Here I am, back to the TR. Pumbaa, I hope you enjoy the bird sigthings of this post.
Leaving Shitlhave Dam, we followed Napi Road again until reaching the short Napi loop (S11). It was a rich part of the road for birding. In this small part of the road, we saw: 1 Rufous-naped Lark (Mirafra Africana
), 1 Red-Collared Widowbird (Euplectes ardens
), 1 European Roller (Coracias garrulus
) , 1 Cuckoo Finch (Anomalospiza imberbis
), 1 Striped Kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti
), and 1 Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis
One nice thing is to see Shitlhave Dam surrounding by the savannah from Napi Road.
Here is a picture of the Rufous-naped Lark calling for other larks around. Not a good picture, but an interesting behavior. I cannot resist. This is a nice bird, thankfully not threatened (Least concern in the IUCN Red List, but with declining population).
European rollers were so common during the whole trip that by the end we were not photographing them anymore. We had many inside jokes during the trip. One of them was raised every time I asked to stop for one more picture of European Rollers (after hundreds of them, I am really compulsive…) and Carol and Peu would shout at me, “Not again!”
But they are nice birds, aren’t they? If I come back to Kruger in winter, when they’re not there, I will certainly miss them. European rollers have their non breeding distribution in sub-Saharan Africa, while it breeds in several other places, such as Morocco, Spain, Poland, Siberia and India. Although it is still common, it is classified as Near threatened in the IUCN Red List, with decreasing populations. Thus, we should be happy we saw so many of them in Kruger. He has a scattered distribution, showing preference to savannah biomes, mainly broad-leaved and Acacia woodland.
What is he doing in that branch? Probably hunting. It feeds mainly on flying insects (termite alates, beetles, locusts), waiting for them perched and pouncing on them when they get close.
The picture below is the only one we got from the Cuckoo Finch we saw in Napi Road. From our discussions on this sighting in the Sanparks forum, I’ve got the impression that it is a somewhat rare sighting. I am not sure. Anyway, it is such a nice bird that I dare put here this not so good (but single) picture.
This bird is classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, with stable populations. Thus, not really threatened, what is great! It shows diversified habits, it can be resident, nomadic or migratory, it can move in flock of 8-50 birds, sometimes over 1000 birds, looking for areas where rain recently fell. This was a lone guy to the extent that we could see. It mainly feeds on grass, rarely insects. Finally, the most outstanding thing about cuckoo finches is that it is a brood parasite, laying eggs in other birds’ nests, saving in parental care. It parasitizes several species of Cisticola
and also species of Prinia
. First, the female removes one or all of the host’s eggs and then lay a single egg in the parasitized nest. Usually it parasites four nests in the space of a few days.
As we followed the road, rain was becoming more and more probable. Look at the dark sky behind the fork-tailed drongo, the first of many we saw in Kruger.
It is also a not threatened bird, with stable populations. The most interesting feature of its biology is that it is a kleptoparasite, stealing food from other birds and even mammals, such as meerkats. When we visit Kgalagadi next year, I hope we can see drongo perching over foraging meerkats trying to rob their food. It mimicks the meerkat’s alarm call to create confusion and then steal the food. That would be a great thing to see. In Kruger, unfortunately, we did not see any stealing event of drongos, evidently not of meerkats, not found there, but of other birds.