If you are a birder, you know how crazy a cuckoo can make you. Calling from up in the trees and no matter how long you search that tree, all you get for your efforts are a sore neck and cross-eyes.
Well, I had one of those experiences in November when I was hosting an event at a lodge in Karatara.
Having spent a considerable amount of time in the Lowveld bush I was used to hearing the Piet-My-Vrou (Red-chested cuckoo) and black cuckoos calling continuously, so even though I haven't had an opportunity to photograph these guys yet, unless they are calling close by, I don't react. So here I was out in the gardens planning my seating for the wine tasting later that day and suddenly I hear "Pretty Geooorgie" on repeat. I think my friend thought I went mad. I dropped the table I was carry and dashed off in the direction of the call. Having pinpointed the tree he was in I started my search. After about 20 minutes, as mentioned above, all I had was a sore neck. So I gave up, as I had an event to get ready for.
The next morning, I took a guest out for the forest birding experience and again we heard the distant call of the Piet-My-Vrou and Black Cuckoo. Always nice to hear and talk about, we chatted a bit about the behavior of these birds and then off we went, hoping to hear "Pretty Geooorgie" again. But alas it was not meant to be.
True to Murphy's Law, that afternoon, when I had no birding guests, I was sitting at the lodge, getting ready for the evening's forest walk when "Pretty Geooorgie" started again from the same area.
Grabbing my binoculars and camera I set off again on the hunt for the elusive African Emerald Cuckoo.
It didn't take me long to find the tree he was in, but I had to spend a considerable amount of time scanning the branches until..... BAM! there he was.
I was so over the moon, I almost did a jig, I didn't, but almost. Getting my camera ready I snapped a few pics as proof, in case I was imagining it. After a couple of pics I then started edging closer to get a better look at him. He sat in the same tree for about 10 minutes while I snapped away.
Although the Piet-My-Vrou and Black Cuckoo eluded me that weekend, even with all their taunting, I was super impressed that I was able to find the African Emerald Cuckoo and get some half-decent photos.
My next mission, photographing the Red-Chested Cuckoo
Happy birding all