Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Splendor in the Grass

"From Marievale, we went on to Suikerbosrand. It is hilly, open grassland"... The area looks like many places in the American west. It reminded me of parts of Central California most of all. The difference being that Suikerbosrand had a much greater diversity of wildlife. No cows at all.
At the park HQ, Malcolm, (far right) explained the unique subleties of the park habitats. Tom spies something interesting on the far left. Sue is in the middle of the photo. There are several good hiking trails leading from hq. Many birds all around the area.
"We got our first long distance views of proto-typical African mammals. Mostly Wildebeests and Zebras, also Blesbok, Eland, Greater Kudu, and a single Springbok".
"An attractive grassland bird, Cape Longclaw, only allowed me to get a few mediochre photos."
"Malcolm pointed out many obscure LBJ's (Little Brown Jobs) like Neddicky, and various cisticolas that I could not have identified on my own". ( Case in point, I dont remember what this guy is.)
I value the plain janes in the bird world as much as the more flamboyant birds.

"We found a pair of colorful, Mocking Cliff Chats. Their pattern is very similar to that of Painted Redstarts, though not quite as brilliantly colored. The male was very cooperative for photos."
"We got to see several Chacma Baboons. They were large and impressive, though Malcolm and Sue did'nt show much interest in them."
"There were more Swainson's Francolins and some Red-winged Francolins. Malcolm almost caught one with his bare hands. I may have gotten good photos of the red-wing if Malcolm did'nt chase it off before I was ready."
"I photographed another Cape Wagtail."
"Tom was very excited to find a Cape Robin Chat. It is apparently one of his favorite African Birds."
"I was excited myself to see some Cape White-eyes. My first species of white-eye, a family of birds that I missed in SE Asia."

"We saw some attractive Pin-tailed Widows. I got good photos of a male in prime breeding colors. They are known to be brood parasites of waxbills."
"At one picnic area, we saw many Fiscal Flycatchers. They look very similar to the larger Fiscal Shrikes. We also saw a magnificent African Paradise Flycatcher there, but I could'nt get passable photos."
"I was happy to see more Speckled Mousebirds. They are rapidly becoming a favorite bird of mine because they display so much personality."
On that one day I saw sixty new species of birds. That is not counting the twenty nine species that were new to me when I saw them the previous day in Johannesburg. Plus a good handful of birds that I had seen in other places before comung to SA. Nearly a hundred species in one day. A good haul for anyone.
I am very grateful for the generosity of Malcolm and Sue Henderson,  and for their bounteous hospitality.


Jeremy Pearse said...

Thanks John for all the wonderful photos of the African birds and mammals, it really takes me back!

Henry said...

This makes me wish I was back at Suikerbosrand. Some great photos and sightings. I'm a little jealous of the Mocking Cliff Chat :)

Colette Theriault said...

John, I always love looking at your wonderful photos and reading your stories; makes me feel like I was there! I envy your birdwatching adventures!! Thanks for sharing.

Friend of HK said...

Sixty new species in one day, Congratulations!