Rufousnaped Lark

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Birding my Local Patches

After trying the leaf suit out on Zaagkuil I was sure that I was going to get great close ups of some of the migrant warblers that frequent Bishop Bird Park. I had been to the park earlier in the week and Etienne Marais had pointed out a whole plethora of migrant warblers, Willow, Marsh, Garden and even a Common Whitethroat, so it had to be a done deal. Arriving at the park in the early morning I checked if anyone was around before donning the leaf suit and heading off into the park. I think I would have scared the c..p out of someone if i had bumped into them, lol. It all started off well, the Blackchested Prinia's came out to scold me as I carefully stalked my way around the park.

They normally move away when a human approaches but this time they actually hung around and even carried on preening, it had to bode well for some warbler pics..

Black-chested Prinia (2)

Another (normally skittish) bird, the migrant Spotted Flycatcher was very confiding and came and sat so close to me I had to zoom out to get him in the frame.

I was able to stalk one as well and could approach failry close before he decided he had had enough and flew off to more distant perch.

Spotted Flycatcher (2)

This was going too well, I was going to get stunning photos of the warblers. At about 08:00 the warblers all started calling, almost simultaneously. I decided to sit at a spot that Etienne had pointed out as being a good spot for warblers. So I made myself comfortable and waited....10 minutes, I heard a Marsh Warbler approaching, I watched the bush intently.....15 minutes, the warbler started moving off again, all quiet...20 minutes, still quiet....25 minutes, another warbler calling softly ahead, faint movement detected in the thicket.....30 minutes, my is going numb, the warbler is moving back deeper into the thicket.....35 minutes, I realise that these warblers are not as dumb as I think they are.....40 minutes, come on give me a break, just one warbler pic to show the guys.....45 minutes, thats it, I am going to have to stalk these guys. The problem is that the trees and thickets are so thick you cant see the warblers for long enough to get a photo and its normally in the shaded areas where the light is bad...oh well back to the drawing board..

On the way back to the car, a Red-faced Mousebird lands so close I can't get him all in the why couldn't it have been a migrant warbler??

Red-faced Mousebird

As I arrive back at home I hear a Grey Hornbill calling. This is great because they only visit our garden about once or twice a year. I rush out into the front garden only to see a pair moving through the trees..

The fact that thay are a pair brings great excitement as I think they may be checking out the old Barbet nests for a potential nest site.

African Grey Hornbill (Male) (2)

The female is very shy and stays in the back of the trees all the time but I managed a record shot of her. Note the diagnostic "lipstick" on the bill

African Grey Hornbill (female)

Another bird which may be breeding in the garden presently is the Burchells Coucal, we often see him in the same area of the garden in the mornings. When I took this photo he was busy hunting snails..

Burchells Coucal (2)

This morning again I decided to try the leaf suit to see if it does actually work. The Hadedas were not too bothered about me and remained sitting on the garden wall doing their morning ablutions.

Hadeda Ibis

Even the Common Mynas, which are normally very wary birds, came down for a drink and were not bothered by my presence or the sound of the shutter clicking away.

Common Myna

This Laughing Dove almost landed on me before heading to the pond for a drink..

Immature Laughing Dove (note buffy feather edges)

At about 09:30 this morning I noticed a large flock of large birds circling around above the house which, on closer inspection, turned out to be White Storks. They circled around for a while, slowly gaining altitiude until, almost on command, they broke out of the circle towards the North..

White Storks (I counted 70 in the frame) 

Finally, it seems as if winter is on the way as it was rather chilly this morning forcing me to put on a fleece jacket and the first Amethyst Sunbirds were seen around the garden. These birds are common all year round in Gauteng but I only get them in my garden in winter..

Immature Amethyst Sunbird

I am still planning a trip to Mkhombo again, so maybe Easter Weekend will be a good time...if my wife shortens the list she has in mind for me!! Cheers!


Mad dog and Englishman said...

We had a Burchells Coucal visit us every morning for a week. I think he probably wiped out all the nestlings in the garden before moving on but nevertheless, we were excited at his presence in OUR garden.

Love your Hornbills. Hope they stick around.

Gareth Hazell said...

Hahaha, I think that's what the coucal did in our garden..we saw him raiding some nests and has been missing now for a week. As you say its still exciting to have them around.

The Hornbills didn't stay by the way but perhaps next summer??

Thanks for the comments!