DECEMBER 2010 NEWS SNIPPETS

Kirstenbosch Botanical  Gardens

The rewards for visiting the Gardens at first light before the crowds arrive are that you get the chance to see two of the most secretive residents of the more well wooded area. One such morning yielded great views of an African Goshawk enjoying the early morning sunshine, in a totally exposed position, while a little later a slow stroll through the cycad dell produced up-close views of an exceptionally tame pair of Lemon Doves. These were previously known as Cinnamon Dove prior to the common name change in Robert’s VII.

Crimson-breasted Shrike 

As a schoolboy over 50 years ago I found a pair of Crimson-breasted Shrikes breeding in open woodland on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It caused quite a stir at the time as the species had always been classified as a typical bushveld bird favouring acacia thickets and dense tangles in the dry west of the sub-region. Since then I have seen hundreds of these striking birds and ‘spished’ many a bird in for the visual enjoyment they continue to provide. Not at any stage did I ever expect to see the extremely rare yellow-breasted form of the species and, indeed, reports of such sightings were few and far between. Imagine my surprise earlier this year when in the Kimberley area a full-blown adult in custard yellow plumage responded with alacrity to provide me with not only a great sighting but a stunning photographic opportunity as well…

Pelagic Expectations… 

So often a pelagic  trip off Cape Point focuses on the albatross mix as the overriding priority to the extent that one fails to pick out some of the other key sightings that may be wheeling about within the melee of hundreds of seabird squabbling over scraps along the trawlers wake.
One such mega species is the rare and only occasionally sighted Spectacled Petrel such as this unusually confiding bird photographed alongside the boat on a recent pelagic trip.

Aardvark Antics  

While driving along one of the back roads of the Tanqua Karoo in search of Karoo Korhaan in the late afternoon we came across this Aardvark enthusiastically digging a new burrow for itself in a drainage line. This is only the third time I have ever seen one of these shy and extraordinarily looking nocturnal mammals out and about in broad daylight. It was so engrossed in the task that it afforded a relatively close approach and the chance to capture the moment on camera before it shuffled off into the distance

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