Birds in the yard

When no major outings are planned, I have to content myself with whatever birds show up in my yard.  Fortunately we have had a couple interesting ones, the last few months that actually showed themselves unlike the Diderick Cuckoo which was forever taunting my by staying out of sight.  I haven’t heard him lately so perhaps he has migrated back to his other home.   At any rate,  here are a few photos of some of the interesting birds that have visited our yard in the past couple months.

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A female Eurasian Golden Oriole.  We saw her a couple times. 

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This Senegal Coucal visits occasionally. Usually I only hear him as he is just beyond our wall into the next yard.

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I am thankful that the Variable Sunbird brings his beauty into our yard almost daily. 

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Small flocks of cheerful White-Eyes appear fairly frequently in the yard.  It is hard to get them to sit still for a picture.

Photos by Jonathan – except the Coucal.

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Gwabi Lodge

As I mentioned, we spent last weekend at Gwabi Lodge which is on the way to Lower Zambezi National Park.  Since there were few animals around, the men decided to indulge Kylie and me in our bird-nerding activities, for which we were thankful.  Jonathan’s philosophy is that it is good to have some interest in  birds  for those times when there are no mammals around to watch. 

While I didn’t get any new “lifers” on this trip, I did get to tick off two birds on my Zambia list which previously I had only seen in Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively.  These were Bradfield’s Hornbill, and the Crested Guinea-Fowl.  Unfortunately, no picture of the Guinea Fowl as it was just as we were leaving the lodge and we did not get the camera out fast enough.  Here is Bradfield’s Hornbill though.

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Here are a few more of Jonathan’s better shots:

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Nesting White-fronted Bee-Eaters.

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This Wire-tailed Swallow sat perfectly still for us as we drifted past it, only a few feet away.

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Collared Pratincoles gather on a sandbar.  This was my first view of these birds where they were not in flight.

All photos by Jonathan Moeller.

A Trip to Lower Zambezi

Well, we didn’t exactly make it in to the National Park, but we took a long weekend at Gwabi Lodge which is very near the confluence of the Kafue and Zambezi Rivers.  This is still miles from the Park itself and it being the off-season we were not expecting to see a lot of animals.  We did see a few elephants and a couple bushbuck, but it mostly turned into a birding trip and just a general vacation, for us and our friends, Mike and Kylie. We really enjoyed the boat rides on the river.  Very relaxing and there were lots of birds.  The highlights of the trip (as far as the birds are concerned)  were a Little Bittern, Bradfield’s Hornbill,some nice views of the Goliath Heron, beautiful sights of the nesting White-fronted Bee-Eaters, and just as we were leaving a pair of Crested Guinea Fowl.

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Little Bittern

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Goliath Heron

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Goliath Heron Tracks – Thought these were just amazing as they were nearly the same length as my foot.  So big!

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Green-backed Heron

All photos by Jonathan Moeller.  I’ll post a few more next time.

ZOS Walk (BirdWatch Zambia) February

Jonathan and I managed to join the ZOS group for a walk at York Farm just South of Lusaka a couple weeks ago.  It was a beautiful day, not too hot, but crisp and sunny.  We had been to York farm two years earlier with ZOS, so I wasn’t expecting to see anything exciting but just thought it would be nice to go for a walk in the countryside and see what there is to see.  As it turns out we had a great day and there were even a couple “lifers” for me.

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This Juvenile Lesser Kestrel greeted us just as we drove into the farm, along with a Lilac-breasted Roller and a Senegal Coucal.  He really reminded me of our American Kestrels back home the way he was sitting on the wire as that was a common sight for us when we lived in Ohio.

Later on there were several Greater Striped Swallows flying about and then we spotted this European Roller, which was a lifer for me.

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Towards the end of the morning, I was pretty excited to finally get a good sighting of my nemesis, the Diderick Cuckoo.  The one at my house has been taunting me for weeks now, as I can hear him calling but can never even get a glimpse of him past our outer wall.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture of the cuckoo, so we will have to save that for next time. 

Jonathan took all the pictures on this bird-walk.  As the main group slowly made our way back to the vehicles, he was nowhere in sight.  He had taken off on his own to try to get some good shots of the Red Bishops mixed in with the Mexican Daisies.  He came back covered in grass seeds (black-jacks, which our kids call Cling-ons.  This always sounds funny to me, but of course the kids know nothing about Star Trek.)  Obviously it was well worth his trek, as I really like this photo that he got.

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All in all, we had a beautiful morning.