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. . . .

White-fronted plover illustration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Common waxbills illustration

Lipstick or Blush?

Common Waxbills (Estrilda astrild), Nelspruit, South Africa © Duncan Butchart, 2013. It’s about 07h30 and Josie the Labrador is walking ahead of me on the narrow

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Goliath heron illustration

Patient Plunger

Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath), Bongani Mabaso EcoPark, Sasolburg, South Africa © Duncan Butchart, 2013. I was photographing dragonflies beneath the large Cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) at the

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Black crake illustration

Stepping Out

Black Crake (Amaurornis flavirostra), Penryn College Campus, Nelspruit, South Africa As a family, and all around the world, crakes are among the most reclusive of

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Birds of Nelspruit

Birds Through A Window

Our garden avifauna in Nelspruit is pretty good to say the least. Since moving here in 1993, we’ve recorded 101 bird species at ‘Turaco Wood’

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