Look….Daddy!

DSC_0087Yesterday I was busy with something and the little man showed me a find. He was pretty excited about the find, because the birdie he saw was the first one he could mimic. Fortunately this expanded to other sounds, because these actually make pretty annoying sounds.

He was pointing at the bird and wanted me to confirm that is was in fact a Hadeda Ibis. I said yes, and he watched the Hadeda hunting for worms in the grass.

DSC_0098DSC_0106Annoying as they are, and no friend with an infant in the house. They have this thing of calling each other, constantly in communication in flight or when separated. So at nap times I ran out like I have lost my marbles chasing them away by throwing rocks and jumping up and down. After the first 6-8 months they took the hint and we saw them less and less, but they are back again and luckily less of an issue for the napping toddler.

DSC_0108DSC_0076Boeta stood there watching the bird and he now enjoys their presence with all the other birds that come to look for seeds in the garden. In fact the putting seeds out for the birds has become a high point for the little man.

DSC_0104We saw the Hadeda getting one worm and he seemed to have targeted another, but was left empty “billed”.

DSC_0110 DSC_0111DSC_0114Boeta also pointed out a Black-headed Heron that was sitting on a high point a few houses down.

DSC_0122We love his pure excitement when he sees birds and other wildlife for that matter, something we make a point to react on immediately when we see he is excited, making us excited in return. Fun!

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Face to Face…with an Eagle-Owl.

Another of our great memories. …
A while back we visited a raptor rehab facility near Addo. The birds and snakes they have are either injured or taken from owners, who cannot look after them. In many cases they cannot be released, due to imprinting. Sad as some of the stories are, we met this beautiful Cape Eagle-Owl.

06-Owl, Cape eagle-owl (2)He had a Spotted Eagle-Owl as a friend.

02-Owl, Spotted Eagle Owl (8)It was such a fantastic experience to be close to these birds. They are used to educate students at schools about owls and they are full of games as well. We were told that by afternoon they like chasing the minder around the big cage. We found them in a great mood for some attention.

The Spotted Eagle-Owl
He likes a scratch. My wife got a bit of a shock, when he decided its better to get the TLC in a more direct way.

10-Owl, Spotted Eagle-owl12-Owl, Spotted Eagle-owl (3) 11-Owl, Spotted Eagle-owl (2)When he was not happy with this head-scratching he decided to gently ask her to move the finger another itch!

14-Owl, Spotted Eagle-owl (5)Yes, yes, much better…

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The Cape Eagle-Owl

Our second eagle-owl did not really appreciate the attention given to his friend and decided it would be the best time to have a stare-down with someone or something.

07-Owl, Cape eagle-owl (3)He first tried me, then thought to have a go at the one-eyed camera lens.

15-Owl, Cape eagle-owl (6)17-Owl, Cape eagle-owl (7)Not satisfied with the lack of reaction, he decided to go at his minder and sure enough they had a good stare-down.

20-Owl, Cape eagle-owl (10)Goal achieved! Everybody is now certain who the boss is and he will allow a head scratch.

18-Owl, Cape eagle-owl (8)This was a great treat for us! We will go back next time we visit the area, just to look in on our new friends. I would rather see them in the wild, but on rare occasions like these, you cannot help but feel privileged for the chance to get really close and you walk away with a renewed appreciation for these incredibly beautiful birds.

Interesting 2014….Birds.

Interesting 2014….Birds.

On a birding front we saw many of the normal birds, but tried to present them in new ways.

Orange River White-eye (Zosterops pallidus)

Orange River White-eye (Zosterops pallidus)

We first showed you a bird from our previous region of residence in the Northern Cape, where these endemic White-eyes come from.

A tough little subject to capture on camera.

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The Marabou was another subject, based on a post of a trip by mom to Uganda. These will forever remain fascinating birds to us.

The owl stare-down post was another favorite because these Spotted owls gave us personal contact and something we will forever remember.

20-Owl, Cape eagle-owl (10)10-Owl, Spotted Eagle-owl5-DSC_0433The Greater double – collared Sunbirds and this photo with the nectar and tongue, lovely.

We saw them again in August on our trip in the Addo National Park.

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Talking about small birds, the Firefinch, first time captured on camera and a great source of pleasure.

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Another fun sight was the fighting Malachite Sunbirds. Another unique chance – something different.

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The fun sighting was the very distant Secretary Birds on their nest, changing guard. It was an absolute lucky find, being so far away and even the long lens struggled, but from birding perspective, priceless.2-DSC_0127Red-necked Francolin’s offered some wonderful chances for photos.

3-DSC_0084 2-DSC_0070A major find and capture was the Stanley’s Bustard. Again a lucky find, but so special.

2-DSC_0108 3-DSC_0113The first ever sighting of the Forest Weaver….thrilling!

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One of Boeta’s favorite birds would have been the Masked Weaver.

These kept hanging around the deck of the lodge, and kept him busy for periods.

 5-DSC_0650Daddy love the capture of the Kelp gull in a row…

08-DSC_0202And the performance given by the European sparrows also made the little man laugh and gave us a whole morning of fun, catching midges.

DSC_0110e 16-glans 13-glansWe can go on and on, lots of raptors and a nice list of birds we posted about during the year, all listed on the fauna page. We can summarize by saying this, if we just visited natural areas for the wildlife, it would have meant losing out by heaps, because adding birding to the list makes your trips and travels just that more exciting and fun. A last wave goodbye by the African Hoepoe to 2014.

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African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)

How would it feel to walk around with a spoon for a mouth? Well, I guess this bird should be able to answer that question. The African Spoonbill, pure white, a challenge for a point and shoot, especially on early afternoon, with distinctive long, flattened spoon-like bill. Red tinge around the edges with featherless (bare) face.

We saw these in the Eastern Cape, around Port Elizabeth, but they occur in most of Southern Africa, except dry regions, up the eastern African countries mostly.

03-DSCF0140They feed by sweeping those spoons side to side. I tried to get some pictures of this.

10-DSCF0153 09-DSCF0152 08-DSCF0148 06-DSCF0145 05-DSCF0143 04-DSCF0141Hope you enjoy this quick look at the spoonbills.

Previous post of birding: Eagle, Verreaux’s

Pale Chanting Goshawk (Melierax canorus)

The introduction picture is how we usually see these in the field. They are endemic to the South Western Africa region, which basically means South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

In flight the white under-wing contrast strongly with the dark primaries on the wing tips, as well as white “windows” on top of wings.

2-162 Bleeksingvalk (Mokale park) 09 (4) 3-162 Bleeksingvalk (Mokale park) 09 (8)The beautiful barred rump can only really be seen up close, and here the raptor rehab center came to the rescue. We found they had some birds with wing damage (mostly) and took a few pictures.

7-2009_1114 Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk (11) 3-2009_1114 Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk (23) 2-2009_1114 Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk (21) They also have long reddish legs and wonderful calls. Always nice sight in the wild.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Very common bird in South Africa and Africa, also found in Europe and Asia. Birds of the extreme northern and eastern parts of its range tend to be migratory, but those in Africa do not and many part of Europe.

You can read more about them, here.

The pictures I have so far, are from various parts of the country, dry central, garden route and sunshine coast.

8-DSCF6260 6-DSCF6258 5-DSCF6257 3-DSCF0346 Grey Heron (BlouReier) #62 W#36980 1-62 c

Southern Ground-Hornbill

I have only seen them once, many years ago, in the Kruger National Park and took pictures with an 35 mm film camera. I still want to share them with you. This is one of those birds that stayed with me all these years. Why? Look at them, they walk slowly with those big feet, they have these big bills, but the thing that stood out to me…they have big long eye-lashes. I always remember that when I see these pictures.

The males facial skin is red and females have a small blue throat and extensive red neck pouches. Juveniles have yellow patches. Usually in family groups, hunt for small mammals, reptiles and insects. Rare outside reserves.

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Juvenile in the back.

463 bromvoel 001Previous birding post:

Black Oystercatcher

African Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

These largish black waders are found mostly in South Africa. Mainly in estuaries, coastlines and lagoons.

We see them regularly here, coming and going from their nesting sites or sleeping spots, in groups. You cannot miss the red/orange bill and eye-ring. Here are a few pictures I took at various spots.

Some of the photographs are on mussel colonies and I understand there may be oysters around here too, but not sure.

06-IMG_0468 11-2010_0215beachview0026 12-2010_0215beachview0052 15-2010_01300017 16-2010_06120087 19-DSCF1654 21-DSCF1685 22-2010_0215beachview0035Previous birding post:

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

2-Pied Kingfisher  Ceryle rudis (Female2)A pretty common kingfisher throughout most parts of Sub – saharan Africa. Only black and white kingfisher in Africa.

This one is a female and only varies from female by a double band on the breast, being the male. Interestingly, I read somewhere once that they have helpers when breeding and a scarcity of food occurs. Helpers usually, offspring or non-breeding individuals, increase as the food becomes less. Wonderful how nature works.1-Pied Kingfisher  Ceryle rudis (Female)Previous birding post:

Knysna Toraco

Knysna Toraco (Tauraco corythaix)

An amazingly beautiful bird with a not so great hoarse voice. One of the special birds in my heart. First time we saw it was on honeymoon in Knysna area, on the Garden route of South Africa. We took coffee, binoculars and selected a piece of natural forest to go sit.

I remember it took a little time to get used to the sounds and surroundings, we saw basically nothing, and suddenly, the forest came alive around us. My wife went missing for a while, hunting a bird she saw with the binoculars, next moment I saw 2 Turaco’s, and tried to get her attention. Waving, soft calling, whatever, eventually she noticed my attention seeking behavior, and saw the birds. We left that spot excited and happy. I did not have a camera either, so it was a pure experience for us.

2-Knysna LourieWe now live in a region where they also occur, just 1 km from our house we tend to see them fly over the road. They are endemic to South Africa and occur along the western and eastern coast forests.