Sunday, 26 August 2012

And still they come!

New bird species that is.....

It may seem an odd choice of walk, but this morning Andrew and I walked along a road that leads to a sand quarry about 6 kms along the Terekeka road.  I'd looked on Google Maps, which showed that the road passes through a marsh just before the quarry.  Early on, there were lots of lorries, but once they had all reached the quarry the walk was more peaceful.

The marsh came up trumps with a displaying warbler that I originally took to be a Fan-tailed Warbler Schoenicola brevirostris. However, further research online shows that it is a Little Rush Warbler Bradypterus baboecala. It was too distant to photograph well.

Later, we found Common Waxbill, and then a flock of Zebra Waxbills flew overhead.  These were also new species for me in South Sudan, making three new birds in a day after I've lived here for nearly two years.  Amazing!

Common Waxbill (taken through long grasses with 500mm lens on manual focus)
Palearctic migrants are starting to appear, with an adult White-winged Tern moulting out of breeding plumage feeding over marshland, a Common Sandpiper and several swifts that were probably Eurasian Swifts.

The indigobird mystery did not unravel at all.  There were a number of Red-billed Firefinches, but the indigobirds did not have red legs and so were seemingly not Vidua chalybeata, which parasitises Red-billed Firefinch.  I did not see any of the host species that are parasitised by other indigobird species that might occur here.  The viduas I saw seem to have a blueish purple sheen, as shown in the second photo below (I've used colour saturation to exagerate the sheen).

 Female Red-billed Firefinch
Male indigobird (with female partly in view)
Same indigobird [photo added in response to comment]
There were noisy d'Arnaud's Barbets, which for once I managed to photograph, albeit distantly.

 d'Arnaud's Barbets
At the quarry we saw a Long-crested Eagle, which started mobbing another bird of prey.  This turned out to be an immature Western Banded Snake-Eagle.  In these photos its head looks very large as the feathers are fluffed out, perhaps in annoyance at the Long-crested Eagle's attention.

Immature Western Banded Snake-Eagle
Other noteworthy species included three sightings of Black-bellied Bustard; a Lesser Honeyguide that was chasing a Vitelline Masked Weaver, a species it may parasitise; Little Weaver; Grey-headed Sparrow; and a displaying male Beautiful Sunbird.  There was an unexpected bonus with the sunbird photos as the female was also in the picture and reacting to the male's display.

Lesser Honeyguide
Male Little Weaver
Grey-headed Sparrow
Displaying Beautiful Sunbirds
Again we found some attractive butterflies (i.d. by Andrew).

Probably Colotis protomedia (three butterflies with black markings); Eureme hecabe (yellow butterflies); yellow and brown butterfly: i.d. uncertain
Nearly back in Juba, we noticed that White-rumped Swifts were breeding in an old concrete structure, possibly occupying old nests of Ethiopian Swallows, which I recall also seeing using this structure earlier in the year.

5 star accommodation for White-rumped Swifts


  1. Snake-Eagles as a group tend to have loose feathering on the head, and often look big-headed as this one does.

    As for the Indigobird I'd say it is cahlybeata (we used to refer to it as RBFFIB, Red-billed Firefinch Indigobird). As far as I know no other Indigobird has a red bill. I find the description of the sheen on indigobirds to be quite subjective and often hard to see.

    Great blog by the way!

    1. Hi Paul

      Thanks for your comment. Actually, the indigobird had a white bill, as all the indigobirds here do; and quite pale feet. I've added another photo to the post to make this clear (my original photo did not show the bill clearly). But the only known indigobird host species in the location with these indigobirds is RBFFIB!


  2. OK, I was actually thinking about the picture you posted on 19 Aug which has a clearly pinkish bill. I see from my copy of Birds of Africa (Sinclair & Ryan) that the race of chalybeata in W, C & NE Africa in fact has a white or pinkish-white bill, and orange-red to pinkish legs.