As I sat in my favourite bird hide, the sun heading towards it’s resting place, I spotted the little Grebe had caught a fish. My luck being what it is, not the best place for the bird to be for me to take photos. Did this stop me? No. Did the photos come out as they could have? No. So how did they come out? Silhouettes.
The Grebe appeared to have bitten off more than it could chew, it was struggling to swallow the fish, such that I felt like choking in sympathy for it. It changed the position of the fish a few times, partially swallowing and then spitting it out again. No success, and this caught the attention of the Red-knobbed Coot that was watching the spectacle with as much attention as I was giving it.
The Grebe finally decided enough was more than enough and gave up. The fish didn’t seem in the best of conditions having been half swallowed so many times that it remained fairly still where it was last spat out. Stupid fish, as the now interested Coot had swum over and started to peck and bite the small fish.
I was sure I was about to see the Coot eat the fish, so the camera remained poised for the shot, bad light and all. The Red-knobbed Coot is an omnivore, and will take a variety of small live prey including the eggs of other water birds. But it’s main food in most waters however comprises various waterweeds for which it commonly dives. Would it eat the fish? No, it just made sure it was dead. I wonder if this is normal?
But here are a few of the photos I took of the scene, pity the light was not right, this could have been a fantastic capture instead of a sequence of silhouettes.
Now I’m afraid the fate of the fish was decided, the Coot swam away and I waited to see who was next, who would come for the titbit the little Grebe had left. Who came? Nobody.
Had nothing to do so I went for a short trip around the park in search of the Cheetah… and all I found was the birds below….
The African Hoopoe Upupa africana
The Hoopoe is a medium sized bird, 25–32 cm (9.8–12.6 in) long, with a 44–48 cm (17.3–19 in) wingspan weighing 46–89 g (1.6–3.1 oz.). The species is highly distinctive, with a long, thin tapering bill that is black with a fawn base.
The African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
The males have a black head, a white half-collar, a black back, a white rump, and a black tail; the wings are black with a large white patch on the top side of the inner wing. The upper breast is usually dark orange-red, with a sharp or gradual transition to white or pale orange on the lower breast and belly.
Females have brown rather than black above and on the head with an indistinct paler eyebrow line, chestnut-buff rather than orange below, and less white on the wings. Both sexes’ plumage is somewhat duller and streakier outside the breeding season.
The Northern Black Korhaan Eupodotis afraoides. now known as (Afrotis afraoides)
Bustards are omnivorous, feeding principally on seeds and invertebrates. They make their nests on the ground, making their eggs and offspring often very vulnerable to predation. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. Most prefer to run or walk over flying. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips, and striking patterns in flight.
Their camouflage is outstanding and they will tend to creep into the grass and sit still, thinking you won’t see them.. like in the second photo…
I also saw the Dab chicks and a far off shot of a Secretary bird … a difficult photo but I post it anyway..
(Tachybaptus ruficollis) The Little Grebe is a small water bird with a pointed bill. The adult is unmistakable in summer, predominantly dark above with its rich, rufous colour neck, cheeks and flanks, and bright yellow gape.
The Little Grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver and pursues its fish and aquatic invertebrate prey underwater. It uses the vegetation skilfully as a hiding place.
Like all grebes, it nests at the water’s edge, since its legs are set very far back and it cannot walk well. Usually four to seven eggs are laid. When the adult bird leaves the nest it usually takes care to cover the eggs with weeds. This makes it less likely to be detected by predators. The young leave the nest and can swim soon after hatching, and chicks are often carried on the backs of the swimming adults.
Taking a bath and flaring the wings.