Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back in Mbale for July

Back in Mbale for most of July, and one of the best parts of returning to this familiar environs is the familiar avifauna. As I compose this, besides the thunder rolling and the pitter-patter of rain on many leaves, I can hear the robin-chats (white-browed, Cossypha heuglini) singing away in defiance of the wetness, reminding me why they're in the top tier of musicians on this continent.

I haven't yet made any lists of species seen, and may not on this short visit get the chance for much intentional birding (I will try!), but it's pleasant to be able to mention a few of those that have delighted my eyes in these few days since arriving.

*Long-crested eagle -- hunting from a perch on the perimeter fence at Entebbe airport
*Lizard buzzard -- on a power line close to our house in Mbale
*Red-eyed dove -- ubiquitous
*Pied crow -- the same, only more so
*Scarlet-chested sunbird -- male singing atop a tree
*Northern puffback, Klaas' cuckoo, and white-browed coucal -- voices only so far, but they'll come out to be seen at some point
*Yellow-throated greenbul in their usual noisy gregariousness
*Woodland kingfisher
*Pygmy kingfisher -- perched in our yard, a perfect little jewel
*Ruppell's long-tailed starling
*Harrier hawk (gymnogene) -- gliding effortlessly among the remaining giant African mahogany trees in our neighborhood
*African hobby -- brief glimpse of one wheeling over the ARA in Kampala
*Black-headed heron
*Yellow-billed stork
*White-breasted cormorant
*Pink-backed pelican

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eastern kingbird

Not too many notable sightings lately, although I've seen the yelllow-billed cuckoo and common flicker again in the last few days.

I did come across a fairly uncommon bird in these parts, being the southwestern margin of its summer range, an eastern kingbird. Western kingbirds are abundant throughout the summer in Abilene, but I think I've seen the larger, darker eastern species only once before in this area, years ago. I was driving through Cal Young park around lunch time and noticed a large, darker-than-usual flycatcher perched near Cedar Creek. Suspecting something out of the ordinary, I stopped for a closer look and confirmed it as an eastern kingbird. Very nice.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I neglected to report this earlier, but back in April I saw an osprey over our neighborhood in Abilene -- the only one I can remember ever seeing here.

Potpourri of recent sightings

Today in Abilene -- yellow-billed cuckoo, one in our back yard and another one across town; green heron in Kirby Park; purple martin in Cal Young Park; common flicker in Abilene cemetery

Couple of days ago at Clapp Park in Lubbock -- one avocet, a pair of wilson's warblers, several Mississippi kites

Last week in Malibu, California -- brown pelican, yellow-billed magpie, California towhee, hooded oriole, Anna's hummingbird, black phoebe (all new to me except the brown pelican and possibly the oriole, which I may have seen in SW Texas years ago)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On Rainbow Lake

We've just moved into a house that backs up to a small reservoir of probably three acres surface area. It's called Rainbow Lake, and one can see a few species of ducks and other water-loving birds on or around it at just about any time. This morning I've observed an American coot (Fulica americana), a male and female northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), some of the usual mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), a pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) and a group of ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris; these diving ducks always seem to prefer the middle part of the lake).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Uganda's national bird

Originally uploaded by ian.shelburne

This is a grey crowned crane, the national bird of Uganda. Cranes in general are spectacular birds, but the crowned cranes (both grey and black) are stunning even in this excellent league. This one lives in the Abilene Zoo, and was enjoying the early-spring sunshine last Saturday after an unusually cold and moist winter.