Friday, January 16, 2009

Colourful Plumage

Time to go birding again! Since I haven't "dedicated" a posting to birds (my favourite subject) lately, I certainly think it's time to do that again.

I think of a Carmine bee-eater (right) as coming in many guises - every time I have the opportunity to photograph one, it looks different - mostly it's a matter of lighting (from which angle the sun shines) but everyone still has its own "character". Bee-eaters in general are highly coloured and aerial acrobats.

Why do goshawks and the like often have to perch on overhead cables? Since our son-in-law mentioned it I also prefer to snap birds on branches or dry stumps. This Dark Chanting goshawk (left) was too fine a specimen though (and "posing" so nicely) for me not to click away. Goshawks are known as ferocious raptors and chanting goshawks owe their name to their melodious call - rather a surprising performance for a bird of prey?

Did you know that goshawks (= goose-hawks) were once used for hunting wild geese and other fowl?

Like the bee-eater above, I think that a Lilac-breasted roller (right) also has many guises - every time I photograph one it looks different. I've "published" a photo or two of this bird on this blog before, but since I can't get enough of this bird and its magnificent plumage, I'm "sharing" it again today. Rollers are said to take their name from the habit of turning over in the air, tumble-like, when in the vicinity of their nesting sites (in tree holes).

Ugly yet interesting - that's how I tend to classify the Marabou stork. Although it's a member of the stork family, it has a lot in common with vultures, e.g. it's predominantly a scavenger and also soars high on thermal currents - with grace! The skin-pouch under the marabou's bill is inflatable.

When I saw this Longtoed plover recently during a trip at the Chobe River (Botswana), I was very excited because I "met" it for the very first time. According to our bird books it's an uncommon localised resident - so I understand now why I haven't seen it (in the same environment) before. The word 'plover' rhymes with 'lover' (not 'rover') and is said to be derived from the French word pluvier (= 'to rain') - possibly because plovers tend to be restless especially before rain?

I know this is a heron (left) but a night heron or a bittern? Is someone "out there" who can help me identify this bird? I would greatly appreciate that. Location (if that can be of any help) - I photographed it on the grounds of the Sabi River Sun (just outside Hazyview, Mpumalanga).

Cute - that's the first word I think of when looking at a Blue waxbill (right) with its combination of pastel and bright blue plumage. The one in my photo must be a male because the females are overall much paler than the males.

Here is the photo of a Plumcoloured starling of which I wrote before that I first saw it as a purple "flash" flying past me whilst I concentrated on what to photograph first - a cute tree squirrel, a "mass" of birds having fun bathing or a bushbuck hiding amongst foliage. Well the "purple flash" got first choice but unfortunately, this is the only relatively "clear" photo I managed to snap before it flew away.

And this is (photo right) what the Plumcoloured starling looks like from the front - photograph "by courtesy" (= "stolen") from our son-in-laws photo collection.

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