Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First birding weekend in Mwadui (October 2013)

On Sunday Grant and I managed to get onto the mine and beyond to do some birding - the first since returning to Mwadui. 

The first bird we spotted in the bush beyond the mine (which was devoid of nature on our way in - we think it was too hot) was the delightful little d'Arnard's Barbet. It sits quite still and you're able to take photos of it to your heart's content!
d'Arnaud's Barbet

Once we reached the dam, we encountered a great deal more birds, all water birds. In the distance I could see a small flock of Pink-backed Pelicans. They looked pink in the late afternoon light. Then I spotted a lone pelican floating nearby. I managed to get several photos of it, and when I downloaded them onto the computer, I noticed an orange knob on the tip of its grey-pink bill.  I referred to my little field book, Birds of East Africa and viola! There it was, the Pink-backed Pelican is smaller than the Great White Pelican (also seen in our area) and has an orange nail at the tip of its bill.
 A small flock of Pink-backed Pelican with White-faced Whistling Ducks in the foreground (and two Yellow-billed Stork in the background!)

Although it was feeding (we saw it spear fish on two occasions) and moving quite fast, I managed several photos of this regal looking bird

 Here the orange nail at the tip of its bill is clearly noticeable 

Although I cut the tail end of the bird off in the photo, I felt I should show it close-up 

As we watched the birds in the water, something must have disturbed the White-faced Whistling Duck on the far side of the dam. They whistled wildly and then in unison, rose up into the air. Although it was a beautiful sight, I don't ever manage to photograph birds in flight. However, with a couple of clicks, I managed to get a reasonable photo of the ducks in the air as they flew over us. 
 White-faced Whistling Ducks in flight 
Focusing on the water again, I captured a few Red-knobbed Coot 

We finally climbed into the vehicle again and headed home. Around the next corner, a coucal flew across the road in front of us. As Grant stopped the car, the White-browed Coucal landed on a small sandbank on the edge of the road. I've never seen a coucal on the ground; I normally have to try and focus on this busy bird through branches. This day I was able to get clear photos.
  White-browed Coucal 

 It was also interesting to me to see the coucal walking and not hopping as it does from branch to branch

 Eventually it flew up into a small tree and with one last pose, it flew off into the bush

As we drove onto the airstrip, we started peeling our eyes for kestrels. We hadn't seen any for many months as these birds are migrants. Sure enough, on a power-line pole we spotted a Grey Kestrel. It was having a recently-caught meal so the photos are none-too-clear but at least I've seen my first kestrel this summer! 
 A Grey Kestrel enjoying its afternoon meal 

 A morsel visible in the Grey Kestrel's bill

We were thrilled that our first birding trip on the mine yielded such good results. For today's post I'm linking to Wild Bird Wednesday which you can access by clicking here


  1. Hi Jo, Great group of birds... They are so different than ones I see here. I especially loved the Barbet... What a gorgeous bird!


  2. Nice selection of birds. The pelicans look so regal.

  3. The barbet is indeed lovely, and I'm impressed with the pink-backed pelican. Dick loves pelicans, and would photograph them for hours if I had a place to sit down to wait for him.
    Congratulations on the coucal. Your mention of it walking reminds me how much I like starlings. Everyone thinks they're a nuisance, except me, because I love to watch them walk. They look so pompously preposterous, or perhaps preposterously pompous!
    After you've been away for a while, I have to remind myself that "on the mine" means "on the land owned by the mining company" and a "dam" is a body of water. Now I'll remember until the next time you're away. LOL
    Hi to Grant and your many (now) cats, with a special hug for Shadow because I've followed his travels since he was a kitten.
    Luv, K

  4. You did well on your first trip this summer. You have captured the birds beautifully, The barbet is a beauty.

  5. You live in a whole different world to me!! I dont even recognise the bird names!

    I need to visit Africa again - spent a week in north Africa many years ago, but spent too much time looking at buildings rather than birds!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  6. Wonderful collection of birds, Jo! The Pelicans are cool and I love the Barbet.

  7. Very nice post! Thanks for sharing. Aloha

  8. and ... you are back into your birds again ! I quickly close your post, it's not really for cats !


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