Friday, 1 May 2009

Twitcher tendencies

My trusty pair of binoculars, and my Christmas present from Robert of a guide to Birds of East Africa has been put to good use on our journey as we have passed through some of the most prolific regions of the continent in terms of birdlife. In Ethiopia, Kenya and most recently Uganda, we have viewed a huge variety and high concentrations of both familiar and more exotic species. After 10 years living in Zimbabwe my interest in the avian life of the parks we regularly visit there has developed into something of a passion: I am still very much an amateur, but birdwatching has added a colourful and, as we anxiously scour the pages of the guidebook to identify yet another bird, an investigative angle to our travels.

Alexander has always been a bird lover as those of you who have met our parrots will know.

He recently drew these lovely pictures, inspired by our trip up the Albert Nile to the Murchison Falls, in northern Uganda, of a red-throated bee-eater and a saddle-billed stork.

Whilst we didn't catch a glimpse of the famous but elusive shoebill stork in Murchison Falls national park, we saw many favourites: fish eagles by the dozen, pied kingfishers hovering over the water, their wings a blur; white, yellow-billed and saddle-billed storks, goliath, purple, black-headed and squacco herons.

In the park on a game drive earlier in the day we saw this eagle - is it a martial or a steppe eagle - one of our followers is bound to know!

And the extraordinary Abyssinian ground hornbill, who we first saw in Ethiopia of course.

And this ox-pecker looks so cheeky, daring to sit on this buffalo's back.

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