Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Boat Ride in Kenya, Part 2

More from my first full day in Africa.

First we have two cormorants.

The Long-tailed Cormorant is an African native.

While the Great Cormorant can be found right here in New Jersey.

A pair of Little Grebes, a species found throughout much of the old world. But not the new.

Quite similar to our American Coot is this Red-knobbed Coot. The main difference being the red knob at the top of its forehead.

The first of two pelican species we saw, the curiously named Pink-backed Pelican.

And the second is the more aptly named Great White Pelican. Neither species is found in my neck of the woods. Or anywhere I can drive to. Pink-backed is an African species while the Great White is also found in Asia and Europe.

Egyptian Geese. As with the Great Cormorant, I've seen them here in New Jersey. But unlike with the cormorant it was almost certainly an escapee. But I can now include them on my life list.

African Black Ducks. Not to be confused with the American Black Duck. The African variety is not often found on open water, preferring rivers and streams. Our guide was quite excited to find them here.

Hottentot Teal, another native African duck species.

And the last of open water birds, the Yellow-billed Duck. Both of these duck species are African natives.


Part 1 can be found here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

And the Clouds Parted, Again

A total lunar eclipse. Of the super moon.

And the forecast called for clouds. And maybe rain.

But still I kept checking, repeatedly stepping outside on the deck. Each time seeing clouds. Bummer.

Until this.

The moon, with as my friend Russell says, a bite out of it.

But the clouds were not giving up without a fight.

Clouding ...

... clearing ...

... and clouding. A recurring theme throughout the event.

Slowly, with clouds ever looming, the moon continued, oblivious to the desires of those watching, on its path into the earth's shadow.

The sunlit edge becoming thinner and thinner.

Until the inevitable occurred. Totality.

And the stars came out.

Including that one at ~ 3:30 that came out from behind the moon (as always, click on the image to bigafy it).

As the moon slowly drifted by.

And eventually it ends, as the opposite limb beginning to brighten. Not long after this the clouds came back. And I headed off to bed. Happy that for just long enough the clouds parted. And the wonders of the universe showed through.


Here's what I saw the last time the clouds parted.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Boat Ride In Kenya, Part 1

My first full day (Patty had already been there for two weeks!) in Africa we visited Lake Naivasha National Park. And went on a boat ride. A boat like this one.

We saw plenty of birds along with a few mammals.

As we headed out we initially hugged the shore line, scanning for waders. We were not disappointed, finding the African cousins of birds we have back home in the US.

First up was the African Spoonbill, cousin of our Roseate Spoonbill.

Little Egret, who like our Snowy Egret has yellow feet (feet not shown).

Cattle Egret, an African native that has become established in the new world, reaching South American in the 1870's and North in the 1940's. It is now a regular visitor to New Jersey.

Behind the Little Egret above are two Sacred Ibis, and a third is shown in this image. Glossy, White, and White-faced Ibis call the US home.

Hadada Ibis, a bit more colorful than the Sacred. It has a call like Nelson on the Simpson's, "Ha Ha". We heard that call throughout our trip.

A dead ringer for our Great Blue Heron, the Grey Heron.

Not every bird we saw had such an obvious match, and such was case with the Common Squacco Heron. A gorgeous bird.

Some, like this Hammerkop, have no match at all, as they are in a family of but one species.

Then there are others like the Common Moorhen, which until very recently was considered conspecific with our Common Gallinule.

A Black Crake. The first crake species I've ever seen as we have none in our part of the world.

This flashy feathered friend is a Long-toed Lapwing, a member of another group that rarely visits our area.

We'll end with the Yellow-billed Stork. A dapper looking bird. A much handsomer bird than our Wood Stork.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Feeder Bird

Kinda big for the feeder though (and it's a big feeder).

A red-shouldered hawk.

We don't get many hawks at the feeder. We get them in the yard, including red-shouldered hawks, just not at the feeders.

This one spent some time looking around the yard. But there wasn't much going on

Then a bit of scratching.

 Seems to have a bit of a dandruff problem ...

Shake it ...

... shake it ...

... shake it off!

That's a lot of cruft that came flying out.

And after that bit of grooming the bird off to parts unknown. Not what I expected to see when I glanced out the kitchen window at lunch time.


Maybe it shouldn't be so unexpected ...

Kitty cat woke me up early Sunday morning, hungry. And as I was getting him food I noticed something big on the ground outside the kitchen window. Not having my contacts in I reached for my binoculars. Of course, they were in the bag where I left them from yesterday's outing (a topic future post no doubt). After retrieving them I found the bird was on the fence around the fish pond. But not for long. Off it flew.

So I put in my contacts, made my coffee, grabbed my bins and went out to enjoy the morning on the deck. And the bird flushed. Flying from the ground to the perch shown above (kindly waiting as I went inside to get my camera).

After posing for a couple of images the bird flew off.

And I went to investigate.

By the fish pond.

And back by where it flushed.

Now this is circumstantial evidence for sure. I did not see the bird eating. Nor did notice anything in its talons. And there was that coopers hawk, a known bird-hawk, in the yard this past week.

Hmmm ...


Bye-bye ...

... for now.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

In Broad Daylight

They're back. Cheeky devils.

Apparently, they didn't know what was good for them ...

Look at them, munching away in the mini-meadow!

This one is even sticking its tongue out at me! The nerve.

Alas, all I had to shoot them with was my camera.

It wasn't until kitty cat and I went charging outside that the two scattered, going in opposite directions. And kitty cat wanted nothing but to be back in the house. Where he could watch in safety and fascination from my office window.

By next spring we'll need to have some kind of fence around the min-meadow. Along with a variety of unpalatable plants.

That'll show them.