19 December 2014

Meeting The Francolins

Some scenery from Koeberg Nature Reserve

The Cape Francolin is by far the most common animal camera trapped at Koeberg. Its range is mostly restricted to the Fynbos zone at the South-Western tip of Africa, but inside that range it is fairly common. Other similar Francolin species fill the gap throughout the rest of Southern Africa.

Cape Francolin (Kaapse Fisant - Pternistis capensis) also known as the Cape Spurfowl

Amongst the torrential flood of  Cape Francolin photographs at Koeberg hides another Francolin species: The Grey-Winged Francolin.

Grey-Winged Francolin (Bergpatrys - Scleroptila africanus) at Koeberg

Both of these species are part of the Phasianidae (Pheasant) family and shares that honour with the infamous Chicken (one of humanities primary food sources).

For those wondering: The Helmeted Guineafowl is not grouped in the same family, although apparently the American Ornithologists' Union don't agree with this.

We often forget that, as with almost any form of science, describing and grouping organisms into species isn't an exact science.

A little bit too close to the camera for good focus

As is often the case with common names, the Grey-Winged Francolin is another victim of having an odd common name.

The "grey-winged" part seems to refer to the wing tips having a greyish look while the bird is in flight, which supposedly helps to tell it apart from the similar looking Red-Winged Francolin. There are much easier ways of telling the two species apart, but somebody decided to go with a feature only visible when in flight...

The Afrikaans name isn't much better either. At least they stayed away from the wing colour, but the "berg" part of the name indicates a mountain, and as you can clearly see Koeberg is not mountainous at all. The "berg" in the name refers to the fact that this species is most commonly found in mountain grassland 1800m above sea level. Unfortunately because of the common name one would not expect to find the species in coastal scrubland 1.8 m above sea level...

Keeping an eye on something to the left, outside the view of the camera trap

The above photograph was taken by an old Bushnell Trophy Cam. The Bushnell usually does OK with lighting a scene, but at this location it was placed in the shade of a tree and severely overexposed the backdrop which was being hammered by the summer sun. The bright and reflective sand / dead grass doesn't help much either.

The Cape Francolin photos (top and bottom) were taken by the Bridcam 2.0.

Is this that "Internet" thing they said I'm going to be on?


  1. Lovely fowl. I have fond memories of grey francolin in the lowlands of Nepal, and their brief perky call during the rut of the spotted deer. I used to watch and record game from a tree stand, and at the crack of down the francolins wee warming up.

    1. Hehehe, yes the Pheasants can by a noisy bunch :)