Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rewarding birding after rains

On Sunday morning Grant and I went out into the bush. It had rained long and heavy the day before so we expected to be inundated with birds and wildlife. However, apart from a few LBJ's who flew across the road so fast, I couldn't make them out, let alone photograph them.

On Monday night, after a sunny day, Grant and I went out again. This time we were rewarded at the entrance to the mine by a favorite little raptor sitting on the power lines. 
 Common Kestrel (Male) 

We continued onto the airstrip, turning off into the bush shortly afterwards. We did a forty five minute round trip, and believe it or not, that Kestrel was the only bird we saw that evening.

On Tuesday afternoon, I had to go into Shinyanga on company business for Grant. William, the company driver and I arrived back home at 4.40pm. I had one final errand to run across the road at the tailors, which I did. Then I fed the pups who'd not seen their Bibi all day, and Michael and I gave them a few minutes' of play on the lawn. All the time, I thought I hope Grant doesn't want to go out birding tonight; I just felt too tired to anything else. 

He duly arrived home at about 5.15 and immediately asked if I'd like to go birding. Of course, I said yes! 

And was I glad we did go out. It's most relaxing to drive through the African bush with the sun going down behind us while we craned our necks for birds and wildlife. 

We saw several Dik-dik and a long column of ants stretching from the bush to the right of us across the road and into the left side bush. These were really weird - looking ants which I've sent off to Jez for Id'ing. I'll post about these, the dik-dik and some of the birds in Eileen's Saturday Critters' Party post. 

Around the next corner, I noticed an Ibis sunning itself in the last sun rays. 
 I love the way the sun caught its eye, and also that its standing on one leg 

While I focused on the Ibis another bird landed in a branch just below. 

Fifty meters along the road, Grant stopped below a dead tree. A small flock of Fork-tailed Drongos were hawking for the supper. Knowing that it was almost impossible to photograph these birds, I didn't focus my camera on them. Then Grant said he could see a smallish "yellow-flecked" bird in the same tree. I stood on the running board and with my camera resting on the car roof, I zoomed in on the bird.
Pearl-spotted Owlet!
While I snapped away the owl issued a short sharp "tshrrr" 

The Pearl-spotted Owlet is a small, long-tailed owl. It has no ear tufts and has white spotting on back and tail. It has two black "false eyes"  on its nape.
With the owlet facing left, and its left eye still visible, the one false eye is visible on the back of its neck (I only noticed the thin branch in front of the bird when I downloaded the photos)

Although owls in general are locally common in Africa, they are extremely hard to see, especially in daylight. We were extremely lucky (and as you can imagine, thrilled) to see this one last night. We often hear its call at night in or beyond our garden. Its a series of low hoots rising in pitch "tu,tu,tu,tu, tu", then a nanosecond's pause followed by piercing, down-slurred whistles: tseuu,tseuu,tseeuu" 

As mentioned above I managed to feed the pups their penultimate meal of the day just after five. I managed to take photos of some of them standing against the wire, with Princess licking them clean through the openings and others still eating. 
 Mvulana and Bibi stand against the wire the better to see Bibi (me) ! 
 Aw mam, can I have a kiss too?
 The pups really enjoy their solid meals now

I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday which can visit by clicking here

I wish you all a wonderful Wednesday!


  1. Hi Jo

    Thanks for comment and email will write later on. I fear you may be pushing yourself a bit too much and getting tired. Please pace yourself. You want to be really fit for your holidays. Now, I have to say it must be great fun to go out with grant birding in the evenings and that owlet is a wonderful bird to have seen and then photograph. I looked the book to see the false eyes. I wonder if that is were we have the saying about " eyes in the back of our head"! I assume that Ibis is a Hadeda.

  2. Such a sweet little owl. Your shots are amazing.

  3. Hello Jo, You sound really busy.. I am happy that you decided to go out birding anyway. The birds were great.. I love the hamerkop and the cute owl. The puppies are always adorable.. Awesome photos..Have a happy day!

  4. That Owl is adorable and are those sweet pups!

  5. Lovely shots of the owls. Makes the trip out worthwhile.

  6. The owl is so great to see-- I love those brown eyes. Pups are just adorable, too.

  7. A wonderful evening of birding and I am especially impressed with the owl. I had never heard of a pearl-spotted owl and am thrilled to see my first one here. Wonderful pictures and information, Jo ...

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  8. Persistence pays off! Great finds!

  9. I love the kestrel. He looks a bit like our American Kestrel, but cuter. The owl is amazing.


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