Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What is all this Babble?

We are still travelling with Don and Nancy Harrington, Don is the birding guy with the massively large camera.  
One day, Nancy came running up to me.  “Don has babblers, Don has babblers!”  It seemed like an urgent announcement like he had just had an encounter with some strange bug and was at risk for a tropical disease.  Maybe I had to rush him to the hospital?   Was the hospital in Pretoria the correct choice or should we drive all the way to Joburg?   
I went over to investigate, and indeed after examination, Don indeed had babblers.  He had a noisy flock of Arrow-marked Babblers.

Babblers....I wanted to see them AND one gets what they pay for, so to speak, as then they wouldn't leave.  They WERE a disease.  If there are more noisy or irritating birds in the this world, I haven’t seen them yet.  These guys once found, ended up at the feeders at the place we were staying and could become quite annoying, so much like a disease, once you had them, you just couldn’t get rid of them.

I apologize for the glitch in my blog today ...
So here we are, Pretoria, staying at a place owned by Lofty and Amanda Lunge.  They like birds, their neighbors like birds, they feed the birds, they feed the impala, and say they got over 200 species at their house(s).  I had my doubts.

I was sort of thinking it was all talk, BUT, it wasn't.  What a bonanza of birds!  It has been a while since I was so overwhelmed by new species, I was almost paralyzed.  I'm sure i missed a few as I was two birds at the feeder behind identifying them.  I just skipped the bishops as weavers, bishops, canaries, are  all one yellow and green mess in the Austral fall.

I had three lifers getting out of the car, three more pouring the bird seed.  I even saw an ostrich on the farm.

Grey Go-away-bird, great name

red-billed hornbill

Yellow-billed hornbill

We not only saw four species of kingfisher, we saw them in one hour two yards from the Braai (BBQ) we were using.  All lifers for the trip

Brown hooded kingfisher

A tiny Malachite kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher

Woodland kingfisher

You may ask what kind of backyard did I have to have four species of kingfisher?
And those are Blesbok feeding by the bridge on the way to the little shop and pub
There were also black crake here, seen just to the left of the picture above

I can't ell you or show you half of the stories and sights so I'll stick with the birds.  It was a true bonanza of birds, all colors of birds.

Black-collared barbet

 Southern Cordonbleu

crested barbet

Crimson Breasted gonolek


European Hoopoe, we also saw Green woodhoopoes dancing

We saw lots of butterflies including this Gunieafowl, which was not a bird, but we saw Guniea fowl too

Jamieson firefinch

Lilac-fronted roller

magpie shrike

We saw three species of grouse including this Natal francolin which just scream when flushed

Black backed puffbird, all puffed up for us

Red-billed quelea

Black masked weaver of the two species of weaver seen

Village indigobird

Blacksmith lapwing one of three species of lapwing

All this was pretty good since I slipped on the mud in Crocs and feel on my bins giving me an NC-17 bruise on my bum the size of a large plate, but the birding must go on and it did.  

After finding a local guy named Vim to drive us around, we went to the maze of roads they call the  Dinokeng Preserve next door just to get different birds (where a woman was mauled by a lion recently when she decided to walk with the big cats).  There was a rumor of cheetahs....sadly no cats, but we saw....BIRDS!

Cape Griffon.  This endangered bird was a great find, out of area and just random dumb luck

Lesser gray shrike was a  rare bird alert

More rollers

Zebras and red-billed oxpeckers

white winged tern which I had no seen after dipping on one in Pennsylvania

Black bellied bustard, a rare bird alert

brown snake-eagle
African jacana blurry in the grass

 Yes we also some mammals




So no cheetahs, lots of birds........scads of birds.  I'm still processing pictures and entering eBird checklists.
So after one last meal on a cold and rainy day cleaning out our supplies

A final good by from the family of barred mongoose (or is it geese?)
It is all over but the traveling and the healing.  My A#$ hurts!  It was off for our 16 hour flight to Atlanta, we almost hit a baboon on the gravel road and our driver looked fearful we'd be robbed, but we made it


  1. What great birds. What a finale to an awesome trip. Hope you don't get to South Dakota too soon with another weather bomb on the way.
    I seem to remember, ( from my South African relative days ) a kind of beef jerky they had called Biltong made from one of the local mammals. Did you try any of that? Anyway, safe travels wherever you are.

    1. Heard about it, could not find any, the sausage on the Braai was the best anywhere ever though


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