Monday, October 4, 2021

The amazing and colorful birds of Africa

I have been back from Africa for more than 2 weeks now and have not really blogged much. I have spent the last 19 days trying to play catch up after being gone for the last 2 1/2 months. And of course the Canon R3 was officially announced, so I have had a lot of people asking questions about my use of the new camera at the Olympics. I am back at it, and wanted to share something different with you all. 

When people think of photographing wildlife in Africa, they generally think of the big animals. They think about capturing photos of the elephant, the big cats, rhinos and so much more. And sure, I am not that different, but when you go to Africa you need to see the beauty in the smaller things too. In that spirit, todays blog post is all about the amazing birds that you find in Africa. Because, unlike the birds near my house, the birds in Africa are more colorful and more dynamic and worthy of photographing for sure.

Here are many of my favorite bird photos from the trip mostly in chronological order.

One of my favorite birds in Tanzania is the Superb Starling. The colors of this bird always amaze me.  And they are all over the place, so getting a good photo of this starling is really easy.

I swear that this one was giving me the "evil eye"!

Another favorite bird in Tanzania is the Lilac Breasted Roller, and you can see how it earned it's name. 

Here is a photo of the LBR in flight.

It is not uncommon to see the Ox Peckers freeloading off of larger animals...

...and they were not the only birds hopping on for a ride. We saw this bird hanging out on the back of this hippo which was eating along the shoreline of the Chobe River in Botswana.

The hippos actually made for good landing pads for many species of birds.

It is quite common to see raptors throughout the continent.

I took this photo mainly because of the environment behind the bird...

We saw this King Fisher hovering over a small river, looking for its next meal. All of us shooting with the new Canon R5 and R6 were amazed at how well the subject tracking followed the bird perfectly. We were getting shots that normally would be almost impossible to capture.

This is a Hornbill but they call this bird the flying chili pepper.

And this type of hornbill is nicknamed the flying banana.

The colors are not just in the feathers, and are commonly found in the beaks as well.

Even the vultures have colorful faces.

Like I said before, the ability of the Canon R5 to track birds in flight was nothing short of astounding. My take rate was at least 10 times better than with any of Canon's DSLR cameras. 

There is something majestic about watching these large birds in flight.

I really liked the way that this bird matched the coloring and patterns in the wood.

They call this bird the "Jesus bird" since, with its really large feet, it appears to walk on water.

More great colors....

...and interesting patterns.

This is another favorite bird of mine. This is one of the Bee Eaters that you find in central and southern Africa.

Whenever we saw Fish Eagles near the shoreline of the Chobe River, we would pull the boat close to the shore and wait for the eagle to take flight.

If other birds were taking off in the area, we capture photos of them as well.

This bird is a skimmer, aptly named since it would fly close to the water and skim for small fish.

You can see the trail behind the bird as its beak skimmed the water.

I caught this skimmer taking off from the shallow water. I really liked this photo because of the water coming off the feet, but also the curve of the sand and the shadow which is cast behind the bird.

I was talking to one of the other photo guides on another boat as we watched the skimmers in action.  We challenged each other to capture a clean motion pan of these birds skimming at 1/40th sec. It took a while but I got one! 

More take-offs.

This spoon bill was walking on the shoreline in front of our boat as we took photos. It almost looks like it is watching us as closely as we were watching it.

Here is another species of Bee Eater. I don't remember ever seeing this color bee eater before, but loved it!

Check out the colors on this King Fisher. Simply awesome.

We saw this bird hanging out in a tree and I decided to teach the group how to shoot and zoom at the same time to get a cool effect like this.

Look, there is snow on the rocks in Botswana. Oh wait, that is not snow. :)

At one point, we pulled our boat close to the shore because we saw a fish eagle on a rock. As we pulled closer, the eagle took off and we saw that it had a large catfish in it's tallons.

I took numerous photos as it flew off with it's catch. I really liked this one with the eagle's eye showing through it's wing.

On the opposite shore, we spotted the eagle's partner. We crossed the river and captured images of that eagle flying off. It was facing directly into the diffused light which lit the bird beautifully.

We saw this bird which was showing off its fresh catch. It stood in this position for a long time, giving us all ample time to grab a photo with the fish in full view. The look on the face of the ill-fated fish is priceless.

We even got some nice profile shots.

It was our last day on the Chobe River when we came across these two bee eaters hanging out together. 

We would typically be on the water until sunset. And on our final evening, we saw this bird drying its wings in the last bit of daylight.

And then the sun set and we were back to the lodge to download all our photos and to enjoy an amazing meal. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing these photos and seeing some of the smaller, but no less magnificent wildlife from Africa.  I ca assure you that all of us had a great time capturing the images.


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JCusack said...

What an amazing grouping of a gorgeous, beautiful birds that truly get over looked when on safari . Couldn’t pick a favorite if I tried . Love the story ones , which is most . It’s like you course see the photos and feel their movement and action . Thank you for putting such a great amazing album together to share . Pure beauty

jnyanjui said...

Great shots Jeff.

I have found that nothing hones my photography skills more than photographing birds. They move fast and mostly in the low light of early morning or late afternoon.

I live in Kenya and practice my photography this way. The added bonus is the variety and beauty of the birds.