Tag Archives: Abdims stork

Weekend at Teufelsbach Riverside Campsite

One of the beauties of living in Windhoek is that from any suburb in the city it takes less than ten minutes to be out in the countryside.  No need to drive for kilometers to reach the bushveld and nature – one can still be in some of the outer suburbs and come across baboons, guinea fowl and mongooses crossing the streets.  In fact we have a whole troop of noisy baboons living on the hill behind our house!

But this blog is not about baboons, it’s about a very nice campsite that is situated about forty minutes outside of Windhoek on the road north to Okahandja.  The farm, Teufelsbach, offers a beautiful riverside campsite and visitors have the freedom of most of the farm for the duration of their stay.  How wonderful to be able to walk and drive all over, knowing that you won’t be meeting anyone else apart from the farm owner.  There is also a 4×4 trail for enthusiasts of that ilk!

The riverside campsite

We set up camp on Friday evening and soon had a roaring fire going for our braai.  The campsite is nicely laid out with place for several tents and it has a big covered boma with a large concrete table and chairs.  It would be suitable for a big party of campers.  The ablution block is clean and supported by a ‘donkey’ – a system whereby the water is heated by a wood-burning stove.

We’re always keen to meet the local ‘residents’ of each campsite that we visit, and at Teufelsbach it was a family of red-billed francolins that woke us each morning, accompanied by a pair of  screeching Ruppell’s parrots that frequented the gnarled old camelthorn tree overhanging the campsite.

Ruppell's parrot

There are a number of dams on the farm that are home to a variety of birdlife.  It was nice to see that the dams actually had water in them, which isn’t always the case when the rains aren’t as abundant as they have been this summer.  In fact, the rains had made the countryside really lush and green.  The veld was covered in waving grasses and wildflowers in hues of yellow, purple and white.

Walking on the farm was not without peril, as the paths and roadways were liberally punctuated by spider webs.  They were strung from virtually every shrub and even stretched across the roads that were three or more meters wide.  We had to be careful to duck under them or risk being covered in sticky webs and scary-looking spiders!

Watch where you walk!

The birdlife didn’t disappoint and we spent a number of hours chasing an elusive Great spotted cuckoo down a riverbed; the cuckoo remaining tantalizingly out of our reach.  Aahh the joy when it eventually settled for just long enough to get a photograph!

Great spotted cuckoo

Our weekends away are always full and interesting.  It was great to have found a campsite so close to Windhoek, as it isn’t always easy to take enough time off to travel great distances to go camping.  Teufelsbach is definitely conveniently close enough for many more visits.  As a nice farewell present, when we were leaving the farm, we came across this beautiful Abdim’s stork just outside the farm gate!

A farewell gift - Abdims stork

Bird of the week – Week 35 : Abdim’s stork

Let’s be honest. The Abdim’s stork is not a beautiful bird. Not as immediately repulsive as the Marabou stork, perhaps, but still not a beautiful bird. It is quite graceful in flight, but on the ground it looks quite clumsy and its red eye patch set into blue cheeks gives the impression that its eyes are terribly bloodshot. But perhaps I’m just being unkind. In some African countries it is considered to bring good luck, especially in the form of rain, which is not surprising really, as its migratory pattern follows the rains. Rather usefully (from the stork’s point of view), superstition requires that the bird is left undisturbed.
The Abdim’s stork is a visitor to Southern Africa, most arriving from its breeding grounds in East and West Africa during November and departing again in April. They are gregarious birds, usually found in large flocks, especially where there are plenty of insects. They are quite large birds, although they are the smallest of the storks, about 75 cm in length, and are mainly black, with a purple sheen to their feathers. The belly and rump are white and the bare skin on their cheeks is blue, although this is somewhat duller when they are not breeding. There is a red patch in front of the eyes. The bill and legs are olive green and their toes and knees are red. Sexes are similar, although the males are a little larger than the females.
During the  months that they spend in Southern Africa, the Abdim’s storks remain in the more Northerly parts of the region, restricting themselves to the highveld grasslands and parts of the Kalahari. During this time they are largely silent although there is some bill clattering that takes place.
Abdim’s storks feed mainly on insects, lizards, frogs, and army worms. They seem to be especially fond of locusts, grasshoppers and crickets and for this reason in some areas they are known as “grasshopper birds”. Like several other stork species, Abdim’s Storks defecate on their legs to assist with cooling in the hot weather.
The scientific name for the Absdim’s stork is Ciconia abdimii; Ciconia from the Latin for a stork and abdimii being derived from the name of the governor of Wadi Halfa in the Sudan, Bey El-Arnaut Abdim(1780-1827).