Friday, October 26, 2012

Take me to the River

I went down to the river, but it was the opposite of a blues song!  :-)  This giant kingfisher got things off to a spectacular start.  Also, the river cruise was like the best drinks stop ever - the bar and snacks set up the whole time!  Wheeeeeeeee! If we are able to visit Phinda again, we might take a picnic lunch and spend all day on the river cruise.  How awesome would that be????  :-)
Giant Kingfisher
The weaver bonanza started right away.  I love them!
Chestnut Weaver

 But it wasn't all weavers.  A sunbird!  We saw these a bunch of times, and none of the pictures are really any good.  Oh well - next time.
Mystery Sunbird
 Check out this crazy cuckoo!
Diederik Cuckoo

Diederik Cuckoo 
 Most of the weavers were males building nests, although I think some of them were females.  I mean, because I just couldn't find any males that look like this in the field guide.  Gorgeous!

Mystery Weaver

African Golden Weaver

Mystery Weaver
 Another non-weaver, this darter didn't mind a few pictures.  There were several other herons there, and some jacana, but the darter was the best poser.
African Darter

Spotted-backed Weaver or Village Weaver
 Osprey!  I saw this once and it flew off before Sam got a good look, and he tried to convince me it was the cuckoo.  Ummmm, no.  We saw it again though, and I was totally vindicated.  And then Sam revealed why he doubted - they haven't seen an osprey here for about 10 years!
 Well hello hadeda!
Hadeda Ibis

Southern Masked Weaver
 We only saw a green heron flying away, but we saw plenty of evidence that they nest here.
Green Heron Eggs
Weavers!  Weavers!  Weavers!
Weaver Nests
And a croc hanging around just under the weaver nests.  You know, no particular reason.......

Lesser Masked Weaver
 They were busy at work.
Lesser Masked Weaver
African Golden Weaver
On the way back to the dock the malachite kingfisher gave us quite a nice view.  Terrible pictures due to the terrible light, but a great view!
Malachite Kingfisher
We really got spoiled for sunsets.
Our good-bye bird (for the river cruise anyway) was a heron in bowling pin configuration.  And that's about it for our Africa trip.  Tomorrow morning it's up way early and off to the airport!  It was a fantastic time.
Purple Heron

To the River

This afternoon we went for the river cruise, but we saw quite a bit on the way there!  We had to keep on moving even if we saw something interesting, so we passed a lot of cool stuff.  We did pause briefly for this stork, which I'm happy about, because that was our only time seeing it!
Wooly-necked Stork
An d we saw this guy.  I don't really know what it is.  Maybe a scrub robin?  That looks almost right, certainly more right than the others I saw in my field guide.  But not so perfectly right that I'm willing to just decide on it........
Mystery Bird (Scrub Robin?)
 By the airstrip was a lot of activity.
 Soooooooo thirsty!
 At last, a picture of a swallow in flight! Until/unless I get a better camera this is about as good as it's going to get.
 This is clearly a plover. Not a snipe.  Even if you really want to see a snipe, this is a plover.
Kittlitz's plover
 As is this.
Crowned Plover
 I loved these little guys, they are just gorgeous in flight.  I have no idea what they are.  Saw them all over, and never got tired of them.  :-)
Mystery Insect

Goodies at lunchtime

There wasn't much on the nature channel today, but there were a few goodies at lunchtime.

Little Bee-eater
 One of the guests was sad that she missed seeing the violet-backed starlings that the other guests in her car (including her boyfriend) had seen, so I took a lot of joy in showing her this kingfisher.  She was so happy!  And she's right, kingfishers are awesome.
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
 These pretty buntings kept the kingfisher company.
Golden-breasted Buntings

Morning Drive, Continued

We left to go pick up the other guest, and along the way found this charming rhino family.  It really looked like the warthog was their pet.

Then it was back to the lions - most of them were busy looking majestic.
 One was attending to personal matters.  Apparently this is how lions floss.  He's really getting up in there!
 But some were still roughhousing!

 A black-bellied korhaan flew by, and later we saw it on the ground.
Black-bellied Korhaan

Black-bellied Korhaan
 And quite close to camp, this gorgeous martial eagle posed for a close-up!
Martial Eagle

Lion cubs playing, cheetah eating

Well, again, the morning drive was too much for one post.  So this will be the first half.  We started out with some very active and playful lion cubs!  Well, I mean, after stopping by the owl tree.  This is the picture that most clearly shows the baby owl in front, and the parent owl in the back, peeking over the baby.
African Wood Owl

And saying hello to Old Man Giraffe and family, on the other side of the fence.

Then it was time for lion cubs playing!  Here they are, playing with a stick.  It got more rambunctious from there.

Hahahaha, yeah, forget the stick and just go for it!

Siblings can be annoying.

White-faced Duck

Off we go!

Only one of these lions is done playing.

Practicing a kill on Mom.

Leaving the lions, we paused briefly to look at these vultures warming up in the sun.  They will warm up and wait for a thermal, then begin their day of soaring and scavenging.
African White-backed Vultures

After leaving the lion cubs, we saw this zebra making her alarm call with gusto.  She was hoarse, so she had apparently been calling a long time.  The rest of the zebras and other grazers were calm, so we didn't really quite know what was going on.  It was a bit too far from the lions, so we just took a look around.........

Ah, yes, that explains it.  It was a mother's grief.  The two male cheetahs (brothers) had just taken her baby.
Cheetah, Zebra

Bad new for the zebra, good news for the cheetahs.  It was hilarious listening to Sam tell the other cars on the radio about it, apparently it's quite unusual for cheetah to take a zebra, even a baby.  Also the 2 male brothers had been seen a ways off pretty recently, so they kept asking if he was sure.  Yes, we are sure, they definitely have a zebra!

Is this the face of a killer?   Uuuummmmmmmmmm........ yes.  Definitely.




Um, Sweetie, you have a little something on your nose..... Yes, it's right there....... Looks like a small zebra globule.......
The other brother is just as messy.

Fly-by geese.
Spur-winged Geese

 We left the cheetah to go get another guest who was joining us part-way through the drive.  It was a really special sighting and a great drive so far!  :-)