Pat is turning us into birders. He is been teaching us the names of all the birds that we see and hear. Unfortunately, we only remember a fraction of them.
I only remember the ones I like. Like the Yellow Billed Hornbill. Big brightly coloured bill and black and white plumage…and they are everywhere! The LBR – Lilac Breasted Roller – is also everywhere and is very noticeable with its bright blue wings and lilac breast. The Copper Tailed Coucal has brilliant coppery tail feathers and shines in the sunlight. The Saddle Bill Stork with its long legs, red bill with a black “saddle” on it.
Today Pat spots a Pel’s Fishing Owl high up in a tree and gets very excited. We watch and take pictures of this elusive owl. He radios another Letaka Safari guide who is touring actual real birders to inform them of our location and the fellow says they will head our way as this owl was a rare sight not to be missed. We wait and watch the owl turn his head to look in all directions. He is dressed in brown tones, head a lighter shade and body a combination of light and darker browns. He opens his eyes occasionally and checks up on our location. Yup, we are still here!
I have trouble differentiating between a heron, egret, stork and ibis. They all have longish legs, longish necks, longish bodies and longish bills and are all found near water.
There’s the Great White Egret and Little Egret and Open Billed Stork and Saddled-Billed Stork and Grey Heron and the African Scared Ibis and and and…..
There are so many little brown birds that they have been lumped together into one category called LBJ – Little Brown Jobs. I do not even try to differentiate between them all. To me, they are all LBJs.
When we see a giraffe or a zebra or a larger mammal, they often have a Yellow-Billed Oxpecker riding on them. These birds pick the tics off the animals and enjoy a meal. Pat says a giraffe can have up to 800 tics on it, so these birds can be well fed. We saw a giraffe with 8 birds on its neck. It is of mutual benefit for both bird and animal.
There are also all the raptors, kites, eagles, hawks and falcons. Of which again we can only identify a couple. The African Fish Eagle is very big, dark in colour, with a white head, the Tawny Eagle has beautiful tawny feathers (surprise) and a very sleekly built. The one I have intimate knowledge of and my favorite; the Yellow Billed Kite has dark plumage, a yellow bill and very adept at dive bombing chicken (MY CHICKEN!!).
I do not think we will ever become true birders, even with Pat’s diligent instruction, but we now can spot various birds and enjoy the finding of them.