I tend to publish photographs of birds seen in my garden during a particular month, always meaning to return to some of the others I have photographed over time. The first four in this post are from ‘my patch’ and we will travel to the Addo Elephant National Park for the final two. Regular readers will be familiar with the Common Fiscals that vie with each other for food at the feeding station. I have mentioned that Spotty has brought youngsters closer to the food source yet have seldom featured what a young Common Fiscal looks like.
The Speckled Pigeons became a real nuisance once they multiplied and moved holus-bolus into our roof. Happily, they moved off once we had the eaves fixed and now appear in more reasonable numbers – although at least two couples have taken to roosting on ledges overnight: one outside the upstairs bathroom and the other outside my study window.
African Green Pigeons are heard more often than they can be seen amidst the dense foliage of the Natal fig tree.
A rare sighting around here is that of the Dikkop – now known as the Spotted Thick-knee. This one is on the pavement.
Why travel all the way to the Addo Elephant National Park for the next two birds? Well, although I have spotted a Secretary Bird on the edge of town it has always been too far away to photograph. These are really interesting looking birds I want to share with readers from abroad. This one is standing near its nest.
Lastly, recent comments in another post relating to birds highlighted how we tend to take the familiar for granted. I mentioned that Ostriches are no real cause for excitement here because we see them so often – yet overseas tourists are excited to see such an enormous bird for the first time. It is in honour of those of you for whom the Ostrich is an exotic creature that I present to you … an Ostrich.
Having mentioned the Addo Elephant National Park in my previous post, I delved into my folders to find a selection of photographs from a 2017 visit to give you an idea of some of the interesting things you can see there – apart from lions, hyenas, caracal and aardvarks that is. There are a number of carefully managed waterholes dotted about the park where, while exercising a degree of patience, one has the opportunity to see a variety of animals and birds. The Domkrag Dam is a favourite place to stop, for one is allowed to get out of one’s vehicle for a better view of the water over the low Spekboom hedge. On this occasion we were able to watch a small herd of Burchell’s zebra approaching from across the plain to drink.
Domkrag Dam is named after an enormous mountain tortoise that used to live in the area. What is significant about this tortoise is that it had the strange habit of walking underneath cars and lifting them up with its enormous strength! The shell of this famous tortoise is on display in the Interpretive Centre at Main Camp. Burchell’s zebra are frequently seen sharing the grassy plains with herds of red hartebeest.
Jack’s Picnic Site provides a welcome stopover for a comfort break and is well equipped with picnic sites, each containing a wooden table with benches as well as a place to braai if one wishes to cook one’s own food. Each site is well hidden from the one next door by a thick hedge of Spekboom and other indigenous bushes. It is a particularly good place to photograph a variety of birds from close up as most of them have become used to the coming and going of people throughout the day – and are always on the lookout for a fallen crumb or two! Something else that are a special delight to see there are the odd millipede or two, which we call songololos in South Africa.
The Spekboom Hide is also an interesting place to stop. Again, one can leave one’s vehicle here and enter a Spekboom thicket to peer through a strong elephant-proof fence to see what might be drinking from the waterhole on the other side. On this particular occasion a baby elephant caught my fancy even though it was part of a small family group of various ages.
Apart from animals, I am keen to watch birds in the Addo Elephant National Park. While waterholes are a good place to see waterfowl especially, there are often some interesting surprises along the roads too – such as this Spotted Thick-knee peering at us from the bush.
Much more easily visible are the Red-necked Spurfowl, the sight of which always brightens my day.
When I wrote about Spotted Thickknees (Dikkops) in January, the last place I would have expected to see them again is a busy car park at an airport. I was striding through this car park to get to the long-term parking when my eye was caught by a slight movement to my left. Mr and Mrs Dikkop (Thickknee) were standing either side of their baby.
Naturally – all haste forgotten – I stopped for a closer look. This was tolerated for only a few seconds after the first photograph and then I was clearly told “Enough! No more!”