While scanning for the Senegal Lapwing in the Satara area, I managed to miss this target bird AND a waiving Laine. No matter how cool it would have been to have spotted either of the aforementioned, the rest of a weeks birding compensated me beautifully.
Here are some highlights from a week in Kruger, including a night in Kurisa Moya and birding in the Magoebaskloof.
Yes, I have seen Pel's Fishing-Owl now. My gorgeous fiancee had already seen the bird on an earlier expedition but now it was my turn. After a relatively leisurely guided walk along the Olifants river close to Balule it was perching stunningly on top of a big river tree (Jackalberrie??). Forget all the impressive Eagle-Owls and other noctural feathered friends: this is the one you want to see!
Since this blog is not about how much fun I had where and when, but about birding madness... and now I should start whispering... maybe the actual highlight was finally ticking the Red-faced Cisticola. When I was living in a little glorified shack on the Limpopo river I have not only heard this bird hundreds of times, I have also stared at it through my binoculars time and time again. Never did I manage to pin it down. It wasn't one of the warblers, paging through to the prinias didn't make sense either and the cisticolas I did not even consider. I should have. When preparing for an earlier Kruger trip in March it came to me as in divine inspiration: that Red-faced Cisticola that they mention for Kruger's reedbeds, could that be The Eluder? Last week confirmation came. While talking to another birder in Skukuza rest camp, he mentioned a call from the reeds that I immediately picked up as The Eluder. "That's the Red-faced Cisticola," my new friend said. My heart bonked. We made our way to the reeds and there it was! It made the call, looked like The Eluder and damn... it looked exactly like the RFC in my book!
HEAVEN IS A FOREST
For the first time ever, I was in a party that made use of a professional guide. I had done a bit of forest birding before on the Wild Coast, but this time it was for real: The Magoebaskloof. This is something to get used to and knowledge of the calls is indispensible. Look and listen in the leaf litter, stare up on the branches. Forest birding is hard on the neck, our guide Peter said - only half jokingly. It it SOOO worth it. The forest around Kurisa Moya (lodge) and Woodbush is stunnning and the birds are equally pretty: Narina Trogon, Lemon Dove, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike... Eish! That we waited two hours for the Cape Parrots to fly out and only saw them later on our 'normal' birding route, was also a blessing. Two hours of anticipation (and and African Goshawk ticked) lead to pretty, pretty, pretty things. How can a totally uniform bird as the Grey Cuckooshrike be so stunning?
Green Twinspot. Why was I staring at a Forest Canary when Peter shouted that he saw a twinspot?
I promised myself only to start using a pda to study calls after I have seen 500 birds. By doing this I can concentrate on visuals and on listening and starting to recognize calls without digital aids. After my 2 lifers in Kruger and 9 in Magoebaskloof my tally stands on 492 and it is almost time for the next stage of my birding life.
A large bay on a calm evening at sunset - what could possibly seem more tranquil?
To us humans that is. Sitting watching this scene this evening I was struck by how different it must appear from beneath the surface. To us, a beautiful evening with a solitary bird to complete the picture composition. To the fish beneath a terrifying and stealthy hunter, getting harder and harder to avoid as the light fades.
Sadly for the crane, but fortunately for the fish, I didn't see any "kills" tonight. Although I do suspect the crane's patience could probably outlast mine a thousand times over and this small but magnificent hunter is unlikely to have retired for the evening hungry.
The first time I saw one of them (years ago) I thought, oh this poor birdie ….. Did he escape from it’s cage and is now condemned to die ?! But very soon I learned that in Cologne, like in a few more other Cities in Europe, these birds had become feral.
Maybe some birds did indeed escape their captivity and survived.
Being curious I had a look trough the internet and this is what I found at Wikipedia:
''The Rose-ringed Parakeet has established feral populations in a number of European cities.
The European populations became established during the mid to late 20th Century from introduced and escaped birds. There are two main population centres in Britain: the largest is based around south London, Surrey and Berkshire, and by 2005 consisted of many thousands of birds. A smaller population occurs around Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, Kent. Elsewhere in Britain, smaller feral populations have established from time to time (e.g., at Studland, Dorset, Kensington Gardens, and South Manchester). It has been suggested that feral parrots could endanger populations of native British birds, and that the Rose-ringed Parakeet could even be culled as a result.
Whenever the distinct sound is heard you can find them quite easily. They are great fun to watch and I think they are exceptional pretty.
(Both photos were taken in Cologne)
I was rather sad though when I did read, that in some parts of South Asia these birds are decreasing due to trapping for the pet trade. The Rose-ringed Parakeet's population has dropped drastically in many areas of the Indian subcontinent.