Category Archives: Birds

Paradise

Paradise

African Paradise Flycatcher  Terpsiphone viridis

The African Paradise Flycatcher is a common resident breeder in Africa south of the Sahara Desert. This species is usually found in open forests and savannah habitats. Two or three eggs are laid in a tiny cup nest in a tree.

The adult male is about 17 cm long, but the very long tail streamers double this. It has a black head, neck and underparts, and chestnut wings and tail. There is a prominent white wingbar. The female has a browner tint to the underparts and lacks the wingbar and tail streamers. Young birds are similar to the female but duller.

The males show considerable variation in plumage in some areas. There is a morph of this species in which the male has the chestnut parts of the plumage replaced by white, and some races have black tail streamers.

The African Paradise Flycatcher is a noisy bird with a harsh scolding call. It has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched prominently, like a shrike. It is insectivorous, often hunting by flycatching.

This image was captured close to the Phabeni entrance gate to the Kruger National Park, South Africa.

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

 

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Wading....

Wading….

White-backed Vulture

 The White-backed Vulture is a typical vulture, with only down feathers on the head and neck, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff. The adult’s whitish back contrasts with the otherwise dark plumage. Juveniles are largely dark. This is a medium-sized vulture; its body mass is 4.2 to 7.2 kilograms (9.3–16 lb), it is 78 to 98 cm (31 to 39 in) long and has a 1.96 to 2.25 m (6 to 7 ft) wingspan.

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of animals which it finds by soaring over savannah. It also takes scraps from human habitations. It often moves in flocks. It breeds in trees on the savannah of west and east Africa, laying one egg. The population is mostly resident.

As it is rarer than previously believed, its conservation status was reassessed from Least Concern to Near Threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List. In 2012 it was further uplisted to Endangered.

This image was captured at the Klein Namutoni water-hole, close to the Namutoni rest-camp, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

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

Take Off

Take Off

The Herons of Lake Panic

One of the most productive birding sites in the Kruger National Park is the bird hide at Lake Panic, situated close to the Skukuza Rest Camp. A visit to the hide will nearly always be fruitful for birders and photographers alike. The photographers are, almost without exception, treated to the most wonderful fly-pasts of the Herons, providing excellent bird-in-flight opportunities.

Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala

The black-headed heron is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, common throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. It is mainly resident, but some west African birds move further north in the rainy season.

This species usually breeds in the wet season in colonies in trees, reedbeds or cliffs. It builds a bulky stick nest, and lays 2–4 eggs.

It often feeds in shallow water, spearing fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill. It will also hunt well away from water, taking large insects, small mammals, and birds. It will wait motionless for its prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

The black-headed heron is a large bird, standing 85 cm tall, and it has a 150 cm wingspan. It is nearly as large as the grey heron, which it resembles in appearance, although it is generally darker. Its plumage is largely grey above, and paler grey below. It has a powerful dusky bill. The flight is slow, with the neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes, and spoonbills, which extend their necks. The white underwing coverts are striking in flight.

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

Pretty Close Up

Pretty Close Up

Pied Kingfisher   Ceryle rudis

The pied kingfisher is a water kingfisher and is found widely distributed across Africa and Asia. Its black and white plumage, crest and the habit of hovering over clear lakes and rivers before diving for fish makes it distinctive. Males 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 male is depicted here at life-size! These little guys are fun to photograph in the sense that they are very fast moving and unpredicatable; but on the other hand their black/white contrast is often difficult to capture without loss of detail.

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

Evil Eye!

Evil Eye!

Coppery-tailed Coucal      Centropus cupreicaudus

The coppery-tailed coucal is a species of cuckoo in the Cuculidae family. It is native to parts of south central Africa. Its range stretches from Angola in the west to south-western Tanzania, northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. Its typical habitat is swampland and dense vegetation near rivers, but it is also found on inundated floodplains and near seasonal lakes. The total size of its range is around 1,750,000 square kilometres (680,000 sq mi).

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

Lightning Fast!

Lightning Fast!

Pied Kingfisher   Ceryle rudis

The pied kingfisher is a water kingfisher and is found widely distributed across Africa and Asia. Its black and white plumage, crest and the habit of hovering over clear lakes and rivers before diving for fish makes it distinctive. Males 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 at Lake Panic, near the Skukuza Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

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.