One of the big features of the camp is the large weaver bird communities which have set up house close to the waterhole. Oddly enough they come to the camp for water. With the cooking and washing-up facilities outside of the cabins, there’s always easily accessible water around. As soon as the sun comes up in the mornings, the weaver birds (and the odd Redheaded Finch) leave their communal nests, and come swarming across the veld to the camp. It always reminds me of a squadron of planes. They provide an excellent early warning system if there is a snake close by.
A bonus of having so many little birds close by, is that you can get to practice your “bird photography” in a fairly controlled setting – out in the open, with good light. Which is just what I did this time around. During the course of the day, small groups of birds come in to drink from the water bowl which the visitors to the camp keep topped up. It’s mostly quite a calm and dignified affair. They even share the water with some other small birds.
Things begin to change when the water is running dry. More birds arrive and all gather around. The Sociable Weavers forget their manners and start to push each other around. Sometimes landing on the backs of birds already perched on the water bowl.
At this stage of the action, the opportunities for creative bird photography get better. By adjusting the shutter speed, I was able to capture a couple of the birds in-flight, or while they hovered above the water bowl.
But nothing can convey the frenzied activity quite like a movie!
Only once the water bowl was completely dry, did the Sociable Weavers try some of the Tsamma melons which had been lying around the camp.
I have to point out that the Sociable Weavers are never in danger of suffering from dehydration. There is a genuine water hole about 50 meters from the camp. They just prefer the cleaner water and convenience of the camp water bowls!
These little birds are quite comical to watch. On this visit we also saw something we had not seen before. Field mice sharing the water bowl meant for the birds!
In the next photograph taken shortly after the one above, a weaver comes in for landing, and then spotting the field mouse (which was by then inside the bowl – see its tail sticking out), overshot its landing spot and made a very awkward and inelegant landing on the fence bar next to it. Known to most pilots as a “crash landing”!
In quieter times at the water bowl, the bird below decided to take a bath, and then sat grooming itself.
The Kalahari 2011 Series:
- An oasis in the desert
- Take your camera to the bathroom (and other Kalahari safari tips)
- The Long Road North – Southern Cape to Upington
- The Long Road North – Upington
- Showing your kid where its food comes from
- Fierce Creatures
- Gemsbok Graphics
- The Long Road North – Upington to Twee Rivieren and beyond
- Campfire story: The Last Outpost
- Slip-Slap-Slop-Slide and other Bush Beauty Tips
- Hey Mom . . . wait for me!
- A tough customer
- Frenzy at the “water hole” – includes the movie (this post)
- The Camp Cat