Monthly Archives: December 2014

Head and Shoulders

Head and Shoulders

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill   Tockus leucomelas

The southern yellow-billed hornbill is a hornbill found in southern Africa. It is a medium sized bird, 48–60 centimetres (19–24 in) in length, characterized by a long yellow beak with a casque. The casque is smaller in the female. The skin around the eyes and in the malar stripe is pinkish. The related eastern yellow-billed hornbill from north-eastern Africa has blackish skin around the eyes.

They have a white belly, grey neck, and black back with abundant white spots and stripes. They feed mainly on the ground, where they forage for seeds, small insects, spiders and scorpions. Termites and ants are a preferred food source in the dry season.

Females lay three to four white eggs in their nest cavities and incubate them for about 25 days. Juveniles take about 45 days to mature. This hornbill is a common, widespread resident of the dry thorn fields and broad-leafed woodlands. They can often be seen along roads.

This image was captured at Lake Panic, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

View this and similar images on my Flickr site — Duncan’s Flickr Page

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Snack!

Snack!

Malachite Kingfisher    Alcedo cristata

The malachite kingfisher is a river kingfisher which is widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara. It is largely resident except for seasonal climate related movements.

This is a species common to reeds and aquatic vegetation near slow moving water or ponds. The flight of the malachite kingfisher is rapid, the short rounded wings whirring until they appear a mere blur. It usually flies low over water. The bird has regular perches or stands from which it fishes. These are usually low over the water. It sits upright, its tail pointed downwards. It drops suddenly with a splash and usually returns at once with a struggling captive.

This image was captured at Marievale Bird Sanctuary, a wetland area near the town of Nigel, South Africa on a very dull and wet day. The light was poor for photography; requiring high ISO settings to get any decent shutter speeds. ISO 3200 for most of the day.

View this and similar images on my Flickr site — Duncan’s Flickr Page

Darby and Joan

Darby and Joan

Reed Cormorant  Microcarbo africanus

The reed cormorant, also known as the long-tailed cormorant, is a bird in the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. It breeds in much of Africa south of the Sahara, and Madagascar. It is resident but undertakes some seasonal movements.

This is a small cormorant at 50–55 cm length and an 85 cm wingspan. It is mainly black, glossed green, in the breeding season. The wing coverts are silvery. It has a longish tail, a short head crest and a red or yellow face patch. The bill is yellow. Sexes are similar, but non-breeding adults and juveniles are browner, with a white belly. Some southern races retain the crest all year round.

The reed cormorant can dive to considerable depths, but usually feeds in shallow water. It frequently brings prey to the surface. It takes a wide variety of fish. It prefers small slow-moving fish, and those with long and tapering shapes, such as mormyrids, catfishes, and cichlids. It will less frequently eat soles (which can be important in its diet locally), frogs, aquatic invertebrates, and small birds.

This image, of a pair of cormorants in breeding plumage (male on the left), was captured at Marievale Bird Sanctuary, a wetland area near the town of Nigel, South Africa on a very dull and wet day. The light was poor for photography; requiring high ISO settings to get any decent shutter speeds. ISO 3200 for most of the day.

View this and similar images on my Flickr site — Duncan’s Flickr Page

Lift Off!

Lift Off!

White-throated Swallow   Hirundo albigularis

The white-throated swallow is a small bird in the swallow family. It is a common species, found in southern Africa, which has benefited from the increased nesting opportunities presented by the construction of bridges and dams.

The swallow breeds in southern Africa from Angola and Zambia southwards to the Cape in South Africa. It is mainly migratory, wintering in Angola, Zambia and southern Zaire. This is a bird of open country and grassland, with a preference for highlands and nearby water. It is often found around man-made structures.

This image was captured at Marievale Bird Sanctuary, a wetland area near the town of Nigel, South Africa on a very dull and wet day.

View this and similar images on my Flickr site — Duncan’s Flickr Page

Angry Bird!

Angry Bird!

Goliath heron      Ardea goliath

The Goliath heron, also known as the giant heron, is a very large wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa, with smaller numbers in Southwest and South Asia, and is the world’s largest heron.

The Goliath heron is very aquatic, even by heron standards, rarely venturing far from a water source and preferring to fly along waterways rather than move over land. Important habitats can include lakes, swamps, mangrove wetlands, reefs with few cool water, sometimes river deltas. It typically is found in shallows, though can be observed near deep water over dense water vegetation. Goliath herons can even be found in small watering holes. They have ranged in elevation from sea level to 2,100 m (6,900 ft). They tend to prefer pristine wetlands and generally avoid areas where human disturbances are a regular occurrence.

This image was captured at Lake Panic, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

View this and similar images on my Flickr site — Duncan’s Flickr Page

Walk in the park....

Walk in the park….

White-crowned Lapwing  Vanellus albiceps

The white-crowned lapwingwhite-headed lapwingwhite-headed plover or white-crowned plover is a medium-sized wader. It is resident throughout sub-Saharan Africa, usually near large rivers.

This lapwing is unmistakable. Its wings and tail are strikingly patterned in black and white, the back is brown and the underparts white. The head is particularly striking, being mainly grey, but with a white crown and foreneck. The eyering, facial wattles and legs are yellow. Females, males and young birds are similar in plumage. It is a wader which breeds on exposed sand or shingle near rivers. 2–3 eggs are laid in a ground scrape. The nest and young are defended noisily and aggressively against all intruders, up to and including the hippopotamus. Food is mainly insects and other small invertebrates. This species often feeds in small flocks when not breeding.

The white-crowned lapwing is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

This image was captured at Sunset Dam, near Lower Sabie, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

View this and similar images on my Flickr site — Duncan’s Flickr Page

Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad

Crested Barbet  Trachyphonus vaillantii

The Crested Barbet is a sub-Saharan bird in the Lybiidae family. Its specific name commemorates François Levaillant, a famed French naturalist.

With its thick bill and very colourful plumage the crested barbet is unmistakable. This small bird has a speckled yellow and red face with a small black crest. The belly is yellow with red speckles, wings are black with white specks and it has a broad black band on its neck. Yellow head and body with black and white feathers, red markings on end of body, its colour blends well in the bush.

It is locally nicknamed the Fruit Salad bird. This image was captured in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.

View this and similar images on my Flickr site — Duncan’s Flickr Page