Tag Archives: Rockjumper

Orange Weaver near nest on Sanaga River

KönigsweberThe sun was already up and shining. The mighty Sanaga River laid in beautiful light in front of us. A small wooden boat was hired for this morning to pick us up at a sand pit at the shore of the river for a morning trip on the water. When we arrived, nobody was there. But some more minutes later we saw two guys heavily paddling a small canoe down river. We embarked the canoe only minutes later and started the trip. Large sandbanks in the middle of the river were our first stop. Eventually we made our way down the river to some more matured sandbank, which has become well vegetated islands. The banks of these islands were quite steep and the water in front so deep that the driver of the canoe could not fix the boat with his long wooden stick. Maneuvering the boat with the paddles against the currents, I saw a typical weaver nest hanging less than half a meter above water level on reed. I tried to tape the Orange Weaver (Ploceus aurantius) with its call. Only a fraction of time, a small yellow bird with an orange wash on the head and breast appeared: the male of the Orange Weaver. What a bird!

The Orange Weaver was one of the highlights on a Rockjumper trip in April 2017. But at that time we saw 3 birds on our final birding Continue reading Orange Weaver near nest on Sanaga River

Mount Cameroon: a heaven for little birds

FarncistensängerArriving from the Northern Extension of the Rockjumper Rainforest & Rockfowl 2017 – tour we were more than tired as we had arrived on a late flight from Garoua via Yaoundé. To postpone the breakfast to get some sleep was not advisable. The birds do not sleep during the day. And: the morning hours are the most productive. We had a very good breakfast and shortly later our Rainforest & Rockfowl started off with a visit to Mount Cameroon. We were delighted to have a beautiful morning, after heavy rain the previous night, and there was an excited buzz in the air for the anticipation of great birding which lay ahead. We were not to be disappointed and the forest was alive and active throughout the day but especially in the morning.

For 10 minutes we entered the vans to get the first kilometers uphill done before we saw the fields below Mount Cameroon in front of us. We then headed up the mountain on muddy – and in cases – some slippery trails. In comparison to other trails this route is not as steep and narrow. Fortunately the climate is more comfortable here than in the lowlands.

Right in the beginning we had several brown-headed beauties, which show well after a while. Behavior and my anticipation looked for Grey Apalis. But the chestnut-browns color of the head did not seem to fit the description of a grey-brown head. The „Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa“ (Helm Field Guides) von Nik Borrow and Continue reading Mount Cameroon: a heaven for little birds

Buntkopf-Felshüpfer – ein Picathartes – in Kamerun

Buntkopf-FelshüpferDer Nachmittag ist ganz dem Buntkopf-Felshüpfer (Picathartes oreas), der im englischen Grey-necked Rockfowl oder Grey-necked Picathartes genannt wird, gewidmet. Zuerst war die Frage der richtigen Ausrüstung zu klären. Es war klar, daß ich das Canon EF 400 / 1:4,0 L Do IS USM mitnehmen wollte. Dazu dann die Canon EOS-1D X, die Gewähr für rauscharme, hochauflösende Bilder bei akzeptablen Belichtungszeiten in den zu erwarteten dämmrigen Verhältnissen der Cave bieten sollte. Die Canon EOS 5DS R blieb am Camp, da ihre ASA-Empfindlichkeiten nur eingeschränkt zu nutzen sind. Zusätzlich kam erstmals auf diesem Trip das Canon EF 85mm 1:1,8 USM Tele Objektiv zum Zug. Das Canon 85 mm – f/1.8 USM sollte als ein vielseitiges, kleines Tele die notwendige Lichtstärke – im Fall des Falles – mitbringen. Dazu noch ein leichtes Stativ von Gitzo – das ich besser im Zelt gelassen hätte.

Dann Aufbruch: Wir erwarteten eine mühsame Wanderung für Stunden durch tropische Hitze in diesem Tieflandregenwald-Nationalpark. Manche Leute sagen, dass sich der Vogel erst nach Continue reading Buntkopf-Felshüpfer – ein Picathartes – in Kamerun

Grey-necked Picathartes in Campo-Ma’an National Park/ Cameroon

Buntkopf-FelshüpferNow the afternoon was for the Grey-necked Picathartes or Grey-necked Rockfowl (Picathartes oreas). We expected an arduous trip of hiking for hours through tropical heat in the National Park. Some people say, that the bird only appears after rain storms. If this would be true, we would be unlucky, as on our first day in the park’s interior, it did not rain. We had only one more day in the park – but rain seemed likely enough for the next days. I cannot confirm, that the particiapants of the trip showed sights of anxiety and gloom. But never you know. On trips prior to ours the bird had not been seen.

But already with the hike we were lucky. We had a short, pleasant and fairly easy hike with lots of good birds to at “cave” formed of several enormous boulders where the birds build mud nests on the sides of the rocks during the breeding season. We hoped that no rain was needed as our guides told us, that this species checks on its breeding site every afternoon or during dusk. We arrived early in the hope that the birds would appear in some natural light. Maybe earlier than normally to expect. One of the local guides tried to show as the nest a bit too much. We almost shouted through the forest to keep him from removing the nest. The Continue reading Grey-necked Picathartes in Campo-Ma’an National Park/ Cameroon

Canon 5DSR in Afrika: die richtige Kamera für Schnappschüsse?

GelbbauchhyliotaIn einigen Foren immer noch das Pixelmonster genannt, hat die Canon 5DSR mit seinem 50 Megapixel-Chip vielleicht nicht die Verbreitung gefunden, die sich der Hersteller vor 3 Jahren erhofft hatte. Die Frage ist, ob sie denn gut genug ist, um ein paar schnelle Belegaufnahmen zu machen, wenn im Grunde der Sinn und Zweck einer Vogelexkursion darin besteht, möglichst viele Vögel in einem gedrängten Zeitrahmen zu sehen. Die Länge der Birdlist steht da im Vordergrund.

So geschehen in einer geführten Tour mit Rockjumper, die in 3 Wochen in Kamerun immerhin 335 Vogelarten verzeichnen konnte. Um die Herausforderung kurz zu beschreiben, lohnt es sich, das übliche Verfahren beim Birdwatching auf dieser Reise kurz zu beschreiben. Der Guide, oder auch einer der Teilnehmer, rief „…da ist der XXX-Vogel…“ dann wurde der Vogel lokalisiert mit einem Laserpointer („… look at the right of the green spot,…,..look behind, in the dark vines…“), dann wurde das Spektiv ausgerichtet. Erstaunlich häufig war dann auch tatsächlich ein Vogel im Okular zu entdecken. Bemerkenswert, da sich viele Vögel hoch im Kronendach aufhalten. Der erste Blick der Teilnehmer ging meistens durch das eigene Fernglas. Nicht immer war der Blick von Erfolg gekrönt. Dann ein Blick durch das Spektiv und der Versuch, den Vogel dann doch mit Hilfe von charakteristischen Ast- oder Blattformationen ins Fernglas und / oder in den Sucher der Kamera zu bekommen.Gelbbauchhyliota

Da sich die meisten Vögel im Kronendach auf Nahrungssuche befinden, kommt es auf genaue Lokalisation genauso wie auf Schnelligkeit an. Ein heller Sucher, ein flottes Handling sowie eine ausreichende Lichtstärke des Objektivs sind da ein echtes Muss. Continue reading Canon 5DSR in Afrika: die richtige Kamera für Schnappschüsse?

Cameroon: bird photography on a guided birding tour

KrokodilwächterThe Birdlife of West Africa was on the schedule for April 2017. I decided for the Africa specialist Rockjumper. Cameroon is a vast and diverse land; lying just north of the equator. This bird-rich nation forms the inter-grade between West and Central Africa and harbors a wide range of habitats, ranging from steamy lowland rainforest to Sahelian semi-desert.

By combining the Rainforest & Rockfowl tour with the Northern Extension tour of the Africa-specialist Rockjumper I was confident to book a birding tour that visits all of the area’s core ecological zones and provides a thorough coverage of this West Africa birding destination in three-weeks. Due to its wealth of habitats, over 900 bird species have been recorded, and comparable tours had been successful with roughly 550 species. This is the one side. But how about bird photography – my 2nd leg of interest.

Here the guidelines provided by Rockjumper are clear: NOTE FOR Continue reading Cameroon: bird photography on a guided birding tour