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 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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Wryneck illustration

Wryneck Repose

Early this morning, while leading a small group on a birding walk on the Uplands Campus, this Red-throated Wryneck flew into a tall Forest Big-leaf

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Gorgeous bushshrike illustration

Glorious Gorgeous

Gorgeous Bushshrike (Chlorophoneus viridis), Nelspruit, South Africa © Duncan Butchart, 2013. Birds that live in dense cover tend to have strong voices. They have to.

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Stellars jay illustration

Jabbering Jays

Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), Greer, Arizona, USA © Duncan Butchart, 2013. A couple of hours’ drive north-east of the Sonoran Desert around Phoenix and you

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Gila woodpecker illustration

Cactus Condo

Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) in Saguaro (Cereus giganteus). Phoenix, Arizona, USA © Duncan Butchart, 2013 The Sonoran Desert spans the border country between southwestern USA

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Long tailed widow bird illustration

Highveld Hula

Long-tailed Widow (Euplectes progne). Wakkerstroom, South Africa. Like black handkerchiefs being tossed about in a stiff breeze, the five birds moved randomly above the tall,

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Cape Longclaw illustration

Long Claw

Cape Longclaw (Macronyx capensis), Bongani Mabaso EcoPark, Sasolburg, South Africa. Until you see it from the front, the Cape Longclaw is a rather drab, cryptically-plumaged

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Pygmy takes Dwarf

African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta) with Cape Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus capensis), Schagen, South Africa. January 2013. Like all kingfishers, the African Pygmy lays its eggs

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