Friday, November 14, 2008

Welcome Sightings

As I've indicated before, my photographic goal is to "capture" as many birds as possible. I had hardly left my room at the Zambezi Sun hotel (Victoria Falls vicinity) during the last tour - with the specific purpose to find some birds - when this beautiful little fellow (right) flew past and settled right in front of me on a branch. Although I've snapped Brownhooded Kingfishers before (even at home in our garden), I haven't recorded one as close "and personal" as this one before.

After posing "just for me" for a while, the kingfisher flew off - and along walked this "somewhat different" Helmeted Guineafowl. It was amongst a flock of fowl, which I snapped, but since this specimen was somewhat unusual, I'm sharing it on this blog today - "my version" of a "whitebreasted guineafowl.

Soon I was distracted by an unfamiliar bird-noise. We also have Blackeyed Bulbuls at home, but never before did I witness a mating ritual as the one I was confronted with right then - fascinating. Other than taking a series of photos, I also took a video clip of the "procedure".

As has happened before, I hardly had to move on when the next bird species "appeared" - I think I'm rather lucky in this respect (or is it because I learned to be patient when on a mission to record birds?). Whatever the case, I certainly have developed "an eye" for finding birds, although I could hardly miss these relatively large specimen - a couple of Crowned Hornbill, one of which "posed attractively" close.

Not to be "out-done", a few Grey Hornbill settled in a tree - almost the exact moment after its "cousins" flew on. Right then, I felt like a "bird magnet" (my version of this expression!!) - on the right spot at the right time!

Eventually I did move on to find more birds - or other wildlife. I chose a short circular walking trail behind the hotel complex, and was soon arrested by a fluttering sound amongst the brush on the ground. I saw a bird preening but wasn't quite sure what it was. I eventually identified it as a Whiterumped Babbler - a not very common bird species and certainly a localised resident - after all, it does occur only in the part of Africa where I was "situated" right then! Needless to say, I hadn't "met" this member of the babbler-family before.

Again I didn't have to move "an inch" when along came yet another "first" for me! I thought I was looking at a gorgeous Knysna Lourie - but I knew the location wasn't right!? At home, after down-loading all my photos, I "discovered" that it was a Livingstone's Lourie ("old" name, I know - nowadays they are supposed to be called touracos), but whatever the case, I'm extremely proud of having had the opportunity to record this rather uncommon bird (even if I couldn't get a very "clear" visual).

It certainly turned out to be my day of "up close and personal". I've had the opportunity to snap a Yellowbilled Kite before, but certainly not one as close as this one! This raptor appeared to suffer from the oppressive heat as we visitors to this part of the country did, yet he was sitting on a bare branch with absolutely no shade.

Other than birds, I also "encountered" a few monkeys along the rest of the walking trail - and a crocodile crossing my path! Luckily it was not too big AND got as much of a fright as I did - so it turned tail and reversed back into the water from which it had just emerged. Although the encounter was truly scary, I did have the frame of mind to take a photo or two (habitually, I guess) and which I'll post soon - unfortunately, my camera was on zoom - just in case I saw yet another bird - so the photo of the croc is somewhat "out of focus" (or is that because I was shaking with fright?) - I have no idea.

Whilst my heart was still pounding after the "unwanted" close encounter with a crocodile, I was distracted by the visual of a more welcome sighting - of a Greenbacked Heron perched over water on a dry tree stump. I've also "met" this water-associated bird before, but not one yet that "posed so prettily" - even if it was rather far.

Since I've shared a few first-encounter-photos today, I'm adding this last one even if it was snapped many days later in Namibia, and not in the vicinity of the Vic Falls. It's a Rueppell's Korhaan and only common in the desert region of the Namib.

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