Month: May 2020

Tangled Up in Blue ~ Fish Eagles

The only thing I knew how to do Was to keep on keepin’ on Like a bird that flew Tangled up in blue. – Bob Dylan The scientific classification of the African fish eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer, gives a clue to its nature. Derived from the ancient Greek words hali, “at sea” and aetos, “eagle”  and vocifer, which refers to the vociferous call of this African eagle. It was named by the French naturalist François Levaillant, who called it ‘the vociferous one’ The mighty African fish eagle is a star of stage and screen, its film-star good looks giving it an air of superiority, its regal bearing leading us to fall head-over-heels. Its singing voice is known throughout the world, the haunting screech that lingers in both the endless African sky and, somehow, in our souls. Once heard it remains trapped in our memories, a lonely plaintive wail that resounds across Africa. Our shivering spine and erect hairs are a reminder of a long past time when we were the hunted. A primeval memory stirred by a …

Lessons in Starry Skies

Published here for Royal Chundu > “A still more glorious dawn awaits, not a sunrise but a galaxy-rise, a morning filled with 400 billion suns, the rising of the milky way.” ~ Carl Sagan There is nothing quite like gawking up at the dark African sky to put us in our place. It’s when we realise not only how little we are and how little we know, but that what we know is not true. The stars in our African sky appear to twinkle, but they don’t. They appear to form meaningful patterns, but they don’t. They look as though we could reach out and touch them. And yet… It’s all about light. Light is made up of individual particles called photons that journey in waves from the sun to our Earth in 8 minutes and 20 seconds. Light from our next closest star, Proxima Centauri would take roughly 4.22 light-years to reach Earth. What we see when we stare up at stars is what they were light-years ago. We are looking back in time, …

How Do You Build a Nest? One Strand at a Time…

Blog published for Royal Chundu here > Resting, Digesting & Weaver Nesting From around November to April, the European and North African migratory birds are back on the Zambezi and the river’s resident birds get all dressed up in their breeding plumage. During this time, it is nesting season and the weaver-birds get right to plying their trade. When it comes to feathering their own nests, the male southern masked weavers simply don’t. They’re adept at the basics: a secure fixing, a waterproof roof and an entrance that keeps intruders where they belong, but the fluffy bits are up to the Missus. Location, location, location Nests are often positioned on out-of-reach branch tips or water-surrounded reeds to ensure that raiders, in search of eggs or hatchlings, go unrewarded. Kivu Boomslang, African harrier hawks and vervet monkeys are among the trouble-makers and so the spot chosen by the male weaver will be one of the prerequisites that inform the females’ willingness to move in. Attracting the female requires a combination of finding the best available site, …