Seeing a pair of the very unusual and distinctive White-backed Mousebirds was one of the highlights of my recent trip to South Africa. This is a family of birds that I have ofteen read about and had been hoping to see so when I spotted one, and then suddenly two late one evening at Langebaan, it was a real thrill. At first they disappeared and I didn't think I would see them again but then, after scouring the area for twenty minutes or so, I caught sight of them again as one climbed to to the top of a thorn bush followed by it's mate.
By now the sun was starting to set and the low light was bathing the birds in a golden glow. It's assumed that Mousebirds are so named because they creep about the branches like rodents but also because they have very unusual plumage which is almost like fluffy fur. They have an untidy crest and a long tail as well as coral-red coloured legs and feet. The way they are perching in the pictures is typical. They are fruit eaters and can be considered a pest by farmers who apparently trap and destroy them, this of course is very unfortunate. But thankfully, also because of agricultural practices and irrigation they also benefit and are thought to be on the increase which is good.