Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Last birding for April 2014

In March, we'd heard from Liz and Neil, Dar es Salaam birding club,  who also id my birds when I'm stuck, that a keen birder, Kevin was studying here and would love to go out into the bush with us. 

Grant collected me from home, but as we were driving off, Mataluma, the Guest House gardener came running up to my window. He kept saying I should come and see ndege mtoto/ baby bird. While Grant waited in the car, I got out and walked down the road from our house. When he approached a very densely leafed tree, Mataluma crept under the branch and gesticulated frantically for me to come in as well. I slunk in and looked up to where he was pointing. My heart almost stopped. It was the tiniest owl, sitting there asleep. I asked Mataluma to run up and tell Babu, which is Grant's Tanzanian name, to come down with the vehicle. 

When Grant quietly approached, he also saw the cunningly concealed owl, but said it could be a Pearl Spotted Owlet which is one of or smallest owl. But an owlet doesn't have ear tufts and this owl has prominent ear tufts! 

African Scops Owl 

 I took several photos send to Jez and then left the owl in sleep in peace 

We drove to the student's quarters on the other side of town, and went out into the bush. As we approached the explosives magazine, Kevin called for Grant to stop. In front of us on the road, was a Straw-tailed Whydah. Although it's difficult to get clear photos of birds on the ground, these images came out quite well.
  Straw-tailed Whydah with its glorious tail trailing behind it
The Straw-tailed Whydah is endemic to NE Africa

Just around the corner, Grant stopped for when Kevin spotted a Silverbird. He zoomed in with his binoculars and told me to take a look. I then zoomed in with my camera, and saw that it was a Juvenile Silverbird! 
 Juvenile Silverbird with heavily-marked underparts 

We ultimately spent two hours in the bush and saw many birds (I hope to post the others tomorrow) However, one sighting which was very exciting, was when driving along the bush road near the dam. As we stopped and listened, we heard the bubbling call of a White-browed Coucal. 

Grant stopped as we spotted it and a Bishop in a bush nearby. I got out, stood on the running board with my camera on the roof. I took a photo of the coucal in full cry; then I zoomed out and managed to photograph both birds. While I was still focusing on the birds, the bishop dived in and attacked the Coucal which is a quarter of the size of the larger bird! 

Later we saw the same thing happening as we drove along the mine road while returning to camp! We've concluded that obviously the Coucal robs the Bishop's nests of eggs and babies hence the aggressive behavior of the Bishop when the coucal is nearby! 
The partly concealed White-browed Coucal on the left with the Bishop higher up on the right! 

 The White-browed Coucal in full cry

The much, much smaller Bishop attacks and ultimately chases the White-browed Coucal 

I hope you're all having a great week. I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday hosted by Stewart Monckton.



  1. Wow, that got pretty exciting there at the end, Jo. I love the owl, but the straw-tail was amazing. When I saw the first shot of it, I thought it actually did have straw attached to it somehow. Wow and more wow.
    So nice that you and Grant were able to take Kevin out for a spot of birding in the bush.
    The new news here, which I'm not going to post on my blog or on Facebook, is that we're going to Europe again. Dick got an e-mail yesterday about a fabulous deal on a river cruise from Budapest to Bucharest. It's been a hectic two days getting it all figured out, as we have to fly to Vancouver because Calgary isn't one of their departure cities, and after much confusion, all has been solved. We leave home May 5 and get back May 18. This will require changing some appointments, and having our grandson babysit Lindy at our friends' house one night when they have tickets for a concert, but there we are. I've even arranged for the ship to have distilled water onboard for my sleep apnea machine.
    Looking forward to hearing about your trip home.
    Hugs to the cats and dog.
    Luv, K

  2. More great birds from Tanzania.... You have SO many beautiful birds --and oh, so colorful... Love them!!!

    Hope you continue to feel well.

  3. Great sightings! Especially the Scoops Owl.

  4. Hello Jo, sounds like an awesome time starting off with the fantastic sighting of the Scoops Owl.. And the Straw-tailed Whydah is a neat looking bird. Wonderful bird post, thanks for sharing. Have a happy day!

  5. Hi JO I have just read your very exciting post with great birds seen and wonderful shots of them. I often wonder when I see your birds will there be some of the same birds in Malawi when I go there later in the year? thanks for sharing this great post and for taking Kevin birding.

  6. Have you ever drawn up a birding list of all the birds you've seen around there.

  7. Jo you always have so many wondrous birds that I can only dram about. This bird meme really is a great way of seeing the diversity of the avian world around the globe. Love that little owl.

  8. Very beautiful and exciting Jo!

  9. You truly do have some wonderful photo's of the birds. So many different kinds. And, they're beautiful! :)

  10. Wow ! Your photos are so beautiful !

  11. Wow so many awesome birds. That little owl is adorable. Was it very big?
    Loved the bird with the straw like tail, so unusual looking.
    I agree with Arija's comment. This is one way I get to see birds I would never see in real life and it's wonderful.


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