Sunday, March 30, 2008

Owls, etc.

Last week we got a pretty good look at a barn owl perched in a flamboyant (Poinciana) tree, across the road from the house where the children go to school. It was being mobbed (a bit half-heartedly) by some bulbuls and some other small birds, and putting up with it all right. When Nathanael spotted it and asked me what it was, we called several of the other kids and teachers to come have a look in the few minutes before school was to begin. The growing knot of observers under its roost eventually proved to much for comfort and it flew across into a nook under the eaves of a neighbor's house.

The other morning I was out jogging a bit earlier than usual (too dark to see potholes on the road, so maybe a bit ill-advised) and I heard a white-faced owl (some books list it as white-faced scops owl) calling across the way. These seem to be regular here in Mbale, at least during some parts of the year, but we don't get to see them all that often since we're seldom out at night and they tend not to move from their secluded roosts during the day.

As far as I've been able to tell from a dozen years in Mbale, our normally resident owls are Verreaux's/giant eagle owls (often noisy even in day time) that inhabit the mature African mahogany trees in this neighborhood; the pint-sized white-faced owls (an adolescent specimen of which we once kept for a while during its recuperation from a close encounter with a car); and barn owls. Other than these, we once in a while hear or much less often catch a glimpse of the medium-sized African wood owl (their duets are one of the especially interesting signature sounds of the night across much of Africa).

In other news, there was a paradise flycatcher in our yard the other day -- first time for me to see/hear one right here, even though they have turned up elsewhere in Mbale once in a great while.

The European bee-eaters are overhead several times a day now, heading for cooler climes. I also saw a flight of 100+ Abdim's storks flying NW early this morning, probably also on migration. And the other day I had a glimpse of a large falcon, either lanner or peregrine over the neighborhood road on which I was driving. Wish I'd had binocs handy and time to stop and gaze and nail down its ID.

Friday, March 21, 2008

First bee-eaters heading north

Yesterday, 21 March, I heard and saw my first flock of European bee-eaters since the southward migration season last year, flying overhead on their way back to more northerly climes. In a part of the world where we do not have the four clearly demarcated seasons of the temperate zones, these and other Palearctic migrants are a pleasant reminder that fall and spring are happening elsewhere.

Entebbe birds

Herewith a list of species that I encountered while in the vicinity of Entebbe town earlier this week (a "v" after a species name indicates hearing the bird's call but not actually seeing it).

This morning we've had a couple of western black-headed orioles around the yard, besides a convocation of black-and-white-casqued hornbills attracted to our fruiting musizi trees. There has been a flock of Ross' turacos in the neighborhood the past couple of weeks. And I heard a greater honeyguide calling a few hours ago, the first for some time.

1. African thrush
2. Marabou
3. Splendid glossy starling
4. Common bulbul
5. Red-chested cuckoo (v)
6. African fish eagle (v)
7. Palm-nut vulture
8. Crowned hornbill
9. Emerald cuckoo (male)
10. Hadada
11. Broad-billed roller
12. Grey-headed sparrow
13. Red-eyed dove
14. Black kite
15. Wahlberg's eagle
16. Pygmy kingfisher
17. Collared sunbird
18. Red-billed firefinch
19. White-rumped swift
20. Scarlet-chested sunbird
21. Yellow white-eye
22. Black-and-white shrike flycatcher
23. Grey woodpecker
24. Ross' turaco
25. Eastern grey plantain eater
26. Klaas' cuckoo (v)
27. Black-headed gonolek
28. Brown-headed tchagra
29. Red-cheeked cordon-bleu
30. Bronze mannikin
31. Black-and-white mannikin
32. Grey kestrel
33. Olive-bellied sunbird
34. Red-chested sunbird
35. Common (grey-backed) camaroptera
36. African mustache warbler
37. Vieillot's black weaver (female)
38. Black-headed weaver
39. Black-billed weaver
40. Speckled mousebird
41. Hooded vulture
42. Double-toothed barbet
43. Blue-spotted wood dove
44. Tambourine dove
45. Snowy-headed robin-chat (v -- mimicry)
46. White-browed robin-chat (v)
47. Yellow-rumped tinkerbird
48. Angola swallow
49. Tawny-flanked prinia
50. Northern black flycatcher
51. Northern puffback
52. Lizard buzzard
53. Black-and-white-casqued hornbill
54. Grey-cap warbler (v)
55. African green pigeon
56. Striped kingfisher (v)
57. Hamerkop
58. White-headed saw-wing
59. Ruepell's long-tailed starling
60. Great blue turaco
61. Harrier hawk
62. Little swift
63. Yellow-throated longclaw
64. Winding cisticola
65. Woodland kingfisher
66. Egyptian goose
67. African / European cuckoo (no binoculars handy, but the pair of cuckoos was one or the other of these)
68. Abdim's stork
69. Pink-backed pelican
70. Piapiac
71. Brown-throated (common) wattle-eye (v)
72. Grey-backed fiscal
73. African pied crow
74. Zitting cisticola
75. Cattle egret
76. Black-headed heron
77. Pied kingfisher
78. Northern brown-throated weaver
79. Little egret
80. Paradise flycatcher (v)
81. Yellow wagtail
82. Helmeted guineafowl
83. Mosque swallow
84. Osprey
85. Openbill
86. Barn swallow
87. Plain-backed pipit
88. African jacana
89. Two or three sandpiper spp.
90. African wattled plover
91. Long-toed lapwing
92. African yellow-billed duck
93. Long-tailed cormorant
94. Lesser striped swallow
95. Yellow-throated greenbul