Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Four lifers and many re-visits!

As normal we went out on Saturday morning for our hour's birding into the bush. From the minute we left town via the boom gate, I had my camera ready. And we weren't disappointed.

The first birds we came across were Black-winged Bishops. These birds are in full breeding plumage at the moment and I often manage to capture a male displaying.
Black-winged (Fire-crowned) Bishop displaying

Driving along the bush road, I managed to capture an LBJ sitting quietly on a bush nearby. When we sent it to Jez for identification, he said it could be a Parasitic Weaver (Cuckoo Finch) or a female Bishop. If this was the latter, then perhaps it succumbed to the beautiful displaying of the male above. I like to think so...
Not sure if this is a Parasitic Weaver or a female Bishop! 

As we slowly approached explosives magazine, Grant slammed on brakes. He pointed to a bird on the road directly in front of our vehicle. I opened the door, stood on the running board and snapped away.
Namaqua Dove (Female)

Looking to my left, I noticed a slight movement in between the grass polls. And there was the male!
Namaqua Dove (male)

When I got back into the vehicle, Grant pointed to something in a tree ahead. We drove closer and I zoomed in. While I was snapping away, I thought I was photographing a kestrel. However, once I'd downloaded my photos, Grant identified these as Red-necked Falcon. 
 Red-necked Falcon - a lifer for us! 

Although we drove through to the big dam, and I managed to photograph many more birds, they're all what I've posted about in the past weeks. 

And then our Saturday hour of birding was up and we returned to town. 

On Sunday morning Grant went off to the office after arranging to collect me at 9 as usual. I had hardly swallowed my oats porridge, when he arrived at about 8.20. He said he knew he was early but he'd seen what he thought was a juvenile African Fish Eagle in a tree near the sewage works (where the men fish on Sundays). I grabbed my basket  containing our binoculars and a few facial tissues, picked up my camera bag and jumped into the vehicle. 

As we approached the tree where Grant had seen the bird, it wasn't there. Just then I saw a bird strutting away from us on the haul road. Along with a couple of Yellow-billed Kites, it was pecking at insects on the ground. This made us think that a Fish Eagle wouldn't be displaying this type of behavior. 

Meanwhile I snapped away...

When we downloaded the photos later on, I identified our raptor as a Palm-Nut Vulture! 
Palm-nut Vulture - another lifer for us! 

We drove along the airstrip and soon we turned onto a side mining road. As we approached the explosives magazine, Grant slowed down. This area contains the small dam which has recently been utterly devoid of the  water birds, Malachite kingfishers and duck we saw here last year. As Grant stopped he spotted a bird on the water. It was a Little Grebe, (Dabchick) which I quickly snapped, just for posterity! Regular readers of this blog may remember how we watched a pair of Dabchicks on a nest and later with their young on this self-same dam! 
 Little Grebe (Dabchick) - the first one spotted this year! 

As we left the mine behind us and entered the bush, Grant's phone rang. He stopped and answered it.  In the corner of my eye, I spotted a small dark bird with a long tail fly across the road. It landed on a bush in the near distance. I jumped out of the vehicle and walking through the grass managed to zoom in on the bird. Even on my small camera screen, I could see that I was photographing a bird that I'd been hoping to see since my friend, Sue showed me one she'd snapped in a Kenyan Game Reserve!
 Eastern Paradise Whydah - a lifer for us!
Eastern-Paradise Whydah is a brood parasite and uses the next bird's nest in which to lay its eggs!
Green-winged Pytilia whose nest is parasitized by the Eastern Paradise Whydah

After this exciting sighting, we continued on our way through the bush. Not long and Grant stopped next to a bird sitting quietly in a bush next to the road.  I took several photos and it was only after we'd sent them off to Jez, that we heard what we'd seen.
 Grey-capped Social Weaver - another lifer for us! 

As we drove along, I heard a beautiful song and asked Grant to stop. It was coming from his side of the vehicle again, and sure enough, there was an LBJ sitting in a tree near the road. 
 Rattling Cisticola in full cry 
 The Rattling Cisticola eyes us before launching into song again!

As we drove on, I spotted what looked like a pigeon on the top of a tree quite a distance into the bush. Because I'm not ever going to be blase about a bird again, I asked Grant to stop. I zoomed in and was thrilled when the bird started to call. I could see its throat moving as I checked the focus on my camera screen. 
 Diderick Cuckoo with its descriptive call of Dee-dee-deed-ereek

On the way back towards the mine, I spotted a small bird in a bush on Grant's side of the vehicle again. He stopped and I leaned across him and took photos.  The first time we ever saw this bird, was on the balcony of our apartment in Khartoum. I do have photos of it here in Tanzania, but none as clear as those I took on Sunday.  
 Cut-throat Finch

As we rode onto the haul road where we'd seen the Palm-Nut Vulture earlier, I spotted a Kestrel on the overhead wires. Although I have many of these photos, and have posted about it before, I just couldn't resist showing it again! 
 Lesser Kestrel (female) 

Continuing in protest against the freezing conditions in my friend, Lori's home state, Western New York, I found some beautiful blooms in the bush while we were birding.
Bell-shaped Flowers in the Mwadui bush

To recap on my post on Tuesday where I said that in a house fire I'd save my cats first, then my laptop and hard-drive, I have to say here that after knowing each other for 45 years, Grant and I think and act alike. So where I was, he'd be as well, or just ahead of me (LOL!)  and hopefully in this case, he'd have to front door open and we'd all get out safely! 

I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday which is kindly hosted by Stewart Monkton of Australia. Do pop onto his blog and see his beautiful bird images here 

I hope you're all having a really great week.




  1. Oh, what beautiful birds and such a variety!! Terrific captures as always, Jo!! Thanks for sharing! Hope your week is going well!!

  2. I am almost envious of the multiplicity of birds zoo have access to. Wonderful captures Jo and such a loving husband to take you birding and STOP when you squeal.
    So kind of you to post so many wonders that I certainly will never have a chance to see in the wild.
    You must have a deal of virgin bush around.

  3. Hi Well what a wonderful colourful post and so many very different birds than I see here. You photographed them very well. It was a pleasure to make this birding trip out with you, I just wish it could have been with you in person.

  4. Jo, I want to go birding with you, LOL! Wow, awesome variety of birds and great photos. So many different cool looking birds and all within an hour? Love the tail on the WHYDAH...
    Each bird was beautiful as I scrolled down your post, congrats on the lifer. Lucky you!

  5. Your Raptors are prettier than ours!Hahaa
    And I think you interrupted a "love" moment on the road!
    Too Cute!

  6. Your bird pictures are beautiful ! but I would never get up early to watch birds. Tell me there are tigers and I would jump out of my bed !

  7. Amazing birds! The colours are incredible.

  8. All gorgeous photos Jo! What a great place to bird! Love the Whydah but the Red-necked Falcon is spectacular!

  9. I just can't get over the number of birds you have to photograph! You are living in a birder's paradise. Our birds have not yet returned. Maybe next month!

  10. an amazing variety of birdlife; and the leader photo the b.w.bishop...w-0-w

  11. Those are wonderful photo's! :)

  12. The tail of the EPW is remarkable - what a bird. The Dowitcher looks like a "fat snipe" in the field.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: thanks for the comment about comments!

  13. My goodness what an amazing birding life you lead! Wonderful pix...some of those are so exotic they don't even look real!


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