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!
BLSA's Flock at Sea (again) departs in a few days! Will you be onboard? My wife asked me to help her prepare for the pelagic birding...and I ended up drawing a whole bunch of cartoony seabirds. If you're a little rusty on telling your prions from your petrels, I think you'll find my guide to South African shorebirds useful. Print a copy and take it with, or save it on your phone. A quick and easy, 3 page guide to the basics (in pdf or jpeg). Feel free to share.
Just back from Champions of the Flyway 2017: an exhilarating week's birding in the Negev Desert of southern Israel, culminating in a crazy, nonstop, 24 hour bird race to see which team can record the most species in a day. I competed along with the "Birding Africa Black Harriers:" Callan Cohen, Dominic Rollinson, Ethan Kistler and myself. Read more to find out how we did, and how we did it. More importantly, we managed to raise $4,500 to help Doga Denegi fight the battle against the illegal slaughter of migratory birds in Turkey. 3, 2, 1...let's go birding!
You can now own a piece of Faansie Peacock artwork. I am proud to announce that I have produced some high quality A3 prints of selected artworks from my book, Chamberlain's LBJs. These are in limited edition prints of 25. Get your favourite bird, or why not splurge and buy a whole set? I can already picture a series of apalises or larks in your office!
In a few weeks, I'll be joining Callan Cohen, Dominic Rollinson and Ethan Kistler in Eilat, Israel as "The Birding Africa Black Harriers" - one of the teams competing in the annual Champions of the Flyway bird race. I cannot wait to witness migration in all its magnificence at this legendary birding hotspot. But more than that, I am excited about the opportunity to raise funds and awareness to protect our migratory birds against illegal hunting. Please consider adding your voice!
Bonjour! Baillon's Crake has always been a bit of a head-scratcher for me...in this post I ponder some of its peculiarities, not least of which is "who was Baillon?". My friend Thoms Hohls recently connected with this species as the remote Nstikeni Wetland in KZN - only his Baillon's had a bright green bill! See the stunning photos here.
Where do you get 5,000 top-class bird photos if you don't own a camera? Easy. You ask your friend Dylan Vasapolli. As my way of saying thank you to him, I give you my favourite "Vas" images: phenomenal without exception (although he would probably call them "fairly average"). These are from the USA, Panama, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. Enjoy!
Petronias are charming little fellows. Like the related pipits, they walk around on the ground or along tree branches, pumping their tails. Even their calls sound more like pipits' than true sparrows. However, unlike pipits, they nest in tree cavities...or in this case, in a scalding hot metal umbrella stand, which they packed full of feathers.
The first twitchable Temminck's Stint in 29 years - it didn't take much convincing to get me on plane from Jo'burg to Cape Town! I enjoy a quick mid-week twitch as much as the next guy, but this was also a valuable opportunity to take some field notes on a bird that I have only seen in Asia. Includes a short video of the experience. PS: An American Golden Plover and Red-necked Stint were also present at the site - birding heaven!