty Imelda today and she wanted to write the above. Lots of love xx