Friday, November 28, 2008

On the other side of the Pond

On a brief visit to Houston, Texas, so there's a stunning change in the variety of bird life on offer. I probably won't do any very intentional birding while here, but of course always enjoy the birds I see along the way.

I've done pretty well in the dove department so far:

* White-winged dove
* Eurasian collared dove
* Mourning dove
* Inca dove
* and, of course, the ubiquitous rock dove (feral pigeon)

I've also enjoyed an excellent view this morning of a loggerhead shrike and have seen some blue jays. While running in nearby Freeway Manor Park earlier today, I caught sight of a medium-sized falcon in swift and direct flight overhead. From its size, manner of flight, and apparent streaking on the underparts, I conclude that it was most likely a merlin (always a pleasure, and never often enough).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

At the Hairy Lemon

In addition to being the name of a pub in Ireland, The Hairy Lemon is an extraordinary island getaway in the Nile River about 30 km north of the Owen Falls dam near Jinja. We enjoyed most of four days there and spotted several notable bird species along with the delights of the water, sun, trees, and flowers that adorn the place.

* African finfoot
* Water thick-knee
* Open-bill
* Little egret
* Cattle egret
* Black-headed heron
* Striated heron
* Hadada
* Giant kingfisher
* Woodland kingfisher
* Pied kingfisher
* Palm-nut vulture
* African black kite
* African fish eagle (adult & immature)
* Long-crested eagle
* Shikra (little banded goshawk)
* White-throated bee-eater
* Great (white-breasted) cormorant
* Long-tailed cormorant
* African darter
* Sand martin
* White-winged black tern
* Gull-billed tern
* Rock pratincole
* Splendid glossy starling
* Broad-billed roller
* Common bulbul
* Magpie (pied) mannikin
* Bronze mannikin
* Red-billed firefinch
* Orange weaver
* Black-headed weaver

I caught a glimpse of what I suspect was a shining-blue kingfisher, but was not able to see it well enough to be certain.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Touch of paradise

Terpsiphone viridis, the African paradise flycatcher, is my hands-down favorite flycatcher, and not just in Africa but anywhere else I've been. I don't know how any other species can hope to compete with the adornment of a male in his breeding dress, especially when one considers the intra-species variation between rufous and white forms. Check out the image here.

I see these wonderful birds only infrequently in Mbale, though they are common enough in most of their wide range. So it was a special treat a couple of mornings ago to have a pair of them -- the male with his tail streamers almost all the way grown out -- fly across the road in front of me and into a jambolan tree.