Thursday, February 20, 2014

Biking and Birding in South Africa (Continued)

On the second day of our biking tour, we arrived at our next stop from Victoria West (traveling through Meiringspoort), to spend the weekend with Derek and Lesley at their weekend home on the Breede River Mouth. Grant and Derek spent the days fishing off the boat on the lagoon, while Lesley and I chatted, relaxed and watched the birds in and around their garden. 

At first Lesley said they were worried about a very aggressive bird, a Pin-tail Whydah who seemed to be monopolizing their bird feeder. It seemed to be chasing the drab brown birds also trying to feed. On closer inspection, I told her that the little brown jobs (birds) were actually the Pin-Tail Whydah's harem of females! He also seemed to chase the Common Waxbills from feeder. Then again,  the Pin-tail Whydah is a brood parasite and the female uses the Common Waxbills nests to lay it's eggs. 

The Common Waxbill whose nest is used by the Pin-tail Whydah to lay its eggs in

 Pin-tail Whydah 

Pin-tail Whydah (Female)

While relaxing on the deck, we heard the mammal-like call (wee-ah-ka-kaa) of the Jackal Buzzard overhead. I swung my camera up to the sky (not my forte at all!) and managed to capture this graceful raptor in flight. 
 Jackal Buzzard so named because its call is similar to that of the Black-backed Jackall

Leaning over the railings watching the men wash down the boat, I noticed a flurry of activity on the street below me. A Fiscal Flycatcher endemic to Southern Africa, so we don't see it in East Africa, was feeding its young.  Of course, I snapped it! 
 Fiscal Flycatcher and Juvenile to which it brought a meal!

The men returned from fishing with a lovely sized Grunter which they ultimately grilled on the fire. Meanwhile Lesley had seen on Face Book that there was a flock of Whiskered Tern on the fresh-water dam at the entrance to the town.  Grant, Derek and I drove up to the spot where the men waited patiently while I tried to capture this Palearctic migrant bird. 
 Whiskered tern, very difficult to capture over the reeds in which it hunts 

 The Whiskered Tern breeds in South and East Africa; hence the dark grey rump and black head in comparison to the non-breeding bird which is lighter grey and has a white head

As mentioned in my biking tour post on Tuesday, we left Derek and Lesley on Monday and rode up coast (heading eastward) to Wilderness. As we parked the bike next to our appointed log cabin, I heard a familiar bird call but which I couldn't place. After unloading the luggage, Grant and I walked around camp trying to locate this rather loud, yet elusive bird. 

Eventually we spotted it calling from the branches of tree near the Sanparks offices. 
 A Sombre Greenbul ... full cry!

 This bird has a specific call which I should have recognized (I been outta SA too long, LOL!) It was one of the first birds my sister-in-law, Shelley taught me to identify by sound. Its call: "weewee", which is followed by a liquid chortle, has been translated by birders as: "WILLY, quickly run around the bush and squeeeeeze-me"  

While enjoying "Willy" singing this lovely song, we also spotted a variety of other birds. 
 Common Fiscal 

 Spotted Flycatcher (Juvenile)

 Unidentified Sunbird (Female)

I hope you've all enjoyed our bird sightings as we biked through the Cape and back home again last month. The next birds I will blog about are about ones seen here in Tanzania since we returned a week ago. I was also blessed with a new camera which I'm learning to use here!



  1. I've been to the tropic of Capricorn - but I was on a different continent!

    Nice selection of birds.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  2. Jo, what a great variety of birds. It is cute seeing the adults feeding their young. The Whiskered Tern is a great sighting for you, congrats! Wonderful series, thanks for sharing. Have a happy day!

  3. Definitively not a post for Arthur ! All these birds ! Most of them I have never seen in my life. What I see around here are sparrows, robins and magpies ! Not to count the pigeons who like to use the cars as toilet.

  4. HI Jo A great selection of interesting birds you say from your bike trip

  5. Love seeing your birds Jo. That waxbill looks so like an American female cardinal.


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