2020-11-15: Francolins

Anyone that has been on a game drive in Africa will be familiar with francolins, spur fowl and grouse, as they are often encountered on the roads and have a funny habit of jogging in front of the vehicle for what seems like a rather long distance (given their size) before ducking into an opening in the grass or bushes. It always makes me chuckle every time I see this. Given where they are encountered though, and their natural behaviour, it is surprisingly tough to get a decent photo pf these birds, unless you are on a vehicle all to yourself… most people aren’t too keen to stop for every bird sighting while out in the bush.

A pair of crested francolins foraging at the side of the road.
A family of francolins on the run.
A coqui francolin being very accommodating and pausing for a photo op.
Double banded sand grouse were enjoying a dust bath in the middle of the road, until we rudely disturbed them!

2020-03-15: African Birds

It was far too cold for me to get out and photograph any local birds this week, so instead I have come up with quite a random assortment of African bird images to share this week.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.  Stay safe out there!

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A pair of crested francolin, part of a large group that were foraging along the side of the road.

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My personal favourite, the lilac breasted roller.

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A female bearded woodpecker seen on an early morning game drive.

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This photo makes me laugh, because when I look at it, I can hear the bird calling “Go Away”.  These are a pair of grey go-away birds.

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A coqui francolin pausing from it’s foraging to give me a photo op.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ornate

Years ago, I lived for a year and a half in the UK, and spent a lot of time on my weekends touring properties listed under the National Trust.  If I had been asked to come up with photos to describe my impression of ornate at that time, I would have drawn on references such as rococo furniture, tapestries, paintings with gilded frames, the fencing surrounding Buckingham Palace and the gardens of Hampton Court.  All are still valid today, and I could go back in my archives and find dozens of examples… but my brain seems to work differently now.

Now, when I think of ornate, I think of birds.  The beautiful detail of feathers when seen up close.  The dizzying array of patterns, colours and textures.  The mating performances.  Even the patterns of their flight.

When you look at the birds below quickly, they seem to be dusty creatures in tones of beige, brown and grey.  So take a closer look at a few ornately decorated birds I found in Botswana and South Africa.

A pair of namaqua sandgrouse. Who says you can't pair stripes and polka dots together? Kalahari Desert, April 2015 1/1600sec, f5.6, ISO 400
A pair of namaqua sandgrouse. Who says you can’t pair stripes and polka dots together?
Kalahari Desert, April 2015
1/1600sec, f5.6, ISO 400

An orange river francolin, also in the Kalahari Desert. This one had been digging in the dirt. At least the coating of mud on his front feathers doesn't obscure the wide variety of patterns and colours on display. April 2015 1/1000sec, f8.0, ISO 400
An orange river francolin, also in the Kalahari Desert.
This one had been digging in the dirt. At least the coating of mud on his front feathers doesn’t obscure the wide variety of patterns and colours on display.
April 2015
1/1000sec, f8.0, ISO 400

A swainson's spurfowl (I believe our ranger referred to it is a slit-neck francolin as well, or something like that). I was lucky that bird stayed still for such a long time, usually these scurry off into the bushes site quickly, but this one posed perfectly so we can see not only the intricate feathers, but the texture on his legs and around his eyes. Seen in the Okavango Delta April 2015 1/800sec, f11, ISO640
A swainson’s spurfowl (I believe our ranger referred to it is a slit-neck francolin as well, or something like that).
I was lucky that bird stayed still for such a long time, as usually these scurry off into the bushes site quickly.  This one posed perfectly so we can see not only the intricate feathers, but the texture on his legs and around his eyes.
Seen in the Okavango Delta April 2015
1/800sec, f11, ISO640

A crested francolin at the roadside in the TImbavati. May, 2015 1/640sec, f5.6, ISO 200
A crested francolin at the roadside in the TImbavati.
May, 2015
1/640sec, f5.6, ISO 200

Ornate