Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A day after Christmas: Cape Longclaw

Cape Longclaw walking on tufty grass foraging for food

After deciding not to do any birding on Christmas day, I set off on the day thereafter for some few hours of birding. There was not much to be seen as far as birds were concerned. I guess, most of the spots, where I do my birding, were deserted due to holiday picnics. There were only empty bottles and tins to the aftermath.
Amids the litter, the Cape Longclaw caught my eye. I could not resist the  orange throat but to have a shot at it 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Climate ChangeTalks have come and gone

Hi everyone,
Great to be back again. Well, I do not have any photos this time for you, my adorable readers, due to a minor eye operation I had two weeks ago. Anyway, I am fine after a restful short-break.
In the mean time, a lot has taken place including the Climate Change Talks which were held down here in South Africa at Durban.
In support of our feathered friends; the climate issue is of grave concern. We cannot ignore the fact that in some parts of our world, bird migratory patterns have already started altering. Everyone is saying "It's all about climate change."
Let me share the following with you for a CHANGE from BirdLife International Community website.
Happy Holidays

Special plea by Bird Life International to the talks:
Bird Life’s 6 key “asks” for the Durban Conference:
1. Secure a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, and secure a mandate to negotiate a legally binding instrument to be adopted no later than 2015;
2. Agree modalities and guidance for halting emissions from deforestation and degradation by 2020, whilst safeguarding biodiversity and livelihoods;
3. Agree robust and transparent rules for accounting for emissions from the land use, land use change and forestry sector that reflect emissions actually released to the atmosphere;
4. Account fully for emissions from bio energy;
5. Agree modalities for national adaptation planning that deliver to vulnerable groups and ecosystems;
6. Establish a pathway to deliver adequate finance to the new Green Climate Fund from 2013.

For a full story follow this link:

This was the ultimate outcome:
“Durban has kept alive and opened the political space to negotiate a fair, ambitious and binding deal but much still needs to be worked out. Parties must approach the negotiations from 2012 with a renewed sense of urgency, increasing their ambition in terms of emission reductions, and putting these pledges firmly on the table.”

For a full story follow this link:

Hope there's a light at the end of the tunnel for our feathered friends as well.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pink-backed Pelicans return to Modimola Dam

Pink-backed Pelican's crest on head fairly distinct

Today, while birding at Modimola Dam, I witnessed the return of Pink-backed Pelicans. They were last seen in the area in February/ March this year. There were both adult and juveniles in the group of ten.

Pink-backed Pelican giving some guttural notes

During their presence just before winter they were in  the company of Great White Pelicans. This time the Great Whites were not present.

Pink-backed Pelican emptying the big pouch

Pink-backed Pelicans just after arrival

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Amur Falcons arrive to confusion at Mahikeng uprooted roost tree site

Amur Falcon arriving to an uprooted roost tree

Today , after a night of heavy rains, a group of Amur Falcons together with some more Lesser Kestrels arrived for their annual migration in the Mahikeng CBD to find their favorite roost tree uprooted.
They circled lower than ussual around the spot where their roost tree was and perched on nearby buildings and dead trees. A bigger number had turned out  today and it was interesting to see them hovering lower than ussual around the spot where their favourite tree once stood.

Graph showing how over the years the numbers have increased

The year 2010 had a record number of migrating kestrels and falcons coming to roost at the tree in the Mahikeng CBD than  past years. The numbers are likely to drastically decline this year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Migrating Kestrels arrive to find familiar roost tree uprooted in Mahikeng

Lesser Kestrel back to overwinter but familiar roost tree no where to be found

The first group of a  handful of Lesser Kestrel, mainly males, arrived at the uprooted roost tree in the Mahikeng CBD on Monday the 14th November 2011 at 18h15. They are one day later than last year.
After circling the area in search of their annual roost tree they took refuge on a dead tree nearby.
More than 3000 birds came to roost in the uprooted tree last summer.It will be interesting to see how they are going to react to the new situation.

The giant roost tree ready to be brought down last winter

Monday, October 24, 2011

Egyptian Goose in the sweltering heat

I was fascinated by this Egyptian Goose perched on a rock outcrop honking profusely. The temperature was remarkebly 39°C. A record high for this part of the world.

Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Goose

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Short-clawed Lark: the final frontier

Having enjoyed the flight displays and shrilling utter over the past few days in one area, I guess, this is a Short-clawed Lark spot. It is in the outskirts of Dibono Village, near the Disaneng Dam. This particular individual, identifiable with the  a black spot in the underparts; I will dub him "Spotty".
On this hot and windy day from my GPS I took the following readings:

S 25ยบ 49.223’
E 025° 22.236’
 A call from an elevated perch (just before midday) cannot be missed

The outpost for scanning his territory

Active even in the heat of the day; persistently calling

Friday, October 14, 2011

Short-clawed Lark: the search continues

In search of the bird again; I went back to the spot at Dibono Village near Disaneng Dam. After a frantic search and listening around, the bird ultimately called. It was around midday. Approaching the area where the call came from I found the bird on top of a bush calling. Seeing me it flew further down the open grass land and perched on a bush. For a moment; while I was watching, it rose up high into the air and dropped steeply on a flight display. Looking around further there was another one uttering a shrill on top of a bush. At long last the search had come to a close. A new spot for Short Clawed Larks.

Open grassland and scttered bush where the search ended

A familiar pose and a call uttered from the top of a bush

Monday, October 10, 2011

Short-clawed Lark - threatened or near threatened?

Today while birding near Disaneng Dam, just in the outskirts of the village of Dibono, I heard the call of a Short- clawed Lark. This is a spot ±80 km away from Botsalano Game Reserve; where the species is in reasonable occurence and just a mere ±40km from Mahikeng.

Short-clawed Lark - endemic to the region.

Though known to be existing only in two disjointed populations in South Africa besides the South Eastern parts of Botswana, the Short-clawed Lark (Certhilauda chuana), “chuana” bearing reference to the Tswana people, is thought to be undergoing a localized range contraction and population reduction. On the other hand its distribution may also be influenced by seasonal or eruptive movements.It is endemic to the region.
Roberts VII Bird Guide book regards it as "near threatened" while its status  in the IUCN Red List it is evaluated as "Least Concern".
Any information on this species is hereby sort from any where or any source.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Whiskered Terns move in at Modimola Dam after the first rains of the season

After the first rains of the season on Saturday night, the locally common nomads the Whiskered Terns; who normally move about according to rainfall, started moving into Modimola Dam.They were in great numbers than usual because I counted close to sixteen at the time.The Coots, Ruffs and Lapwings were not keen on letting go their territory

Whiskered Tern dipping to surface of water for food

Whiskered Tern landing

Whiskered Tern flying low

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cape Longclaw: The bird with bright orange bib

My patience was rewarded this week when I managed to take a shot of the Cape Longclaw out of the grass. The bird is vey much illusive. It hides in the tall grass and occasionally peeps out to see any intruder. Instead of flushing it out of the grass I waited patienly for it to come out. The bird is endermic to Southern Africa.

Cape Longclaw out of the tall grass

Cape Longclaw with the bright orange bib

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Common Greenshank at Disaneng Dam

Following the Molopo River from the Modimola Dam down to the Disaneng Dam in search of more migrants was full of surprises. Just before the begining of the Disaneng Dam I came across a colony of cattle egrets and among them was this Common Greenshank; a first in the area of its group. At a glance I could not see it as it was totaly blended with the suroundings. What a camouflage.They breed in Northern Europe and migate to Africa.They are widespread in Southern Africa.

Common Greenshank

Common Greenshank

Common Greenshank taking a nap

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another migrant turns up at Modimola Dam: Marsh Sandpiper

While scanning the tidal mudflats of the Modimola Dam which is gradually being invaded by algae; I saw this solitary wader. Looking closer it turned out to be the Marsh Sandpiper. I have been in the area a day before but it was not there. It breeds in South Eastern Europe, Central/South Russia and Mongolia. It migrates to Africa. It is widespread in Southern Africa.

Marsh Sandpiper in solitary

Marsh Sandpiper pecking for food

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Three-banded Plover: a very colourful waterside bird

While visiting the Lichtenburg Game Breeding Centre this morning; in search of more migrants, my attention was drawn to the Three-banded Plover pecking and probing in mud with rapid jabs. A common resident in Southern Africa and very colourful.

Three-banded Plover branding its two black bands separated by a white one

 Three-banded Plover with a beautiful red eyering running in short spurts

Three-banded Plover can be easily overlooked when standing still

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Latest arrival migrant at Modimola Dam: Ruff

Ruffs  arrived earlier this time at Modimola Dam than in previous years . Last year they only pitched up in October. Like the Wood Sandpiper they breed in Northern Europe and Northern Asia; migrating to Southern Africa for Summer. They are widespread in South  Africa.

Ruff just arrived

Walking around with diagnostic orange tinged legs

Walking and probing for food

Saturday, September 10, 2011

More migrants arrive at Modimola Dam: The Wood Sandpiper

The Wood Sandpiper breeds in Northern Europe and Asia migrating to Southern Africa to wetlands like  Modimola Dam for their annual winter break. Spring is in the air.

The Wood Sandpiper foraging on floating vegetation

The Wood Sandpiper just arrived

Friday, September 9, 2011

Migrants - The Stint was indeed a Little Stint

I received an overwhelming response to my quest to identify the mysterious Stint. The final verdict was in no doubt a Little Stint. I received responses from local birders and as far afield as Russia, China and Australia. Trevor Hardaker had this to say - "Both photos are of moulting Little Stints unfortunately – the legs, in particular the tibia, are too long for Red-necked Stint and the bill is also too long and finely tipped to consider that species" Niall Perrins had this to say- "They arrive back moulting out of their breeding plumage, looking very different to how we normally see them. I think your Stint is a Little Stint still in partly breeding plumage" Lastly Mark Young from Australia provided a link to some of his photos depicting a Red-necked Stint.Thanx to every one who took all the pains to assist. Thanx

 A Little Stint coming out of its breeding plumage

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Migrants have started arriving: Little or Red-necked Stint?

Differentiating between a Little Stint and Red-necked Stint has always been difficult for me. After spotting this bird with my binoculars at Modimola Dam on Saturday I was convinced that it was a Little Stint. It was only after studying  some photos I had taken of it that I started doubting my identification. The bird started looking more like a Red- necked Stint than a Little Stint. Little Stint is abundant in South Africa but not the Red-necked Stint. Have I seen a rare bird?

Help identify the Stint

Help idendtify the Stint

Friday, September 2, 2011

Black Crake: not so shy but adorable

I spend the past two days trying to get a shot of this shy bird. To my surprise it has always evaded me appearing at the most unexpeted places.

Black Crake

Black Crake

Monday, August 22, 2011

Black-shouldered Kites during season of veld fires

It is August and veld fires are a common occurrence. Amidst the smoke and strong winds, it is common to see Black-shouldered Kites patienly perched on power lines awaiting rats and mice as they flee the raging fires.

Black-shouldered Kite  

Black-shouldered Kite going for a perch

Nice perch on a power line

Monday, August 15, 2011

African Hoopoe a fairly common garden bird

As we move into the month of August the African Hoopoe will also go into its breeding season. This African Hoopoe has a nest in my neighbour's  house-roof and every year it has one or two broods during its breeding period.

African Hoopoe

African Hoopoe

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Red-knobbed Coots at peak of breeding season

While birding today at Modimola Dam, it was quite apparent that the coots were at the height of their breeding season. Close to seven nests were visible after the tall reeds were cut at Modimola Dam.

One of the Red -knobbed Coots nesting.

Others were already wandering around with their young.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

More on "African Spoonbill a remarkable bird"

I have recieved numerous requests from followers, friends and the general public; both within the country and abroad, after my last publishing of the African Spoonbill photos  on this blog. Here are some more images of the bird.These photos were also taken at Modimola Dam which boasts a large number of these wonderful  water birds.

African Spoonbill basking in the sun

African Spoonbill in flight