Saturday, 25 August 2012

Walk to the Nile at Rejaf

I went with Lesley and Andrew down the Old Nimule road this morning.  After a rewarding short walk through the acacia scrub a few kms down the road, we stopped just short of Rejaf village and followed a track for about a kilometre down to the Nile.  At first the habitat was mainly short grassland and bushes, giving way to taller grasses and with a few trees and bushes, then to a more wooded area right by the Nile. By the river bank we met two men hoeing land to plant mango and orange trees.

Rejaf village, with tukuls and church in the distance
An early highlight was a Red-necked Falcon feeding on a male Euplectes bishop.  The red in the photo below is the feathering of the deceased bishop, not blood!

Red-necked Falcon with prey
As often happens, having found African Quail-Finches last weekend, there were more today, and in almost identical habitat: mainly short grass in disturbed fairly flat ground with sandy gravel patches, surrounded by denser and taller grasses and bushes. 

We found a flock of about 20 Parasitic Weavers, a species only encountered in singles hitherto. A smart bird and good to find in numbers.  As we walked towards the river, we saw a Black-and-White Cuckoo, as well as several Diederik Cuckoos. 

Male Parasitic Weaver
Black-and White Cuckoo 

There were Ring-necked Parakeets, a Black Bishop, Violet-backed Starlings, African Moustached Warblers, Black Coucal, Croaking and Winding Cisticolas, a male violet-backed Sunbird (either Western or Eastern), a Nubian Woodpecker looking out of place in the open bush- and grassland, a Little Bee-eater, Red-headed and Cardinal Queleas and both Vitelline and Northern Masked Weavers.

Closer to the Nile, we found some beautiful Red-throated Bee-eaters, an African Pygmy Kingfisher, several Red-rumped Swallows and, over the water, two Plain Martins.  Across the Nile we saw distant Eastern Grey Plantain-eaters and heard their call, 'maniacal laughter' as the field guide rightly says.

Red-throated Bee-eaters 
Red-rumped Swallow
Of interest from an i.d. perspective, there were good numbers of Lesser Blue-eared Starlings along the Old Nimule road, whilst by the river I photographed an immature starling that seems to have a much stouter bill.  I wonder if this could be Greater Blue-eared, though the tail does not seem very long.
Lesser Blue-eared Starling
glossy starling, i.d. uncertain
There was plenty of entomological interest today, with these dragonflies and butterflies [I'll add the i.d. for some later, once Andrew has commented].
Odonata, genus/species not known 
Female yellow pansy Junonia hierta
 probable junonia spp
Odonata, genus/species not known
Ringlet, Satyridae
Andrew also found this grass mantis producing an egg case (Ootheca). He notes that the egg case can contain several hundred eggs, which hatch out after about two weeks, the young mantis's looking like tiny black ants.
 Praying Mantis
 Andrew photographing the mantis, with Lesley


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