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The Birding Blog

The Morning Interruption

The Morning Interruption

I was busy with the website this morning when the day was interrupted by a special visitor. One of our pairs of red-headed finches arrived for seed. The male was so outstanding on his perch in a higher part of the acacia that I had to drop everything, grab a camera and rush downstairs. I arrived just in time for the pair to hit the feeder, sharing it with weavers and sparrows.in six minutes they were gone, and the morning had brightened by an order of magnitude! Of seed eaters we are currently experiencing visits from red headed and cut...

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The Beauty of Iridescence

The Beauty of Iridescence

Pick up your favourite music CD-ROM. Now take it out into the sun and watch the scintillation and magnificent colour – a full spectrum displayed as a result of reflections and diffraction on the surface of the disk. The result is a prismatic effect. The reason is the tiny grooves on the CD-ROM; only 1,6 micron apart. This dimension is comparable to the wavelength of the incident visible light (the range is about 0,4 to 0,75 microns). Now put that music onto the player, relax, and read on! The incredible reality is that iridescence in bird feathers is created in...

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An Urban Surprise

An Urban Surprise

We returned home to urban Pretoria, and had a super surprise waiting for us on our garage door. A Blue-legged Sylvan Katydid (Zabalius ophthalmicus) had decided to “hide” right there. I imagine they are plentyful, but we rarely see them. This fellow was at least 80mm long, and one would think would be very easy to find, and a great treat for one of our African grey hornbills, but quite clearly in the right location, that camouflage will be incredibly effective. The great thing is that we are able to get these amazing natural wonders in our own back yards!...

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The Rights of Man (and the Wrongs of Man)

The Rights of Man (and the Wrongs of Man)

I am very happy that Lady Gaga won the Oscar. An immediate disclaimer – I am not in general a Gaga fan. Yet this time she created something very positive, a movie that I really enjoyed, and a display of immense latent talent. Sadly, it is not always so, and interspersed between the great moments one may find some crazy scenes and very tragic lows. She was (after all) the woman who was almost arrested outside St. Basil's Cathedral because the police believed her clothing choice marked her as a prostitute. That was the least of her transgressions, especially considering...

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The LBJ as a Social Animal

The LBJ as a Social Animal

It is always a point of some envy to observe some of the spectacular photographs being posted on Facebook by groups like the “Garden Route Birds”. They seem to have a spectacular mix of birds at each feeder (and secondly envy stems from the superior quality of their photographic skills). Even in our more humble circumstances, we get a super variety of garden birds, and often have three or more species at a single feeder. Just recently, researchers in the UK have been investigating the social nature of birds, including feeding habits. Despite a comparatively small selection of targeted species,...

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