7 December 2021
A lovely clear wind free morning dawned for the sit-in and eight people collect from 7am onwards. We sat in and around the thatched boma at Palmiet Nature Reserve facing the wetland area.
The Village Weavers were busy with their nests above the pond, stripping the leaves from the tree to create a safe zone, bring in long pieces of palm frond to weave laboriously into the nest and then reprovisioning them with fresh green leaves. This is all accompanied by very vocal chattering and excitement as they go about their business.
Noticing movement in the leaves of the Rhus chirindensis tree overhanging the pond we observed it was simply laden with beautiful big black caterpillars, an absolute explosion of Walberg’s Emperor moth caterpillars with their colourful protuberances. (Thank you Sandi du Preez for the ID)
The caterpillars appeared to be doing some funky therobotic dance all of their own as they jerked backward and forwards. We expect to have a host of Cuckoo’s coming in to feed but alas this doesn’t transpire.
A lone Hadeda Ibis flies across the pond carrying a twig for nesting. Another arrives and with the sun glinting on the beautiful pinkish wash of its wings it feeds as it wanders along the bank of the pond. Heading into the low growth it materializes again with an old weaver’s nest in its beak. This it proceeds to pull about before carrying it to the water where it appears to wash it before discarding it and heading off – strange behavior to say the least.
White-necked Raven is a constant presence as its “caw caw” call is heard overhead and the occasional glimpse of a rather tatty looking individual are seen through the trees. A strange call, a loud barking noise, has us listening and causes discussion until it turns out to be a Rock Hyrax and not a bird at all. (Thanks to Jenny Norman and her app)
An interesting sighting was of a Golden-tailed Woodpecker which was probing and gleaning up and down the trees while being followed closely by a juvenile Scaly-throated Honeyguide begging persistently for food. It was interesting to learn that Golden-tailed Woodpecker is known to be a host species for Scaly-throated Honeyguide.
The Bird of the Day award has to go to the most relaxed and obliging Half-collared Kingfisher. The bird flew onto a branch over the pond announcing its presence with its thin high pitched “weet’ call. It posed front, back and side view doing its head bobbing motion.
At times it moved to various other positions around the pond depending on where it thought the fishing best. It made repeated sorties and despite most of them being unsuccessful a few yielded a catch which we were lucky enough to observe.
Some of the other birds seen during the morning were a juvenile Green Wood Hoopoe, note the black bill but red feet are visible
Tambourine Dove, a male that came and sat observing us for a minute or two
a gorgeous African Paradise Flycatcher with the most stunning blue wattle and long tail
and a proud pair of Egyptian Goose parents with goslings that were quite inquisitive.
As is normal with a sit-in there was a short walk for those that wanted to amble and just doing the short circuit around the cement path and going down to the river they managed to add a few more species to the mornings list and together we had a list of 38 species seen or heard.
One thing that a sit-in offers is the chance to really observe, discuss and learn about the species seen and this morning’s sit-in was no exception and once again a very enjoyable morning in the company of like-minded people.
Sit-in lead by Jenny Norman, report written by and all photos taken by Jane Morris.