Apart from Cape Crows and Pied Crows, among the larger birds one sees in flight are raptors. After a time, one gets to know how to identify them in flight, but it is always a bonus to see one perching close enough to have a good look at. Southern Pale Chanting Goshawks (Melierax canorus) are fairly common here and are well worth stopping to observe. They have a habit of alighting on the crown of trees and even insubstantial looking shrubs – all too frequently a little too far to get a good photographs. We can nonetheless clearly see its long red legs and cere from this distance as well as its finely barred belly.
Being near-endemic to southern Africa, the Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk is most likely to be seen in drier areas, where the habitats are open. This one was perched a lot closer, giving us a good view of its strong, hooked bill.
It is not always easy to photograph birds whilst driving for all too often, the moment you stop your vehicle to raise your camera, the said bird(s) fly off. Here are four that stayed perched:
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Then came this surprise:
Far too many tourists drive about seeking one species of animal after the other in their quest to chalk up as many as they can – even driving past elephants, zebra and kudu because of a “we’ve seen them” attitude – with eyes peeled for the ultimate prize: the sight of a lion. We see bored faces in vehicles as the day progresses, listless looks of bafflement when a passing vehicle asks what we are looking at and we respond “birds” or even tell them what bird we might be looking at. “Birds,” one might say or simply give a nod of the head as they move on in their quest.
Watching out for birds in any game reserve adds to the enjoyment of the environment as a whole. Here are a few of the many seen on our recent trip to the Addo Elephant National Park:
A ubiquitous Common Fiscal. Note how it is holding on to the twigs to keep it steady in the stiff breeze.
A young Olive Thrush perching inquisitively on our picnic table. Notice that it is still covered with speckles.
Cape Bulbuls, such as this one abound in the rest camp.
Large flocks of Pied Starlings can be seen all over in the park.
It is always fun seeing Speckled Mousebirds fly across the road or to working their way through bushes as they look for leaves, berries or flowers to eat.
Beautiful Malachite Sunbirds show flashes of metallic green as they pass by in a flash.
Who can resist the delicate beauty of a Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk?
How fortunate it was to find a Greater Striped Swallow at rest!
One can almost be guaranteed to find a Bar-throated Apalis at the picnic site.
Lastly, for now, is a Sombre Bulbul (now called a Sombre Greenbul!).