Birds and Birding

Ufumene Game Lodge

A favorite destination for our family is the Ufumene Game Lodge. Ufumene is located in the Eastern Cape (South Africa) on the Cradock side of the Olifantshoek pass. The lodge is very family orientated, whether the kids go horse riding and the adults go for a long tranquil walk, its a place to relax and get yourself recharged.
The following photos are a collection of some of my favorites from the area surrounding the lodge:

Mother and Child. Newly born giraffe. Such serene animals.

Giraffe mommy and baby

 

This is a macro shot of a Lavender flower. I shot this with a 500mm Sigma lens with a 25mm extension tube attached so I could get in really close.

Lavender macro

 

On receiving my new Canon 7D mark II, the first thing that went through my mind was; how much noise am I going to get with a starscape. This was a 30 second exposure with an ISO of 4000.  I was truly impressed by the minimal noise that I got in this shot.

Starscape at Ufumene

 

This is an Hadeda Ibis, a pretty common bird in the Eastern Cape.

Hadeda ibis

 

One of the landscape picture I took of the surrounding area around Ufumene Lodge

Mountains At Ufunmene

 

One of the many birds of prey in the area.

Raptor

 

A beautiful sunset at Ufumene. Everyday has a unique sunset.

Sunset at Ufumene

 

One of the great animals to see when visiting Ufumene, is the Sable Antelope. They are magnificent animals.

Sable Antelope

 

The Cape Sparrow is one of the many birds you will encounter at the lodge. Ufumene is a birders’ paradise.

Cape sparrow

 

Another landscape over the small dam outside the lodge. It can really produce some stunning effects

Sunrise at Ufumene

 

Road to tranquility.  Another landscape shot with touch of HDR

Mountains At Ufunmene

 

Another shot off the dam. Love the clouds.

Dam at Ufumene

Garden Bokmakieries

These are two Bokmakierie pictures shot in my garden in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Its latin name is Telophorus zeylonus and it belongs to the Malaconotidae bird family group which includes birds such as Bush-shrikesPuffbacksTchagrasBoubousHelment-shrikesBatises and Wattle-eyes.
This shot was taken with a Canon 7D with a Sigma 150-500mm Lens
Garden Bokmakierie

… and this one was taken with a Canon 7D with a 100-400mm L IS lens

Garden Bokmakierie

Malachite Sunbird – Nectarinia famosa

Facts about Malachites:

The male Malachite Sunbird – Nectarinia famosa is a metallic green bird with yellow pectoral tufts and has a long tail making his total length approx. 25cm. The female has a brown back with pale yellow underparts and white outer tail feathers. The tail is much shorter than that of the male, making her total length approx. 15cm. The juvenile malachite looks like the female but it has greener upperparts and yellower underparts. This sunbird is territorial and aggressive  especially when nesting.

Habitats:

The Malachite Sunbird is found on hilly fynbos, on proteas and aloes. Malachites prefer a habitat consisting of montane grasslands and scrub, riverine bush, fynbos and gardens. This species can occur at high elevation, 2400 metres in Ethiopia, 3000 metres in Tanzania, and from sea-level up to 2800 metres in South Africa.

Feeding and Diet:

The Malachite Sunbird feeds primarily on nectar and insects. It gets food from several plants such as Lobelia and Aloe, and also Kniphofia (Liliaceae). They will also feed from other plants as well. It will observe insects from an exposed perch and fly up to grab them. The babies will eat mainly insects and other small bugs.  Both genders have long curved thin bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues for nectar feeding. It feeds and forages alone or in pairs, or in loose groups of 30-40 birds.

Male Malachite Sunbird

 

Picture of a female Malachite Sunbird –  note the lack of colours compared to the male. She usually lays two grey eggs, which she incubates for 13 days. Her nest is oval. It is made with grass, plant fibres, leaves, twigs, rootlets and spider webs.  The interior is lined with soft grass, hair, feathers, down and wool.
The nest is placed within a bush with an entrance facing inwards, between near ground and 20 metres up in tree or bush, often above the water.

Female Malachite Sunbird

 

Another male, but this time without the breeding plumage.

Malachite Male

 

Bar-Throated Apalis

The Bar-throated Apalis is a small African passerine bird (relating to or denoting birds of a large order distinguished by having feet that are adapted for perching, including all songbirds) belonging to the genus Apalis of the family Cisticolidae.

The Bar-throated Apalis or Apalis thoracica inhabits forest and scrub in Southern and East Africa from southern and eastern parts of South Africa north as far as the Chyulu Hills in Kenya.
The Bar-throated Apalis is a slender bird with a long tail and is 11 to 13 cm in length. The plumage varies depending on the subspecies: the upperparts can be grey or green while the underparts are white or pale yellow. All forms have a narrow black band across the breast, white outer tail-feathers and a pale eye. The black bill is fairly long and slender and is slightly curved. Females have a narrower breastband than that of the males. Juveniles have buffer underparts and may have an incomplete breastband.
Pairs sing a duetting song with the female’s call being higher-pitched than that of the male.
The oval, purse-shaped nest is made mainly of plant material. Three eggs are laid, these are bluish-white with reddish-brown spots. The breeding season lasts from August to January.
This species forages for caterpillars and other insects amongst vegetation, often forming mixed-species flocks with other birds.
This photo was taken at van Stadens Flower Reserve, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Information from Wikipedia

Bar-throated Apalis

Crowned Plover (Lapwing)

A beautiful bird, this Crowned Plover, taken at Cape St. Francis Resort.  This was one of the two guarding a nest next to a public sidewalk. They get really agitated when anyone walks by with hi pitched, noisy and loud ‘kreep kreep kreep’ sounds. They also fly at people and pets that get to close to their nest. The Crown Plovers’ diet consists mainly of beetles, termites, grasshoppers and other small invertebrates. The female will lay 2-3 eggs at a time, but on a rare occasion 4 eggs. They are a common resident in open country, short grasslands and fields. Scientific Name is vanellus coronatus. The Afrikaans name for this is Kroonkiewiet.
Cape st. Francis is located in the Eastern Cape, near Port Elizabeth, in South Africa.

Crowned Plover

 

Out of Bounds Malachite Sunbird

I have been trying to be more creative with my photography of late and try different things.  I belong to a camera club in Port Elizabeth South Africa and we post most of the pics we take on a Facebook group page for others to see and to criticize just to improve our overall composition of the photos.  On going through the pictures here, I noticed a beautiful picture of a horse and carriage exiting through a frame.  I did some searching around and found out that this type of editing is called ‘out of bounds‘.  I decided to try one of my own and at the end of the day I was more than satisfied with my results. Most of the tutorials for this type of editing are for Photoshop, but this one I did in Gimp.
The bird in the picture is a Malachite SunbirdNectarinia famosa.  This particular one has not got all it’s normal colours yet, usually is a metallic green colour with a longish black tail.  The female is a lot more dull and pale with a bit of mottling on the breast and has a white outer tail.  They make a tseep-tseep sound when calling, but their song is series of twittering notes.
Their diet mainly consists of bugs (insects), spiders and nectar. Malachites are quite plentiful in South Africa and the Eastern Cape.

Malachite Sunbird

Fork Tailed Drongo

The Fork-tailed Drongo is a type of small passerine bird. Its scientific name is Dicrurus adsimilis and is also known as the Common Drongo, African Drongo or Savanna Drongo. They are members of the family Dicruridae.
The Fork-tailed Drongo is common and widespread in South Africa and mostly south of the Sahara. These insect-eating birds are usually found in open forests or bush. The females lay two to four eggs are laid in a cup nest in a fork high in a tree.
These are aggressive birds with no fear and will attack much larger species, including birds of prey especially if their nest or young are threatened.
The male is mainly glossy black, although the wings are duller. It is large-headed and has the forked tail which gives the species its name. The female is similar but less glossy. The bill is black and heavy, and the eye is red.
The Fork-tailed Drongo is approx. 25 cm long. It has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched prominently, just like a shrike. It flycatches or take prey from the ground and is attracted to bush fires.
Forked Tail Drongo

The South African Bokmakierie

The Bokmakierie is quite a common bird in Southern Africa. It does not seem to have an English name, but its latin name is Telophorus zeylonus. It belongs to the Malaconotidae bird family group which includes birds such as Bush-shrikes, Puffbacks, Tchagras, Boubous, Helment-shrikes, Batises and Wattle-eyes. This bird forages for food on the ground and attacks its prey aerially. Telophorus zeylonus eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. It is a common resident of fynbos, Karoo scrub and suburban gardens. The Bokmakierie seems to get its name from the call it makes – bok-bok-kik

South African Bokmakierie

Another Bokmakierie from a different location.

South African Bokmakierie

Brown Hooded Kingfisher

The Brown Hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon Albiventris) is a species of bird in the Halcyonidae family and is distinguished from other red billed kingfishers by its brownish colored head, with black streaks. Its habitat is non-aquatic, thornveld, coastal forests and is also common to gardens and parks. The adults size is about 19 to 20 cm. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This picture was taken in a nearby bush in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Afrikaans name for this is Bruinkopvisvanger.

Brown Hooded Kingfisher

Steppe Buzzard of Addo Elephant Park

This Bird of Prey picture of a Steppe Buzzard (Buteo Vulpinus) was taken in the Addo Elephant National Park outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The Steppe Buzzard has their distribution is in Eastern Europe and Siberia, Southern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, mainly east, central and South Africa. In South Africa they are widespread from the south coast to the Western Cape. Steppe Buzzards are one of the most common raptors of South Africa. This raptor mainly hunts from a perch and searches the ground below for food. Their diet can consist of insects, beetles, small rodents, lizards and grasshoppers. Sometimes even the weaver bird will make a good meal. They live mainly in the open grasslands and woodland areas.
Addo Elephant National Park is the home of the Big 7 which includes the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the rhinoceros the buffalo and now recently added, the whale and the shark (The Great White Shark).

Steppe Buzzard