Never a Gull Moment

Duncan Butchart's brushes with birds

This blog is a collection of watercolour sketches (and occasionally photographs) that capture recent observations or recreate some of my past encounters with birds. I have watched birds on six continents, but have yet to have a memorable moment with a gull of any kind. . . .

Tanagers illustration
tanagers

Tantalizing Tanagers

Paradise Tanagers (Tangara chilensis), Lower Manu Road, Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, Peru. May, 2004. “To stand in bright morning sunshine before a tree laden with ripening berries

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Fiery-necked Nightjar illustration
Uncategorized

Moon Music

Fiery-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis, Vermont, S.W. Cape, South Africa. Of all birds, the nightjars are perhaps the least noticed. Being both nocturnal and cryptically plumaged,

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Owl illustration
owls

Ginger Giant

Like butter in a hot pan, the mokoro slides effortlessly out from the inlet onto the still, coppery-bronze surface of the Okavango floodplain. The prow

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Brown-throated wattle eye illustration
wattle-eyes

Ladies First

The Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyanea) is a delightful warbler-sized bird of closed-canopy forest. More often than not, its clear, descending whistle call – or grating alarm notes – are heard before the bird

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White-fronted plover illustration
plovers

Beach Runners

Like other plovers, the White-fronted Plover (Charadrius marginatus) does not build a nest but lays its camouflaged eggs directly into a shallow scrape – above the high-tide

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White-tailed shrike illustration
batises

Ground Batis

More often than not, the longer a quest takes, the more satisfying it is. I had seen the strange and monotypic Lanioturdus torquatus (aka ‘White-tailed Shrike’) once

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Alpine swift illustration
swifts

Alpine Airshow

Swifts are among the most overlooked of birds, as they tend to fly fairly high above the ground (typically much higher than swallows) and they

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Damara rock jumper illustration
warblers (Macrosphenidae)

Damara Rockrunner

I’d seen a Rockrunner before somewhere in Namibia, in the distance or in a blur – or both. I guess it might have been at

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Sunbird illustration
sunbirds

Sunbird Songpost

A rapid, scratchy whistle pierces the crisp morning air and I look outside to see him back on his favoured perch. This glorious male Malachite

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Resplendent Quetzal illustration
trogons

Resplendent Quetzal

There are many reasons to visit Costa Rica but seeing the largest member of the trogon family is high on the list. Sparkling in shades

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White-fronted plover illustration
plovers

Beach Patrol

Walk along any beach in Africa and – sooner or later – you’ll see a small, pale plover hurrying away from you. Typically, there will

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Trogon illustration
trogons

Kilmorna King

The temperate, evergreen forests of South Africa are home to a community of trees, plants, birds and other wildlife which occur in pockets from the

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Crowned eagle
eagles

Helmet Strike

African Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) being mobbed by White-crested Helmet-Shrikes (Prionops plumatus), Southern Cross Estate, Nelspruit, South Africa While driving through the savanna landscape of

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Golden-Tailed Woodpecker illustration
woodpeckers

Still Life (with woodpecker)

Deceased Golden-tailed Woodpecker (Campethera abingoni) – female – visited by Banded Blowfly (Chrysomya albiceps). October, 2013. As a birdwatcher, one inevitably comes across a dead

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Crimson rosella
parrots

Parrot Land

Twenty years ago to the day – 15 September 1993 – and I have left Africa for the first time (since arriving as a 13

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Heart spotted woodpeckers illustration
woodpeckers

Heart Spotted

Heart-spotted Woodpeckers (Hemicircus canente), Khao Yai NP, Thailand © Duncan Butchart, 2013 Thailand is home to 35 species of woodpecker (more than any other country

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Lemon dove sitting on the grass
doves

The Dove and the Parasol Tree

Lemon Dove (Aplopelia larvata), Turaco Wood, Nelspruit, South Africa  © Duncan Butchart, 2013. About 16 years ago, I planted a little Parasol Tree (Polyscias fulva)

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Grey hooded kingfisher illustration
kingfishers

Forever Young

Grey-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala). Kichwa Tembo, Maasai Mara, Kenya. © Duncan Butchart, 2012 Much has been written about why people watch birds. It all began

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Blue Korhaan illustration
bustards

Korhaan Count

Blue Korhaan (Eupodotis caerulescens), Klawerhoek road, Free State, South Africa © Duncan Butchart, 2013. It’s mid-winter, late afternoon and we’re heading north. The sun is

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Silverbird illustration
flycatchers

Kidepo Silver

Silverbird (Empidornis semipartitus), Kidepo National Park, Uganda © Duncan Butchart, 2013. It had been a somewhat frantic, whirlwind trip around Uganda – visiting eight national

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