Harry Potter and the HBW Checklist: What is a species?

Do you believe in magic? After reviewing Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International's collaborative Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World (Volume 1, Non-passerines), I certainly do. How else do you manage to include an illustration, distribution map and a taxonomic review to subspecies-level for almost 4,500 species into one book? In the first of this two-part review, I summarise the taxonomic concepts behind this magical publication.

By | June 8th, 2015|Birds|0 Comments

Faansie’s Fanciful Feathers Quiz

What is birdwatching but watching feathers? A good ornithologist should also be a good plumologist (feather studier). As birders we consider the whole, and not just the parts...but identifying feathers provides one with much deeper insight into ‘how birds are put together’. How many of these 12 feathers sets can you identify? Challenging but fun! Be careful not to reveal the answers accidentally!

By | May 16th, 2015|Birds|2 Comments

Grey is the new black

In April, Aden Gower photographed a young Lanner Falcon mantling over its prey - but what was the prey species? Turns out it is something quite unusual - a melanistic Gabar Goshawk. Read on for the full story, and some insights into colour aberrations and the biology behind them.

By | May 16th, 2015|Birds|0 Comments

DAVE’S LOCAL PATCH: A tale of three twitches

Dave Deighton must be one of the luckiest birders alive, and his name is synonymous with waders, rarities and twitching. Whether they know it or not, the majority of serious listers owe him their gratitude. This is the story of three of Dave's most remarkable discoveries, and how those birds changed birding in southern Africa.

By | May 8th, 2015|Birds|4 Comments

I wonder what Katy did?

I’ll admit that my entomological knowledge is limited to a few disparate field guides lying around the house, some undergraduate entomology courses at university, and whatever punchy, non-peer-reviewed factoids the internet can produce. Be that as it may, I just had to share my sighting of this little chap - a remarkable example of crypsis!

By | April 24th, 2015|Birds|0 Comments

Begging for attention

According to the philosopher Confucius, "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance". While simply meandering about in the bush, making sketches and just "checking stuff out" as my other favourite philosopher, Jerry Seinfeld, would say, I became aware of a sound that I could not identify...read on to see if you can identify it.

By | April 24th, 2015|Birds|0 Comments