Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cameroon - Sahel

As we move further north green turns slowly to yellow and the vegetation gets sparser and sparser. The creatures with feathers are no less colourful though.

In the first photo, you'll see one of the common raptors (the Africa savanna seems to be overflowing with raptors), a Grasshopper Buzzard, perched in an isolated shade tree and an almost treeless hill in the background – we really are a long way from the rainforest now!

Another common raptor is the Dark Chanting Goshawk – such a striking bird and the red bark of the acacia it is perched in is pretty dramatic too.

The Clapperton's Francolin is probably the easiest francolin (a genus of partridges) to see that i have ever encountered – often out in the open and in trees like this one.

The guineafowl are a well-known endemic African family, most of which have spotted plumage like this Helmeted Guineafowl.

The next photo is of the stunning Abyssinian Roller – a stunningly and dramatic bird though the shadow here hides the true intensity of the brilliant blue plumage. Rollers are a magnificent family of mostly open-country insect eating birds and most are some shade of blue or purple.

Next is one the many species of glossy starlings of Africa, the Chestnut-bellied Starling. African starlings can be magnificently coloured with strong iridescence – a tropical version of the starlings we are all used too (as Lew once said upon returning from Africa – we got the wrong starling!).

The Wood-hoopoes are — you guessed it — another endemic African family (surprise surprise!). They are dark-plumaged birds mostly of light woodland but they too have wonderfully iridescent plumage that glows in the right light. The Green Wood-hoopoe sometimes looks green, sometimes purple (a bit like my car) but always breathtaking!

Speaking of breathtaking, how about this Northern Carmine Bee-eater. I mentioned that bee-eaters are colourful and but the word colourful doesn't do these birds justice!

The lovely couple in the next photo are Namaqua Doves, one of the many species of African Doves, this species being smaller than most.

The bishops are a group of weavers with either bright red and black or bright yellow and black plumage. The Northern Red Bishop has been introduced in California and is better known to North American birders as Orange Bishop, though i think that most would agree that this bird is just NOT orange!

The Red-billed Quelea is also a weaver, and also quite colourful, although highly variable. The fly around the savanna is ENORMOUS flocks that can blacken the sky and some have argued that they are the most numerous bird species on earth.

The beautiful Spur-winged Lapwing is one of those really classy semi-desert shorebirds

Last but not least, why not a photo of a mammal: the Kongoni (perhaps better known as the Hartebeest and definitely g-not a gnu) walking through yellow grass.

Many of these photos can be seen in larger formats at:

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