Sunday, 12 August 2012

Oxpecker and other Terekeka road birds

This morning, after heavy rain the night before, we went 20 kms up the Terekeka road (Lesley, Andrew, Bosco, Mark).  The first area of marshland was so flooded that the usual water birds seem to have abandoned it, thought intensive fishing may be a factor.  People were catching small catfish and we also saw a large Nile Perch for sale (about 8 kgs).  Appropriately, almost our first bird was an African Fish Eagle, an adult.

African Fish Eagle

The conditions were rather dull as it was completely overcast to start with, but it brightened later and birding improved throughout the morning.  An early find was a couple of Grosbeak Weavers, an uncommon species here.

Female Grosbeak Weaver

We found a male Vitelline Masked Weaver nest-building, whilst nearby a pair was attending a completed nest.

Male Vitelline Masked Weaver, starting to build a nest

Completed nest of Vitelline Masked Weaver

Next came a series of surprise finds.  A flock of White-billed Buffalo-Weavers was unusual, but even more so was finding a nest of this species attended by a displaying bird.  This bird is said to be a dry season wanderer to Juba.

White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, displaying below large nest

Displaying White-billed Buffalo-Weaver

Then we found two Northern White-crowned Shrikes, also regarded as a dry season wanderer to Juba, and my first here.

Northern White-crowned Shrike

Another unexpected bird was a Yellow-billed Oxpecker, again my first for the area.

Yellow-billed Oxpecker

This week, lots of indigobirds had arrived.  The males of these species are blackish and look almost identical; the best way to distinguish them is by voice: the males of the different species mimic the songs of the birds that they parasitise. The Village Indigobird Vidua chalybeata ultramarina, which I photographed, parasitises Red-billed Firefinch, which we also saw nearby.  This indigobird has red legs, unlike other local species, so is possible to identify more easily than the others; it also has purplish tones.  I photographed this species, and well as other birds that had paler legs.  The options for these seem to be Black-faced Firefinch Indigobird Vidua larvaticola, Cameroon Indigobird Vidua camerunensis, and/or Bar-breasted Firefinch Indigobird Vidua wilsoni.  Oddly, I've never seen any of the species parasitised by these species along the Terekeka road.  Cameroon Indigobird also parasitises Brown Twinspot, which should occur locally, but I've never found it.  A real mystery.

Village Indigobird (purple tones, red legs)

Unidentified male indigobird

We had good views of a male Bush Petronia, a rather retiring species that is not easy to find, and plenty of sightings of the beautiful Northern Carmine Bee-eater.

Male Bush Petronia

Northern Carmine Bee-eater

Overhead, we saw a few birds of prey including this adult White-headed Vulture.

White-headed Vulture

There was also a Wahlberg's Eagle, considered by Nikolaus (Birds of South Sudan) to be only a dry season visitor.   Finally, there were two Namaqua Doves, again considered a dry season visitor.

Namaqua Dove

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