Sunday, 30 March 2014

The black-tailed Godwit is still there!

Saturday afternoon (29/03/2014) the black-taile godwit was still in the same little pan bear nyamandhlovu, main camp

The hwange birder

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Black-tailed Godwit in Hwange!!

I know it has been an absolute age since I last posted something on this blog but I have a real beauty for you today!

I received a phone call from a good friend last night, John Brebner, and my heart skipped a beat!
He asked me if I had seen any unusual birds at Hwange's Nyamandhlovu pan recently because he had just seen and photographed what he thought was a Black-tailed Godwit. I told him not to pull my leg and that I was leaving right then with torch in hand!!

I didn't go last night but I did rush there this morning only to find the bird, in perfect light feeding in amongst a flock of Wood sandpipers and Ruff, just 5 m from the road. I had charged the battery for my camera, checked the memory card and packed the 600mm lens for just this reason and here are the results.

Black-tailed Godwit at Nyam (Hwange)

Black-tailed Godwit feeding amongst sandpipers
This bird is a real rarity here in Zimbabwe let alone Hwange. Just how rare I will have to check with the experts but I will update this blog with that information. In the mean time, if you are anywhere near Hwange, pull in an look for it amongst any and every feeding flock of waders near nyam platform. There is a small natural pan on the right of the road about 200m before the platform with lovely open views if its feeding there.  good luck and many many thanks and congratulations to John and Jenny Brebner for spotting this and sharing it with us.

                                                                  The Hwange Birder

Friday, 20 December 2013

That daunting feeling!

Have you ever had that daunting feeling deep in your gut just before something bad happens?
You have to ask that of this bull-frog at Ngamo pan a split second before this Yellow-billed Kite snatched him up.

Ngamo pan is Hwange's premier birding spot when the rains is alive with scenes like this!!

                                                          The Hwange Birder

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

African Hobby confirmed!

African Hobby at Ngamo pan, Hwange

Its a very distinct bird but very rarely seen in Zimbabwe so although I was 100% sure of my identification I have a huge smile this morning because I received independent verification of the I.D.
according to my source the last record was in 2010!!
Hwange does it again....

The Hwange Birder

Monday, 2 December 2013

Back on the map

I have just been out tracking lions again in what I feel is the best birding area in Hwange, Ngamo!
The rains have yet to really arrive so it is not showing its real potential yet but even so I was blown away with what I saw and photographed.

I got my best photo of a young Lanner so far as it flew from elephant turd to elephant turd to eat the termites feeding on them.
Young Lanner falcon feeding on termites in elephant dung
I atlassed full-time and got some incredible birds...some of which (like the African Hobby) is currently with the rarities committee awaiting confirmation!!

African Hobby?

I saw a white stork killed by Tawny eagle, a yellow wagtail and marvelled at how Abdim's storks seem to overshoot the runway and then just fold wings and somehow make it on to tarmac!

I have been so busy in recent months that I have not really been keeping up with the Atlasing so it is a great feeling to be "back on the map"

The Hwange Birder

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Ring Me!!

Finally, after a number of years...Jupiter lined up with Sagittarius, the humidity went over 65%,  I wore my lucky boxers and finally................I went ringing birds!!

Me ringing a Chestnut-vented Titbabbler

Birdlife Zimbabwe brought a ringing course to my very doorstep and boy did I have fun.
I have wanted to ring birds for as long as i have been a birder, i missed a chance to cannon-net ducks in Hampshire because i had a double shift in the college canteen. Zimbabwe is short of qualified ringers these days and this was the beginning of a new push to get some more of us our there and tagging birds.
A White-browed sparrow weaver dressed up and looking to go out!!

A huge thanks to Julia, Dave and this space!

The Hwange Birder


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Oil and Water!

Like oil and water.....lions and vultures have a similar relationship.
We have been lucky enough to watch a number of lions recently feeding on young elephants they have killed here in Hwange and what has been glaringly obvious is the intolerance of vultures by lions!

One lioness, who had abandoned her kill with virtually nothing left but bones, rushed a full 60m to chase off a lone hooded vulture that dared come too close to the carcass. The strength of this instinct became apparent this morning when I watched a lioness and her cubs. The cubs were whining and asking her to head for the shade and she was desperately trying to comply but no sooner had she walked 25m from the carcass towards distant trees did she hear the vultures squabbling over the kill and had to rush back to chase them off. This went on until I had to leave but I wager that she is still at it now!!

                                                       The Hwange Birder