BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER

I don’t blame this Brown-hooded Kingfisher for not looking at my camera – it had a far larger ‘landscape’ to look at!

NOTE: Click on the photograph for a larger image.

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AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER

It always lifts my spirits to see an African Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis) flit across our garden to catch flying insects. We host a nesting pair every year – although I have yet to actually find their nest – and frequently see either the male or female catch the sunlight briefly as they search for food in the forested part of the garden. A pair used to nest in an elm tree on our farm when I was young, conveniently in a spot that gave us a good view of their tiny cup-shaped nest.

The forested part of our garden is ideal for Paradise Flycatchers. These vocal birds can be heard before they are seen in the open, however, I have found that catching them on camera has not been easy, for they are constantly on the move and, as you can tell from these photographs, are not always in the most photogenic spots. Imagine my delight when I caught sight of this male the other morning while I happened to have my camera with me. Look at that beautiful chestnut colouring and his fine long tail:

He perched just long enough for me to focus and then was off again, to return later and look at me thoughtfully before flitting away again. Note the bluish-black head and the blue eye-rings:

I got one more look at him before he flew towards the back garden:

NOTE: Click on a photograph if you wish to see a larger view.

A REFLECTIVE MOOD

Easter is a reflective time of the year and so I offer the following reflections that have all been photographed in the Addo Elephant National Park:

 

This Blackbacked Jackal was approaching the water at Hapoor in a very contemplative mood – it stood there very quietly for some time, possibly aware of the many elephants splashing just the other side of the reeds – before it made its way down the the water in a slow and cautious manner. It displayed patience such as few of us have when we are thirsty.

These Blacksmith Plovers (now called Blacksmith Lapwing) are standing on a barely submerged sandbank in front of the reeds at Hapoor – doubtless enjoying a respite from all the elephant activity that this waterhole is well known for.

An Egyptian Goose enjoying a drink at the Carol’s Rest waterhole.

Another thirsty visitor at Carol’s Rest is this warthog.

I will leave you with these zebra walking along the edge of the Domkrag waterhole in search of a suitable drinking place.

NOTE: Please click on a photograph if you wish to see a larger image.

BLUE CRANE

The Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus) is South Africa’s National Bird as it is endemic to this country, barring a very small population in Namibia. Despite its name, it is actually a grey crane. Because its status is vulnerable, I become very excited when I see Blue Cranes in the wild, as I did on a recent trip to the Addo Elephant National Park where a pair of them were scouring the veld for food.

In this photograph you can get a good view of its bulbous head with the conspicuously paler grey patch on the crown and forehead. The long, darker tail feathers (actually the inner secondaries and tertials) show up well too.

From a photographic point of view, I missed the action every time, for it was interesting to watch how these birds would systematically turn over every elephant dropping in their path and eat whatever they found underneath – I presume insects.

This one paused for a scratch. Click on the photograph in order to get a clear look at its claws in the larger view.

“I can stand on one leg too!”

Note: Click on the photographs for a larger view.

MARCH 2019 GARDEN BIRDS

March is a time of change in the garden. The small amount of rain that fell during the month has revived the trees and grass, while encouraging the blooming of the Plumbago.

It is also the time when the natural grasses go to seed, providing a nutritious alternative to the seeds I put out regularly. Weavers are losing their bright breeding plumage and have suspended their nest-building activities until spring. Not so the Olive Thrushes, of which I have counted up to six visible at a time, for at least one pair is still nesting. You will have to look at this photograph very carefully for the patch of orange on top of the dark mass of the nest!

Speckled Mousebirds scour the bushes for tiny berries, leaves, flowers and nectar, while Laughing Doves peck over the recently cleared compost area as well as the masses of tiny figs from the Natal Fig tree that have dropped onto the road below that are crushed by passing vehicles. The clusters of figs also attract African Green Pigeons and Redwinged Starlings among a host of other birds.

As the Hadeda Ibises are no longer nesting, several have chosen to roost in this tree. On some mornings they wake as early as four o’clock to let the neighbourhood know they have slept well and are ready to discuss their breakfast plans. More melodious are the liquid notes of a pair of Blackheaded Orioles that waft through the garden, along with the gentle cooing of Cape Turtle Doves and the cheerful chirrup of Blackeyed Bulbuls. A pair of Forktailed Drongos regularly keep watch from either the telephone pole or the Erythrina caffra tree, ready to swoop down on anything edible that catches their eye. I have already drawn attention to the pair of Knysna Turacos that reside in the garden and recently posted a photograph of one looking at its reflection in our neighbour’s window. This is the view from the other side:

Cattle Egrets roosting in the CBD continue to experience hard times: two tall trees have recently been removed from the garden of a complex of flats because residents complained about the noise they make as well as the smell of their droppings. Several have taken to perching atop a neighbour’s tall tree in the late afternoons, but are not (yet) overnighting there.

Finally, of course my camera wasn’t at hand when we witnessed the very unusual sight of a Cardinal Woodpecker drinking and bathing in the bird bath only a short distance from where we were sitting!

My March bird list is:

African Green Pigeon
African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene)
Amethyst Sunbird
Bar-throated Apalis
Black-collared Barbet
Black-eyed Bulbul
Black-headed Oriole
Bronze Manikin
Cape Robin
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Wagtail
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cardinal Woodpecker
Cattle Egret
Common Fiscal
Common Starling
Fork-tailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Hadeda Ibis
Hoopoe
Knysna Turaco
Laughing Dove
Lesser-striped Swallow
Olive Thrush
Paradise Flycatcher
Pied Crow
Red-eyed Dove
Red-winged Starling
Sombre Bulbul
Southern Boubou
Speckled Mousebird
Speckled Pigeon
Spectacled Weaver
Streakyheaded Seedeater
Village Weaver
White-rumped Swift

Note: Click on the photographs if you want a larger view.

BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE

Black-shouldered Kites appear all over South Africa. This small grey and white raptor has a black shoulder – hence the name. While these are not particularly good photographs of one, as it is facing head on, I was nonetheless pleased to get them as the Black-shouldered Kites (Elanus caeruleus) are more often seen either hovering over their prey or are perched on telephone poles along the road where it is unsafe to stop.