Eastern Long-billed Lark

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As its name implies, the Eastern Long-billed Lark occurs in the moist grasslands and mountainous landscapes in the eastern half of South Africa. These are by far the least strikingly coloured of the five long-billed larks, but they can be instantly identified by their spectacular stooping display flights, accompanied by far-carrying whistled calls. This painting [...]

Cape Long-billed Lark

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These large and spectacular larks are denizens of South Africa's picturesque West Coast - as am I. They therefore have a special place in my heart. I pictured them here with a Euphorbia bush on the white sands of Langebaan. Also note the small white snails. These are Theba pisana - an alien species that [...]

Benguela Long-billed Lark

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This taxon remains somewhat of a mystery. As currently understood, it is restricted to the arid plains of Kaokoland in northern Namibia, from about Brandberg into southern Angola. The images here are based on a field trip I took a few years ago to study these and other specials of these stark landscapes. This painting [...]

Agulhas Long-billed Lark

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Described by Austin Roberts in 1941, this is the most restricted of the 5 long-billed lark taxa. It is endemic to the W Cape's Agulhas Plain. The background image depicts some Blue Cranes - South Africa's national bird - in a stubble wheatfield.

European Bee-eater

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I always have mixed feelings when I find a dead bird, especially one as stunning as the European Bee-eater Merops apiaster. On the one hand it is sad to see such as vibrant and energetic creature lifeless, but on the other hand being able to handle and examine such a beauty is a rare and [...]

Full house of Coursers

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Reflections on what turned out to be a fantastic day for these quirky terrestrial waders in and around Kimberley in the Northern Cape. The main and most difficult target for the day was the near-endemic Burchell's Courser Cursorius rufus, which we eventually found on an extensive dry pan. Not too far away, we found a [...]

Cuckoo vs Drongo

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In December 2008 my attention was attracted by some "soft, almost raptor-like begging calls" emanating from the crown of a Burkea tree on the southern shoreline of Vaalkop Dam. A Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis, was in evidence, but half-hidden in the dappled shade was this juvenile African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis. Fork-tailed Drongos are the only [...]

Franklin’s Gull at Centurion Lake

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Do you remember this one? I was sitting in my office when I got a phone call to say a Franklin's Gull Leucophaeus (previously Larus) pipixcan had just been located - a potential lifer, only about 10 km from my house. I think I broke the land-speed record on my down the N1 to get [...]

Creatures of Kimberley

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Some miscellaneous field notes from a trip to Kimberley in April 2008. This late in the austral summer, many of the migratory species had already completed their moult into breeding plumage, and were in immaculate condition. Large numbers of Western Yellow Wagtails Motacilla flava patrolled the shoreline of Spitskop Dam, and many of the males [...]

Specials of the Spiny Forest

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South-Western Madagascar is a surreal place - much more arid than most people typically imagine Madagascar, and filled with bizzare Octopus trees adorned with dancing sifaka lemurs. The predominant vegetation in the area is called spiny forest - and for good reason, as one soon finds out when chasing after disappearing Long-tailed Ground Rollers . [...]