Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Hi again

At last after weeks of neglecting those of my followers who are birders I can get back to the core subject of this blog.

This, however, does not mean that the marathon journey is over !!  No it is not.

Whilst in Chizarira CvC took some amazing photo’s of birds and has very generously agreed to share them with you all.

Let’s start with one of the nicest little fellows that turn up quite frequently in the drier woodlands.

Namaqua Dove

Male Namaqua Dove

One of the loveliest sights that immediately tells you that you are in a wild and remote spot……….

Bateleur Eagle

Soaring female Bateleur Eagle

And we were very lucky to see her when she joined up with her mate !

Bateleur Eagles

Bateleur Eagles

A bird frequently heard in the morning and evening but much less frequently seen……………

Shelly's Francolin

Shelly’s Francolin

Why some species are now Spurfowl and others remained Francolin I can’t fathom.

Another indicator species of the wild bushveld is the seriously reduced Ground Hornbill.  What a fantastic shot !

Southern Ground Hornbill

Southern Ground Hornbill

Along the banks of the Kaswiswi River, both up and downstream from our camp site we encountered this gorgeous chap…….

White-fronted Bee-eater

White-fronted Bee-eater

….. and with a very quick trigger finger CvC got this………………..

White-fronted Bee-eater

White-fronted Bee-eater

Amazing !

Hiding in the riverine thickets and the thick stuff at the base of hills is a difficult to see and even harder to photograph rather lovely little songster and mimic………

Bearded Scrub Robin

Bearded Scrub Robin

A big ‘tick’ for birders from further south in Africa is this elusive bird of the Mopane woodland…………….

Arnot's Chat

Male Arnot’s Chat

On the subject of Chat’s this fellow was stealing thatching material to line his mud nest – several of which were on the cliffs along the river.

Mocking Cliff Chat

Mocking Cliff Chat

Sometimes your chosen subject can get a little too close………….

Black-bellied Bustard

Black-bellied Bustard

Yet another bird of the bushveld that is quite stunning but photographed  much less frequently than his very popular cousin is the Purple Roller.

Purple Roller

Purple Roller

A big surprise  along the river was a couple of pairs of Mountain Wagtail.

Mountain Wagtail

Mountain Wagtail

I was extremely lucky to spot (pun intended) this little chap landing in a tree and keeping him in sight until CvC came along.

Pearl-spotted Owlet

Pearl-spotted Owlet

Another delightful bird of the drier woodland…………..

Retz's Helmet-shrike

Retz’s Helmet-shrike

The familiar and distinct call of these voracious fruit-eaters drew our attention.

African Green Pigeon

African Green Pigeon

I think it is time for some more Raptors………………….

Dickinson's Kestrel

Dickinson’s Kestrel

…..and finally…………..

White-headed Vulture

White-headed Vulture

Well I am sure you will wish to join me in sincerely thanking CvC for such a special treat of so many fantastic photo’s.

We will continue with the Marathon Journey soon.

See you then

Cheers

Tony

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Hello all

Everyone has a “Devil Bird” or at least a Jonah. This is a bird that you have never seen and just about everyone else has !!

They don’t have to even be uncommon – but you are certainly jinxed !!

Finding one of these nasty creatures makes for a very good day indeed !

July 28th 2012 was such a day………..

At last……. after 30 years………. Bronze-winged Courser
(Rhinoptilus chalcopterus)

Julia phoned me at a quarter to nine that morning and said they had found one ! Well done David for remembering my plight and many thanks to Nick for getting the photo. I am grateful to you all.  Not forgetting Erin who was busy with the ringing nets.

The venue was the Mukuvisi Woodlands in urban Harare. This is a fantastic little preserve for both some wild life and a beautiful tract of Miombo Woodland. Whyte’s Barbet,  Spotted Creeper, Miombo Blue-eared Starlings, White-breasted Cuckoo-Shrike, Black Sparrowhawk and plenty of other species are found here.

I am off again on another marathon trip later this week so wait out for a report on that too.   It’s a *big* trip !!

Cheers

Tony

Hi All

At last………… a few minutes to tell you about the trip to Matabeleland North.

Jan and I left Harare on Sunday and drove leisurely down towards Bulawayo.  At around N’tabazinduna there was a local lass on the side of the road flogging watermelons. A nice big juicy takes two hands to pick it up watermelon for a dollar !!  Yep – US$ 1.00 was the price !

Arrival in the City of Kings entailed falling amongst thieves and brigands in the form of various members of the Watson clan.  Nice to catch up with old buddies.  We spent the night at Travellers – a more than adequate and very clean hostelry designed for , well of course, Travellers.

We left promptly at 06h00 the next morning and very soon were heading north on the Victoria Falls Road.  July in Zimbabwe is mid-winter and when going through the various river valleys early in the day saw the virtual mercury in the car thermometer plunging as low as minus 8 Celsius.  Brrrr !

The Hwange National Park turnoff arrived at about 09h15 and we popped into Ganda Camp to see if, perchance, my client was still there but he had just left for our planned rendezvous at Miombo Safari Camp.  Jan and I went through to Main Camp, checked in and then returned to meet the client, Peter, on the road to Miombo.

We bumped into a large herd of elephant on the main road.

This one knew exactly where to cross the road !

Having moved into our Lodge we promptly set off to see what we could see.  White-breasted Cuckoo Shrike, White-eyes and Ground Hornbills were already ticked on the main road. Yellow-bellied Greenbul and a lovely Pearl-Spotted Owl were in camp.  On our way to Nyamandhlovu Pan we found Peter’s first ‘lifer’……

Bradfield’s Hornbill

Whilst at the viewing platform over the Pan we witnessed an interesting stand-off between the Leviathan’s !

These to bulls *really* did not like the Crocs. This stand-off lasted at least half an hour ! Then it fizzled out !

The next day, after a *very* delayed breakfast in the Waterbuck’s Head Restaurant, we spent wandering around the local sites like Guvalala where we were kept busy ticking all the Vultures, including Cape Griffon.  We had a leisurely lunch at White Hills and saw a great Dark Chanting Goshawk.

Dark Chanting Goshawk

We slowly made our way back to camp via the more northerly loop road past Balla Balla Pans where we had great views of Crimson-breasted and Orange-breasted Bush-shrikes.

Crimson-breasted Shrike

Day three brought all the really serious excitement with the discovery of a pair of extremely rare yellow morph Crimson-breasted Shrike !!  They were in camp itself and I suspect are the offspring of a ‘normal’ pair with which they were associating.

If you look really carefully you can just pick up the ‘normal’ Crimson one in the background.

And next – Jan’s work of art……..

Yellow morph Crimson-breasted Shrike

What a start to the long day ahead of us !   Off we set heading south with an incredible dearth of birds for several hours apart from a very cold pair of Scaly-feathered Finch until just after Jambile Picnic Site when we found a cracking Ayres’ Hawk-Eagle.   We then got a bit lost (the roads and the map haven’t been synchronised for a while) but eventually found ourselves at Ngweshla and then at Kennedy Two.

If you didn’t know you are about to learn – Hwange is an extremely dry park on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and the only way it can support the large numbers of various African fauna is because of the provision of surface water from either Wind-pumps or pumps driven by old Lister diesels.  All of this is expensive stuff, especially in terms of maintenance and fuel.  Then we get to Kennedy Two !!!

If the sun shines there is water !! Fantastic !!

I don’t know who the donor is but a huge thank you is due !!

We had lunch here. Peter is on the right

After briefly calling in at Kennedy One – a few parrots here – we started our northward journey and very soon found another target bird – the elusive Racquet-tailed Roller.  Peter was pleased !!

Elephant can cause long delays to your planned journey !

We returned to Main Camp quite late in the afternoon and had another great dinner and sorted out all our various lists so that Jan and I could get off relatively early for the long haul back to Harare.  Thanks Peter – a great trip.

We were very lucky to bump into a large herd of Buffalo in the morning sun…

Very soon after this we also came across a pack of Wild Dog.  Of the seven dogs five had collars.  Let’s hope all this research pays off.

Painted Hunting Dog or African Wild Dog.

It is a *very* long drive back to Harare in one day.  We were home about 16h45.  Well that’s not quite true.  Jan was.  She dropped me off to attend the monthly talk by someone from Birdlife Zimbabwe.  Well I had to show off some of those Shrike pics didn’t I  – it would have been rude not to.

Cheers for now

Tony