Birding in the Wider Gauteng (100km) Area
Submitted by Penny de Vries
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.