Rainbirder

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Rainbirder last won the day on March 16 2014

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About Rainbirder

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  1. John, your second image above is a female Bearded. The first image looks more like a Campethera Woodpecker -I don't know which are found in Botswana but it looks like a Golden-tailed. I'm not sure what the third bird is but it seems to have a noticeably smaller bill than the other two. This is where you tell me that they are all images of the same bird! ;-)
  2. I've no experience of Southern African Woodies and have never seen Bennett's but it apparently looks very similar to Nubian. At first glance I thought that this was a Nubian -but that species does not extend so far south. Bearded is a big Woodpecker which exists in a number of slightly varied races but it always has a very prominent facial pattern with two broad black stripes on a whitish face (white is always clearly visible above and below the upper black facial stripe). Bearded also looks quite dark and doesn't seem to show the same contrast between the dark background and the pale spotting on the upper parts that is seen on Campethera Woodies. The bottom line is I don't know but I don't think it's a Bearded.
  3. Wow!!! What a superb trip report Lynn! (Martial Eagle and Common Snipe as Anita suggests.)
  4. This is the first project that I have seen which specifically targets the end consumer in Vietnam. It is hard to fault the logic of their analytic approach though it would help to have some high profile Vietnamese on board. A project like this will only work if it is in tune with Vietnamese culture and has relevance to Vietnamese society. We need some lateral thinking to help dynamise "the save the rhino" campaigns. If Vietnamese children and the children of other societies which "consume" rhino horn can grow up with an entirely different attitude to rhinos then we will win this battle. However, I still believe that an aggressive campaign of physical protection of wild rhino populations must necessarily take priority or there will be no rhinos left by the time the battle for hearts and minds is won!
  5. Black and White Casqued Hornbills in Kakamega forest. Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Mount Kenya. Trumpeter Hornbill male, Shimba Hills, Kenya. Southern Ground Hornbill, Maasai Mara, Kenya.
  6. I'm sorry guys but I'm afraid that all of the above images (except those in post 2) are of Martial Eagles. Forget about plumage colour, markings or soft parts and focus on the big picture. These are two very different birds. Crowned Eagle is a large, very powerful forest eagle which habitually targets large and often dangerous prey. It is a stealth hunter that hunts usually from a perch in generally fairly closed woodland below the forest canopy. To airlift mammal prey it needs a substantial wing area but long wings are a hindrance within the forest sub-canopy so Crowned eagles have fairly short but VERY broad rounded wings and a long tail which helps them steer between branches. When seen in flight a Crowned Eagle is usually in a heavy laborious flapping flight through the forest sub-canopy but, like many forest eagles they also soar high above the forest (not to hunt but to mark territory) at which time they can be quite vocal. Martial Eagle is also a large powerful eagle with a massive wing area. However it achieves its large wing area by having very long wings which are not that broad. It doesn't have to jink in and out between branches in a forest sub-canopy as it hunts over open ground and in open woodland -so it has long wings but doesn't need a long tail. Martial Eagles usually hunt from an aerial vantage point and so spend a large part of the day soaring on thermals. Both these eagles perch in trees but Martial Eagle picks easy-to-access, often dead branches on the tops of trees in the open. Crowned Eagles almost always perch on stout branches in the sub-canopy in closed woodland. The overhead flight profile of these two eagles is very different but so is the appearance of perched birds. The folded short wings of Crowned Eagles falls very short of the end of the long tail. In a perched Martial Eagle the folded wings are very long and reach the end of the tail. Note how in the Martial Eagle image above the folded wingtips are essentially level with the end of the tail. In the Crowned Eagle above the folded wings are rounded and fall well short of the end of the long tail. To give an idea of how powerful Crowned Eagles are here is an image taken in the Langata Forest area of Nairobi National park. Initially I was unsure as to the nature of the prey but it seems this is a young Bushbuck.
  7. @@Safari Cal Thanks for the invite Cal but sadly I'll be tied up.
  8. This is the usual mix of scaremongering linked to bad journalism. Sea Eagles are native not alien and in the last 10,000 years have only been missing from Scotland for under 70 years when they were poisoned and shot to extinction. There is no evidence that they out-compete Golden Eagles which are also doing well on Mull (due to lack of persecution). In fact farmers and crofters hate Golden Eagles more than Sea Eagles! Here is a link to the typical bad journalism that these raptors are subjected to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361000/Golden-eagle-clutches-lamb-Isle-Mull-razor-sharp-talons.html In the above example the "facts" surrounding the two eagle species are mixed up to sensationalise the issue. The picture shows a Golden Eagle with a lamb in its talons. The text then discusses the Sea Eagle re-introduction programme as if the pictured raptor was a Sea Eagle. Eagles eat dead lambs and have been observed doing so on numerous occasions. Just because an eagle has a dead lamb in its talons it doesn't necessarily mean that the eagle killed the lamb. Far more lambs die from bad weather and bad husbandry than the combined effects of all the predatory mammals and birds put together. As for the nonsense of a Sea Eagle taking a child -this is complete fiction. Children are in far more danger from farm animals: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/11-animals-more-likely-to-kill-you-than-sharks
  9. Merry Christmas to all! White-fronted Bee-eater, Lake Nakuru, Kenya; August 2013.
  10. Pulled pork!
  11. Common Genet ( Genetta genetta) Samburu, Kenya; August 2013.
  12. Boo! On scouting the edge of the Mara river we came across a hippo pool with a large fallen tree on the bank. I was able to position myself behind the fallen trunk and waited. The water was actually quite deep right up to the riverbank and hippos were popping up only a few metres away. Unfortunately though hidden when crouched I had to stand to take images over the trunk. The sudden appearance of a human almost as big as herself had this hippo cow fleeing for deep water! My wife suggested that playing peek-a-boo with hippos was probably not too sensible a pastime! (Mara River, Maasai Mara, Kenya; July 2013)
  13. I should have stated in the initial post that this all took place in Samburu. Whilst there is no value in trying to draw conclusions from this one incident this was not a typical hunt. The young female leopard spent about 40 minutes quartering the area and clearly following a scent trail. At one point she approached us quite closely. We took up position on a raised section of track which afforded a good view of the terrain -mainly dense low scrubby bushes and thornscrub (there is no off-roading in Samburu). Subsequently a number of other vehicles joined us -but everyone was quiet and well-behaved. Eventually the leopard stumbled upon the young male oryx (we weren't sure what he was until he stood up). On the first interaction the infant oryx made an attempt to charge the leopardess however his lack of size and strength gave the appearance that he he was simply rubbing heads with the leopard. This had a disarming effect and the leopardess rubbed against and even appeared to "cuddle" the young oryx. This interaction played out in a small area between dense bushes so the views varied between good and obscured. On a number of occasions the leopard tapped the oryx with a front paw and even embraced the oryx but on all of these occasions where our views were good the claws appeared to be retracted. The leopardess was quite young -too young to have ever had cubs however we got the impression that the young oryx's behaviour might have been stimulating some maternal instincts in the leopard. For a time we lost sight of the leopard and oryx. When we eventually saw the leopard again it appeared from an unexpected direction and to be honest I thought it was a different leopard initially! Shortly after this the young oryx bolted but was caught and quickly dispatched by the leopard (this final interaction was partially hidden from us). I have a number of images of the interaction which I still need to convert from Raw files and look at. I'll post more here in due course. As I mentioned above one observation is not enough to draw any real conclusions but I wonder whether the behaviour of young Beisa Oryx at this stage -particularly their pitiful instinctive attempts at charging which effectively leads to "rubbing heads" might just stimulate the maternal instincts of susceptible large cat females. As Cal posts above - a young adult lioness adopted a series of infant baby oryx in Samburu and became an international celebrity. In fact at the main entrance to Samburu there is a mural depicting a lioness walking beside an infant oryx with the words "Samburu, where nature defies itself!". I think I know what they mean!
  14. Sadly there could only be one outcome in this bizarre "interaction"! We watched this young female leopard zig-zag back and forth sniffing as she went and clearly on the trail of something. Eventually she found her quarry - an infant male Beisa Oryx who instead of fleeing faced down his nightmare. The oryx was small and lacked any strength. His attempts at head butts were clearly initially interpreted by the female leopard as a show of affection. For a time the leopard the rubbed up against and played with the young oryx. The young oryx was clearly terrified and was calling loudly for his mother (a pathetic bleating noise) -but no help came. Eventually the oryx tried to make a run for it and the leopard then quickly despatched him. It was a spirited display by the young oryx but the whole scenario was emotionally painful for us. Nature is nature, no more, no less ………but it can make for very cruel viewing at times! My teen daughter found this particularly difficult watch but she knew well that we were there to see but not to interact. The incredible Mr Ben Gitari saw this she leopard in the distance and knew that something interesting would unfold. He masterfully positioned our vehicle (the much-maligned pop-up roof 4X4 minibus) in anticipation and as a result we had incredible views of the leopard and her interaction with the young oryx. I just wish I could afford to buy Ben a proper 4x4 safari vehicle as he deserves it. Of course if he was given the money to buy himself a vehicle he would spend it on his community school instead!
  15. Bringing up the rear! Amboseli, Kenya; July 2012.

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