Saturday, 13 December 2014

SATURDAY CRITTERS - Birds at Lake Malawi

Over the last few days on my posts, Judith, Annika and myself have been putting our time in at restaurants while Daniel had diving lessons and dives.(Such is life!)  This is our last day here before we move further north in Malawi.  As we sat sipping our refreshments, I spied this beautiful bird in a nearby bush.
It is a Scarlet – chested Sunbird - Chalcomitra senegalensis.

These are the best shots I got of this bird so I will tell you a little about it.

It is 14 cm in length; 10–17 g in weight.

Male  (which this one is) easily identified by its mainly black body and scarlet breast; iridescent green crown and throat visible in good light. Lacks pectoral tufts; no eclipse plumage.

I never saw the female but she would be dark grey-olive above; throat and breast darker and more heavily mottled. pale supercilium starts above eye (not at base of bill). At close range, whitish edges to wrist feathers visible.

Voice: Loud, whistled ‘cheeup, chup, toop, toop, toop' song; ‘chak chak' alarm call however it never made any noise when I was watching it.

Although it is said to be a common resident, nomad and local migrant in woodland, savanna and suburban gardens, this is the only one I saw during my 6 weeks in Africa.  Some birds move out of arid areas in winter.

This is a lovely Little Bee-eater- Merops pusillus.

I did manage to see these birds on several more occasions so more photos of it to come in the future as we find it on this journey exploring Malawi.

It is 15–17 cm in height; 11–18 g in weight.
It is a tiny, green-backed bee-eater with a 
yellow throat, black collar and rufous underparts. 

In flight, shows conspicuous rufous flight feathers with dark trailing edge; underwings are entirely rufous. Tail square or slightly notched. Central tail green; rest of tail is rufous with black tip. Juvenile. has paler, buffy throat and lacks a black collar; breast tinged green.

Voice: ‘Zeet-zeet' or ‘chip-chip'. Status and biology: 
Common resident in savanna, woodland, forest edges and around wetlands.

Black-eyed Bulbul

This bird is very common and I saw it often.

African Mourning Dove - Streptopelia decipiens

It is 28–30 cm in length; 120–200 g in weight.

A fairly large, collared dove with a plain grey head; wide, red eye-ring contrasts with the pale yellow eye (distinguishing it from all other collared doves of the region). Smaller and paler than Red-eyed Dove, but larger than all other ‘collared' doves.

They have a white outer tail and males have a high, towering display flight.  Juvenile is browner, with wing coverts tipped buff.

Loud ‘cuck-ook-oooo'; grating trill ‘currrrrrrow'; throaty ‘aaooow' on landing.
Locally common resident of woodland, riverine forest, thickets and gardens in semi-arid savanna. 

Particularly common at rest camps in the cental Kruger National Park.

Red-headed Weaver - Anaplectes melanotis

Now if you follow my blog regularly, you will remember I showed you 3 of these weaver shots on last Wednesday post when we had just reached Montfort Cottage on our journey.  However, I found out a bit more about them from Jo at Memorable Meanders. (THANKS JO) 

 I had thought this bird was a female because it did not have its bright red head and breast of a male bird but I was wrong.  It is indeed a male and this is what Jo wrote:

This male still is just coming into breeding (he’s a fast worker) and male weavers always build the nests. The females come and inspect them, and almost always break quite a few; the males build another (and another!)  normally on a nearby branch.  When the female finally is happy with the abode, she flies down into the garden and finds teeny flowers. She “decorates” the inside of the nest which shows the male she is happy with his building skills. (Just like a woman!).

14 cm in length; 17–26 g in weight

A grey-backed weaver with yellow-edged wing feathers and a long, slender, orange-red bill; belly white. Head and breast of br. male scarlet; lemon-yellow in female and non-br. male.  
Locally common resident and nomad in woodland, savanna and gardens. 

Breeds in small or large colonies in trees; builds a large, roughly woven nest of fine twigs with a long entrance tube and you can see that in this shot.

This image above is taken from the Internet to show you the male in full breeding plumage and perhaps now you may understand why I thought my shots were a female but I should have read the small print in the text!! 
Another lesson learned!

I hope you enjoyed this post and those that are joining me on this trip, will have an early rise on Monday morning.  Be ready!

I am linking this post with SATURDAY CRITTERS.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some more birds from Malawi.

Thank you for visiting and  also to all those who leave comments.  


  1. A fascinating - and beautiful post. Thank you.

  2. The sub-bird does look a lots like our honeyeaters.

    The voice of the paradlote is a wonderful silver sound!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  3. Some bird stories.

    cheeup, chup, toop, toop, toop

  4. Hello Margaret, awesome collection of bird and photos.. The Sunbird and that curved bill is a cool bird. I would love to see all of these birds myself.. Great post. Thank you for linking up your critter post, have a happy weekend!

  5. Beautiful shots of birds. The color combination very lovely.

  6. Wonderful wildlife photography Margaret.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  7. So many colourful birds! The sunbird is handsome and I like the curve of his beak. Ans the bee eater is a cutie.

  8. Margaret, this is such a visual treat. The birds are SOOO beautiful. I am always intrigued by how birds build their nests. Thank you for that information. This post made me chuckle a few times. This is a great post. Thank you.

  9. Oh what stunning shots of the Scarlet-chested Sunbird. Congratulations! I think I only ever saw one and that was in Kenya. I also only ever saw the Red-headed weaver once, in Kenya as well, and only have a fuzzy photo of it! Great post all the way through. Margaret. Thanks for sharing, Jo

  10. oh my, they are all sooooo beautiful!! you got some really great close-up shots!!!!

  11. There are lots of colourful and exotic birds there Margaret.The Scarlet-chested Sunbird is just gorgeous. You make me want to go back to Africa to bird watch.

  12. Hello Margaret! I loved your bird photos today, especially that first one. The woven nest of fine twigs is amazing, clever birds!

  13. Wonderful photos of the scarlet chested sunbird!

  14. Margaret, your photos are beautiful.
    Plants and wonderful and exotic birds.
    Margaret ,Translete disappeared.

  15. Thanks for sharing these birds from another part f the world. One can look at images online,but to have a closer connection with the one who took them makes them more special.

  16. Those are some truly fantastic pics of the Scarlet-chested Sunbird.

  17. Wonderful pictures of the showy Sunbird, he is awesome with that coloring and the long bill. And the sweet little bee eater. I do not think I have ever seen a dove drinking! I know it's stupid, but seeing him drinking is very cool!!!

    1. HI Ginny All birds need water and that includes doves. Lake Malawi is a freshwater lake.

  18. Wowee, the Scarlet – chested Sunbird was a lovely bird, and the Bee-eater also is superb thing.

  19. That first bird is truly beautiful.

  20. My favorites are the Sunbird and Bee Eater, but the weavers are really cool, too. Love that she makes him get it right before decorating.

  21. I've never seen or heard of a Scarlet – chested Sunbird.

    He's a handsome fellow, seems to enjoy flowers!

  22. Lots of beautiful unusual birds. Loved seeing them all.

  23. Your trip to Africa to see so many exotic birds is mind-blowing, it's great that you take us along to see them. The Scarlet-chested Sunbird is so elegant posed with the flowers, and the weaver birds are colorful and fascinating. I also like the photo of the delicate little dove drinking fromt the surf, so cute!

  24. Dearest Margaret; OMG, what a GREAT post of beautiful and rare collection of birds♬♬♬ Your capture is great, enjoyed variety of them having acrobatic posture as well :-)

    Sending Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

  25. Fascinating birdlife you've seen Margaret! Oh to be having lunch and casually look up to see a sunbird!

    The dove waddling down to the water for a drink is very endearing!

  26. Margaret, this post is just full of stunning photos and fascinating information about birds I have never heard of. Many thanks for replying to my email. I will try to make sure to catch all of your posts that don't require joining communities. In this one, my favourite story was of the female Red-headed Weaver decorating the nest with flowers once she is happy with the male's construction work. The Gray-backed weaver's nest looks a bit like a bushtit nest to me.

    1. HI As a blogger ALL my POSTS are available to all on my blog, Google + an Facebook to see and comment. I have joined a few communities on Google + to show some of my single photographs with people who have the same interest in the community as myself and indeed those people can only comment. This should not affect my BLOG that I write every day

  27. HI As a blogger ALL my POSTS are available to all on my blog, Google + an Facebook to see and comment. I have joined a few communities on Google + to show some of my single photographs with people who have the same interest in the community as myself and indeed those people can only comment. This should not affect my BLOG that I write every day.

  28. Some very colourful birds there Margaret..............

  29. Love that Scarlet chested Sunbird - both RED birds and RED flowers work for me!! It must be so exciting to see a whole new world of different birds - the photos are stunning!

  30. Beautiful birds! That Scarlet-chested Sunbird is a stunner.