Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Tanzanian Bird-fest continued....

On Sunday afternoon we arranged to fetch Andre and Amanda from their home and the four of us set off for a ride in the bush. And of course, for a spot of birding! As we drove through town,  Andre pointed to an office building where a Common Kestrel was sitting in an alcove in the wall.
Common Kestrel Male

Grant drove nearer to the building; his vehicle has only two passenger doors, and as Amanda and I were sitting on the back seat, I had to wriggle out of the sliding window, stretch up over the roof and point and shoot. (Phew! the lengths birding enthusiasts go to to get the perfect shot!) 
 The kestrel sat quietly ...
... while I snapped away 

We eventually drove off and out of the mine. At the first reservoir, I asked Grant to stopped as I'd seen a Hamerkop. Directly translated from Afrikaans to English, this bird would be called a Hammerhead due to the shape of its head. In the photo below, though, the bird was preening and never lifted its head to form the hammer. 
 A Hamerkop

Around the next corner, I called out for Grant to stop again! There was another Common Kestrel sitting on top of a stop sign! I thought it made a good subject.
 Common Kestrel, female
 A good subject

We drove out to the large dam beyond town where we met Wessel, Louise and son, Wessel. The wind was pumping so wildly that we didn't even get out of the vehicle. Grant turned the car and drove back through the bush towards the mine.  He wanted to show Andre and Amanda the Dabchick on its nest

As the dam came into view, Amanda pointed to a flurry of movement on the water.  A pair of White-faced Whistling ducks and nine ducklings. Of course, Grant stopped the vehicle and I got my fill of photographing this delightful little family! 
 A family of White-faced Whistling Duck on the dam
 The parents carefully herding their flock 

According to my Birds of East Africa book, this duck's bill is black with a blue bar at the tip. However, to the naked eye and in my photos, the adult's bills are almost completely blue while the ducklings' bills are all-blue. My Birds of Africa, South of the Sahara doesn't shed any light on the bills so I'm not sure what this feature means. However, technicalities aside, this was a lovely little family of ducks to watch. 

 A close-up of the ducklings

We drove slowly towards the end of the dam where the Dabchick, true to form was sitting on its nest. So Grant proudly showed Andre and Amanda "our" Dabchick!  

We finally moved on and back to town. As we approached the security gate, I asked Grant to stop and reverse a few meters. I'd seen a movement in some scrub. As we stopped, all four of us saw the birds hopping between branches
 White-browed Coucal

We left the mine and drove towards Andre and Amanda's camp. As we approached the gate, we spotted a small flock of hornbills. Grant stopped the car (what else?) and although it was late and the light was not at all favorable , I managed to get a few photos.   
 African Grey Hornbill
 Three of the four African Grey Hornbills in a tree along the road to the camp
A wonderful birding outing was had with our friends!  

And as if that wasn't enough Birdfest, last night Thys and Marnitz sat chatting with us before we go off on leave (tomorrow). I had already gone indoors (to blog, no less!) when Grant called to me that the owl had returned. I dashed outside again where Marnitz was training his torch/flashlight on the owl. It was sitting in the same place as last week.

This time I decided to use the "auto" feature on my camera. I hardly ever use this, especially not for bird photos, but thought it might be better to do so this time. As I focussed on the bird which was gazing down on us, my camera instructed me to raise the flash. Thank goodness I did, as all the photos taken previously were not at all clear. 
  The Barn owl, a regular visitor to our garden! 

The Barn owl gazing down on the humans looking up at it! 

I hope you're all having a wonderful week.



  1. Perfect photos of your neighbourhood owl.As you will be travelling, I'm not sure when we'll see you blog again. Until then, have a safe and happy journey. Hugs. xx

  2. Jo, what a wonderful series of birds and photos. Cool sightings, Love the Hornbills and your garden Barn owl. Great shots, have a wonderful day!

  3. I wish we had this many different birds around my place.

  4. My last post was about a book, the true story of a woman's experience with her barn owl, Wesley. Most interesting read about their 19 years together. I wish you could read it, but I don't know about availability where you are. You might find my post a bit interesting. I wonder if I'd be breaking some blogging rule of etiquette by putting my link here for you.

  5. Wow...these are All just gorgeous Jo!

  6. Wow---you did have a great bird outing, didn't you ? I love seeing all of your birds since most of them are SO different from ours here. AND--I love that Barn Owl... What a cutie!


  7. You captured a lot of birds in one outing, Jo! Fantastic! I think my two favorites are the White-faced Whistling Ducks and the Barn Owl. They are both so unique looking.


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