Friday, July 24, 2009

Red-Headed Finches at Sunset

These images of the male (above) and female (below) Red-headed Finches were downloaded from the Internet

The Red-headed Finch is a common resident to most of South africa, its range extending into the Namibian interior. It does not occur in the South-western and East coast region of Southern Africa. Favouring arid and semi-arid grasslands, this little bird is endemic to the Free State. Over our town in the Eastern part of the province, these birds, which occur in huge flocks in non-breeding season, are visible overhead every morning and evening. As the sun warms the flatlands, they rise as one man [bird!] from reeds at the town dam and flock to the farmlands beyond the town. Every evening as the sun begins to set, these valient little birds, leave their daytime smorgasbord of wheat and grass seeds, and flock back to the other edge of town to roost.

As can be expected they exasperate the farmers who lose thousands of tons of wheat a year to these voracious little birds. Who is to blame? The raptors, like the Lanner falcons, whose diet is almost entirely made up of smaller birds (such as pigeons, doves and the little passerines ie, finches) have been inadvertantly poisoned by the same farmers who intend to descimate the numbers of the finches, pigeons and doves who wreak such havoc on their crops.
Last night as I waited for my spinning class to begin, I climbed onto my little Nissan (pick-up) roof and snapped away at the amazing phenomenom of these hundreds,no thousands of birds flying over town to the dam to roost for the night. I used my long lens and clicked continuously for 15 minutes. When my instructor arrived and I packed my camera away, I looked up and the stream was still coming in. The previous evening I watched them with my binoculous and timed them. This stream of birds continued for more than 25 minutes before I had to go into my class and still had not let up.

The stream of birds flocking in goes on...

and on...

and on...

and on...

This sequence of photos took me sixteen minutes and the stream of birds was still coming over when I packed up my camera and went into my spinning class

For more beautiful sky images, click here


  1. Hi Jo, Did you by-chance COUNT all of those birds????? Ha Ha Ha.... WOW---that's a big bunch, isn't it????

    Your Red-headed Finches are gorgeous. We have the common House Finches here --which have a red head also (the males do).

    Hope you have had a great day.

  2. These are awesome shots.

    Have a great weekend Jo.

  3. Wow, that's a lot of birds. And such a gorgeous sky to back them. It's unbelieveable. No wonder the farmers complain, but, they seem to have brought it on themselves. Excellent series of captures.

  4. Hello Jo!

    Lovely little birds, aren't they?
    I would imagine, with such grasslands as you have in S.A., and possibly, as we do in Oz, these wonderful scenes would stir the heart, regularly.
    Thanks for your wonderful blog - I have it on my G/Reader and enjoy every post. (Got it from Lynda).


  5. Wonderful pictures of the birds in flight, and what a brilliant sky. We have pretty finches here in the UK but have never seen red headed ones on my travels abroad.

  6. What lovely pictures! I've only seen finches in cages. They are beautiful.
    Hope you had a good workout in spinning class.

  7. LOL Betsy, I would LOVE to know how many birds are in once photo frame and then from there I could probably work out how many birds cross our airspace twice a day. I intend to go down to the town dam and photograph them taking off in the morning or landing in the evening, but waiting for slightly warmer conditions. Have a wonderful weekend. BTW; I've been trying to become a follower of yours and can't - off to try again... (((Hugs))) Jo

    Thanks Regina, be blessed this weekend.

    Hi Gaelyn;) It really IS unbelievable. No-body else seems very interested in this sight, but I want to send photos to Birds & Birding (a wildlife magazine I subscribe to) Thanks for popping in. This is a wonderful sight of birds flocking. Lynda is amazing blogging/online friend and we met up in South Africa in May. (perhaps you say my and her blog about this?) Have a wonderful weekend. Jo

    Thanks Valerie, this was my second day attempt and I'm pleased the photos came out reasonably well. The bird fundis use L O N G lenses so I wasn't expecting much from my photography Thanks for visiting.

    Hi Dedene;) I've just been on your blog and saw the divine chocolate cake you baked. Thanks for popping in here. Oh and the spinning I never miss it. My older dil,Debbie
    andI go together when they're visiting and my son looks after the children. Enjoy your weekend.

    HELLLLLLLOOOO Bob! SOOO good to see you again. I've missed seeing you. Hope all's well.

  8. What an amazing sight, the birds and the sunset.They look pretty but I guess they are a pest now without their natural preditors.

  9. Incredible! I pity the poor farmers, but they are pretty little birds. Here in the California foothills we have a type of finch called pine siskins. They gobble up the thistle seeds that I put out in my finch feeder within about 4 or 5 days. I thought there were a lot of them until I saw your photos!

  10. Hi Diane;) yes, once again man has created his own problems!Thanks for visiting.

    Hi Pat;) Good to see you! We also have siskins, probably the same genus but I've not gone into that with my birdwatching hobby, These are many! Have a good weekend!

  11. Fantastic shots! Gorgeous colored skies and what a great backdrop for allllll those birds! Wow! Love your Red-headed Finches!
    Have a great weekend!

  12. Wow! That is a lot of birds!!

  13. Hi Sylvia;) Yes a lot of birds. Thanks for visiting. Have a great weekend.

    Hi hip chick;) good to see you. Thanks for popping in. Enjoy your weekend.

  14. The bird photos are fantastic!

    I can't believe all those birds! What an amazing site.

    Please visit me: Picture This . . .

  15. Love your pictures, and i love your country. My family visited SA in March, and we absolutely loved it. I think we`ll visit again. Meanwhile i`ll visit your blog for new pictures.

  16. Wow Jo, that's alot of birds. In the States we have some birds that flock like that, but not as many. My son Levi is always so amazed at this because we don't see this in Egypt.

  17. Hello Jo

    Thanks for visiting Roberto's Blogs.
    Your problem with Following gadget seems to be one a fair few bloggers are experiencing.
    My friend, Chuck, has picked up the problem and is sourcing some details to try and find an answer ... see:

    I know it's a lot of things to figure out, but essential to a result.
    BTW - I viewed all your Followers (37) with no problem. At first glance, I think it stems from, or could be related to gadgets on a blog. Maybe one is causing the problem.

    I'll try and find out for you, but visit Chuck's site and do some reading, too.


  18. That is just totally amazing! It would make one heck-of-a panorama!

  19. This "swarm" of birds is quite an amazing sight! It is almost scarey like a Hitchcock movie!

  20. Wow ! that almost looks like Hitchcock's birds !! wonderful shots !

  21. Very nice shot of the Red-Headed Finches. It must be really hard work to capture one of this in close up. Well done. The skies are terrific. A great combination of sky watching and bird watching!

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Alex's World! -

  22. Hi Picture this;thanks for visiting my blog. I popped along to yours and I love it. I'll visit often.

    Hi Linda;) what part of SA did you visit? I LOVE my beautiful country and always try to do justice to her beauty and wonderful weather! Off to see your blog...

    Hi Jackleen;) the one bird that comes to mind that you may see in Egypt is the Egyptian Vulture and of course the Egyptian Goose. My husband came across a huge heronry of Herons (Ha!) in the desert a few months ago. Your son is right: no sightings of these delightful little passerines. I'm studying all the migrations of birds (nothing serious,just my own hobby!LOL) and see that many birds who fly back to Europe when it's winter in Southern Africa, don't land (for long) in the desert counries such as Sudan and Egypt, etc. I look forward to seeing what the Sudan has to offer when I go up in September. Hugs

    Hi Bob, thanks for Chuck's link. Will read it in a mo. I think it's a gadget on my blog that's blocking my attempts to follow.

    Hi Betty;) thanks, but not as good as yours, by a long chalk...

    Hi Gattina, yes, quite like the movie!

    Hi Gemma;) thanks for visiting. I'll see your blog shortly.

    Hi Alexander;) yes I love birdwatching and LOVE skywatching. Can it get any better... thanks for visiting my blog. I'm off to see yours shortly.

  23. Amazing! So many of them, and how they enhance the sky!

  24. Impressive photos! I'm glad I discovered your blog.
    Sunny :)


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo