08 February 2014

Those Common Birds

Birds are frequently photographed by camera traps. At first thought one might think their thick layer of insulating feathers won't trigger the camera, but birds are very active creatures. Their high metabolism (to power their aerial lifestyle) and other adaptions such as heat loss without sweat glands, makes it fairly easy for a trail camera to detect most birds.

Below are some common bird species from Koeberg Nature Reserve. I like the way this Bokmakierie blends into the surroundings.

Bokmakierie (Bokmakierie - Telophorus zeylonus) camofouging very well amongst the dead branches and lichens

Not all of Koeberg Nature Reserve is open or coastal dunes. Most of the reserve's dunes are covered by a wide variety of small plants and larger shrubs trying to find a foothold in the sandy soil.

It is not only the plants that have a hard time getting a foothold in the sand, but most land animals (like me) also struggle with the loose sand. Birds however don't seem notice.

Black-Headed Heron (Swartkopreier - Ardea melanocephala) hunting amongst the yellow flowers of the indigenous Pigroot (Varkslaai - Conicosia pugioniformis)

The Pied Crow are very common in the reserve and I've photographed a number of them with my camera traps.

Pied Crow (Witborskraai - Corvus albus) walking past the camera

For some reason many people have an unjust hatred of Crows/Ravens/etc., which I've never understood. I like them. They are incredibly intelligent and fascinating birds. The native species over here in South Africa are large, bold and rather handsome. I like the deep croaking call of the Pied Crow and to watching them fly. They are expert fliers.

A local neighbourhood squabble

I few months ago I got some nice action shots of a pair of crows chasing away another bird.

I like the "dramatic" shapes of the wings as they go about their business

I'm not sure what the scrap was about, but it is clear who the winners were.

Crow1: "Get out of here!"  Crow2: "Yeah, and stay out!"

Photographs of birds in flight can result in some strange images.

Cape Turtle Dove (Gewone Tortelduif - Streptopelia capicola) trying to do a cartwheel

Talking about doves, I enjoyed getting a visit at my Bushnell Trophy Cam from a Namaqua Dove. Even though these doves are indigenous and wide spread along the drier parts of the country, they always hold a strangely exotic look for me.

Namaqua Dove (Namakwaduifie - Oena capensis) paying the camera trap a visit

The Egyptian Goose is a fairly interesting goose, once you get to know it. Treated as sacred by the Egyptians, it was also semi-domesticated by them. From my experience I know these birds to be very successful breeders in urban areas and aggressively defend themselves and their little angle-biters from harm. I remember a pair of Egyptian Goose losing only about 2 of their more-or-less 11 chicks to the local feral cats at a small pond in Johannesburg, compared to other duck species at the same pond losing their entire brood, or all but a few, in the first few weeks.

Egyptian Goose (Kolgans - Alopochen aegyptiaca) strutting past the Cuddeback Attack

The photograph above provides a good size comparison between the goose and an antelope. The tip of the Steenbok's ears match up perfectly with the tip of the goose's head. Steenbok might only be 50 cm tall (at the shoulders), compared to the 68 cm (tail to head) of the goose, but the antelope ways in at 11 kg, and the goose only brings 2 kg to the fight.

Female Steenbok (Steenbok - Raphicerus campestris) tip-toeing past the remote trail camera


  1. Are those ticks on the back of the Steenbok?

  2. @JK: Nope, I'm pretty sure they are flies. The "normal" flies are very annoying at Koeberg, but there are also some blood-sucking-monsters-flies which I'll try to post a photo off soon ;)

  3. You've got some classy looking crows down there. Colored like our magpies. Nice shots.