Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Still more South African birds...

So, I can't help myself.  Here are more birds as I wait for my class to begin.

The drawing is of Retz's helmet-shrike, or Prionops retzii.  I like this guy because he congregates at the corner of my hostel in the evenings and sings a song that is similar to the bulbul's that were feeding from my window sill earlier in the season.  I miss the bulbuls, but enjoy the Retz's serenade. (See websites listed below for photo credits.)

The black guy with the long tail is a magpie shrike, or Corvinella melanoleuca.  Isn't he striking?  I usually watch him in the evenings in the back lot as he feeds.

His buddy to the right is a common fiscal, or Lanius collaris.  This guy is pretty popular all around and I see him everywhere.  Where I like him best is at my primary school, as he perches outside the staff room window and gives me a diversion from marking papers (grading = marking in SA) and choking on the DOOM.  (DOOM is the South African insecticide that everyone everywhere uses in excess but especially in my primary school.  The fumes of DOOM make me very ill.)

I also like him because his white belly is always very, very white.  I don't see how he can keep so white in the dust of the Kalahari.

To the right of the fiscal is a greater striped swallow, or Hirundo cucullata.  I like swallows, and this one is no exception.  At my going-away party at Bernheim, the nesting swallows stole the show!  They would sit up in their nests and peer down at us with their surprisingly human-like stares. They have the same "little people" smiles here, and I love watching them in the evenings as they feed and fly to their nests in the rafters.

Then below, is another favorite.  Are ALL the birds my favorite?  How can that be?  Anyway, the groundscraper thrush, or Psophocichla litsitsirupa, is a favorite because he reminds me of the American robin.  He hops about in the grass and cocks his ears close to the ground listening for bugs just like our American robins do (although I think our robins are listening for earthworms; the poor birds here are lucky indeed if they find an earthworm!!).  And his spots.  He seems to stand upright just so he can show off his beauteous spots!

And lastly, the pied crow, or Corvus albus.   The crow is dear to me because he is the first bird I noticed when I arrived in South Africa.  He's HUGE, and although his belly should be white, his seems markedly yellow.  Bright yellow!  I wonder why the fiscal seems to stay so brightly white, yet the crow gets a color change!  Perhaps a different diet... Perhaps the crows get "dirtier" in their eating.

He too, reminds me of the beautiful magpie I stopped traffic for while staring at it in Alaska.  (Why IS that lady staring at that magpie eating garbage?)  I have an affinity for common birds, it seems.

Oops, I have to do one more.  And yes, I LOVE THIS GUY!

This guy is a black stork, or Ciconia nigra.  One day, I looked out in the soccer field and I noticed a new visitor.  Whatever it was, it was too big to be a dog and there were a lot of them.  I ran to my room for my binoculars, only to be treated with a close-up examination of these guys.  There were about ten of them and they stayed for quite awhile.  They were eating something in the tall grass.

What I like too, about these guys, is they fly in a great bunch and remind me of geese (although they don't fly in a V pattern).  They fly very, very high in the air and like to soar.  I love watching these guys and we've been seeing a lot of them.  I wonder if they are migrating.

Ok, now it really is time to go teach my class!

Soon, Karen


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