Birding on Sibuya
Fleeting visitors to our waters were a group of elegant GREATER FLAMINGOES (Phoenicopterus roseus). While cruising up the Kariega Estuary with their guide, Chris, guests were delighted at the sight of these beautiful pale pink birds strolling through the shallows on their long graceful legs. These birds usually prefer more subtropical climes and are not often seen in this part of the Eastern Cape, so spotting them at such close range was a great treat. Observing them foraging for food was a fascinating experience! They submerge their head totally for at least 20 seconds and sweep their huge bill, upside down, from side to side in an effort to catch insects, worms and small crustacea... algae and vegetation are also part of their diet. They’re "filter feeders" and their tongue pumps up and down 5-6 times per second as they push the water out of their beak. The word "flamingo'' comes from the Latin word for "flame"... referring to their colour, which can vary a great deal from almost white, through various pinks, to rich orange and is due to carotenoid pigments (beta carotene) found in the food they consume. Hoping to see them again the next day was a disappointment as they had obviously moved on. They generally migrate during darkness and can travel approximately 600km per night if they have a good tailwind... 50-60 km per hour is no mean speed! If they migrate during the day, they generally fly very high so as to avoid eagles.
Nick and Justin were amazed when a SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL (Bubo africanus) flew lazily across their path in the middle of the day! Although these magnificent birds are not rare at SIBUYA, they are nocturnal, so this one was obviously disturbed from its roost and flew off into a nearby tree, where it raised its "ear tufts" and glared at them! If they hadn't seen it actually land, they would have had difficulty relocating it as its plumage provided it with almost perfect camouflage in the dappled light.
Flamingos - beautiful and elegant | Glaring Spotted Eagle-Owl