Thursday, May 7, 2009

Konge Hill

While enjoying the excellent hospitality of friends and coworkers Mark and Jamie Long atop Konge Hill on the southeastern edge of Kampala city, we had the pleasure of seeing some noteworthy birds.

High in a beautiful parasol tree (Polyscias fulva) in their front yard (looking out on to Lake Victoria) a pair of African hobbies (Falco cuvieri) are nesting. They are artists of the air, maestros even among their aerobatic falconid kin. We watched one bringing prey to the other, sometimes exchanging it talons to talons in the air.

There were also a couple of African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) that came through several times, snacking on the little reddish fruit adorning the branchlets of a Benjamin fig tree (Ficus benjamina).

Another striking species that we do not see in Mbale but were greatly pleased to observe throughout the afternoon that we spent at the Longs' house is the double-toothed barbet (Lybius bidentatus) -- a remarkable bird with its scarlet, black and white plumage and heavy-duty double-toothed bill. These were harvesting the figs as enthusiastically as the parrots.

Back home in Mbale, yesterday was the first time in many months that I've heard the call of the greater honeyguide (Indicator indicator -- how's that for understandable Latin!) . I actually caught a glimpse of what was definitely a honeyguide a bit later in the day, but could not be sure of the species. It may have been a female or juvenile greater honeyguide, if I were to hazard a guess.