Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Weak Substitute

I can't go fishing. I don't have a friend with a boat or a rifle, and that seems to be what it takes around here. Let's go ahead and add a 'yet' to that previous sentence, because things can change pretty quickly.

In the vicarious meantime, I've developed a new activity that offers *some* of the same feelings that fly angling brings. At best, it is a weak substitute.

I'm talking about birding.

Scanning the savannah, or the skies, or the riparian zone, or the trees for birds is pretty much exactly the same as scanning the shallow flats for blue-grey-green shadows on a favorable vector. Instead of muscle memory taking over and dropping a fly in the zone at distance, you reach for a book. Granted, it's a bit less exciting, but it satisfies that deep down fold in the brain that evolved to alert us to potential food or danger. It scratches that itch, for sure.

It adds a new layer onto the outdoor experience. Not just birds, but all sorts of small things are noted. Knowing what they are and a bit about their habits is very satisfying. It forces your way of seeing to evolve. It sharpens attention to detail.

More importantly, it offers an infinite reserve of things to learn. In that regard, it is profoundly humbling. Just like fly fishing.

There are more than 1100 recorded species in this corner of East Africa, and a relatively huge number of devoted scientists, aficionados and amateurs who compile their sightings in an attempt to map their ranges and migrations for the first time in history. Being a small part of that is rewarding in and of itself.

After 6 months, I'm at 156 species.


African Fish-eagle


 Broad-billed Roller

Blue-cheeked Bee Eater 

Egyptian Geese and goslings 

Common Pratincole 

Eurasian Hobby - wintering in Tanzania after crossing the sahara 

European Bee Eater - wintering in Tanz. 

European Roller - wintering in Tanz. 

Sedge Warbler 

Red-billed Firefinch 

Grey Kestrel 

Lilac-breasted Roller 

Knob-billed Duck 

Lilac-breasted Roller 

Martial Eagle - this thing takes out impalas. 

Marabou Stork - A 5ft tall carrion eater. Know your tying materials. 

 Northern Carmine Bee-eater - this bird was catching dragonflies in mid-air over a small pool.


Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu 

African Paradise Flycatchers - nesting over our campsite. 

Superb Starling

2 comments:

e.m.b. said...

I am a bird-geek. And wow...these are stunning! Thank you for posting them.

Brookfield Angler said...

Unlike Erin, I am NOT much of a bird geek but those are still some awesome pictures!