Category Archives: Birds

Mellow Yellow

Mellow Yellow

Village Weaver     Ploceus cucullatus

The village weaver, also known as the spotted-backed weaver or black-headed weaver (the latter leading to easy confusion with P. melanocephalus), is a species of bird found in much of sub-Saharan Africa.

This often abundant species occurs in a wide range of open or semi-open habitats. The nests are the round suspended objects. This weaver builds a large coarsely woven nest made of grass and leaf strips with a downward facing entrance which is suspended from a branch in a tree. 2-3 eggs are laid. This is a colonial breeder, so many nests may hang from one tree.

The village weaver is a stocky 15–17 cm bird with a strong conical bill and dark reddish eyes. In the northern part of its range, the breeding male has a black head edged by chestnut (typically most distinct on the nape and chest). Towards the southern part of its range, the amount of black and chestnut diminish, and the breeding males of the southernmost subspecies only have a black face and throat, while the nape and crown are yellow. In all subspecies the breeding male has a black bill, black and yellow upperparts and wings, and yellow underparts.

The non-breeding male has a yellow head with an olive crown, grey upperparts and whitish underparts. The wings remain yellow and black.

The village weaver feeds principally on seeds and grain, and can be a crop pest, but it will readily take insects, especially when feeding young, which partially redresses the damage to agriculture.

This image was captured at Lake Panic, close to the Skukuza Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Majestic!

Majestic!

African Fish Eagle     Haliaeetus vocifer

These beautiful birds inspect and patrol the Chobe River all year round. They are truly icons of the African bush.

This is a large species of eagle that is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa wherever large bodies of open water occur that have an abundant food supply. It is the national bird of Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Sudan.

This species is listed as Least Concern by IUCN. The estimated population size is about 300,000 individuals with a distribution area of 18,300,000 sq km.

[Ref: Wikipedia]

This image was captured on the Chobe River, near Kasane, northern Botswana, Southern Africa.

 

UP, up and away!

UP, up and away!

Grey Heron    Ardea cinerea

The grey heron, is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions. It has become common in summer even inside the Arctic circle along the Norwegian coast.

Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. Adults have a white head with a broad black supercilium and slender crest, while immatures have a dull grey head. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped). This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

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

Blowing in the wind....

Blowing in the wind….

Green-backed Heron    Butorides striata

The striated heron also known as mangrove heronlittle heron or green-backed heron, is a small heron. Striated Herons are mostly non-migratory and noted for some interesting behavioral traits. Their breeding habitat is small wetlands in the Old World tropics from west Africa to Japan and Australia, and in South America. Vagrants have been recorded on oceanic islands, such as Chuuk and Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marianas and Palau.

This bird was long considered to be conspecific with the closely related North American species, the green heron, which is now usually separated as B. virescens, as well as the lava heron of the Galápagos Islands (now B. sundevalli, but often included in B. striata, e.g. by BirdLife International); collectively they were called “green-backed herons”.

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

Pair of Pieds

Pair of Pieds

Pied Kingfishers    Ceryle rudis

These beautiful little guys are very common in the Southern African region. Nevertheless, they are extremely photogenic and are deserving of a place in any record  of the region’s fauna.

Their black and white plumage, crest and the habit of hovering over clear lakes and rivers before diving for fish makes it distinctive. Males, as seen on the right, have a double band across the breast while females have a single gorget that is often broken in the middle. They are usually found in pairs or small family parties. When perched, they often bob their head and flick up their tail.

This image was captured on the Chobe River, near the town of Kasane, northern Botswana, Southern Africa.

Low-level Hunter

Low-level Hunter

Martial Eagle (Immature)       Polemaetus bellicosus

The martial eagle is a large eagle found in open and semi-open habitats of sub-Saharan Africa. It is the only member of the genus Polemaetus. It can be found in most of sub-Saharan Africa, wherever food is abundant and the environment favourable. It is never common, but greater population densities do exist in southern Africa, especially in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Generally, these birds are more abundant in protected areas such as Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa, or Etosha National Park in Namibia.

The adult’s plumage consists of dark grey-brown coloration on the upperparts, head and upper chest, with slightly lighter edging to these feathers. The body underparts are white with blackish-brown spotting. The underwing coverts are brown, with pale flight feathers being streaked with black. The female is usually larger and more spotted than the male. The immature is paler above, often whitish on the head and chest, and has less spotted underparts. It reaches adult plumage in its seventh year.

This wonderful specimen was photographed on the Chobe River, near Kasane, northern Botswana, Southern Africa while hunting rodents on the river bank.

Mr Perfect

Mr Perfect

Allen’s Gallinule     Porphyrio martinicus

This little guy, sometimes referred to as the Lesser Gallinule, is an uncommon resident in Southern Africa and partial migrant to seasonally flooded areas.

We found him co-habitating with the African Jacanas and Black Crakes in dense river reeds and water-lily fields. Like his co-habitants he can navigate these ares by walking along the densely packed water-lily leaves.

This prime example of this somewhat aloof creature was captured in the early morning on the Chobe River, near Kasane, northern Botswana, Southern Africa.

 

Adorable Dabchick

Adorable Dabchick

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

The Little Grebe (also known as Dabchick) is a small water bird with a pointed bill. The adult is unmistakable in summer, predominantly dark above with its rich, rufous colour neck, cheeks and flanks, and bright yellow gape. The rufous is replaced by a dirty brownish grey in non-breeding and juvenile birds. Juvenile birds have a yellow bill with a small black tip, and black and white streaks on the cheeks and sides of the neck. This yellow bill darkens as the juveniles age, eventually turning black once in adulthood. In winter, its size, buff plumage, with a darker back and cap, and “powder puff” rear end enable easy identification.

[Ref: Wikipedia]

This scene was captured at the Klein Namutoni water-hole, south of the Namutoni rest-camp, Etosha National Park, northern Namibia, Southern Africa.

 

Serenity

Serenity

Black-winged Stilt  Himantopus himantopus

A fine example of this seemingly delicate bird.

This wader is a local resident in Southern Africa. It builds its nest in estuaries, marshes, pans and flooded ground which it defends in a very vocal manner.

This image was captured on the Chobe River, near Kasane, northern Botswana.

Speedy Re-visited

Speedy Re-visited

African Jacana    Actophilornis africanus

In an earlier post entitled “Speedy!”, I related the curious behaviour of the jacanas with respect to the raising of the young, viz., the fact that the male assumes this duty and the responsibility to protect the young against all dangers. The male African jacana has therefore evolved some remarkable adaptations for parental care, such as the ability to pick up and carry chicks underneath its wings.

In this image, a father can be seen doing exactly that!

This image was captured on the Chobe River, near Kasane, northern Botswana, Southern Africa.