2024-02-25: Birds

I had a lot of bird images saved in my quick collection to edit, so I took the easy route, and worked on those today. Sometimes, the path of least resistant is the best way to go.

These images are both from my most recent travels and a trip to South Africa in 2019.

I’m sure safari guides never tire of guests calling this bird “banana head”. A yellow billed hornbill.
I believe this is a red-crested bustard, but without the crest lifted, it is a bit challenging to tell.
A fiery-necked nightjar spotted on the way back to camp.
A lilac breasted roller calling.
A majestic fish eagle.
A coqui francolin. I wish I could have caught him posing with something other than a large dung pile, but that’s where he wanted to be.
A grey go-away bird. This bird has simultaneously the most obnoxious and most hilarious call. If there is one hanging around my room, sometimes I’ll talk back to it. Whether that makes me obnoxious or hilarious is up for debate 🙂

2023-11-26: An assortment of birds

I felt like some colour on a dull day, so small birds with bright feathers it is. The lilac breasted roller remains one of my favourite birds to spot on safari, and I was quite excited on my past trip to have the chance to see other types of rollers as well. I didn’t get great photos of the other rollers, but included them anyways to show the variety of colours.

A lilac breasted roller.
A purple roller.

It was unfortunate to only see the purple roller and racket tailed roller high up against very bright skies, but at least I did get the racket tailed roller at the right angle to show off the interesting tail feathers.

A racket tailed roller.
A southern masked weaver.

These weaver images were taken in different areas; the southern masked weaver is wide spread and they create very interesting nests that often hang over water. The males are in charge of construction, and the females in charge of determining if the nest is up to standards or not. When you come across a large colony, you will often see nests that have been abandoned partway through construction.

A southern masked weaver colony in the midst of nest construction.
A male long tailed widowbird in breeding plumage.
A male violet backed starling.

2023-05-14: Pygmy Kingfisher

The pygmy is the smallest of the kingfishers seen in Southern Africa, and they really are a treat to spot, with jewel tone feathers and an intensely orange beak. This one was seen in typical woodland habitat. The barbed wire seems out of place in the bush, but the track we were driving along had an open construction excavation along the length of the road (I believe putting in a new water pipe), and the wire provided some demarkation between the work zone, and where it was safe to drive.

We were fortunate as this kingfisher kept flying off and back to almost the same spot on the wire, giving everyone in our group ample opportunities for spotting and photographs.

2023-05-07: Tawny Eagle

Tawny Eagle seen in Zambezi National Park. Zimbabwe, November 2022.

I believe this is a tawny eagle, but raptor identification has never been my strong suit, so I hope if I have that wrong, someone will provide a correct ID. I saw a lot of raptors on my trip, but didn’t get into the habit of writing down names, as often they were spotted when I couldn’t get an image of the bird. It was different being on a specific birding trip, rather than a general safari. Birding was concerned with sightings, whether they were close up or far away (and some of them were really, really far!), whereas a general safari is more focused on close sightings and photography. It was interesting learning more about birding during my trip, but I must admit, I prefer my bird watching to be closer to me, where I can really enjoy them, rather than a small spec through binoculars.

2023-04-23: Birds around the water

My photo sharing has been quite haphazard and random lately, and today is no different. As I got to my computer to work on images, the heavens opened up with the first thunderstorm of the year. After calming the pups down from the surprise of the loud noises, I thought decided to focus on bird around the water for today.

All of these birds are ones that I had seen before, but I still needed to go to my bird app to double check on both the heron and the kingfisher. Hopefully I have those identified correctly.

A hamerkop seen whilst on a drive around the town of Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe, 2022.
A group of pelicans spotted while on a game drive in Zambezi National Park. Zimbabwe, 2022.
A pair of African skimmers seen while on a boat cruise in Chobe National Park. Botswana, 2022.
A brown hooded kingfisher seen while on a boat cruise for the Zambezi River. Zimbabwe, 2022.
A striated heron seen along the banks of the Zambezi River. Zimbabwe, 2022.

2023-04-02: Birds in Southern Africa

The arrival this week of the robins makes it feel like spring is finally on the way, despite the volume of snow that is still on the ground. Listening to their song and seeing them on the road reminded me that I have posted very few bird images lately, even though my last trip was bird focused.

The selection for this week is fairly random; just a small sampling of some of the birds seen on my most recent trip, with more to follow.

A pair of lesser striped swallows seen in Madikwe. There were several pairs nesting in the photography hide at Jaci’s lodge, giving some great opportunities to watch these birds up close. South Africa, November, 2022.
A southern masked weaver perched in the reeds along the edge of a dam. This individual was spotted whilst on a bird trip just outside of Johannesburg. South Africa, November, 2022.
A long tailed widow bird spotted near Johannesburg. These birds are amazing in flight; their long breeding feathers nearly pulling them out of the air.
A starling, I believe the greater blue eared, seen while traveling in Zimbabwe. November, 2022.
A violet backed starling in perfect morning light. Botswana, November, 2022.

2023-01-01: Violet backed starling

I was glad to start the new year working on my photography a bit, even if it was primarily behind the scenes, housekeeping type work, like finally finishing my first round of star rating my trip photos. When I came to the few photos I captured of the male violet backed starling, I smiled remembering how excited I was to finally have the opportunity to capture one of these birds in fairly decent light; that was enough to decide that this was the photo to edit if there was only going to be time to do one.

Our tour had a one-day trip into Chobe National Park in Botswana. It was a place I had visited on my first trip to Africa, and our group even had lunch at the same lodge I visited the first trip, so it really was a walk down memory lane. Being a different season, the experience was significantly different, but still very enjoyable. After border formalities and getting to the park, we were driving towards the river when our guide heard of some lions off of the main road about 20 minutes away. Our two guides chatted for a few minutes while slowly driving along, before making the choice to turn back to give people the chance to see some big cats. We spotted this starling just before making the decision to turn around, and it was only one of two that I saw on the trip (the other not offering any photo opportunities) so I am glad we carried on as far as we did before turning back for the lions.

Male violet backed starling, Chobe National Park, November 2022.

2022-12-18: Eagle Owl

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken any volume of photos (May 2019 to be exact) and I’d forgotten how time consuming it is to go through images and rate them to determine which deserve editing. With other obligations for my time, I’ve only gotten through about 2/3rds of my images from my recent trip, on a first pass only. But, at least I am making progress. I reached the image I’m sharing today and decided to stop and edit it. I absolutely love owls, and it’s magical whenever there is an opportunity to see one. I was lucky enough to have one land outside my office window earlier this week, but as I was working I didn’t get any images. Maybe that is why this one stood out for me today.

On my recent tour, we were transferring from Hwange National Park to Tsowa Island in Zambezi National Park, and came upon a family of 3 Verreaux’s eagle owls. While they were quite high in the trees, there were still opportunities for good viewing and photos. I think I captured a few images with a least two of the family together, but I’m running out of day, so a single owl will have to do for today.

While I still haven’t gotten back into any type of routine with editing and posting, it feels good to be spending some time on this again.

2021-05-02: Saddle billed stork

I’d planned to get some images of local birds this week, but the weather was playing against me, with lots of rain and gloomy skies. And, the one time I did get out with my camera, every bird in the yard mysteriously vanished, only to reappear once the camera was put away. They didn’t budge when I was out doing yard work, just when I had the camera – some days are like that.

So, instead I have a saddle billed stork taking a rest at the side of a dam. They look very strange with their legs folded in that manner, with their bodies appearing far out of proportion to their height off of the ground. The saddle billed stork is one of the nicest looking stork species in my opinion. I must admit, when I see a marabou stork, I do cringe a little bit.

Fingers crossed for more promising opportunities with the local birds, as there is a wonderful variety here now.

Have a great week everyone.

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