Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beautiful Birds

Right at the beginning I said that I'm going to share a lot of my bird photos on this blog. Well, here are some more:

I couldn't help but notice how "nicely" this Redbacked Shrike posed in the Kruger Park. Newman (in his book "Birds of Southern Africa") describes (true) shrikes as insectivorous or partially carnivorous birds with stout, hooked or slightly hooked bills. I must admit, my favourite in this particular family of birds is the fiscal shrike. I often see one perched in our garden, ready to "swoop".

I recently snapped this photo of a Lilacbreasted Roller at the water's edge in the Chobe Game Reserve (Botswana). The "warm" afternoon sun really enhanced the colours of this gorgeously colourful bird. Newman adds that rollers are heavy-billed birds with brilliant blue wing-feathers with harsh, croaking voices, which spend most of the day hunting from a convenient perch. I therefore guess I was lucky to find one sitting on the ground - and so close to us!

This is another "lucky" photo! I photographed a group of ostrich youngsters (at Safari Ostrich Farm, Oudtshoorn) and only noticed afterwards how "well-balaced" this photo of a baby-ostrich turned out. Trivia: an ostrich is the largest (flightless) bird. In the wild, ostrich occur in "isolated pockets" throughout Southern Africa, often in pairs.

On the day I took this photo I couldn't miss how "reflective" the water was (during a boat trip with tourists in Walvisbay, Namibia). This White Pelican was perhaps slightly "deformed" (a loss of hair is visible on its neck) but in my eyes, the overall effect is near-perfect. According to Newman, this bird is a common resident and occurs in flocks on coastal islands, estuaries, bays, lagoons and flood-pans as well as major inland waters.

To me, these two Ground Hornbills look as if they are hugging. Also, the form of a heart - as human youngsters, when in love, tend to draw on scraps of paper - is clearly visible in the way the hornbill in the front is spreading its wings. Usually found in groups of 4-10 individuals in bushveld, woodland and montane grassland, they are mainly terrestrial, tend to walk slowly and take off in flight only if disturbed or when going to roost in a tree. Many tourists compare these birds to turkeys, and I agree with regard to their size, but otherwise and in my eyes, there's no comparison (I guess I'm prejudiced with regard to these birds - I find them unique and love to photograph them at every opportunity I get - mostly in the Kruger Park).

Another one of my "picture-perfect" shots is this one of a Squacco Heron taken at the water's edge (in Chobe). Whilst I've taken many photos of the "larger" herons, I've never before had such a good opportunity to take as "close" a photo of this particular member of the heron-family. These birds are known as being solitary, and are mostly found at lakes, lagoons, sewage ponds and streams. Trivia: the "white members" of the heron family are known as egrets.

The photos of the next 2 birds were taken through the window of a bus whilst driving through the Kruger Park. I mention this, because photos "shot" through glass usually aren't as "clear" as those taken in "the wild" (a common tourist complaint). Yet as you can see, these 2 photos aren't "half bad". This Giant Kingfisher (as its name indicates, the largest member of the kingfisher family) posed so nicely I asked the driver of the bus to stop (happens frequently with me at the "helm" as tour guide, when we don't only stop for wild animals, but also for birds).

This photo of a hovering Pied Kingfisher was also taken in the Kruger Park. Trivia: when seen from the front, a male Pied Kingfisher appears to wear a "bow tie" (double breastband) whilst a female's (single) breastband looks as if she's wearing a "bra".

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