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Little Black Beauty

Little Black Beauty
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-10-23
Categories: Birds, Bushveld, River
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 100, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/200 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2006
Theme(s): Birds of South Africa 1, Birds / Aves, Birds of Africa, RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN 1, A study in Ornithology (birds) 1, Kruger National Park 1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2006-12-07 13:15
Viewed: 7954
Favorites: 3 [view]
Points: 64
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
African black crake - Amaurornis flavirostris

We saw this beautiful little bird on a causeway (or low water bridge) crossing the Mavumbye river on the S41 route, close to the Gudzani dam in the Satara region of the Kruger Park. Never before had I the opportunity to approach this close to one of these shy and very evasive little birds so my excitement was running sky high. It seemed like it had no worry in the world as it obviously did not mind our close proximity at all. The photo shows the little bird foraging for food in the muddy surface on the edge of the low water bridge. There are only 3 shots of this species on TN

DK: Sort Rorvagtel
FR: Marouette noire
NL: Zwart porseleinhoen
IT: Schiribilla nera Africana
ZA: Swartriethaan

They are closely related to rails, gallinules, coots, & swamphens and are mainly ground birds. The old phrase, "as thin as a rail", was coined because of the laterally compressed body type of many species of rails.

Their rounded wings and feathers are solid dark with blue-black or jet-black plumage. They have a bright greenish-yellow bill, red eyes and eye rings, & long slender bright coral-red legs & feet with extra long toes. The sexes are alike. Juveniles are dark olive with dark grey underparts. They are noisy birds that are more heard than seen. Size: 20cm.

All sub-Saharan African countries

They frequent the reeds & plant growth near the edges of freshwater wetlands, lakes, swampy areas, marshes, well-vegetated rivers, & weedy ponds with reed cover where they constantly forage for food.

Although they are common in their native tropical East Africa they are very shy, disappearing at the slightest disturbance and, unless accustomed to people, are difficult to observe or photograph in the wild or in captivity. Striking to look at when seen, they are always active. They use their long toes to avoid getting stuck in mud & it helps them to distribute their weight evenly & enable them to walk over water vegetation such as lily-pads. It flies reluctantly but swims well. They walk with a horizontal head bob, much like a pigeon, twitching their short tails up & down as they go. They peck food from the mud, surface water plants, & the water surface, & also climb reeds to catch flying insects. They account for the loss of a great number of herons' eggs & could possibly also be a threat to jacana eggs.

The diet includes aquatic insects, earthworms, molluscs, crustaceans, larvae, small frogs & tadpoles, small fish, seeds & other parts of water plants.

The Black Crake is monogamous unless its mate dies & then will seek out a new mate. Normally solitary or in pairs. They create their nest on the ground or close to water & lay eggs which are white in colour & number between 2 to 6. Source.

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.

Juyona, jcoowanitwong, blakitan, JoseMiguel, ramthakur, Janice, jchemas, jeanpaul, scottevers7, SkyF, ellis49, pilonm, peter_stoeckl, Dyker, Miss_Piggy, betsie, Rehanna has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Evelynn: All year longloot 1 12-11 15:38
To SunToucher: DOFloot 1 12-11 15:30
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2006-12-07 14:30]

Hola Loot, muy bonito y original colorido de este simpático pájaro, bellos tonos y nitidez, la luz es agradable... saludos

My favourite species, one of the best photos of this species!!

hi loot,
lovely shot,
well composed, fine pov,
the sharpness is excellent,
lovely well saturated colors,
well done,
tfs & regards

Hello Loot,
Beautiful little bird well captured. Sharp and clear image with details to appreciate. Exposure, sharpness, and color saturation are great. Very well done and TFS.

Hello Loot, it's a beautyfull bird I've seen many time during my trips in the southern Arfica region.
It's always a good spot!
Nice frame well managed and compoed.

Hi Loot

This little guy looks like he is on a mission. He has a variety of bright colours. What a lovely wee charachter he is. Well taken. TFS.

Hi Loot,
Superb shot, well focused, great DoF, great sharpness, and neat blurry BG. This bird seems to be very clean, eventhough it plays with the mud.

Ben Lakitan

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2006-12-08 10:40]

What a cute bird, Loot.
The combination of the black feathers, red leg and bright yellow beak is stunning.
The expression conveyed by the slightly tilted head is very engaging.
But the light is what is really beautiful in this shot.
It brought out all the values in the black plumage,
and the highlights in the mud are so realistic without being OE.
A masterful shot, my friend.
TFS. : )

Thanks for your visit, my friend. Hope you are keeping well.
Lovely Black Crake. The bird is a novelty for me. I like the matching colours of eye and legs. The beak, surprisingly, is yellow! What an interesting colour combination!
The image is perfect from every point of view.
Thanks and take care.

  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2006-12-08 15:12]

Hallo Loot ,Het is weer een prachtige foto , hele mooie kleuren details scherpte licht en een mooie bg , Goed Weekend Teunie .

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2006-12-08 15:35]

Hi Loot, your long lens zoomed in very close to this shy little fellow. I'm not sure if it is my PC but it looks a tad soft to me. But it is 90% better than my bird photos :)
I like seeing the blue feathers showing among the black ones. And the red legs and eyes and yellow bill certainly brighten him up... I can tell he's related to our NZ swamp hens from the blue/black feathers.
Good one Loot, TFS

Hello Loot
Superb shot of this little funny beautiful looking bird but it looks great and that is all that counts. Exposure, sharpness, and color saturation are great, and the POV, DOF and BG are great.

The dark colors of the plumage look very detail and make an excellent color combination with the yellow of the beak and the red on the feet.
Very good shot my friend and also a superb composition.


hi Loot,
Good image..
Our(Belgium) national colors: black, yellow and red:-)

Hi Loot,
My first impression was: We got those in Holland too. But then reading you note, I noticed that we got some relative living here.
You've captured a beautiful pose, as if he's hunting for its dinner. Those eyes look like he can see straight through the mud. Is he standing on a embankment? Great control on the exposure and stunning colors captured. Maybe a slightly smaller aperture, so that its left foot was focused as well. But hey, you got spot on focus on the rest of the bird.

You managed perfect exposure on this one Loot. There is lots of detail in the black. It may be a black bird but it only serves to make the wonderful color of legs, eyes, and beak that much more striking. I suppose that the beak is that color year round. We have a number of birds with brighter colorful beaks during the breeding season only. Do you hand hold that big lens?

Evelynn : )

She is red, purple, black, reddish black & all sorts of attractive colours. Have Faved. it.
Most clear presentation.
EXTREMELY well focused.
Very well composed.
LOVE your notes.
Best regards, Mario.

Salut Lott
Cette prise est parfaite,les détails du plumage,les couleurs et la pose de l'oiseau tout est parfait. Je crois voir cet oiseau pour la premičre fois sur le site.

merci et au revoir....JP

Hi Loot,
A new one for me, so this is superb. We don't have these in Illinois!
It looks like you managed the light extremely well. The coloring and detail in the black plumage is perfect. Vibrant red colors in the legs and eye. Then the bright yellow beak makes this guy really a cute and appealing little fellow. He is very intent on finding himself a snack in this pose. A excellent piece of camera work.

As usual, your notes are worth the price of admission alone. Very informative and complete. Thanks for always teaching me some knew things.


  • Great 
  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2006-12-11 9:27]

Hi Loot,
it sure is a beauty, quite the colors on this little bird. Very well captured, the details in the black plumage show up perfectly. Great POV and wonderful sharpness.
Excellent work.

Hello Loot.
Great shot, I like it. The exposure was managed very well with nice detail/color throughout..I find the POV, "hunting" pose and muddy ground, combined with the distinctive bright red eye, legs, & yellow beak a treat for the eye :)
Thank you mf.

Hi Loot,
This is a very pretty bird and you have captured nicely with great colours and good detail.
Thanks for sharing!

  • Great 
  • whjb Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 51 W: 26 N: 172] (683)
  • [2006-12-13 5:12]

Hi Loot,

Vorige kommentaar se dit alles. Well done.


Hi loot,
a small and beautiful bird. The yellow beak is great, don't look natural. The exposure are spot on, the black plumage have a lotes of details and shimmer in a lot of dark tones, beautiful. Good sharpness and details. And I love the low POV.
And of course a great and informative note.
Great work, my friend.

  • Great 
  • osse Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 955 W: 0 N: 89] (7805)
  • [2006-12-13 9:31]

Hi Loot
This one reminds me of kivi bird. Good colours, sharpnes, light, details and POV.
Well done mf.


Hello Loot,

It seems that you were very lucky to be able to take that picture being so near of the bird!!! I'm very surprised about the color of the beak...! How the natural selection bring that so brilliant color to a so dark bird!!! And as the female and the male are the same in color it is not a sexual dimorphism... I like to see the bird within its natural environment too!



Hi Loot,
another one of your very loveable creatures presented with passion and care. The bird's colours of deep black and bright yellow and red against the mud look very appealing. I like the juicy wet mud blinking in the bright sunshine just as that bird does. Composition is excellent with the elements in the soft background perfectly fitting in.
Thank you! Best regards,

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2006-12-24 16:42]

Hello Loot

A beautiful shot of this crake.A wonderful POV and DOF.These creatures are quite shy and dart between the vegetation.You were fortunate to capture it.Excellent detail and sharpness,especially in the plumage.Lovely rich colours and well composed in the frame.Well done.TFS


Hi Loot
Another excellent shot; your work really has excelled over the past year and hopefully you'll be around for several more.
Like most crakes, this is a rare encounter and you've taken full advantage will you equipment. I doubt you'll ever get a better shot of this species. Excellent result.


Hello Loot,

I have read the comment of Suntoucher. He is a beetje right, but under the circumstances among which you have photographed. Well done. Chapeau. I have read the comment of Suntoucher. He is a beetje right, but under the circumstances among which you have photographed. Well done. Chapeau. I find it a beautiful prerecording. Sharp and full of colours. THE BG and POV are oké. Regards and TFS Bob

p.s I never seen this bird in Holland

Hallo Loot
I remember the first time I saw this bird. I was bowled over by the very bright colour of the beak. Excellent shot on a rare and interesting bird. Excellent detail in the black feathers. I can see the feathers distinctly, even though the feathers are dark. Great colours and detail not only on the beak but also the huge rose-coloured paws and the eye. Love the muddy surface. Great notes as always. Thanks for the education.Thanks for sharing.

Mooi foto Loot. Fantasties hoe as die kleure mekaar komplimenteer

nice portrait, TFS Ori

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