Francolin and Flamingos

This week I have added two new categories to the bird gallery – Francolin and Flamingos

Francolin ( now some are called Spurfowl)

Spurfowl include Red-billed, Swainson, Red-necked, Cape, Natal and Hartlaub’s species and are bigger than Francolin such as the Crested and Cocqui species. Spurfowl and Francolin are ground birds but are good flyers when they need to. Francolin, Spurfowl and Guinea-fowl have distinct calls in the bush. when you hear their calls, they are very distinctive, you known you are back in the bush.

Natal Spurfowl on a sand road in Kruger Park. The sand road provided a perfect background. I think the colouring of this bird is beautiful.

Natal Spurfowl on a sand road in Kruger Park. The sand road provided a perfect background. I think the colouring of this bird is beautiful.

Spurfowl often have two spurs on one leg but Francolin  have only one and females usually have a spur on only one leg if at all. The tarsal spurs in the case of males are used for fighting, usually over territory.

Interestingly Hartlaub’s Spurfowl and Cocqui Francolin have minor or rudimentary spurs.

Crested Francolin

Crested Francolin

Although the spurs are quite evident in the male Crested Francolin above, they are even more pronounced and sharper in Spurfowls.

Spurfowls usually roost at night in trees or bushes to avoid nocturnal predators. Crested Francolin huddle together in groups in the canopy of trees at night for protection. I find it interesting that each species has very different behaviour and habits and in many cases different geographies.

Flamingos

Southern Africa has two types of Flamingo – the Greater and Lesser.

These strange-looking birds have some wonderfully interesting features. They look as peculiar on land as in the air.

Juvenile Greater Flamingo taking off. It has to canter in the shallows to pick up enough air speed under its wings.

Juvenile Greater Flamingo taking off. It has to canter in the shallows to pick up enough air speed under its wings.

Flamingos have long necks and long legs enabling them to feed in both shallow and reasonably deep water. The bill looks like a bend version of a hornbill’s peak but its feeding method is unique. The feeding takes place with the head facing down. The bill is structured for the bird to filter-feed. In Trevor Carnaby’s fascinating book  ‘Beat about the Bush – Birds’ he indicates that the Flamingo’s bill design enables it to filter feed just below the water surface without submerging its head.

Juvenile Greater Flamingos which must have been blown off course. It is unusual to see Flamingos along the Chobe river. Every now and then you are lucky enough to see Pelicans too.

Juvenile Greater Flamingos which must have been blown off course. It is unusual to see Flamingos along the Chobe river. Every now and then you are lucky enough to see Pelicans too.

I have still to get decent shots of Lesser Flamingos. Once I do I will add them to the Flamingo category. The Lesser Flamingo feeds on finer algae than the Greater one. The pink colour associated with adult Flamingos comes from minerals taken in during feeding which are metabolised to form carotenoid pigments in the feathers. The Lesser Flamingos tend to be pinker than Greater Flamingos.

I am off to Mashatu for five days so hopefully will come back with further additions to the galleries both bird, mammal, insect and scenes. Botswana’s authorities seem to be one of the few groups that take conservation seriously and they get my full support for that.

Looking forward to big sky, open spaces and blissful peace in the bush, sprinkled with unexpected and amazing wildlife sightings.

Have fun

Mike

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