This guy was perched on a termite mound in fairly dense woodland near Crocodile bridge in KNP in December this year. I would like to hear opinions as to ID. My first thoughts were Wahlbergs Eagle and did not unfortunately take any side view pics. On closer examination the bird does show characteristics of a young Lesser Spotted Eagle (brown eyes) in the whitish patches on the upper wings, no crest evident and fairly “stovepipe” leggings. Perhaps other members can throw some light.
The next day was overcast and a little cooler which was not a bad thing as I had one very burnt arm from the day before. Niall was off to Peru so was absent (imagine choosing Peru over Pretoria!) but Kerry Fairley joined us. We had been together on a birding trip to Finland earlier in the year so it was great to see her again.
We head off for the Seringveld Conservancy, near Roodeplaat Dam, east of Pretoria. It consists mainly of broad-leafed woodIand interspersed with some grassland. I was sitting on 498 so the big question was which would be my 500th bird? The birding in general was a little quieter due to the overcast conditions. This was a slight relief after the overwhelming number of new birds I had seen the day before.
The first new bird we heard first, a White-throated Robin-chat. We then saw it on top of a tree – what a beauty. Most of the birding is from the road as many of the properties are private.
We drove and stopped, drove and stopped quite a few times all the while heading towards a rocky outcrop where Fawn-coloured Lark is known to occur. Allan called it up and sure enough, it popped up, flying from tree to tree and then landing on a wire. I have included a picture as this is my 500th bird but it is very far away so not too clear.
Once I had stopped high-fiving, we headed off to Centurion. Before leaving the conservancy, we bumped into a group from the Wits Bird Club. It was lovely to meet people like Helen Biram who I had previously only connected with on Facebook.
We arrived at a field seemingly in the middle of nowhere, west of Raslouw, Centurion where we had so much fun. It was one of those experiences one will always remember. We were targeting Desert and Cloud Cisticola as well as Melodious Lark.
These birds are best identified by their calls and displaying behavior. It was amazing seeing these birds flying so high in the sky and then displaying by flapping their wings and staying in one place. The Cloud Cisticola eventually swooped down to earth and I was able to take a photo. Allan seemed to see the birds long before I did when it was nothing but a little speck in the sky; quite difficult to pick up with a grey sky behind them.
The Melodious Lark has the most stamina and displays in the sky for ages all the while singing away, partly its own song and then mimicry – it must have mimicked about 5 different birds while it hovered above us.
Before we left we spotted a Northern Black Korhaan in the long grass on the crest of the hill.
Next we were off to the dump to see if we could find a Black Kite but to no avail. We did see an enormous amount of Sacred Ibis and White Storks scavenging to their heart’s content.
From there we visited the Glen Austin Bird Sanctuary.
where we were treated to both Lesser and Greater Flamingo.
as well as the usual variety of water birds with one Fulvous Duck amongst them.
Just before dropping me at my friend’s house in Blairgowrie, Allan thought we should pop into Delta Park which is around the corner. The African Reed Warbler was very active and with a little encouragement it was soon showing itself – my last lifer for the day.
It was a fantastic two days and I was privileged to be with such good birders. Be warned, Allan and Niall, I am certainly penciling this in for next year.
Two days of whirlwind birding in Gauteng offered up 150 species, 25 lifers and extra 18 birds for my year list, on top of the lifers. I had no idea of the diversity of this area. I was particularly fortunate to go birding with Niall and Debbie Perrins and Allan Ridley, without whom I would not have seen half of the birds. There was much banter between Allan and Niall about the pressure of having to find 20 lifers in a day so I could hit the 500 mark. I thought they were joking as I was hoping for about 4 or 5 new birds.
We set off at 4am on the Saturday and headed for Kgomo-Kgomo which is north-west of Pretoria past Hammanskraal. We stopped at the bridge over the vast floodplain which goes on as far as the eye can see.
There had been a huge storm in the area a few days before which swelled the water levels; the consensus was that the area would be humming with crakes in a few weeks’ time. The Amur Falcons were back and there were many Lesser Kestrels too.
From there we continued driving through the area stopping at the side of the road whenever it looked interesting.
At one point I was positively overwhelmed by all the new (to me) species that were there seemingly all at once. Lesser Grey Shrike, Black-throated Canary, Black-chested Prinia and Great Sparrow to name but a few.
Lesser Grey Shrike
Some of these were on private property. I felt a little intrusive with my binoculars and camera zooming in on a bird while a very smartly dressed lady came out of her front door.
Flocks of Speckled Pigeon and Wattled Starling swirled around the sky while at ground level we saw Southern Pied Babbler, Chestnut-vented Titbabbler and a beautiful Shaft-tailed Whydah.
We drove on through the Acacia woodland and stopped every now and again at active spots, of which there were many. The sun was beating down and there was not a cloud in the sky; Bushveld birding at its best.
The call of the Pearl-spotted Owlet, most ably rendered by Niall and Allan, not only brought forth quite a few birds but also the ‘pearlie’ itself. I was delighted because I have only seen one once before.
While the Barred-Wren-Warbler led us on a merry chase, darting from one side of the road to the other, the Marico Flycatcher was far more obliging.
Lesser Grey Shrike on tree
One of my favourite birds of the day was the Violet-eared Waxbill.
We turned off the road and went over a bridge where we got out and had a lovely sighting of a Jacobin Cuckoo.
We then headed back the way we had come when a Common Swift was spotted. I was desperate to get a good view of it as I have not seen one in SA before but soon they were swarming all over the place so it was easy. Further along, at the pans a few km east of Kgomo-Kgomo town along the Zaagkuildrift road, we not only saw a Dwarf Bittern but also the largest concentration of bullfrogs I have ever seen in one place. They were all full of the joys of spring, to put it mildly.
We then headed towards the Rust de Winter dam where we stopped at a bridge outside the resort. I felt at home because I recognized all the bird calls as this habitat was more like KZN; Puffback, Black-headed Oriole, Paradise flycatchers and Woodland Kingfishers to name but a few. The Woodland Kingfishers were on a branch displaying beautifully by fanning out their tails.
From there we were about to head for home when Niall said he knew a spot where Monotonous Larks have been known to occur. We travelled down yet another dusty road through Thornveld when suddenly we heard them. It was amazing to see them perched on top of a tree with their white throats bulging as they called.
Just before being dropped off at my friend’s house, we saw Karoo Thrush which abounds in this area but was a lifer for me; much to the surprise of all. 18 lifers for the day put me on 498 but more importantly, I had a fun-filled day and learnt a lot.
The rain it raineth every day and it rained more than twice on Saturday but a few brave souls ventured out in the pouring rain for Umbogavango. Sandi phoned me early on Saturday morning and I thought she was going to bale but it was only to ask that I drive into her complex as she didn’t want to stand in the rain at her gate! So there was Sandi, Fran and I sitting in the car in the rain at Umbogavango when Jenny Rix pitched up and soon after Peter and Franki arrived – at which stage the rain started to lift a little and we walked to the first hide where upon it started to rain again but the birding was fun from the hide – lots of different weavers, prinias, warblers, the odd Egypo and moorhen to keep us occupied. Once it stopped raining we walked to the bottom hide – quite good birding along the way and at the hide there were Little Grebe, coot, moorhen, Egypo with chicks and a very confiding Natal Robin. On the walk back we had a superb pair of Long-crested Eagles preening on a dead gum – the male showing off his white leggings to perfection.
Paul & Sally joined us for coffee – but once again the rain came down and chased us home.
We didn’t do a bird count and no pics but we must have seen about +40 birds – not to shabby for a very rainy day.
This is an account of our holiday in the Eastern Cape from 8th to 21st October 2013.
We started our holiday to the Eastern Cape from Pretoria so the first port of call was the Mountain Zebra Park for 3 days. It is a beautiful park with very friendly people and good accommodation. The animals are all easy to see on top of the mountain. It was very dry when we were there so the birding was not so good. I was busy photographing an aloe and a Malachite Sunbird arrived to feed. A number of sunbirds were around the reception area, very difficult to photograph being so quick but a Double-Collared Sunbird was also very obliging.
There were lots of Pied Starlings in the caravan park, about the only green grass in the whole park.
This juvenile Pale Chanting Goshawk was a bit far away but with a bit of cropping I managed to get a reasonable photo. Altogether we saw about 120 birds in the park.
We left the Mountain Zebra Park after three peaceful days and moved on to the Addo Elephant Park. It is also a lovely park. The elephants seem to be much more placid than the Kruger elephants and we saw lots of them. We were also lucky enough to see a lioness sitting in the grass by the Domkrag dam. The birding was much better and I managed to photograph a few more birds on the Nzipondo Loop and at the Domkrag Pan.
We were only there for the day as we could not get any accommodation. It has become a very popular park.
On we went to Port Elizabeth to a timeshare for a week on Brookes Hill, right on Kings Beach with a lovely view of the sea. We visited Cape Recife and saw a Black Oystercatcher on the sands, also Sanderlings, and lots of Swift and Common Terns.
It was Marine week unbeknown to us so when we visited SAMREC we got a free conducted tour around the rehabilitation centre. It was very interesting. I photographed some of the inmates.
Our outing with Birdlife P.E. was unfortunately on one of those hugely windy days where all the birds took for cover. We had to bird from the car as the wind almost knocked you over. We were trying to find the White-Bellied Korhaan but unfortunately had no luck. They were a very friendly group and I enjoyed being with them.
We had weeks timeshare at Plettenberg Bay which was lovely. It is such a beautiful part of the country and has remained unspoilt. I organised a birding trip with Gareth Robbins and we managed to see a Victorin’s Warbler in the Fynbos at Hartenbos and then very exciting – a lifer for me – a Knysna Warbler in a garden in Plettenberg Bay.
Knysna Heads was also visited and we saw a number of birds on a little pan along the way.
All in all it was a wonderful holiday.
Jenny & Dave Rix
If you have a story to tell please send it in to me and I shall put it out on our website – pictures (less than 200kb in size please) help to tell the tale.
Attached are pictures of a juvenile sunbird resting on our deck at Le Domaine, Hillcrest. It sat there for quite a while (at least 5 minutes). I initially thought that it had flown into the glass door or window and had injured itself as it sat very still and hardly moved allowing us to get very close for a good photo opportunity.
When I attempted to try and pick it up it flew away with a little cheep call.
The size is around 10/11cm and with a yellow gape we thought that it could be either a juvenile White-bellied or a Greater Double-collared Sunbird, which are the most common at Le Domaine. The Amethyst being a lot larger at 14 cm. The width of the wooden boards in the photos are 7 cm – giving you a good size comparison.
Looking forward to your comments. Enter them below this post please.
These photo’s, taken in our Gillitts property this week, I think is an African Wood-Owl (perhaps immature) because of the dark eyes and also the yellow bill and feet BUT it lacks the dark crown and general dark head surround. My second guess would be the Marsh Owl but beak and feet are not black. Please can someone ID for me positively. It is residing on our property and usually keeps fairly low (+/- 1 to 2 metres from ground level.)
Please enter your opinion in Comments below. Your reasoning would be most valuable.
Well, it’s time for the last meeting of 2013 which will be held on Tuesday, 10th December at the Krantzkloof Interpretive Centre at the usual time of 9.30 a.m. for 10.00. The cost is still the same – R20.00 and tea/coffee and biscuits will be served when you arrive.
Our speaker for this meeting will be Shane McPherson who will be talking on the work he is doing for his Master’s Degree on Crowned Eagles, particularly in K.Z.N. He has studied other Raptors in other parts of the world and, if time, he will share with us his enormous knowledge which he has gleaned over the years. This will be a fascinating topic, with excellent photographs, and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about the Crowned Eagle which was recently killed in the Springside Nature Reserve.
We hope many of you will support Shane and we look forward to seeing you at the meeting on the 10th.Dec. If you are unable to attend, the committee wishes you a happy and safe Festive Season.
Tessa White, Sarah Burns, Peter & Jenny Spence and Peter Farrington.