Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tour Specials

During the last tour we visited the National Mountain Zebra Park (near Cradock in the Eastern Cape Province) "dedicated" to conservation of this rather rare zebra species.

However we saw many mountain zebras . . .

. . . of which some appeared to be "smooching" - although that can also represent aggression!??

By way of a comparison: these are Burchell's zebra, which we "met" in the Addo Elephant Park - they are slightly larger than the mountain species, the stripes also "cover" the stomach area (> white on the mountain zebra) & the Burchell's zebra also "sports" (brown) shadow-stripes in-between the black ones.

Other than zebra we also watched this ostrich couple = the male chasing a female.

Along the road (& not inside 1 of the game reserves) we stopped to photograph this rather unusual (black) "version" of our National Animal = a springbok.

Not to be "out-done", we also encountered our National Bird = the Blue crane walking "regally" passed a Black wildebeest (in contrast to the more "common" Blue wildebeest).

Since during this tour we mainly travelled through the Karoo (South Africa's large semi-desert region) - other than along the southern coast (= mainly encorporating the Garden Route) - it's a "natural" phenomenon to see (Merino) sheep along the way.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More feathery Beauties

Amongst the "smaller" birds (in comparison to the larger ones featuring in my previous blog-entry) "tracking down" a rather uncommon Livingstone's lourie in the thick underbrush (in the Victoria Falls area) was quite a mission but a pleasurable excercise.

Finally! A clearer - if NOT closer - look of a Crimson boubou. Since I first saw this bird in the Etosha Park region (Namibia) about 5/6 years ago, I've "dreamed" of seeing again/photographing this bird.

Another first for me - like the Monteiro's hornbill [SEE: previous blog-entry] this localised (= rather rare) Collared Palm thrush is a new "addition" to my collection of birds photographed.

I've seen & photograped these Green pigeons before, but it was nice to detect 2 of them close together on a branch.

I believe this is yet another first for me, if I'm correct & it's a Swamp boubou - because its underparts are all white & I was at the "right place" (= the region where this bird occurs).

A cute female Paradise flycatcher also "entered the picture" - although I would have prefered to "catch" a male (with its LONG tail) instead.

Then I noticed what I assume was a junior Golden-tailed woodpecker . . .

. . . because a female Golden-tailed woodpecker was nearby - checking if her youngster was safe?

A "flash" of purple flying by alerted me to this bird, which came to rest on a branch - a Plum-coloured starling, which unfortunately only "presented" its back to me, instead of a side-view, so its contrasting white underparts aren't visible.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Birds in Abundance

When touring through 5 southern African countries (Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe & Zambia) it's "part of the deal" to come across a great diversity of birdlife - like this Secretary bird. Although this large & long-legged bird is listed as occuring commonly all over this region, one usually only sights it in drier, semi-desert areas.

A Kori bustard frequents a similar habitat like the previous bird, although mostly in the drier, western regions of southern Africa. Because this is the heaviest of the "flying birds" (in contrast to e.g. the non-flying ostrich), it's "logical" that it's reluctant to fly and instead tends to walk slowly & habitually, with measured strides.

Although similarly large as the 2 previous birds, the (Southern) Ground hornbill is listed as a vulnerable bird & only occurs in the eastern regions of southern Africa. However, this appears to be "my" bird, because 9 out of 10 times when visiting the Kruger National Park, I'm priviledged to come across at least one of these birds (as some of my previous blog-entries "testify").

Smaller in size but also belonging to the same family as the previous bird, is a Trumpeter hornbill. Its habitat is also much "smaller" - occuring mostly in the (wetter) eastern regions. Although usually gregarious (= in flocks of up to 50 birds, which can be very noisy), this "specimen" was all alone when I snapped it at the Chobe River (Botswana).

This Redbilled hornbill certainly is a much more abundantly "found" bird, even if it only occurs in the northern & eastern parts of South Africa. I'm including it today mainly because it "posed" so prettily but also . . .

. . . by way of a comparison with this family-member: a Monteiro's hornbill, because this bird is only found in the arid, rocky & hilly areas (with savanna woodland) of north-west Namibia. It also was a "FIRST" for me - I've never seen nor snapped this bird in nature before!

Moving on to another bird species, a Brownhooded kingfisher usually occurs only in the eastern regions but including the Caprivi-strip area of Namibia - where this bird was in abundance during the last tour, especially around the Victoria Falls area.

The habitat of a Darter includes almost any inland water areas, & this one was snapped (whilst prettily but habitually spreading its wings) at the edge of the Chobe River. When in water, this bird swims "low", with usually only its head & neck showing - hence its other name = snakebird.

Like most of the previous couple of birds, a Spottedbacked weaver occurs in the (wetter) eastern & northern regions = usually near water. Since this is the mating season, many of these males were building nests & "performing" noisily to attract females to their newly constructed nests.