He looks innocent. Nope. He would gladly climb up your pant leg.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
He looks innocent. Nope. He would gladly climb up your pant leg.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Actually, Swakopmund is a *lovely* city on Namibia's Atlantic coast, the country's second largest city, after the capital in Windhoek, and a prime vacation spot for Namibians, black and white.
It's easy to see why. This city - really a large town - looks like a piece of Germany that has been plucked out of Europe and set down amid palm trees and seashore. Germany's influence (it was the colonial power until the end of WW I) is evident in the architecture and the food - especially crazy yummy pastries in shop windows.
To get here, yesterday we drove through some of the most barren desert on earth. That was after visiting an amazing region of Namibia known as Damaraland, which is sometimes called the Arizona of Namibia. It DOES look like something out of a Western movie - with vast valleys, broad mesas and crazy-cool colors in the rocks. We spent the night at an amazing oasis, a lodge called Vingerklip, named after the Rock Finger that stands a kilometer away, and then went to see some 5,000-year-old rock paintings that you can visit after hiking under the hot sun up a dry riverbed.
Every day has been amazing. And of course, Birdcouple has been birding all the way along. We have identified 101 species since arriving in southern Africa. Here in Swakop, as locals call it, we saw Pied Avocet, which has a crazy upturned bill; Greater and Lesser Flamingo; Common Waxbill; Orange River White-Eye; and the massive Great (Eastern) White Pelican...
You can tell Cute Husband has acclimated to Namibia.... he is talking kilometers, rather than miles! Speaking of kilometers.... it was incredible fun driving across the barren moonscape yesterday via a dirt road going about 120 kilometers or 75 miles per hour. The fridge in the back of our new home was rocking along with our cool hut on top. Pictures .... soon.
Tomorrow, we head to the REAL desert! The Namib Desert has some of the most beautiful dunes in the world and we hope to ID each of the types along with some dry climate-loving birds. Looking forward to the star gazing.....
Saturday, May 19, 2007
We are posting from Etosha National Park in northern Namibia. This place is like being air-dropped into the middle of a Wild Kingdom episode (for those of you old enough to remember Marlin Perkins and Mutual of Omaha)...
We have seen (or rather, identified) 71 species of birds since we arrived in southern Africa, everything from the wild-looking Crimson-Breasted Shrike to the rather freakish Marabou Stork. There are Rollers, Sunbirds, Robin-Chats, Coursers, Koorhans and other stuff that we never knew existed.
And then there are the ANIMALS. Zillions of Zebra, Wildebeest, Springbok, Giraffe, Jackals, and Lions! And more..
Last night, at the flood-lit watering-hole here at Okaukuejo camp, we watched seven Black Rhino come down to drink. Very impressive. Then, a Verreaux's Giant Eagle-Owl (hope we have that spelled right) flew over and looked like it tried to grab a stray jackal. Needless to say, this is a BIG owl. That was only the beginning, however. A lone, feckless-looking springbok was drinking from the water at about 10pm when we spotted a massive female lion come out of the brush. She went from left to right, away from the springbok, and then tracked back, stalking the small antelope. The crowd of (mostly German) tourists fell in a dead hush. Would we see a kill? About 20 yards away from its dinner, the lion broke into a run and the springbok bounded away into the night, surviving ... for now.
Today was even cooler, if that's possible. Lisa will explain. Oh, and our luggage caught up with us here in the middle of nowhere yesterday. Pix soon!
We have clean underwear!
Today was outrageous. Amazing. Unbeliveable.
We traveled to the furthest edge of Etosha and only passed one car on our journey to the M'bari watering hole. It is dry season here and this is one of the permanent sources of water for all mammals and birds. We passed a group of 4 elephant and waited for them at the hole. The sight was unforgettable as we watched them marching toward us across the plain.
As they reached our camper, we could sense our mistake. Apparently, we had parked directly in their usual walkway to the water. The group crossed in front of us and one large female stopped. She turned and faced us and looked directly through our windshield. Ears flapping.
With all honesty, I don't think I have ever been so scared in my entire life....
She finally drifted on. We think she was just giving us the message of who really owned the watering hole. Yes, we understood.
Warren put his hand over my heart after the whole experience. It was pounding out of my breast.... I still can not believe we got to experience something so primal.
So, wonder what's going to happen when we go back to the watering hole here at Okaukuejo tonight?
- W and L
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Our luggage is not in Namibia. Or maybe even in Africa at all. Who knows?
This is disappointing, but BirdCouple is undaunted. We begin our Safari today, after having spent our first night in Namibia at the very lovely Olive Grove lodge. ... We woke up early and did some birding, adding a half-dozen more lifers to our list, including:
We are off to see cheetahs and stuff.
Will post again whenever we next get an Internet connection ... could be a while.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Warren and I are in South Africa.
Our luggage is not in South Africa.
Our long flight from Dulles was actually quite nice and we were informed early that 10% of the luggage would not land with us. How is it possible that all of our bags were in the 10%?
This morning we were bumped from our flight into Namibia. Warren schmoozed us into a business class seat 2 hours later. (Actually, Lisa did. - W)
Torture? Nope. We are in Africa! I am with cute husband who always says ... Everyday is a good day when you see a new bird.....
Our birding expedition this morning was in the area around the pool of our hotel in Jo Burg. New birds?... Yes!
Black-Headed Heron (Jo-Burg airport-- seen as plane touched down)
Cape Sparrow (soon to be a trash bird)
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Robin Chat
Cape Robin Chat - Photo: P. Palmer
Warren Says: They also have House Sparrows here, ugh! Lisa is being an amazing trooper given our, ahem, traveling difficulties... which will soon go away.
Lisa Says: Well...Cute Husband did just buy me a swanky safari outfit at the airport store. I am currently relaxing in the lovely airport lounge reserved for the peeps who get to travel in the front of the plane. And, I am thinking that a nice Windhoek Lager might work for lunch. Yup, I am managing to be a trooper.....ha!
On to Namibia!
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Monday, May 7, 2007
We found Bobolinks in their crazy spring outfits:
When we returned from a day of watching the color parade of travelers and birded around our love nest, we started noticing the slight changes in our non-migratory yard birds. They are still dressed to the hilt. They are still working on their serenades. And, they are still doing some serious eating.
But our local feathered friends have now progressed to brood raising. We saw a fledgling Titmouse who seemed to lack a tail and looked like a large clump of laundry lint.
The House Finches returned to their usual nest in the eves and we are now learning just how vocal a hungry finch chick can be.
My pal, Cam, fills me in each day on her house guests. The mother of this brood decided to plant her nest in a fancy wreath on Cam’s front door.
I’m guessing Cardinals. I keep asking Cam what do the parents look like.
Apparently, the whole photo session is very traumatic. Cam has no idea.
Well, assuming they are Northern Cardinals…. Mom and Dad Cardinal would have appeared monogamous, but several studies have proven that Cardinals frequently engage in extra-pair copulations.
Northern Cardinals breed between March and September and usually raise two broods a year. The first one in late March and the second in late May to July. The female builds the nest, usually in shrubs or small trees. She lays 1 to 5 white-green eggs.
The male Cardinal has quite a voice, but the female also sings, often from the nest. The female’s songs may give the male information about when to bring food to the nest.
After the chicks hatch, both parents feed the chicks a constant source of insect protein.
In the depths of the winter, Lisa and I decided to document (well, she decided, I documented!) the changing nature of our "back yard" as spring blossomed. Below are the results, with a freak early April snow thrown in for good measure.