Sierra Leone Birding - Edition 1

Location: Freetown

So I've picked up birding over the last eight months or so.  Not obsessively but I find it makes things more interesting and fun.  And it pulls you right to the present which is a discipline that I need.  There is too much beauty and creativity to see to just let it pass you by all the time.  So I thought I'd share the fun.  

Now that I'm settled in I've got the mental space to pay a little more attention.  Or, more accurately, remember what I've seen long enough to go home and look it up.  I'm forcing my driver, Navo, to help me along the way even though he has NO interest in birding.  (Not yet, at least ;-)  So here are some of the birds I've seen and been able to identify.

Photo Credit:  Irish Bird Images

Photo Credit: Irish Bird Images

Brown-Throated Sunbird

This little guy is only a little bit bigger than a humming bird.  I first noticed it because it's call was so loud out my window that it demanded my attention.  I was surprised to find such a tiny bird on the other end of that voice.  I guess they like my house because, as I was finding this photo this morning, the birds showed up again outside my window.  They're always in a pair.  They flit around and use my fence barbed wire as a jungle gym.  One was just handing upside down.  I've also noticed them on my walks in the neighborhood.  I find them so charming.  You can tell a sunbird by it's beak.  And this one seems to be one of the least colorful of the sunbirds.  

Photo Credit:  Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Red-Billed Firefinch

This little friend was in the yard (gravel/dirt) at the house next door when we turned in.  My driver, Navo, had already helped me confirm the sunbird that morning after looking at me like I was crazy when I brought out my Birds of West Africa guidebook.  I made him stop the truck and we watched it for a little while.  I like to believe he's gonna catch the birding fever.

I had house finches with some red in their feathers that would visit me at the Round Rock house.  Glad to see a counterpart here.  I'm a little partial to these red cuties.  

Photo Credit:  Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

African Pied Crow

These guys are all over Freetown.  You see them everywhere and they're something like the crows at home.  I like their white vests though.  And apparently they make excellent pets.

That's it for today.  There's a big brown bird around the beach that I have yet to ID.  And I think a hawk or eagle of some kind too.  It's difficult sometimes to figure it out when the guide book is thicker than my Bible.  No HEB here to sell a laminated "Common Birds of Sierra Leone" quick guide at checkout.  (That's how this birding thing started btw.  Impulse buy at the HEB.)  But we'll figure it out slowly.  There's a "breakfast and birding" monthly event at the Chimpanzee Rescue just outside of town.  They promise 30+ species on the morning walk.  And there are hundreds more to see beyond that in the so-called Upper Guinea Forests.  Glad I brought my binoculars. 

Katie Meek