I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks. I have been away in South Africa on a "see it all in two weeks tour". We thought about driving ourselves around but the distances involved are huge and with me wanting to stop every time we see a new bird, progress would have been slow. On an organised tour using coaches and internal flights you get to see a lot more of the country but can't always do exactly what you want. Best of all you get to sleep while someone else does the long distance driving.
This was a touring holiday not a birding holiday but I can usually rely on a couple of hours birding before breakfast, whilst Sue prepares herself to face the day. We also like Botanical Gardens and then there are the few photographs grabbed here and there, in gardens and on rubbish tips, whilst I wait for Sue to exit from yet another souvenir shop.
There is so much that I could write about the country - the scenery, the people, the contrast between rich and poor, but this is a birding blog so I will steer clear of other issues.
The itinerary for most of these trips are similar. A day in Johannesburg, the Kruger National Park, Swaziland, the Battlefields area, then fly down to George for the Garden Route, the Winelands and a couple of days in Cape Town.
Researching the hotels before we went the first night in Johannesburg at the Indaba Hotel looked really promising. The hotel has its own garden bird list with 110 birds listed and cross referenced to the Sasol Birds of South Africa. There is also the Montecasino Bird Gardens just a few kilometres away with a lot of free flying birds using the gardens. This was going to be one of the highlight of the holiday
Just one problem. we had a 20 hour delay at Heathrow. We arrived at the Indaba at six o'clock in the morning and were scheduled to leave for the Kruger at nine o'clock. My days birding had just disappeared. Most people probably slept. I managed a couple of hours birding, a shower, and a quick breakfast, before we had to move on. Not ideal but better than nothing.
A confusing bird to start off with. One of the most common and easily seen but what to call it? Black-eyed Bulbul or Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus or should I be calling it Dark-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus tricolour or perhaps one of the other common or binomial names given to it across Africa. Black-eyed I like.
|Blacksmith Lapwing (old name Blacksmith Plover)|
|Grey Lourie (Go Away bird)|
|Red-headed Finch (Female)|
|Speckled Pigeon (Rock)|
|Fly over Sacred Ibis|
|Southern Masked Weaver|
|Southern Masked Weaver - nest building|
At least I got a few pictures. Also seen but not photographed or perhaps I should say photographed but pictures really poor, Pied Crow, Cape Starling, Laughing Dove.
Some of these pictures were taken in low light levels so are on a high ISO setting but they are a good start for my Africa collection.
Further Blogs on the South Africa trip to follow.