Sunday, June 28, 2020

Bulletin 361 - Uganda #5 - Raptors - part 2

After the week in the Capetown area, the guide Casper Badenhorst, and I flew to Uganda and met a local guide. We started at Entebbe Airport on the southeast corner of Uganda and made a diagonal trip to Murchison Falls NP in the northwest corner. From there, we proceeded south through a chain of nature preserves and parks to the southwest corner at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We finished along the southern border back to the airport.

Raptors are a popular group of birds to see due to their size and the power they project. Many countries have hawks or eagles or vultures as national birds. In Africa their are an amazing number of raptors to be seen compared to North America. Omitting the falcons, the East Africa Guide Book for Kenya, Uganda Tanzania list 63 species. Sibley has just 24 in North America. In addition, many live in protected parks and they can be approached in a vehicle rather closely for great photos.

Three harrier species were photographed including 2 migrants from Europe. The 18" immature Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) is dark brown above and rust below. He also has a white rump like many harriers.


Pallid Harrier - immature
The other migrant was the 18" Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus). The male is gray with a black line along the top of the wings.


Montagu's Harrier - male
The 20" African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus) was frequently seen along lake shores. He is a dark brown hawk with a long tail and beige head.


African Marsh Harrier

The 24" Black Kite (Milvus migrans) was often seen flying, but seldom perched. He is actually brown in color and in the morning light had a reddish color in the photo.


Black Kite
The 20" Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) is a nondescript brown hawk.


Common Buzzard

The 24" Augur Buzzard (Buteo augur) comes in a dark morph and a light morph. he has a red tail like our Red-tailed Hawk. Here is an adult dark phase bird. The red in the taill is best seen when the bird is flying.


Augur Buzzard - dark morph
We aslo had a juvenile light morph with a streaked breast.


Augur Buzzard - juvenile light morph
The 14" Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus) is a pearly gray hawk with a red bill and red feet.


Lizard Buzzard
The 17" Grasshopper Buzzard (Butastur rufipennis) is a brown hawk with reddish  belly.


Grasshopper Buzzard
The 22" Dark Chanting Goshawk (Melierax metabates) is a dark gray hawk with red beak and legs.


Dark Chanting Goshawk
Accipiters are a group of hawks that hunt birds on the wing. So they have to be very quick to maneuver. Thus they have short wings and long tails. I have on ly seen 2 of the 3 accipiters in North America. But in Uganda I also saw 2 of them. 

The 12" Shikra (Accipiter badius) I had seen in China but did not get a photo. This bird let me walk right up to her. This is a female with the orange eyes. The male has red eyes. The name Shikra is unusual and it comes from Indian - meaning hunter


Shikra - female
The other was the beautiful 22" Black Sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus). This beautiful bird was in a tree across a field, but he let us walk to within 10 meters from the tree.


Black Sparrowhawk

One thing that has interested me for a long time are national birds. Now that I have done photography on several continents, I decided to look up national or official territorial birds. Some places do not have designated birds, so if they have the bird on their coat-of-arms, I used that bird. Despite the fact I have I have photographed in just a dozen countries, I have photos of the birds of 83 countries or territories


I did the same for the USA states and territories as well as the Canadian provinces. You can see them here.

I put the different bird/mammal families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 72 of the 254 species of  hawks, eagles, kites

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2020 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Bulletin 360 - Uganda #4 - Swallows, Wagtails and Pipits

After the week in the Capetown area, the guide Casper Badenhorst, and I flew to Uganda and met a local guide. We started at Entebbe Airport on the southeast corner of Uganda and made a diagonal trip to Murchison Falls NP in the northwest corner. From there, we proceeded south through a chain of nature preserves and parks to the southwest corner at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We finished along the southern border back to the airport.


There were 5 species of swallows on the trip with first 2 being lifers. The 7" Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithi) has a blue back white belly and rufous crown.


Wire-tailed Swallow
The 6" Angola Swallow (Hirundo angolensis) is very similar to the Barn Swallow below but the underside is gray rather then white and the blue chest band in not complete.


Angola Swallow
The 7.5" Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustcica) in the Old World is white underneath rather than rufous like ours.


Barn Swallow
The 6.5"  Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica) had a blue back, rufous crown and heavily streaked underside.


Lesser Striped Swallow
Lastly is the 8" Mosque Swallow (Cecropis senegalensis). It has a blue back rufous breast and belly and pale throat. This one has a mouth full of mud to add to the nest.


Mosque Swallow

Here is his mate on the nest adding her blob of mud. You will notice the first layer of mud has dried from the day before and they are working on next addition. It was finished on the third day


Mosque Swallow - building nest

There were 3 wagtails on the trip with the first 2 being lifers. The 7.5" Mountain Wagtail (Motacilla clara) has the typical pied pattern but is gray backed with black wings and white.


Mountain Wagtail
The 7.5" Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) has a brownish olive back and bright yellow breast.


Western Yellow Wagtail
The 8" African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp) is of course black and white. This one was on the road right beside the car.


African Pied Wagtail
There were 3 pipits but none were new. The 6.5" African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus) has streaking on the back. All these similar birds best IDed by voice.


African Pipit
 The 6.5" Plain-backed Pipit (Anthus leucophrys) has an unstreaked back.


Plain-backed Pipit
The 9" Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus) is a colorful pipit with a bright yellow throat and belly and a black bib. He resembles our meadowlarks.


Yellow-throated Longclaw
One thing that has interested me for a long time are national birds. Now that I have done photography on several continents, I decided to look up national or official territorial birds. Some places do not have designated birds, so if they have the bird on their coat-of-arms, I used that bird. Despite the fact I have I have photographed in just a dozen countries, I have photos of the birds of 83 countries or territories

I did the same for the USA states and territories as well as the Canadian provinces. You can see them here.


I put the different bird/mammal families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 26 of the 88 species of  swallows and martins

I have photos of 15 of the 65 species of  wagtails and pipits

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2020 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Bulletin 359 - Uganda #3 - Raptors - part 1

After the week in the Capetown area, the guide Casper Badenhorst, and I flew to Uganda and met a local guide. We started at Entebbe Airport on the southeast corner of Uganda and made a diagonal trip to Murchison Falls NP in the northwest corner. From there, we proceeded south through a chain of nature preserves and parks to the southwest corner at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We finished along the southern border back to the airport.

Raptors are a popular group of birds to see due to their size and the power they project. Many countries have hawks or eagles or vultures as national birds. In Africa their are an amazing number of raptors to be seen compared to North America. Omitting the falcons, the East Africa Guide Book for Kenya, Uganda Tanzania list 63 species. Sibley has just 24 in North America. In addition, many live in protected parks and they can be approached in a vehicle rather closely for great photos.

I will start with the 29" African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer). This cousin of our Bald Eagle has a white head and chest and tail making him an easy bird to ID.He can be readily found along lakes and rivers.


African Fish Eagle - adult
The juveniles are mostly brown color and gradually molt to adult plumage in 5 years. This is a sub-adult bird with some remaining brown streaking on the breast.


African Fish Eagle - sub-adult
The 23" Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus ocipitalis) is a black eagle with a long wispy crest.


Long-crested Eagle
Nest we have a pair of beige eagles. The 29" Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) is cousin to our Golden eagle. He is beige bodied with darker wings.


Tawny Eagle
The 24" Wahlberg's Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi) is a brown eagle who has a flat top to his head and a slightly crested appearance when seen from the side.


Wahlberg's Eagle

Next is a bird in the same genus, the 22" Ayre's Hawk-Eagle (Hieraaetus ayersii). This eagle has a black back and black-and-white streaked underside. The wings are lined black and white aloft.


Ayre's Hawk-Eagle

The 24" Western Banded Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinerascens) is a dark brown eagle with a white tail and terminal black band.


Western Banded Snake Eagle
His cousin is the larger 27" Black-chested Snake Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis). This bird is black above with a black chest and light belly.


Black-chested Snake Eagle

The 30" Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus). He is IDed by the wispy white feathers from the top of his head down his neck.The adult has a red face, so this is the immature with the dark face.


Hooded Vulture
The last for this bulletin is the 24" Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis). The adult has white head, breast and shoulders, with black back and wings. The facial skin is red.


Palm-nut Vulture - adult

The immature has a lot of beige in place of the white..


Palm-nut Vulture - sub-adult
One thing that has interested me for a long time are national birds. Now that I have done photography on several continents, I decided to look up national or official territorial birds. Some places do not have designated birds, so if they have the bird on their coat-of-arms, I used that bird. Despite the fact I have I have photographed in just a dozen countries, I have photos of the birds of 83 countries or territories

I did the same for the USA states and territories as well as the Canadian provinces. You can see them here.

I put the different bird/mammal families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 72 of the 254 species of  hawks, eagles, kites

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2020 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Bulletin 358 - Uganda #2 - Batises, Crombecs, Vangas

After the week in the Capetown area, the guide Casper Badenhorst, and I flew to Uganda and met a local guide. We started at Entebbe Airport on the southeast corner of Uganda and made a diagonal trip to Murchison Falls NP in the northwest corner. From there, we proceeded south through a chain of nature preserves and parks to the southwest corner at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We finished along the southern border back to the airport.

In this bulletin we will see 3 small families of birds. All were life birds in this bulletin.

The first is the wattle-eye and batis family. There are 31 species in the family and I photographed 4 on the trip. The batises are small plump big headed black and white birds. 

The 4" male Western Black-headed Batis (Batis erlangeri) is easily IDed as a batis by the coloration. But best ID is voice. The female would have a brown breast band.

Western Black-headed Batis - male
Next is the 3.5" Rwenzori Batis (Batis diops). It is found in the Rwenzori Mountains above 5000' in the Albertine Rift. If you look closely there are 2 white dots on the face - an important ID mark.

Rwenzori Batis
I also saw my first wattle-eyes in the same area. The 5" female Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyanea) has a red wattle.

Brown-throated Wattle-eye - female
Interestingly, these birds are named for the female coloration. The male has a smaller black throat band.

Brown-throated Wattle-eye - male
The 4" female Chestnut Wattle-eye (Platysteira castanea) is a chestnut bird with a gray head and white belly. The wattle is purplish. I did not see a male, but he is black and white like a batis.

Chestnut Wattle-eye - female
The next family are African warblers and crombecs. There are only 18 species and I photographed 4 and missed a photo of a 5th.

The tiny crombecs appear almost tailless. The 3.5" White-browed Crombec (Sylvietta leucophrys) is grayish with olive wings and a wide white eye stripe.

White-browed Crombec
The 3.5" Green Crombec (Sylvietta virens) is completely dull olive gray.

Green Crombec
The 3" Northern Crombec (Sylvietta brachyura) is gray above and buffy below.

Northern Crombec
At 7" in length, the Moustached Grass Warbler (Melocichla mentalis) is the giant of the family. It has a brown back, buffy underside and 2 white facial stripes.

Moustached Grass Warbler
The vangas were an endemic family to Madagascar, but I guess DNA showed a close relationship to the helmetshrikes and they were merged a few years ago. There are 39 species in the combined family.

The 6" male African Shrike-flycatcher (Megabyas flammulatus) is a clean black and white bird with a red eye. The female was not seen but she is brown with a streaked chest.

African Shrike-flycatcher
Lastly is the 5" male Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher (Bias musicus). This black and white bird was at the top of a very tall tree and would not respond to the tape and come closer. He has a crest as the ID mark.

Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher - male
One thing that has interested me for a long time are national birds. Now that I have done photography on several continents, I decided to look up national or official territorial birds. Some places do not have designated birds, so if they have the bird on their coat-of-arms, I used that bird. Despite the fact I have I have photographed in just a dozen countries, I have photos of the birds of 83 countries or territories


I did the same for the USA states and territories as well as the Canadian provinces. You can see them here.

I put the different bird/mammal families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 7 of the 31 species of batises and wattle-eyes

I have photos of 6 of the 18 species of  crombecs and African warblers

I have photos of 3 of the 39 species of  vangas and helmetshrikes

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald


dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2020 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bulletin 357 - Uganda #1 - Plovers and Lapwings

After the week in the Capetown area, the guide Casper Badenhorst, and I flew to Uganda and met a local guide. We started at Entebbe Airport on the southeast corner of Uganda and made a diagonal trip to Murchison Falls NP in the northwest corner. From there, we proceeded south through a chain of nature preserves and parks to the southwest corner at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We finished along the southern border back to the airport.

Plovers and lapwings are a favorite bird family of mine ever since I first saw a Kildeer as a child in Canada. We saw a total of 10 species in Uganda, of which 5 were lifers for me. The first 4 lapwings were lifers. 

The 12" Long-toed Lapwing (Vanellus crassirostris) has a white face, black hood, red eye and red legs.


Long-toed Lapwing
The 10" Black-headed lapwing (Vanellus tectus) has a black head and thin crest with white stripe across face. He has a yellow eye.


Black-headed Lapwing
The 11" Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosis) is similar to the Long-toed above but the entire top of the head is black. None of the photos I took showed the spurs on the wing.


Spur-winged Lapwing
The last lifer is the 10" Senegal Lapwing (Vanellus lugubris). It is the plainest as has a gray head and brown body. It has a yellow eye.


Senegal Lapwing
The 13.5" African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus) is an easy ID with yellow, wattled, legs and bill. Notice this bird does have spurs on the wings.


African Wattled Lapwing
The 12" Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus coronatus) is a brown lapwing with black and white top of head.


Crowned Lapwing
Uganda has several lakes in the Rift Valley and the largest lake in Africa - Lake Victoria. We had the pleasure of 3 boat trips. One was on the White Nile River to the base of Murchison Falls. It is famous for having the largest volume of water of any falls in the world.

The 8" Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) was seen on the shore during one of the trips. It is a typical small plover and is a winter migrant here so the markings are muted.


Common Ringed Plover
We only saw a single 7" Three-banded Plover (Charadrius tricollaris). It seems poorly named as there are only 2 dark breast bands like our Killdeer. The red eye and bill are distinctive.


Three-banded Plover
We had the 6" Kittlitz's Plover (Charadrius pecuarius) again. But this was my closest photo of this bird. He is a beautiful little plover in breeding plumage and I love his name as well.


Kittlitz's Plover
The last was a real treat. The 8" Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus) is another beautiful little plover. My luck is amazing as this bird can be difficult to find in Africa. The guide has a client in London who has come to Africa 4 times specifically to see this bird and missed it every time. We saw it on March 1st in non-breeding plumage. 


Caspian Plover - winter
Then a week later saw it in breeding plumage with the red chest.


Caspian Plover - breeding
And another bird was right beside the vehicle.


Caspian Plover - breeding
In all, we probably saw about 20 Caspian Plovers in several locations. Of course this was a lifer for me.

I put the different bird/mammal families in single folders for easy viewing


I have photos of 29 of the 67 species of  plovers and lapwings

I discovered a new book :"The World's Rarest Birds" by Hirschfeld, Swash and Still published in 2013. It lists all the 600 birds that are designated as Endangered or Critically Endangered or Extinct in Wild and only survive in captive breeding programs.

They have illustrations or photos of the birds, a brief description and reasons that they are endangered - pet trade, deforestation, logging, change in water areas, pollution, fishing, invasive species etc.

Also they have the estimated populations of each species at the time of publication.

I was delighted to see that I have photos of 42 of these birds already in my collection of photos. I knew some of them already, but the most surprising was the Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer in Colombia. It was rediscovered in 2003 after not been seen since 1965.

BirdLife International is an organizational of regional bird conservancy groups and works to protect these birds from extinction.

I put these 42 birds in a separate folder for your enjoyment.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2020 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.