Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Last birding post from South Africa

On our road trip back from Kwa-Zulu Natal to the Free State, we stopped and I took photos of several birds along the way. At a STOP/GO roadworks which are prevalent all over South African roads, Rina spotted a pair of Blue Crane in the field nearby.
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.
Cape Rock-thrush

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!


  1. A wonderful day of birding. I'm sorry the Blue Crane is being extinguished. It's horrible what man does to the earth and to the animals. I've only seen very few cranes and that was here in Canada. I don't get out to see the birds much though we do have some beautiful wetland areas where the birds thrive.

  2. beautiful captures of these magnificent birds.

  3. Love the bird photos. More interesting as it is from a part of the world that I haven't yet visited.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog for WW.

  4. hi Jo. This is one great trip. Wonderful bird shot. Sorry to hear about the Crane

  5. In Singapore, near where I lived, were some egrets. They tell me they are from South Africa.

  6. Incredibly beautiful bird images Jo! I'm so glad you stopped by. I will grab your blog url address and add it to my blogger reading list on my sidebar so I won't miss any of your posts!!!

    Thanks for the wonderful comment.

  7. Well, I think they're All beautiful! Nice shots Jo!

  8. I do love your bird photos Jo. That is so unusual for the female to be more showy.

  9. Gorgeous birds! I love the female falcon.

  10. Its so sad to hear of birds being on the endangerd list, and you can bet 90% of the time man is to blame.
    Your pics are good on the eye.
    All the best Gordon.

  11. some really beauties here; lovely to see

  12. Great shots! I love seeing birds from all over the world. It is too bad about the crane.

  13. Delightful shots of birds from your part of the world. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Its always special to see our national bird somewhere in the wild, specially seeing they threatened status. I'm driving down to Cape Town in two weeks and really hope to spot some in the Overberg.

  15. What wonderful captures!

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Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo