Thursday, 18 December 2014

Happy outcomes!

Like everyone else, I like a happy ending. Especially when I was involved!
This morning I was driving to work when I saw a small bird fly across the road and my relief at missing him was short lived when I heard him hit my tracking aerial that sticks up from the roof.
"dunggggggggg!". I saw the poor fellow drop onto the road behind me and so slammed on brakes and reversed to see what he WAS!.

As I picked him up and realised it was a Willow warbler he came alive in my hand. Obviously stunned, I put him in the car, and took him with me. At the office I set him up on the branch of a "Lucky bean" and left him to catch his breath. About and hour later I walked out, he saw me approaching and flew up into the canopy.
Alive and well!
Willow warbler catching his breath!


Here is the distribution map of the Willow warbler for your interest. Swiped from Wikipedia (with full credit to).
Willow warbler distribution and migration (thanks Wikipedia)

                                                                   The Hwange Birder

Monday, 15 December 2014

Birthday ringing!

Today is my birthday....37 years old! can you believe it and I don't look a day over 25.
This morning started at 03:30 when I pre-empted my alarm and tried in vain to leave the bed without waking my beautiful wife. We have some visitors in Main camp, here for some bird ringing, and so it was well worth the early morning.

White-bellied Sunbird being photographed before it's release

A female Sunbird causes a brief ID crisis
It was a very successful first day of three and we caught perhaps 50 birds of eight or nine species. Several were recaptures that we had ringed in November 2013.... so that was interesting.

Now to end my day I am heading home  to enjoy another bird...this time its a chicken Poiki with a beer cold enought to burn the tips of the fingers where the Red-backed shrike "Bit me"!

                                                                        The Hwange Birder

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Our little piece of paradise!

We have been looking forward to moving into our new home for ages now as my wife has worked tirelessly to build us our home. We have been welcomed into the Mabale communal lands and have a lovely plot of land. We, unlike our neighbours, have decided to leave the forest as a forest and only have a small field to grow some food. We have an abundance of wild fruit and this attracts a huge diversity of birds. We moved in about 10 days ago and it is paradise.

These following images were taken within 10min at our birdbath.
Yellow-bellied Greenbul

Black-headed Oriole

Red-winged starling

Shaft-tailed Whydah, Cut-throat Finch






On our first evening there we were delighted to see five Grey-headed Parrots and a couple of days ago my wife saw an African Green Pigeon.

We will keep you up to date as the list increases.

                                                               The Hwange Birder

Vulture spit!

Well, in my last post the title promised you "back-lit spit!"
So, here it is.............


Mmmmmmm.......look at the flies on that carcass!
I guess the equivalent would be how I drool over a piece of lemon-meringue pie!

                                                                    The Hwange Birder

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Vulture dust and backlit spit!

Recently a giraffe was killed when it touched a low power cable and it has attracted lions. I have been there a couple of times to watch the cats but yesterday the lions had moved off when the electricity authority came to fix the pole. When I got there in the afternoon the sun was heading for the horizon and that means one thing to a wildlife photographer.......BACKLIGHT!!!!!

I set myself facing directly into the sun and put my camera on spot metering. I set up my shutter speed to 1/8000sec and the camera used the full f2.8 on my 400m lens to keep the ISO to a relatively low 2000! To some of you that may sound gobble-de-gook but here are the results!

Hundreds of White-backed vultures, who had been waiting patiently for days, descended and the ensuing battle for "an opening" was wonderful action to photograph.




If you are a wildlife photographer and havn't tried "Contre jour" ("back-light" to us plebs) then do because it will add a new dimension to your work.

                                                               The Hwange Birder

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Lions and birds! what more does a man need?

Cattle egrets fly past an alert lioness
Some time ago I started posting pictures of lions and birds in the same frame.....
(for those that don't know me and wonder why the challenge; I study lions full time and have a deep interest in birds so trying to catch the two in a single image makes me very happy.

Here is the latest, caught the other evening, lioness and cattle egrets

                                                        The Hwange Birder

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Weavers and water!

This is my latest work...trying to catch these weavers as they fly through the top of a fountain in the Safari lodge reception.

Getting some good results but you have to take thousands of photos to get them.

                                                                     The Hwange Birder