>Spotted Thick-knee cant swim…

>I found out the other day Spotted Thick-knees cant swim… sadly they think they can. But before I get ahead of myself, I’ll start from the beginning.

I visited some friends last Sunday and they told me about a pair of Spotted Thick-knees living in their backyard (in the compos-making area) with a juvenile. My firs attempt was not very successful because as soon as they saw me the juvenile hid in one corner and the parents sprinted to another. After an hour or so I revisited the site and just sneaked a peak over the wall with my camera. This is what I found…

Just the next day…on Monday that is, the lady of the house text me and told me the little baby drowned the their swimming pool. I presume it probably happened at night because they are nocturnal birds and he was just a bit to active that night. I really felt sad… especially for the parents and wonder why they never taught him water can kill you!

Yesterday I went back to their little living patch only to find a Red-chested dove and no Thick-knees this time.

Anyway…that is live, but luckily all birds go to heaven 🙂

Thank you little birdie for the short time we spent together on that Sunday afternoon xxx

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>Naboomspruit (Limpopo)

>This one will surely be a quick one…for all my faithfull readers out there (-:

SA had this long weekend this past 4 days (celebrating youth day) and I’ve been to the nicest bushveld farm in the middle of the Waterberg in Limpopo to visit some friends of friends and so on… But anyway…contradictory to the previous weekend, there were not much birds to see. I was however on the lookout (where there’s trees there must be birds afterall).

In between the cool evenings around the fire, late middays sundowner and mild mornings around the outdoor breakfast table, I took some beautifull pictures during the weekend. These surely shows how wonderfull Africa is and how lucky we are to have such beautiful sunsets and wildlife:

The entertainment centre, kitcken (1st photo) and the cottages (2nd photo) at the end of a walkway through the bush:

Breakfast ready to be enjoyed:

During our drives out into the bushes. The guys were hunting for bush pigs (vlakvark). Sunday morning they hunted a Kudu, but luckily I weren’t there to see this. I don’t like hunting…especially deer. Along the way we found among other wild, Eland, at the feeding crips that will be filled up in two weeks time:

The boys looking for bush pigs after sunday night sundowner:

Enough said about hunting. Sunday afternoon while everyone was taking a afternoon nap, I sat on the veranda and watched to Familiar Chats scavaging the grass for food. The female and male were very busy fluttering around from tree to tree, but finally I got some nice photos of the two:

After watcing these two above for about half an hour, I suddenly saw in the corner of my eye something yellow…and there it was…unfortunately I have a Black-headed Oriole on my list, but it was still lots of fun to photograph it:
And to come to the end of this posting, I will show you there’s only one place in this whole world you can see such a beautiful sunset:

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>Dikhololo weekend


The past weekend I went with some old work colleagues to Dikhololo. It was really a birding/wildlife paradise… just sad that we couldn’t take more time birding. Furthermore, I have been thinking of making this blog not just about birds like in the past, but throw some wildlife pictures in as well. Dikhololo was just so abundant with wildlife, that one can’t help admiring everything!

We arrived the Friday afternoon after a VERY busy week at work for the well deserved weekend away. On our way to Dikhololo I spotted a Lilac-breasted roller next to the road…and that is how far that went because the rest of the time I was fast asleep of NO sleep the night before (ref: 1st sentence in this paragraph :)).

Arriving, we settled into our chalet and walked around the resort getting to know where all the relaxation and entertainment areas were. The evening we had a very delicious dinner catered by the resort at one of many entertainment lapas. I started to talk to one of my old colleagues that’s also interested in bird watching (o yes!…she, her husband and I were the only ones by the way). We arranged to meet each other 6:30 the next morning to check out the birds in the region. Well, it couldn’t be that difficult…

The next morning after ‘n good nights rest and not having slept for 40 hours before that, believe it or not, I got up in time. Getting up early can be really rewarding, not only because the animals are more active, but because of the beautiful sunrise:

Driving we stopped several times for a couple of LBJ’s we eventually couldn’t identify (and believe me we did try). Further along the dirt road we came across several hornbills. There were Greybilled-, Yellowbilled- and Redbilled hornbills in very close proximity to each other:

Golden-breasted buntings were all over the place! I had little sightings of this bird, but this morning I made up for that one:

After giving up nearly all hope to see a new bird, we spotted a Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler (if you think thats a tricky name, try pronouncing its afrikaans name… a “bosveldtjeriktik”). Other sightings were Black-headed oriole, Redbilled Woodhoopoe, Fiscal Flycatcher and the Crested francolin:

We decided to park next to the road and walk into the bushes along the buck trials. As we were focusing on seeing our next special birdie… we suddenly noticed 4 rather odd looking things about 5 meters in front of us. It was two giraffes!! The bushes were quite thick, but I did manage to get some close-up shots of these two beautiful animals:
After this close encounter experience, we continued along the road with the 4×4 and came across other people very exited telling us about a “Swartwitpens” they just sighted further into the bushes. While I was still silently figuring out if a “Swartwitpens” is a bird, snake, flower or antelope (ok, I must admit, I didn’t know everything about animals), we followed their directions. We finally arrived at the mystery animal and yes, it is an antelope…and a very scarce one as well. It is known as a Sable antelope in English:

Going along, we noticed a lot of zebra’s and wildebeest along the way:

We returned back to the chalets after a very exiting morning for breakfast. The rest of the day we pretty much just were lazy, relaxed in the spa and watched the guys playing squash and tennis.

Just before sunset a couple of us strolled along the road to a dam close by our chalet. There was a very nicely constructed birding hide and to my surprise the sighting of three pied kingfishers and a green-backed heron got all the non-birders (which were everyone except me) there very exited. The kingfishers were catching some dinner and for a person who doesn’t notice birds at all, this can be very interesting. The green backed heron were also strolling around foraging in the shallow waters. It was an issue identifying him because of the bad light and distance:

The weekend was very relaxing and with some quality game and bird watching, we came back Sunday morning ready to take on a fresh week (and we hope that lasts:)).

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>Eastern Cape Birding

>This past December I have been with some of my friends on holiday. The first part of the holiday was in Manaba beach and the second part at the Fish River Sun in Port Alfred (via Hogsback).

Manaba beach (next to Uvongo)

Each morning I got up very early to sit on the veranda or walk down to the beach. One afternoon I spotted an albatross (looked like a giant albatross, but it was to far) flying over the waves. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to take a photo because of the distance. After the sighting of the Albatross, I saw another biggish bird flying over the beach. I followed it hoping that it would be some new sea bird (my list have very limited sea birds). Going closer eventually it appeared to be a Giant Kingfisher…well he was pretty too, but already on my list:

The one thing that amazed me is how many Burchell’s Coucal I saw in the open. In the short time we were there (5 days) I took 2 nice photos:

The garden of the house we were staying is

flourished with weavers and canaries. Two of the special ones

for me were the Yellow-fronted Canary and the Yellow Weaver:

A new (probably common bird for some) bird I also saw was the Southern Grey-headed Sparrow. Then I thought…it’s so easy to just not look carefully and presume it’s probably a House Weaver…until you look closer:

Since it was summer, there where also plenty of Lesser

Striped Swallows in the air:

In the garden there lived a pair of Amethyst sunbirds. Here I took a quick photo of the female taking off (it was not planned…she was still when I aimed)

Like all places, the Myna’s are taking over. They did look kind of funny, is seen from this photo. Mynas photo (com’on! You don’t possess the lawn!)

One afternoon I heard a very familiar bird call and when I looks outside, I saw to my surprise a lovebird…that’s what I initially thought. But after my posting some (much more clever) guys at Birdnet corrected me. According to me and after further investigation I found that this is in fact a Cape Parrot!!! I was very delighted because how many times do you get the chance seeing this special bird? This appears to be a female and shows all the characteristics of a cape parrot. (Thank you everyone helping me out with this one)

Hogsback (in the Amatholo Mountains – Eastern Cape)

The second leg of my holiday where just magical. On our way to the Fish River Sun we stayed over one night in Hogsback. Hogsback is a small community with so many B&B’s you can think in a magical forest. Here is a photo of the view from the honeymoon suite’s balcony.

We didn’t stay there, but this is the view from the self catering cottage, The Edge, we stayed at.

Considering it was just one night, I saw to very special birds…and even took a photo of each.

Red-chrested Cuckoo (Piet-my-vrou)

Rameron pigeon

The Red-chrested cuckoo (Piet-my-vrou) I spotted on our way out the next morning when I just insisted that the driver had to stop. I was so excited…this was the first time I spotted a Red-chrested and even could take a photo!

I found the Rameron pigeon late the afternoon when I went for a walk around the place near the Honeymoon cottage.

For the short duration of our stay, I heard the Knysna Turaco the whole time…they were very active, but I couldn’t manage to spot one clearly. The only slight sighting was when we arrived the afternoon and I spotted the crimson red of the turaco quickly flying over the road.

Fish River Sun (near Port Alfred)

After the one night in Hogsback we took off to the Fish River Sun. If you aren’t a keen golfer or fisherman, swimming, hiking and bird watching is the only two other things to do. Luckily I could do some bird watching.

Almost everyday we strolled along the beach to Bats Cave. Along the way, every time I found the same pair of African Black Oystercatchers. Because it was my first sighting of them, I took some photos:

Near the cave the pied kingfishers were feeding (in the ocean of course):

Some of the other birds on the beach also where this White-fronted plover:

During the days we stayed there, the Helmeted Guineafowls were feeding at our sliding door (feeding from the bread we gave them) One morning it rained so much…but this didn’t seem to bother these birds. I must admit, I’ve never seen soaking wet guineafowl before.

In the surrounding gardens and gholf course I had 2 first sightings. The one is the Black winged Lapwing and the other the Greater double-collared sunbird. Unfortunately not one of my photos of the Black winged lapwing was good enough for the site because of the distance I photographed them.

My last sighting was so exciting; I just had to keep it to the end. As with Hogsback, the Knysna Turaco were again very load. The last evening of our stay, I heard their diagnostic sound like some kind of weird ape. I ran into the unit to get my camera and initially could only get pictures like these:

I went trigger happy with my camera hoping to get just a bit lucky with the bird coming more into the open branches…and so it did:

This was a wonderful trip for me; and did do my life list very good since I haven’t gone bird watching for quite a while before this December.

Hope you enjoyed this festive season and a very good birding year to you all!

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>Just for fun

>Lilac Breasted Roller and Black Crow…

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>Centurion News article

>In August’s volume of Centurion News a article was published by Jaco Mostert urging people of Centurion to be more attentive to birdlife. Click here to retrieve a copy of the article or find it in the August archive on Centurion News’s website www.centurionnews.co.za

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>Watch this space!! – 5th – 8th July

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