Crested Barbet

Crested Barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii)

With its thick bill and very colourful plumage the Crested Barbet is unmistakable. This small bird has a speckled yellow and red face with a small black crest. The belly is yellow with red speckles, wings are black with white specks and it has a broad black band on its neck. Yellow head and body with black and white feathers, with red markings on the head of the body, its colour blends in so well in the bush.

They are found alone or in pairs. They like to bounce around on the ground looking for food, they usually call from a branch in the open. They are not the best fliers and fly only for short distances. They roost in holes in trees. Very vocal, the call being a trill that can continue for long periods. They are aggressive towards other birds in their territory and will chase off both nest competitors and other birds such as doves and thrushes.

Here a photos of a bird I capture on the Golf Course in Kathu….

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Grey Heron, Lake Panic, Kruger National Park.

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea),

This a wading bird of the heron family. I took these photos at Lake Panic in the Kruger National Park.

It’s native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions. It has become common in summer even inside the Arctic circle along the Norwegian coast.

Adults have a white head with a broad black supercilium and slender crest, while immature birds have a dull grey head. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped). This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks. The call is a loud croaking “fraaank”.

This species breeds in colonies in trees close to lakes, the seashore or other wetlands, although it will also nest in reed beds. At Lake Panic there is one nesting in a tree direct across from the Bird hide…

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This one is catching a ride on a Hippo’s back…                                             I wonder if this one knows the crocodile is there, I didn’t till I looked at my photo..

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Goliath Heron

The Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath),

also known as the Giant Heron, is a very large wading bird of the heron family. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa, with smaller numbers in Southwest and South Asia.

This is the world’s largest heron. The height is 120–152 cm (47–60 in), the wingspan is 185–230 cm (73–91 in) and the weight is 4–5 kg (8.8–11 lbs.).Among standard measurements, the tarsus measures from 21.2 to 25.5 cm (8.3 to 10.0 in) and the wing chord averages around 60.7 cm (23.9 in) in length. The culmen measures from 18 to 20 cm (7.1 to 7.9 in), while the bill from the gape measures around 24 cm (9.4 in).

Goliath Herons are solitary foragers and are highly territorial towards other Goliaths entering their feeding territories.

This particular bird I found at Lake Panic in the Kruger National Park, and as I entered the hide it struck and caught a fairly large Carp. As you can see I had little time to take the photograph, and in front of me was a fairly large Lady with a big camera and lens, her arms were just as big and I was not going to argue with her.. but here’s the result…

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It left the water and went into the taller grass where it either swallowed it whole or left it for later…

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A half hour later it re-emerged and drank water and took a bath, before returning to its original fishing spot.. must have been hungry…

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Saddle-billed Stork, Kruger National Park.

The Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) is a large wading bird in the stork family.

It is a widespread species which is a resident breeder in sub-Saharan Africa.

This is a huge bird that regularly attains a height of 150 cm (59 in), a length of 142 cm (56 in) and a 2.4–2.7 m (7.9–8.9 ft.) wingspan. The male is larger and heavier than the female, with a range of 5.1–7.5 kg (11–17 lb.). The female is usually between 5 and 7 kg (11 and 15 lb.). It is probably the tallest of the storks (though not the heaviest), due to it extremely long legs (tarsus length is up to 36.5 cm (14.4 in)). The long bill measures from 27.3 to 36 cm (10.7 to 14 in). The sexes can be readily distinguished by the golden yellow irises of the female and the brown irises and dangling yellow wattles of the male.

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The Saddle-billed Stork breeds in forested water lands and other flood lands in tropical lowland. It builds a large, deep stick nest in a tree, laying one or two white eggs weighing about 146g each. It does not form breeding colonies, and is usually found alone or in pairs. The incubation period is 30–35 days, with another 70 – 100 days before the chicks fledge.

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The Saddle-billed Stork, like most of its relatives, feeds mainly on fish, frogs and crabs, but also on small birds and reptiles . They move in a deliberate and stately manner as they hunt, in a similar way to the larger herons.

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Red-billed Buffalo Weaver.

The Red-billed Buffalo Weaver (Bubalornis niger).

Now this is an interesting bird, found mainly in the more arid areas, it builds communal nests made of thorn type sticks.

Its easily identified by its plumage. The black (male) or brownish black (female) and red-orange bill, with white wing patches.

Its nests are conspicuous, untidy masses in trees, these I captured on the golf course in Kathu, the Sishen Golf course. I will be posting on this golf course some time on my other blog, a lovely course with plenty of small animals and bird life on it.

The nests are often raided by snakes and the birds try to camouflage the nest entrances…

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