Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.

  • Dave Shedman
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9 years 1 month ago #9073 by Dave Shedman
Dave Shedman created the topic: Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.
It's nice when you plan to go out birding then get a lifer before you've even left the house!

We had decided to go to Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens on Sunday and as we sat in bed on Sunday morning drinking coffee and watching birds in the garden, a Black Chested Prinia landed in our tree. We get lots of Tawny Flanked Prinias round here but this was our first black chested ever.

So, that was a good start to the day. On entering the gardens we turned right to head up to the dam and just past the bridge that crosses the stream we disturbed a Burchell's Coucal drinking from the pool on the left of the footpath. We had seen and photographed them before, even photographed one on our neighbour's garden wall, but this was the first time we'd heard one calling in the wild. As it turned out, we'd see and hear much more of them later.

Walking through the woods to the hide we saw a Kurrichane Thrush foraging on the ground. We got good video clips and photos of it later on. Then Mariana saw two birds mating in a tree and as they flew off she thought they were Laughing Doves (because of the colouring) but when they landed in a nearby tree we discovered they were Red Chested Cuckoos, which we'd been hearing constantly since our arrival. We'd seen them before but not this close and this time I managed to photograph them. At last!

Sasol have funded a major refurbishment of the hide and ponds so there's a sign warning that the hide may be unavailable or inaccessible. Thankfully it was neither, though it does look as if they've started dismantling it. Lots and lots of Bishop and Weaver activity in the reeds, as well as more Prinias. It was wonderful just to listen to the sounds. Then we saw something I never thought we'd see - a Southern Red Bishop chasing Burchell's Coucal. We had heard the Coucal calling near the hide then saw it in the reeds to the right. It flew off across the dam, hotly pursued by a bishop, presumably trying to protect its chicks. We witnessed this again later, the bishop does not like that coucal! There were swift / swallow type birds hawking insects off the surface of the pond but too small and quick to identify / photograph. The only other visitors to the pond were three Egyptian Geese and a water snake, first snake I've ever seen in the wild!

Back down in the gardens, after coffee and scones at the restaurant, we walked down to the falls and as we sat on a bench in the shade we were treated to a wonderful display by three Southern Boubous. It seemed to be some sort of mating display, possibly two males competing for the attentions of a female. Whatever the reason, they chased each other in and out of the trees all arond us, sometimes perching only a metre or so away from us. Great photo opportunity! We also heard them make an unusual sound. There was the usual Boubou sound, the mimicking of the Oriole that they're famous for, and one that sounded like a car with a dodgy starter motor trying to start! Mariana was trying to film them and though the videos may not be great, I'm reasonably sure we'll have a recording of the sound.

Down by the falls I spotted another mystery bird but I'm posting that in a different thread. If it turns out to be what I think it is, it'll be another lifer for us. No sign of the eagles but we've seen them on our last two visits so we shouldn't be greedy! On the way back to the exit we got another lifer, a couple of Helmeted Guinea Fowl skulking in some bushes. Unfortunately I didn't get any good shots of them, only a couple from behind.

So, all in all, a very rewarding day. We're so lucky to have this place right on our doorstep, we never get tired of going there. Here are some of the photos I took.

Ô¿Ô

Burchell's Coucal



Burchell's Coucal and worried Southern Red Bishop!



Cape Weaver on nest



Egyptian Goose



Red Chested Cuckoo



Southern Boubou



Southern Masked Weaver starting a new nest



Southern Red Bishop preening

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  • Rusty Justy
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9 years 1 month ago #9077 by Rusty Justy
Rusty Justy replied the topic: Re: Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.
Very Nice Dave, Love the cuckoo pic........Always wanted to go to WSBG, especially now that I hear there are Black Cuckoo's all over the place!!! :D Hopefully Soon!!

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  • JGB
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9 years 1 month ago #9079 by JGB
JGB replied the topic: Re: Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.
Dave, SNAP. we were also at Walter Sisulu Gardens yesterday. Although there do do some Butterfly Atlasing, I managed to get a few bird pics.

The birds sounds in the garden were amazing, Red-chested Cuckoos, Diederik Cukoos, Cape Robin Thrush, Southern Boubou and Burchell's Coucal seemed to be competing with each other in a bird version of Idols.

Cheers,
Justin

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  • Doug
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9 years 1 month ago #9086 by Doug
Doug replied the topic: Re: Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.
Love the Cape Weaver shot!

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  • wernher
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9 years 1 month ago #9092 by wernher
wernher replied the topic: Re: Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.
Wow! Great photos!

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  • gordon
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9 years 1 month ago #9094 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.
Very well done, Dave!

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  • Dave Shedman
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9 years 4 weeks ago #9097 by Dave Shedman
Dave Shedman replied the topic: Re: Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.
Thanks for your kind comments everyone, much appreciated. I have to admit it's a whole lot easier to get good pics now I have a DSLR but I was still pleased to get a good clear shot of the Piet My Vrou, especially as it was in a shady area of the woods.

JGB, a nice coincidence because although we were there for the birds we also got some really good butterfly shots. Haven't had time to go through the WSBG species list yet and identify them but I'll upload some when I've resized them, you'll probably recognise them all immediately!

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  • Birdlover
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9 years 4 weeks ago #9105 by Birdlover
Birdlover replied the topic: Re: Cuckoos and Coucals, WSBG.
Dave i like the Cape Weaver shot.

<!-- s:evil: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_evil.gif" alt=":evil:" title="Evil or Very Mad" /><!-- s:evil: --> <!-- s:evil: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_evil.gif" alt=":evil:" title="Evil or Very Mad" /><!-- s:evil: --> I really need to see the Red Chested Cuckoo. I cannot believe you guys are getting photos of it and i still need to see it.

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