Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Shelly's Francolin: Photo Essay

Shelly's Francolin (Scleropila shelleyi) is an uncommon & difficult to see species of open woodland, with rocky outcrops present. It is often only recorded by its call I'll drink your beer; I'll drink your beer at dawn & dusk.

This species is found from Kenya southwards to southern Africa, with an easterly distribution in those countries, but nowhere is it common.

Shelly's Francolin

This species feeds by digging with its bill, 
often for long periods at a time.

It is unusual in that it is often found in mixed species
flocks, with other species of Francolin.
This is the first time I have seen them out in the open.

Beautifully patterned bird.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Songimvelo Game Reserve

I had booked four nights in the tented camp at Songimvelo, south of Barberton, on the Swaziland border. The office gave me directions, but they sent me to the wrong gate & I waited & waited but no-one showed up. I called them to find I had a drive of a further 62 kms to get to the other gate.

Me waiting at the wrong gate! Thanks a lot, office!
This is middle veld country: very scenic.
I did find a flock of 18 Southern Bald Ibis
on the way to the reserve!

 They had stopped using this gate a couple of weeks before. Thanks guys really helpful! I drove around & transferred to the Humala Lodge Tented Camp on the banks of the Komati River. It was a lovely drive in the afternoon sun & I saw four White Rhino in the far distance (the only ones of this trip)!
Humala Lodge Tented Camp.
Komati River

My tent!
And I had an electric blanket!
The bathroom was just grand! 
Complete with outdoor shower!
Mocking Chats were around the camp.
The camp is in a wonderful setting the the tents, (if one may call them that) were very comfortable indeed.

This reserve is 49,000 hectares amid the very scenic Barberton Mountains. It is a stunning landscape rich in biodiversity (over 1,500 species of plants)!  It holds a good variety of game species, but both Cape Buffalo & Elephant proved elusive for me!


A dark individual
A rather pale one.
Getting around the reserve, in an open topped vehicle
 is always a lot of fun!
Springbok Flats


Picnic on the Springbok Flats.



Zitting Cisticola

The next morning was up early & on a game drive with Tandy my guide & driver for my stay. She proved to be a keen birder & guide & we had a great few days together.

Tandy - hoping to be a 
good birder one day!

White breasted Cormorant nesting along the river.
African Darter
A young African Pied Wagtail


Red Hartebeest

Striped Pipit

Familiar Chat
Golden breasted Bunting