I woke up the morning of the Autumn Equinox to the sound of hundreds of webbed feet pitter-pattering across the lake. When it got light enough, I took this photo. There was raft after raft of coots, steaming down the lake. I stopped counting at 600!
They began dying off over the next few weeks, from eating parasite infested snails. This one looks like he's sleeping but is dead as a doornail.
This immature bald eagle was sitting outside the window when we woke up. Don't know if he roosted here all night, or was just warming up in the morning sunlight. My parents were sleeping in the bedroom 15 feet away so we just had to wake them up to see it.
This recent trip to Kruger Park with friends did not wow us with wildlife - and birds in particular. The stiffling heat ( around 36.5C most days and higher) led the animals to hide away in the shade of the dense bush. However, we did manage a few photos I think may be of interest.
First up is the striking Jacobin Cuckoo:
Giant Golliath Heron:
A number of Whitefaced Ducks:
Lilica-breasted Roller:(Although his colours seem more tangerine here).
The secretive Black-headed Oriole:
Last but definitely not least, the mighty Bateleur: This bird is known as the 'acrobat of the skies' because his short stumpy tail allows him to engage in incredible manouvres whilst tracking his prey. He is also usually the first bird at a kill - sitting and waiting for the vultures to arrive. They need him to rip the tough animal skin open so they can tear at the flesh.
Bird pictures are hard -- you're generally having to hold the camera pointing up, there's glary sky or reflective water behind the bird, the little devils won't hold still, etc. But your pictures are always so natural and capture the birds so well.
Thank you very much Bixa - it's great when someone really understands the difficulty of getting the perfect ( or maybe not..) shot! The bateleur in the tree was sitting above a dead buck - no signs of an attack by another animal. Within half an hour vultures circled and came to roost in the same tree. Unfortunately we thought the feast would begin a bit later but when we got back in about an hour....no buck, no vultures, everyone had left the building!!
Love those african birds, especially the lilac breasted roller. I practically swooned when I saw my first one, with the stunning turquoise against the pinky-purple breast. And they're good-sized and fly acrobatically too, and perch on prominent bare branches where they are easy to watch.
You're too kind Kimby! To us those photos represent so little compared to the 500 recorded species flying around. Of those 220 will most likely be encountered regularly. That green parrot looking at the lens suspiciously was a buggar to snap. Flitting from one tree to the next but luckily for us it was in the grounds of the camp so could be followed on foot. All the others were taken from the confines of the vehicle.
Bixa, I am not sure about that. My book only mentions that the bateleur rips open the tough hide before the vultures tuck in. They all sat together in that tree ignoring oneanother but were right above a dead buck. I could kick myself for not hanging around a bit longer to see exactly what happened but boy was it hot that day!
Looking up some informarion on Bee-eaters my Bird book says they are aerial feeding birds catching flying insects ( never mentions bees), while twisting and turning in graceful aerial manoeuvres or by hawking them from a perch in short aerial sallies,, usually retuning to the same perch. The birds in my photo are Bohm's Bee-Eaters and are uncommon.
Kimby - I notice the Wood Stork has a beak quite different to the stork species here. All of them have sharp pointy beaks with the exception of the Yellowbilled Stork which has that downward turn at the end of the beak like the Wood Stork's. Similar to an Ibis. The beak is also much longer than the other storks. My book says it feeds by wading and probing with the bill partly opened beneath the water while constantly moving.
Our two Woolly-necked storks (still hanging around everyday for a year now) feed by picking up a piece of meat/insect on the tip of the bill and slinging it backwards with the bill open, into its throat.
These storks feed by touch, rather than sight like other wading birds, keeping their bills in the water as they walk along and when something touches their bill they strike with lightning fast reflexes. They rely on drought to concentrate fish in remaining pools, and tend to disperse widely and not nest when water is high as it is this season
Still hanging out in my garden are Woolly and his arch rival Kitey!
Yes, I'm such a handsome bloke! And getting quite cheeky too - this morning I wandered into Tod's bedroom and pecked at her flatscreen TV! (Her fault for not jumping out of bed to get me some nibbles out the fridge...)
Kitey sitting in the tree above my bedroom waiting for me to throw something out for Woolly so HE can get to it faster!(not always..)