Whos keeping an eye on me....

Monday, 28 October 2013

African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

A post dedicated to the wonderful Penguins at Boulders Beach, South Africa.

Part of the colony... hunkered down in the shade

A fledgling.... a little sad looking

.......... and now a little happier

the breeding season continues throughout the year so its possible to see juveniles in more advanced states of pre-adult plumage
Adult in the bush and close to its nest
Beach Buddies
preening after a swim

walk this way!

and just posing

they get everywhere

Friday, 25 October 2013

Fridays Fence

This is Shirdfold Farm that is in the centre of my local birding patch. Captured here with a smattering of snow last winter. Horse paddock in the foreground and old farm building along the driveway


Sunday, 20 October 2013

South Africa 2013 - Pt 9

Kruger NP, Olifants and Surround Areas:

The last day in Kruger Park and we were eventually forced indoors by our first thunder storms, the afternoon blue skies turned completely dark and with it came torrential rain which wrote off the last afternoon. It was obviously a little disappointing but on reflection the whole stay up to that point had been mostly bathed in sunshine apart from a little early morning mist.

However our journey had brought us only a few kilometres outside the gates to Olifants Rest Camp where we had this Leopard run across the road immediately in front of us.

It was certainly on a mission and quickly went out of sight as it went deeper into the bush.

a returning early summer migrant is this Yellow Billed Kite perched alongside the main H1-4 road

Now inside the camp our rondaval perched high above the Olifants river gave stunning views and true to its name this was our first sight...... Elephants crossing the Elephant River

even with the low water levels the infants are virtually submerged

over to the feeding grounds on the other side

We were high up over looking this stretch of the river so the bird species using the river were all a little distant, however there is no doubting the quality of those birds even if the images are a little ropey.
Saddle-billed Stork
and one in flight

Great White Egret, Little Egret and a lone Yellow Billed Stork
the impressive and worlds biggest heron species.......Goliath Heron
African Fish Eagle, Green Backed Heron, African Jacana, Black Winged Stilt, Yellow Billed Duck and the inevitable Egyptian Geese took advantage of the expansive river.

From the comfort of my patio a few nice species showed well, that was until the rains sent everything diving under cover.

Dwarf Mongoose

Southern Black Tit

Long Billed Crombec

Black Headed Oriole

and most surprising of all a Red Billed Oxpecker

as I had only seen them feeding on mammals

I think the highlights of this location were these Giant Kingfishers
closely followed by this African Harrier Hawk

Other species in and around the camp were Malachite Kingfisher, White Browed Robin Chat, Crested Barbet, Chin spot Batis,  Burchells Coucal, African Hawk Eagle, Brown Crowned Tchagra and Lesser Masked Weaver.

 and the female looking a little startled

After listening to the nights heavy rain and lightening we had an early start to make the long journey back to Nelspruit airport and then onto Jo`borg and eventually home, the early start did give me the chance to see an African Wood Owl close to the exit gate at Phalaborwa.

Although a three hour wait for the connecting flight enabled me to get four new life birds and the last of  this South African holiday, a large flock of Bronze Manakin, Nedicky, Buffy Pipit and a Yellow Crowned Bishop.

Monday, 14 October 2013

South Africa 2013 - Pt 8

Kruger Park, Satara Rest Camp and surrounding areas:

The terrain changed a little now, flatter with less dense bush but well scattered with thickets amongst the long grasses........ of course this sounds like cat country!
This Kori Bustard shows off the habitat that I try to describe.
These are huge birds, but even the longest of grass cant completely hide them. We had a pair together and another lone individual.
although this Crested Francolin made viewing a little easier along the roadside.
Again the very large raptors evaded us, we did get more views of Tawny Eagle and Bateleur.

The Hornbill species now started to change from the more southern based Red Billed and Yellow Billed to the more predominant African Grey Hornbill and I was lucky enough to get a single but brief sighting of a Trumpeter Hornbill
We were to still getting regular sightings of the impressive Southern Ground Hornbill

Around the Satara Rest Camp Red Billed Buffalo Weaver were keen to feed on any barbecue spillages from the night before, this one is trying its luck outside our Rondaval.

but they had to compete with the Grey Headed Sparrows a species that I only saw at this one location while in SA.
some of the other birds around the camp were Black Headed Oriole, Ground Scraper Thrush, Bearded Woodpecker

and this Brown Hooded Kingfisher
 The river nr Shishangani gave me good views of a pair of  Pied Kingfisher

and not so good views of the impressive
White Crowned Lapwing
 (you will have to click on the image to get anything like an idea of what this fella looks like)
While closer to the car park were Chin spot Batis and a group of very noisy and aptly named
Arrow Marked Babblers

Meanwhile back in camp we were fortunate to have an African Wildcat roaming around the camp. Matty and myself were sat outside on the patio when we heard a meow........ it took a few seconds to sink in that there are no domestic cats in Kruger and yet just a few feet away in the lamp light was a Wild Cat. It didn't give me chance for a photo as it skirted the other rondavals, but what a nice neighbour to have around. Somewhere in camp a Honey Badger had been seen, but try as we might we never located it. I was fortunate though to see a large group of Banded Mongoose one morning.
More bird species from around the camp where African Scops Owl, Pearl Spotted Owlets
Brown Headed Parrot

Kurrichane Thrush

African Hoopoe
 Around the roads and tracks of Satara were lots of Pipits and Larks. I had already decided to steer away from IDing them, I would end up confused and didn't have enough literature with me although I know I saw African Pipit

Of the mammals we were now seeing plenty of Steenbok (smallest antelope species of Kruger)
female Kudu
The impressive African Fish eagle

while later on in the day one thankfully came and perched a little nearer
Bateleur (Juvenile)
Brown Snake Eagle
Yet more species from around Satara Rest Camp, with early mornings being very productive
Orange breasted Bushshrike
Red Capped Robin Chat

Blue Mantled Crested Flycatcher, Pale Flycatcher and this
Collared Sunbird

East of Satara is the N`Wantesi Picnic site which is situated close to the Mozambique Border, it was quiet with only Green Backed Heron and Crocodile on the waters edge, but the picnic area was a little more lively with  BruBru; African Pied Wagtail, Spectacled Weaver

and Mocking Cliff Chat
Red Billed Firefinch
Dusky Indigo Bird (in non breeding plumage)

Green Winged Pytillia

Blue Waxbill

White Browed Scrub-Robin

We booked onto a guided night drive. 3 Black Backed Jackel, Genet, Hyena and a Porcupine were all seen. Then the stars of the trip appeared.....firstly a stunning close up view of a perched Verreauxs Eagle-Owl. It  put up with us for a minute or two before flying off. The largest Owl in the world...... a breath-taking moment.

Then for the next 45 minutes we were royally entertained by 3 Lionesses with 3 cubs, all of them down to about 10 meters or less. Our driver pulled out all the stops to find us a major highlight, he asked if he could keep driving for another hour, needless to say none of us minded at all. He took a different route now and headed off the main tracks, after a mile or so I saw the driver raise his hands to the sky in a thank you to someone up there..... as he pulled over next to the Lionesses and cubs. We kept them in a subdued spotlight while the cubs fed from one of the females, the other two females yawned, rolled over and went back to sleep. Our guide radioed his colleagues on another tour who promptly made their way over to watch this spectacle.  This hours watching was certainly one of the highlights of our South African trip.

Not to rest on our laurels we still had tomorrow to rack up yet more wonderful bird and mammal species........

Swainsons Spurfowl
Red Crested Korhaan
Crowned Lapwing and chick
I cant remember where this was but what a great sight
Hammerkop on hippo

and mum and youngster

We had watched this old lady as she eyed up a waterhole that had Impala and Warthogs feeding on the edges, she waited and waited, the impala and Warthogs slowly moved away over the small brow and just out of sight, she got up and passed in front of our car ........ and  then the chase, although it was short lived, as before the dust had even settled she gave up.
Great viewing (from the safety of our car)
the chase
This young Warthog has got into a fight with a Porcupine





Dwarf Mongoose

We move a little further north for a very short stay at Olifants and the last night in Kruger Park and the end of our South African adventure........ the last post awaits!