Thursday, August 28, 2008

Birds in Flight

I'd want to dedicate this "posting" to birds in flight. As I've confessed before, I'm crazy about photographing birds - and in flight, they often represent interesting "targets" to me.

I happily snapped away recording these interesting bird formations - without even knowing what birds they were. The location: the Chobe River in the Chobe National Park, Botswana. The objects of interest: Openbilled Storks - I managed to identify them eventually.

Now they are closer and I'm still fascinated by their flying patterns. Openbilled storks are known as uncommon, localised residents, appearing mostly single and only in such large flocks - as I witnessed - during the breeding season. They also tend to soar in flocks when on the move.

This is what these Openbilled storks look like once they settle down (right) - then the open gap between the mandibles is also visible (from which these birds derive their name). Mostly, southern African storks (in general) are found near water and bill-"clapping" is used as a greeting between pairs. In comparison to most storks, the Openbilled species is relatively small.

In my eyes, watching an African Fish eagle (left) soar high in the sky AND emitting its pleasantly ringing, far-carrying call, symbolises African nature - at its best! This eagle calls whilst perched on a branch or when circling in the air.

I had some "fun" (right) with the previous photo by using the caleidoscope-option (Nero Photo-snap).

A soaring Black eagle (left) with the characteristic white "flashes" at the base of the wing-tips clearly visible. I took this photo at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden (Roodekrans site), where a pair can be seen all year round. These Black eagles are one of only a few breeding pairs in an urban environment, but their future is in jeopardy - human/housing developments encroach on the eagles (previous) hunting territory.

Did you know that Black eagles (and some other eagles too) are known for the "Cain & Abel"-phenomenon? Of 2 eggs lain in a nest, Cain (the first hatched chick) commences to kill Abel, which constitutes Cain's first "meal".

Although most Bird Books display what eagles and vultures look like during flight, I haven't been able yet to identify this bird (right). I nonetheless admire the photo (taken by our son-in-law, Quinton, with a much more "powerful" camera than mine).

For something else - the Cape Gannet (left), a large seabird, found as a "colony" at Lambert's Bay (on the West Coast of SA). During a family-trip, we admired their characteristic plunge-diving apart from them "zooming" in like "dive-bombers".

Now that we've "landed" at the sea, here's a photo (right) of a Hartlaub's gull in flight. Gulls, in general, are known as scavenging sea and shore birds, which don't dive into the water but rather pluck refuse from the sea surface (or from land). The Hartlaub's gull is "at home" along the western coastal regions of our country.

I took this photo of (flying) White pelicans (left) during a boat "cruise" at Walfish Bay (Namibia). Other than thinking that this is a pretty good "shot", I'm always grateful for these photo-opportunities, which I have whilst guiding tourists through our country and also accompanying them whilst visiting our neighbouring countries.

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