AFRICA CALLS ! See stunning wildlife and spectacular finches

22 Jul
Cheetah in the Kruger National Park. Photo Kevin Solomon. RFCG 2013 EcoTour guest

Cheetah in the Kruger National Park. Photo Kevin Solomon. RFCG EcoTour guest

Join the 2014 RFCG EcoTour to Africa. Following last year’s highly acclaimed tour it’s been decided to organise another tour this year following the same itinerary. The 23 day EcoTour to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe  will depart from Sydney 21 November and return 14 December*. The tour has been designed to not only see a lot of Africa’s  impressive wildlife, but to take maximum advantage to see many of Africa’s wonderful weavers, whydahs and widow finches in their summer nuptial plumage ( Some of the magnificent finches that our guests can expect to see are: Long-tailed Widowbirds, Red-collared Widowbirds, White-winged Widowbirds, Golden Bishops, Red Bishops, Pin-tailed Whydahs, Paradise Whydahs, Shaft-tailed whydahs, Steel-blue widow finches, Black widow finches, Village indigo birds, Dusky indigo birds, Masked Weavers, Thick-billed weavers, Red-headed weavers, Red-billed buffalo weavers, White-browed sparrow weavers and with a bit of luck the spectacular Broad-tailed Paradise whydah plus many of their host species such as Melbas, Violet-Eared waxbills,  Scaly feathered finches, Common waxbills, Black-faced waxbills plus many, many more )

We will be looking for Red Billed fire finches and Blue waxbills next to the mighty Victora falls in Zimbabwe. Phote Eelco Meyjes

We will be looking for Red Billed fire finches and Blue waxbills next to the mighty Victoria falls in Zimbabwe. Phote Eelco Meyjes

The trip will include a 6 day stay in the world famous Kruger National Park at different camp sites. From there the tour will move onto Botswana to experience the majestic and silent beauty of the Okavango Delta. A 3 day stop over near the Chobe river game reserve, in Northern Botswana, has also been included not to mention a visit to the mighty and thunderous Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, where we should see red billed fire finches and blue waxbills in the Victoria Falls rain forest nature reserve. All along the route, between these three countries, the group will stop at various key locations to see many of Africa’s most beautiful finches.

Safari tent accommodation example at Nata Lodge. Botswana. Photo Eelco Meyjes

Safari tent accommodation example at Nata Lodge. Botswana. Photo Eelco Meyjes

Accommodation will be comfortable and every effort will be made to ensure that this tailor made finch safari is a truly once in a lifetime experience for all our guests. The tour will once again be hosted by Russell Kingston and Eelco Meyjes. Space is limited to a maximum of 8 guests only. This is to ensure best viewing opportunities. All guests will be required to sign an indemnity prior to the tour commencing

For more information on this exciting 2014 summer RFCG EcoTour to Africa contact RussellKingston indruss@bigpond.com or Eelco Meyjes editor@avitalk.co.za.

* Guests can come from any country, but everyone will need to be in Johannesburg on Saturday 22 November at the commence of the tour.

All profits are donated to the Rare Finch Conservation Group which is a registered non-profit organisation.This specialist conservation group is totally dependant on donors and sponsors to carry out its conservation work on finches in the wild.

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Painted Finches. Col Roberts again shares his magic !

17 Jul
A painted finch. Photo Col Roberts

A painted finch. Photo Col Roberts

A painted finch having a good stretch ! Photo Col Roberts

A painted finch having a good old stretch ! Photo Col Roberts

Painted finches are quite often seen on rocky outcrops in western and central Australia. Photo Col Roberts

Painted finches are quite often seen on rocky outcrops in western and central Australia. Photo Col Roberts

A pair of painted finches. Cock bird left. Hen bird right. Photo Col Roberts

A pair of painted finches. Cock bird left. Hen bird right. Photo Col Roberts

Painted finches often enjoy rocky areas that are covered in Spinifix grass. Photo Col Roberts

Painted finches often enjoy rocky areas that are covered in Spinifix grass. Photo Col Roberts

 Col Roberts, from Perth in Western Australia, has once again shared his incredible photography with our RFCG supporters and followers. Always looking for the perfect finch pic Col never fails to disappoint us .

The Master at Work. Col Roberts from Perth Australia Photo Eelco Meyjes

Painted Finches, in essence, are desert birds that can be found in the Western and Central parts of Australia. This is what the authoritative book on Grassfinches of Australia by Joseph M Forshaw and Mark Shephard says about the species. ” Of the Australian grassfinches, the painted finch is the species most closely associated with the arid interior, where it typically frequents rocky outcrops with a groundcover of Spinifix in the vicinity of  surface water, preferably permanent rockpools at the bottom of steep gorges in stony ranges…Painted finches are normally encountered in pairs or small flocks, but are rarely seen singly or occasionally in large flocks “.

Col Roberts is an honorary member of the Rare Finch Conservation Group and we thank him for supporting the group with his brilliant work. Visit our 14 June 2014 and 27 Feb 2014 blogs for more examples of Col’s stunning finch photography

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered in South Africa as a non-profit organisation and is dependant on donors and sponsors to carry out its conservation work on finches in the wild. For more info visit http://www.rarefinch.org or write to the secretary at editor@avitalk.co.za

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RFCG Receives an exciting new photo of the elusive and threatened Shelley’s crimsonwing

7 Jul
The world's second known photograph of a  Shelley's crimsonwing cockbird. Photo Colin Jackson

The world’s second known photograph of a Shelley’s crimsonwing. Photo Colin Jackson

Last week Colin Jackson made contact with the Rare Finch Conservation Group and informed us that he had photographed the Shelley’s crimsonwing, whilst on an expedition in the Mt Tsiaberimu area, in the DRC, in 1997. We informed him that the only other known photograph of the species in the world, taken in 2008 and sourced from the website http://www.gorilla.org, was also photographed in the Mt Tsiaberimu area in the Virunga National Park, DRC.

Colin Jackson who photographed the Shelley's crimsonwing in 1997 whilst on an expedition in the DRC

Colin Jackson who photographed the Shelley’s crimsonwing in 1997 whilst on an expedition in the DRC

This is what Colin Jackson shared with us ” Very interesting to hear of the story behind the other image of the crimsonwing – that it also came from Tsiaberimu…. We caught ours in the heart of the forest not far from where we first camped in nets going through the edge of bamboo and bordering an open area that included some swampy vegetation. The expedition was one of National Museums of Kenya staff, funded by the Berggorilla and Regenwald Direkthilfte and the Atlanta Zoo. A key objective of the expedition was to survey the surviving gorillas and Titus Imboma (whose hand is holding the bird in the image) and myself were taken along to do bird surveys.”

Ever since 2008 this has been the only known photograph of a Shelley's crimsonwing. Photo courtesy www.gorilla.org

Ever since 2008 this was the only known photograph of a Shelley’s crimsonwing in the world. Photo courtesy http://www.gorilla.org

The RFCG would like to sincerely thank Colin Jackson for sharing this exciting new photograph of the species, with the rest of the world.

This is what the authoritative Birds of Africa Volumn 7 by C Hillary Fry et al tells us about the species. General Habits : Inhabits closed moist understory in montane forest, low secondary growth at forest edge, clearngs with Sericostachys, mixed bamboo thickets; Sometimes in more open areas by streams. Singly or in pairs : forages on ground for seeds; associates with other crimsonwings ( Unconfirmed reports given to the RFCG is that they are normally Dusky crimsonwings : Senegali de Jackson ). Shy elusive, seldom seen ; when flushed flies rapidly for short distance and dives for cover, and does not reappear.

These exact same observations have also been shared with the RFCG by bird guides working in the Ruhija area in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. The breeding habits of the species are unknown. The IUCN Red data list classifies the species as Vulnerable ( A high risk of extinction )

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered in South Africa as a non-profit organisation and is dependant on donors and sponsors to carry out its conservation work on finches in the wild. For more info visit http://www.rarefinch.org or write to the secretary at editor@avitalk.co.za

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A classroom for Benson’s community

25 Jun
The late Benson Bamutura. Photo Eelco Meyjes

The late Benson Bamutura. Photo Eelco Meyjes

Benson Bamutura, who was one of the very few people in the world to see the elusive Shelley’s crimsonwing finch,  sadly passed away 26 January 2014.

In memory of this great bird man it is planned to build a classroom in his home village in Uganda. Please read the link below. We would like to ask all our Rare Finch Conservation Group friends and supporters to consider making a donation, no matter how big or small, to this very worthwhile initiative by the Michigan State university in the US.

Without Benson we would not have been able to complete our first field study in Uganda on the threatened Shelley’s crimson-wing finch, nor would we have been able to conduct our very first RFCG fund raising EcoTour

 

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Share the magic world of finch foto’s. An exciting new world for finch enthusiasts

21 Jun
A pin-tailed whydah. Photo Kevin Solomon

A pin-tailed whydah. Photo Kevin Solomon

 

A Red-headed weaver. Photo Sheena deJager Miles

A Red-headed weaver. Photo Sheena de Jager Miles

 

A close up pic of a red-headed weavers nest taken in the Kruger National Park. Photo Lindsay Nutley

A close up pic of a red-headed weavers nest photographed in the Kruger National Park. Photo Lindsay Nutley

 

 

A blue waxbill cock bird. Photo Kevin Solomon

A blue waxbill cock bird. Photo Kevin Solomon

A steel blue widow finch.Cock bird. Photo Russell Kingston

A steel-blue widowfinch. Cock bird. Photo Russell Kingston

As of this month we kick start ” Share the magic world of finch foto’s ” . It’s very simple. All that we ask for is that finch enthusiasts from all over the world send their best finch pics to the secretary of the Rare Finch Conservation Group ( RFCG )  editor@avitalk.co.za. Once a month a selection of the best pics will be posted onto our blog as well as onto our new facebook page Www.facebook.com/rarefinch  The idea is to share the beauty of the more than 600 finch species in the world.  The rules are very simple. 1 ) Only finches photographed in the wild will be shown 2 ) Visuals of mutations or hybrids will not be accepted unless it is under exceptional circumstances of finches photographed from the wild. 3 ) Every pic needs to be submitted with the photographers name and the identity of the finch species. The secretary of the RFCG reserves the right to change the description of the species submitted  4 ) The finch species submitted need not be listed by the IUCN as threatened or near threatened.5 ) It’s agreed that every photograph submitted to the RFCG maybe used by the Rare Finch Conservation Group unconditionally for promotional purposes.

RFCG EcoTour 2013 group pic. L to R standing Kevin Solmon,Col Roberts,Mick Grixti,Rose Grixti,Sheena deJager Miles,Eelco Meyjes,front row Lindsay Nutley, Mick     , Russell Kingston

RFCG EcoTour 2013 group pic. L to R standing Kevin Solomon, Col Roberts, Mick Grixti, Rose Grixti, Sheena de Jager Miles, Eelco Meyjes, front row L to R Lindsay Nutley, Mick Markovski , Russell Kingston

The pic on the left is of the 2013 RFCG EcoTour group to Africa. Each member of the group kindly donated their best pics taken on tour to the RFCG to help raise the international awareness of finches in general and the conservation work required to help save threatened finches in the wild.

The RFCG is currently planning another 23 day EcoTour to the famous Kruger National Park, Botswana : which includes the Okavango Swamp and to Zimbabwe’s mighty Vic Falls for the end of this year 2014. For more information  contact Russell Kingston at indruss@bigpond.com or Eelco Meyjes at editor@avitalk.co.za

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered in South Africa as a non-profit organisation and is dependant on donors and sponsors to carry out its conservation work on finches in the wild. For more info visit http://www.rarefinch.org or write to the secretary at editor@avitalk.co.za

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