Birding has its own, dedicated language. Twitching. Lifer. String. Dip. Tick. The same goes for herping - the study of frogs and reptiles. However, compared to the typical birder, herpers are a decidedly freakish bunch (and I say that as a herper myself). I called in the help of some of the country's top herpers to come up with this illustrated dictionary of herping lingo. I hope they didn't make this stuff up.
Due to continued requests, I have now made my book, CHAMBERLAIN'S WADERS, available in a digital edition as well. As birders, our love for books is only exceeded by our love for birds. But carrying all your literature around in the field can be back-breaking. May I suggest that you get the eBook versions instead (or preferably, in addition)? No forms, no waiting, instant download. But fret not, there are still a couple of thousand copies in my garage if you prefer the good ol' printed version. LBJs books are dwindling though...
Weg / Go! magazine is South Africa's number one travel and outdoor mag, choc-a-bloc full of places, people, gear, reviews and recipes. In addition, from the March 2018 issue (on sale now), you'll also find a few words by yours truly. A column on our most fascinating birds, presented in the form of stories and personal memories, interwoven with facts about the biology of birds. The first tells the story of a juvenile Greater Honeyguide that somehow ended up on my Grandpa's shoulder.
The last week of August was probably the single greatest twitching saga in SA birding history, with the discovery of two firsts for the country at the same site! The only problem was, one of these, a nondescript warbler merrily swinging its tail about, defied identification. Read the whole story here, and learn a little something about ID of Upcher's Warbler.
Where is your favourite place in the whole world? For the last 12 years, mine has been our holiday home in Bushwillow Estate at Vaalkop Dam, 1.5 hours from Pta/Jhb. So it is with a heavy heart that we decided to sell this magical breakaway. But we are also very excited to share this special part of Africa with you. And to give you the opportunity to experience this unique lifestyle in nature! The house is to be sold under sole or fractional ownership of 2-4 partners, fully furnished, including a barge to explore the dam!
Terns are tough - on that much we can all agree. A lot has been written on their ID in Europe and the Americas, but all from a Northern Hemisphere perspective. If a mixed flock of terns makes you want to tern tail and run, this article is for you. I discuss the Identification of Common, Roseate and Arctic Terns, as well our own special visitor from the frozen south - the Antarctic Tern. Along the way, you'll spot the odd tern of phrase - most of them not very punny. Good luck!
While birding in the Northern Cape, "in the middle of nowhere", Chris Cheetham encountered a very odd prinia. It turned out to be a hybrid between Karoo and Black-chested. Learn more about hybridization in birds, and the wonderful world of these common but characterful 8-gram cisticolids. It took almost a year before I found the time to write this up. And now it's 01:15. AY EM. I'm off to bed. Want to get up early for more birding tomorrow!
Do you love raptors and old school rock & roll? Then this post if for you! Check out Lieben Swanevelder's great pictures documenting an exceptionally rare raptor: the seldom seen melanistic morph of an Ovambo Sparrowhawk. But things aren't always that black and white when it comes to colour aberrations - read some of the theories here. And why is this not a dark form Gabar Goshawk? Let me know what you think!
From 24-28 April 2017, 1945 birders found themselves bobbing about on the swells 200 nm SE of Cape Town, during BLSA's Flock at Sea. This was undoubtedly one of the greatest adventures ever in South Africa's birding history. And not only because of birds like Light-mantled Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Wandering Albatross, White-headed Petrel, Black-bellied Storm Petrel, Grey Petrel and Arctic Tern. Here are my five highlights of the cruise, with a short video of some of the sights, sounds, birds and people.
So you think you know your Southern African bird calls? Then prove it by taking this tough test. Be warned: although these clips are all from fairly common local birds, they are unusual calls that are seldom heard and poorly known. I'll also give you some clues if you get stuck. If you get none right, don't worry...I won't publish the results :) But this just goes to show how wide the repertoires of birds are. They have a whole language, that we are only beginning to document. Good luck!