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. . . .

sunbirds

Scarlet Splendour

Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis) males in Sacred Coral-Tree (Erythrina lysistemon). Spring in the South African Lowveld is rather different to that experienced in England and

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turacos

Great Blue

Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata). Kakamega, Kenya ‘Koruuk, koruuk, koruuk, koruuk’ . . . the calls sounded out from the forest canopy. Seven or eight

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vangas

Helmet Vanga

Helmet Vanga (Euryceros prevostii), Masoala, Madagascar I’ve never been to Madagascar, but here is one good reason to go. What an amazing beast of a

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owls

Winter Owl

Marsh Owl (Asio capensis) Kyalami, South Africa I’m on the N4 highway, moving at about 100 km per hour towards Johannesburg. Outside, the air is

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vultures

Vulture King

Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotus), Serengeti, Tanzania The Lappet-faced Vulture is the largest and most dominant of the African vultures and it is hard to think

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manakins

Pole Dancer

White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica “Snap!”  . . . .  “snap!”  . . . . “snap!”.  It sounded as though

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owls

Mob Squad

African Barred Owlet (Glaucidium capense) with Retz’s Helmetshrikes (Prionops retzii), Ngala, South Africa Shafts of late afternoon light were illuminating the autumn foliage of the

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ducks

Whistling Ducks

White-faced Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) The White-faced Whistling-Duck is fairly common over all of sub-Saharan Africa, absent only from the dry Karoo-Kalahari and the wet Congo

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broadbills

Feathered Clown

Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimis ochromalus), Kinabatangan, Sabah (North Borneo), Malaysia Walking quietly along the forest trail, my eyes are trained on the undergrowth. I’m hoping for

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Uncategorized

Green Twinspots

Green Twinspots (Mandingoa nitidula), female on left; male on right. Turaco Wood, Nelspruit, South Africa I pulled our bedroom curtains open and looked out onto

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drongos

Habitual Pirate

Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) with Rufous Woodpeckers (Celus brachyurus) The tropical downpour had eased off, as I made my way along a narrow forest

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kingfishers

Moon Moth Meal

Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris) with Lunar Moth (Argema mimosae) The bird hide at Lake Panic in the Kruger National Park is a terrific spot that

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vultures

Vulture Watch

White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis), Kruger National Park, South Africa I’d been in the hide for about four and a half hours, staring out at the

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orioles

Amani Ndegi

Green-headed Oriole (Oriolus chlorocephalus amani), Amani, East Usambaras, Tanzania Dense early morning mist was swirling around the old buildings at Amani, as I emerged from

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raptors

Tightrope Walker

Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus), Londolozi, South Africa Rocking gently from side-to-side, the Bateleur cut a unique shape as it glided above the dry woodland. It peered

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fairy-wrens

Sapphire Fairy

Splendid Fairy-Wren (Malurus splendens), Quaalup Homestead, Fitzgerald River NP, Australia It had been a surprisingly cold night, not far from freezing, and I was up

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Uncategorized

Gecko Grab

African Wood-Owl (Strix woodfordii) with Tropical House Gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia)                               

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pittas

Pitta Patter

Gurney’s Pitta (Pitta gurneyi)  male. Khao Nor Chuchi, Thailand We’d been in the rainforest since daybreak and were all completely soaked from head to toe.

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kingfishers

Bon Voyage

Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis) Pretoriuskop, South Africa Having arrived in South Africa during November, the Woodland Kingfishers are now preparing to return to their non-breeding

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finfoots

Silent Swimmer

African Finfoot (Podica senegalensis) male. Mbuluzi, Swaziland. I was observing dragonflies darting back and forth on the fringe of the Mlawula River when a male

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kingfishers

Blue Blur

Half-collared Kingfisher (Alcedo semitorquata) While crossing a low level bridge over the Elands River, south of Machadadorp on the eastern Highveld of South Africa, my

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