Blue Crane pair seen on Oliviershoek Pass, border between Kwa-Zulu Natal and Free State
The Blue Crane is endemic to Southern Africa. It's an all-grey crane with a bulbous head and a long, trailing tail.
The blue crane is currently listed as vulnerable with threats such as poisoning, illegal trade, habitat destruction, power line collisions and active persecution by landowners facing it. Although the blue crane faces many threats, many conservation measures have been put in place to protect the species by various conservation bodies like the South African Crane Conservation Program of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Overberg Crane Group. These groups have managed to form wonderful working relationships with landowners whose property the cranes live on, their staff, as well as the general public, in an effort to protect the blue crane.
The Blue Crane is South Africa's national bird.
After breakfast at a restaurant at the top of the mountain pass, as we were leaving, I heard beautiful birdsong. I reached onto the floor of the car where I always keep my camera handy and got out to look for the bird. Soon between me, Grant and Rina we spotted it sitting on a pole nearby.
The Cape Rock-thrush is endemic to South Africa and although at first I thought it was a Sentinel Rock-thrush (the Sentinel being one of the large mountain peaks in the nearby Drakensberg) once we'd checked in our bird book (also conveniently nearby at my feet in the car!) we saw that the other bird had a grey head which extended onto the upper breast. I thought this Robin-like bird was every bit as beautiful as his song. (This is the male of the species in my photo above)
We were only a couple of hundred kilometers from home when we spotted a raptor perched on the wire near the road. Although Grant and I felt we should know this bird, we struggled to identify it. Only when we got home and I downloaded my photos onto my laptop, and we saw a "similar" but more striking bird (which I'd captured near the Drakensberg the day before) did we realize we were looking at the male of this species.
Amur (Eastern Red-footed Falcon) Male
What confused us was that, in the bird world, normally the female is not as beautiful as the male in the bird. Here with this Amur Eastern Red-footed Falcon, as with its Western counterpart, the female is much more colorful and attractive than the male. (Yippee!!)
See for yourself ...
Amur (Eastern Red-footed Falcon) Female - isn't she a beauty?
I'm linking to Wild Bird Wednesday, a beautiful birding meme hosted by Stewart Monkton. Do pop in and see his stunning bird images by clicking here
Here's wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday!