Wednesday, March 5, 2014

First Birding with New Camera

Having arrived back in Mwadui on Friday, 14th February, we managed to get out for our first spot of birding the next day. Of course, I wanted to test my new camera on the many summer birds available in the area at the moment. 

As we left town through the boom gate, I spotted a Striped Kingfisher in a bush near the road. 
 Striped Kingfisher
As this bird has a dusky bill, I think it may be a juvenile

Driving through the bush, at first we didn't see a thing. (Grant normally mutters things like: "Eish, how many pigeons are there in Africa?" or "Really lean pickings today." Grant stopped at the small dam which is so inviting and calm, but not a thing was spotted. I took photos of the beautiful blue pond lilies.

As we rounded the corner, I asked him to stop as I'd spied an LBJ  which we not seen before. I managed a photo of the first one and soon it was joined by another. Later Jez identified them as Grey-Headed Silverbills.
Grey-headed Silverbill

 A pair of Grey-headed Silverbills

As normally happens on a birding outing, once you've seen the first bird/s, they seem to be waiting around the corner in their droves for you! Just around the corner (yes) we stopped again when I spotted a beautiful dark bird with a long tail flying across our path. (BTW, once we'd downloaded the photos, we saw that the bird was actually dark [steel] blue. And that's what it was: a lifer for us: a Steel-blue Whydah.
  Steel-blue Whydah
A close - up of the Steel-blue Whydah

A few meters on, we stopped to watch a weaver hard at work, building his nest. Back home in Marquard, we often watch the Southern Masked weavers building nests in our garden. This weaver was a bit different and when we cross -checked it later, we found that we had seen the Northern Masked Weaver which is endemic to N/E Africa. Another lifer for us!
Northern Masked Weaver 

 Northern Masked Weaver hard at work, building his nest

And as I was photographing the nest-building weaver, Grant pointed to a couple hundred meters into the bush. Using our binoculars, I focused on what looked like a large blob to the naked eye. It was a Bateleur! 

Now it was time to really put my new camera, with its [much] stronger zoom, to the test. I took several photos and when I downloaded them, I managed one quite clear one for posting. 


Bateleur (Female) 

The Bateleur has been referred to in the bird-world, as a clown. When it flies, it rarely flaps its wings; it regularly rocks from side to side. The male has long black secondaries (feathers closer to the wing) while only the tips are black in the female. 

We've been watching a pair of Bateleurs for the past two years. Only thing is they were always very far away. This time this one bird was close enough for me to get a photo and voila! 

As if bringing us down to earth, the next bird we saw was another "weaver-like" bird in the reeds near the road. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful sighting! 
Southern Red Bishop

And quite near to the Bishop, I photographed the next bird. 

Village Indigobird

Then we were at the dam, and Grant stopped so that I could focus on a couple of waders and plovers.
 African Jacana

Blacksmith Lapwing (Plover)

And then came the absolute treat for the day. Although I'd seen the female of this species several times in my Kenyan garden (and have photos of it), we had never seen the male. It's a beautiful specimen of sunbird! Take a look for yourself.
Variable Sunbird

Driving back towards town along the mine road, I saw a raptor fly down off the powerlines, dip in a pool of water below and fly up again. Grant stopped and I got a couple of good images.
 Steppe Buzzard
Although the following bird is prolific in our camps and considered quite a pest (they dive bomb you if you carry food outdoors!) I noticed one sitting on the powerlines and asked Grant to stop.  

Which he did, and I took photos of the Yellow-Billed Kite.
 Yellow-Billed Kite

I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday which you can access by clicking here .

Thanks for the wonderful wishes for our wedding anniversary - I had a great day at pottery and later tea and cake with the other ladies on the Client Camp!

I hope you're all having a great week.



  1. Hi What a wonderful trip out and you did see many interesting birds. You photographs are great and I hope you are pleased with your new camera.

  2. JO, what a a great outing. Wonderful variety of birds. Congrats on your lifers. Have a happy day!

  3. Well, what an outing for the new camera(you didn't give camera details)
    Congrats on the lifers, your photos are brill, but for me its the Sunbird that hits the mark.
    Take care, Gordon.

  4. WOW!!!! You really saw incredible birds!!!! Holy cow! Love that Sunbird and African Jacana....and of these days, I'll have to take a trip:)

  5. Amazing birds, thank you for sharing them with us!

  6. That Sunbird got me, it is just beautiful.


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