Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Last birding of 2013

Between Christmas and New Year, Grant and I did quite a bit of birding. We had lots of rain during this period but as the sun came out, we'd take to the bush road and go birding! 

On Christmas Day afternoon, instead of sleeping off our rich lunch, we drove along the mine road, through the bush and to the dam. As usual we saw likkewaan / monitor lizard, dik-dik/ deer, mice and even a small colony of banded mongoose (the last two were too quick for me and I missed photographing them). 

As we rode along slowly, eyes peeled and ears open for bird sounds, I heard a Diderik Cuckoo calling from the bush to the left of the vehicle. I peered into the middle distance which was where I thought the call was coming from. Suddenly my eyes lit on the beautifully colored and barred bird sitting in a bush, not three meters from me!
Diderik Cuckoo - my first in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania)
Didkerik Cuckoo in full cry: Di-di-diderik 

Seeing this bird at such close quarters, made me think that when I hear a bird, I normally think it's quite far into the bush. The Diderik Cuckoo showed me that I need to look close by as well as further afield, else I'd end up missing a cool sighting. 

A little further along, we stopped to photograph a d'Arnaud's Barbet. This little bird will sit quite still while you take photos of it! 
d'Arnaud's Barbet - a perfect photo subject

As we drove onto the dam wall, I noticed a flash of bright color in the reeds to the right of our vehicle. I got out and managed to take several photos of an African Purple Swamphen building a nest within the reeds. This bird is a large gallinule with a massive red bill, long red legs, with a purplish coloring  with a turquoise neck and breast and a metallic back. (I told you it was colorful!)
African Purple Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) - male

As I panned my camera across the water, I noticed another flash of color - this time the female of the species who was stepping across the lily pads. 
 African Purple Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) female
A pair of Pink-backed Pelicans

Still riding along the wall, we saw a smallish flock of White-faced Whistling Duck walking along the water's edge. I just LOVED the way they waddled along; I tried to capture this action - without much success!
A pair of White-faced Whistling Duck waddling along the water's edge

We left the dam and drove back along the bush road towards the mine. As we entered the bush area again, Grant stopped for me to photograph a bird sitting beautifully still on a tree branch nearby.
The Silverbird - another perfect photo opportunity

Further along we stopped at a large body of water covering the road. 

 After the recent heavy rains,  the roads are all awash with large pools of water

Why did we stop? Because I'd seen a Hamerkop and wanted to photograph it, that's why!

As the vehicle idled here, we were rewarded with a cyclist coming along from the front.
This man road through this puddle without any splashing

As we sat waiting for the cyclist to pass, Grant looked up onto the powerlines to his right. There was a pair of Pied Kingfisher. I opened my door (which is on the left!) and stood on the running board. With my knee pressed against the edge of the dashboard for purchase, I leaned the camera on top of the roof and snapped away. All the while I thought if I lost my balance, I would fall backwards into a shallow pool of muddy water and probably ruin my camera! I was pleased with the resultant photos though.
Pied Kingfisher (Male)
Pied Kingfisher (Female) Can you spot the difference between the two birds?

A little further along, we stopped (again!) and I focused on a Grey-headed Kingfisher which had been sitting on the powerlines, dived down into the grass below and back up onto the line. He'd caught his dinner.
A Grey-headed Kingfisher eating a lizard caught in the grass below these powerlines. Contrary to being called a Kingfisher, this Grey-headed Kingfisher doesn't eat fish. Rather it's found singly or in pairs and often along water courses where it feeds on a variety of insects and small lizards (as can be seen above) 

As we drove towards home, Grant stopped for me to photograph a Black-shouldered Kite sitting on the top of a dead tree. I've posted photos of this beautifully clean-looking bird before and decided to post one last one for 2013!
Black-shouldered Kite

For more bird posts, please visit Wild Bird Wednesday hosted by Steward Monkton and which you can access by clicking here

To all my bird-blogger friends: it's good to know you and here's to a happy and prolific birding year in 2014.


  1. Nice photos!
    Happy New Year to you!

  2. Great series. Happy New Year.

  3. A geat trip and interesting photos,especially the Diderik Cuckoo , I saw them only few times as very shy birds. A Happy New Year to you.

  4. Happy New Year. Sorry I often pop in and see your posts but seldom leave comments. No real excuse other than I am always short on time. Hope 2014 is a good year for you. Diane

  5. Lovely bird shots. Thanks for your good wishes! Happy New Year and may this one be the best yet!

    Cheri of
    Carolina Mts

  6. Oh yes, I can tell the difference. The male has a bar across his chest.
    Thought I'd better say that before I forgot.
    Thinking about how much we'd love to be there with you. What amazing birds you have, not to mention amazing cyclists. How could anyone ride through a puddle without splashing? Glad you managed to avoid falling in.
    The Hamerkop is an amazing-looking bird, while the Silverbird is simply beautiful, and the ducks are just delightful.
    The cuckoo's fluorescent green colours are fabulous, and the Swamphen's variety of colour is astonishing, as is its stand-up tail.
    Thank goodness for the d'Arnaud's Barbet and its perfect posing. If I were there, I'm sure I could get a photo of that one, at least!
    There. Now I almost feel as if I've been birding in Africa.
    Happy New Year.
    Love, K

  7. Such a great afternoon of birding, and lots of colors, especially the Diderik Cuckoo. I think the Hammerkop looks very cool and love All the Kingfishers.
    May 2014 bring you more lifers.

  8. Great set of birds - all but one (the b/s Kite) would be new for me.

    Yet another place to visit!!

    Looks like you had a good New Year.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  9. Great set of photos, I really like the King fishers.
    All the best Gordon.


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