Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Kori Bustard

Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori)

Its big, in fact its the biggest flying bird in Africa, its the Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori) and one of 4 species in the bustard family. African birds come in all shapes and sizes but the Kori bustard is unmistakable not only for its sheer size but also distinctive plumage which is interestingly coloured, being mostly grey and brown but finely patterned with black and white colouring.
With huge sexual dimorphism the Kori Bustard is Africa’s largest flying bird, the male Kori Bustard being twice the weight of the female, maybe the heaviest animal capable of flight and currently weighing typically between 7 kg – 18 kg (15 lb – 40 lb) which outstrips the Andean Condor where males weigh in at a small 11 kg -15 kg (24 lb to 33 lb). The physical size is just incredible, the male Kori Bustard  stands 71–120 cm (2 ft 4 in–3 ft 11 in) tall and has a wingspan around 230cm – 275 cm (8 ft – 9 ft )
A mainly ground dwelling omnivore (eats plants and or other animals, in this case mainly insects and small vertebrates..) the Kori Bustard can be found throughout Southern Africa where it can be seen slowly strutting through the veld in search of its food in open grassy areas, often characterized by sandy soil, especially like the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa but generally in low rainfall area’s.
During the mating season, these birds are usually solitary but for the breeding pair. Otherwise, they are somewhat gregarious, being found in groups often including 5 to 6 birds and generally silent but when the Kori Bustard is alarmed both the male and female birds let out a loud ‘growling’ type bark.
Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori)
Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori) - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - South Africa

Monday, 6 October 2014

Scaly-feathered Finch

Scaly-feathered Finch

On our recent trip to South Africa’s  Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park  we came across in great numbers the small but delightful Scaly-feathered Finch (Sporopipes squamifrons) or as I like to call them which should become apparent to lovers of cricket and in particular Australian cricket the 'Merv Hughes' bird.
We encountered this little bird in great numbers both by the waterholes, where they would ‘fly in’ sip water and fly back out to the nearest bush and in again, as well as perched on the flora and fauna along the sandy roads we drove. Its interesting to know that the Scaly-feathered Finch only drinks water when it is available and can last months without actually drinking, as it can produce what is called ‘metabolic water‘ from its diet of dry seeds and insects. This phenomenon clearly makes the Scaly-feathered Finch well adapted to the harshness of the more semi arid regions of South and Southern Africa like the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Closely related to the sparrow and weaver families, the Scaly-feathered Finch is a small bird of some 10 cm (4 in) and weighs in at around 10 grams (0.35 oz) with a very distinctive small pink bill and broad black malar stripes, hence my ‘nickname’ for the Scaly-feathered Finch of the ‘Merv Hughes’ bird.
Scaly-feathered Finch
Scaly-feathered Finch (Sporopipes squamifrons)
Kgalagadi Transfontier Park - South Africa