SUMMER IS COMING!!!!
These images all taken last week along the Kwazulu Natal North Coast.
Weather is warming, partnerships forming, nesting commencing and "birding season begins"
KUNENE RIVER LODGE & CAMPING
KUNENE RIVER LODGE has to be right at the top of your "bucket list" No way should you depart planet earth without a visit to this Oasis, the Jewel of jewels.
We recently spent 42 days travelling Botswana and Namibia and this was undoubtedly the hi-lite of our tour. The boat cruises on the Kunene river to look for Olive Bee-eaters and the much lighter coloured Nile Crocodile, the incredible journey with our host, Peter, to the Zebra Mountains in search of the much sought after Angolan Cave Chat, not to mention of course the other endemics Cinderella Waxbill, Rufous tailed Palm Thrush, Swamp Boubou and the beautiful Red necked Spurfowl ( the nominate race "afer" having a white throat) will long be remembered.
Camping next to the Kunene river provides an atmosphere of complete relaxation and contentment. The rare Striped Squirrel only found in north western Namiba can be seen scurrying around the camp.
So folks, go and introduce yourselves to a great guy, Peter "El Capitano" and his lovely wife Hilary.
Peter is a wealth of information and will inspire your spirit of adventure.
CROWNED HORNBILLS - Prey items fed to chicks -
KZN SOUTH COAST
We are monitoring a Crowned Hornbills nest and recording the prey items being brought to the chicks. The nesting box was made by Flippie Geyer with a lot of help from his wife Lynn.
This bird has been nesting on their property for the past 7-8years. He is fondly known as Bob.
Two years ago we spent some time there and took a few interesting photographs. This year we decided to be a bit more intense and have been rewarded for our effort.
We have pleasure in publishing some of the photos we have taken and welcome any interesting comments and questions.
The female, Belinda, left the nest on 29th December and we estimate another 3 weeks of intense feeding by both parents.
This can be viewed daily on : McGills Bird Photography on Facebook.
BOTSWANA - MAUN
In Maun we stayed at Okavango Ceramics with Ken & Mel Oake, Ken being a very knowledgeable birder and a great photographer. They have a boat driven by an experienced coxswain, Samuel, which made it easy to get the images that are featured here. The spot is close to town which makes it convenient but still in "the bush". The Self catering En-Suite Tents are on the edge of the Boro River and very well appointed, luxury ! The team's knowledge of birds and habitat made for a wonderful stay there.
Contact details can be found under "Where to stay" on this site. or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On our last visit to Kruger Park we came across some Hooded Vultures feeding on an Impala carcass. Our first observation was the variance in the facial skin colour. The Vulture feeding had white facial skin. There were 2 others sitting in a nearby tree who had deep pink facial skin, Initially we thought it may be an adult/juvenile variation. Shortly after we arrived, the birds from the tree flew down for their lunch. As we were photographing them feeding, the facial skin colour changed from pink to white before our eyes.
How or why this happens we do not know.
Our only explanation is that before the Vultures have eaten the pink skin colour is a warning to others to keep away and wait their turn and once they have eaten they are more relaxed and the pink colour fades to white,
The colour variance can be clearly seen in the images below.
BLACK BELLIED STARLINGS:
For 3 days we watched Black bellied Starlings at a nest site feeding their young. These fantastic birds, hard at work looking after their brood. The morning routine started by making the chicks bed. A snake skin was brought and after being rubbed around the edge of the nest hole ( we think to deter predators) it was taken inside. This could only have been to place a waterproof layer on existing fouled material. Once this was complete, fresh green leaves were taken in, obviously for cleanliness and hygiene.
First chore done, feeding time began. A vast array of prey items, mainly frogs, were fed at a ratio of 4 prey items to 1fruit, on average. Some prey items were very large compared to the size of the chicks and one wonders how they managed to swallow these.
The most interesting observation was the male Starlings ability to change the colour of his eyes from yellow to red. Another Starling (whom we named "the imposter") often intruded, only to be agressively chased away by the red eyed male,.
We did not see the chicks fledge but hope they made it to continue the species.
Anyone visiting the East Coast of KZN should keep an eye open for these beautiful birds.