Daily Prompt: Google and Rescue Operation
What was the last thing you searched for online? Why were you looking for it?
Google does not have all the answers. After scouring the ether fruitlessly trying to identify a bird, I finally resorted to the old-fashioned method. I looked it up in a book.
Guma Lagoon in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, is a bird lover’s paradise. But because I prefer binoculars to a camera, I missed a wonderful opportunity to capture an unusual bird on film. Instead I observed it as carefully as I could.
It looked like a crested barbet, shape, size and behaviour, but was quite the wrong colour. I walked round and round his tree. He was in full midday sun so there was no mistaking his dark eye, barred tail, black bib and wing feathers, but he had no black crest or red feathers on his head. The crest was there, but it was pale yellow. In fact his whole head was yellow and the rest of him was so pale I’d call it cream. He watched me curiously as I studied him for at least half an hour.
Back in camp I searched our handbooks without success. There was no bird remotely like the black and white “ghost” I’d seen. We’ve had barbets nesting in our garden for thirty years. I know them well. But we’ve never had one like that. For the rest of our stay I haunted the pool area, camera in hand, hoping to see him again, but nope.
Google had to wait until I got home because connections were too slow for doing anything more than the absolute minimum online. But even then, I had no luck. I left queries with various birding associations and clubs, without success. Then finally I hauled out our gigantic Roberts Birds of Southern Africa (VIIth edition) and found my answer under “Crested Barbet”:
“Confusing species: None. [Full and partial albinism recorded, birds generally white or cream-white, with pinkish on upper tail and red streaking on forecrown and base of bill.]” (Ref: Kemp & Kemp 1972)