Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two lifers spotted during weekend birding

Once again I have many, many birds, almost all waterbirds, which we saw over the weekend. The variety of birds in the muddy dam was phenomenal. 

The first bird we saw, was an African Fish Eagle. When I downloaded the photo, I noticed it had a speckled chest. So after checking in our bird book, Grant and I identified it as a juvenile African Fish Eagle. 

African Fish Eagle, Juvenile

Arriving at the dam's  edge, I got out and wandered closer to the edge to get a clearer photo of the Lesser Flamingo (which is still alone and working the shallows. While I was watching it, I spotted a different-looking duck almost on the other side of the dam.  It was a Comb Duck and a lifer !
A Comb (Knob-billed) Duck  
 African Jacana

 Black-winged Stilt

At the same time I photographed African Jacana, Black-winged Stilts, Yellow-billed Stork, Greater-white Egrets (sometimes capturing them all in one photo frame) and more. 
 Great-white Egret, with Black-winged Stilt (left) and Comb (knob-billed) Duck, right

Great -white Egret with African Jacana top left; Black-winged Stilt, bottom left; and Comb (Knob-billed) Duck, bottom right
 On the clay-like surrounds of the dam, were Great-white Egrets and Pelicans

While zooming on on a Black-winged Stilt working the water in the foreground, I spotted another long-legged bird. It was also black and white. Looking through the binoculars, I was thrilled to find that I was seeing a Pied Avocet. Although this bird is quite common in East and South Africa, Grant and I have never seen one. So another lifer! Although the Pied Avocet's long legs are blue grey (the Black-winged Stilt's are red) and their coloring is similar (although inverted), the Avocet's bill is unmistakable. It has a long upturned bill which it uses to sweep from side to side in the water,  and at great speed! I took dozens of photos before I managed to get one of it with the bill visible! 

Pied Avocet 

The next morning, Sunday, we drove to the dam again so that I could get better photos of the Pied Avocet. Once again, I was outside and taking photos of whatever I saw on the water while Grant sat in the vehicle and scanned the surroundings with the binoculars. Suddenly he said he could see "my" Avocet. And then he called out that there was a second one and a third one. Sure enough, when I focused my camera on the area which he pointed out, I saw three Pied Avocets, two were alike but the third bird had a mottled brown back. 
 The Pied Avocet displayed its bill for me (not really, I managed to photograph it in the nano-second that it lifted its head from the water)

 A pair of Pied Avocets working the shallows

Another lucky shot when the Pied Avocet was close to the water's edge

 The Pied Avocet Pair in the foreground, the juvenile Pied Avocet with mottled brown back, behind them 

So we had a really great weekend of birding, with spotting not only one, but two lifers in one day.

For more beautiful bird posts from around the world, please click here

I hope you're all having a great week.


  1. Hi Jo That was a wwonderful selection of birds in this posst and it was great that you got a lifer.

  2. That can't be bad at all, two birds of that quality added to your life list. I also like all the other shots, most of which would be lifers for me.
    All the best Gordon.

  3. Great place to find birds well done.

  4. You certainly found a great spot to go birding. Congrats on getting two lifers in one day ... that is a rarity in itself. I have to admit I love the Juvenile Fish Eagle ... I am a raptor person as a rule and that is a Raptor I have never seen. Great catch on all your birds ...

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  5. its always a thrill to get a lifer, two.... I bet your buzzing! Lovely species through out your post. I really wanted Comb Duck when I visited SA a few months ago, but missed it, along with plenty of other dips... :(

  6. Great selection of birds - the Fish Eagle is a huge looking birds - have found out that these Avocets are the same spies as the ones I hope to see on the UK next year.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  7. Wonderful birds to see. Congratulations on the lifers!


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