06 June 2023

Kyalami Estates - April Round up

30 April 2023 - Kyalami Estates, Midrand

Summer is slowly fading away as we enjoy the cooler weather and changing colours of autumn. 55 species recorded during April, so pretty similar to the previous month, but also with it's own highlights.

From my garden, the usual resident species, like Cape Sparrow

Male Cape Sparrow (Passer melanurus)

and African Hoopoe

African Hoopoe (Upupa africana)

However, one late afternoon while enjoying a sundowner on our balcony, I was alerted by the local Pigeons being put up by this brute of a Black Sparrowhawk that came cruising past overhead - certainly the avian apex predator in our neighbourhood. The light was really low, but he was truly magnificent

Black Sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus)

Down at St Ledger Dam, Reed Cormorant were to be seen - this one from the class of 2023

Reed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus)

Common Moorhen are still growing and not yet in adult plumage

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

The Rose-ringed Parakeet's seem to enjoy the Willow Trees

Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

While the resident Southern Fiscal was seen enjoying the sun on one of the Acacia's

Southern Fiscal (Lanius collaris)

Barn Swallow are surprisingly scarce to see in the Estate, but this one was part of a small flock starting their northerly migration and flew by overhead

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

However, the highlight for this month was recording a pair of Fork-tailed Drongo's for the first time in the Estate and even both of the Pentad's that include Kyalami Estates - unfortunately, they only seemed to stay 1-day. But great to see....

Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis)

On a mission

27 April 2023 - Eendracht Road

There had been an irruption of Grey-backed Sparrow-Larks recorded in the Greater Gauteng recently, a species that surprisingly was not yet on my life list.

A few had been reported near Suikerbosrand, so I had an early morning targeted outing to locate them. After the obligatory M&B stop for caffeine and a muffin, I turned onto the Eendracht Road (which is before the main Suikerbosrand Reserve entrance) just after sunrise. I had two locations on the road in mind that I needed to check, no luck at the first stop - but I had a winter plumage Long-tailed Widow in great morning light

Long-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes progne)

Followed by a Zitting Cisticola that was fluffed up to keep warm

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)

I continued on the road, heading toward the N3 and stopped to scan an open area near one of the maize fields. I was surprised to find a few Red-billed Teal and a single African Snipe at a small pool of water, following the earlier rain in the week.

African Snipe (Gallinago nigripennis)

Continuing on the road, I found a flock of 4 Sparrow-Larks feeding along the twin-track road edge, but the sun was against me. I detoured off the road, so I could make a U-turn to get into a better position and have the light behind me. The birds weren't as cooperative and kept feeding and walking away from me - but in the end, I got down low and managed some images I was happy with - job done!

Grey-backed Sparrow Lark (Eremopterix verticalis)

On the way back to the main road, I stopped to scan over a small bridge and flushed this Great Egret

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

It was then back home, with a satisfied smile on my face - I love it when a plan comes together!

02 June 2023

Back to Beaulieu

19 April 2023 - Beaulieu Bird Sanctuary

I had to drop off the dogs at 'school', so stopped again for a quick walk around Beaulieu before starting work. Like the last visit, the berry feast was still in full swing with Dark-capped Bulbul

Dark-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus tricolor)

and the Black-collared Barbet

Black-collared Barbet (Lybius torquatus)

Sunbirds and Southern Masked Weavers were at home on the flowering Strelitzia's

Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus)

A Southern Boubou that popped out of the bush to grab an insect caught me by surprise - just a crappy record image of a tough to see in the open species

Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus)

There were good numbers of Black-throated Canary, I was able to photograph this one through a small gap in the foreground foliage which I enjoy

Black-throated Canary (Crithagra atrogularis)

Around the dam, there were a few Sacred Ibis

African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

along with a Wattled Lapwing fly-by

African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus)

Along with the Greater-striped Swallow, there was a pair of Lesser-striped - another good record for my home Pentad

Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica)

I almost missed the Green Pigeon as it flew at speed over the dam - always good to see in my home Pentad

African Green Pigeon (Treron calvus)

Regional rarity

14 April 2023 - Glen Austin Pan

I spent an hour at the Pan in great autumn light and blue sky overhead with most of the usual species present. 

The Sacred Ibis colony seems to be expanding and displacing the Heron's and Egret's that were originally breeding in the reeds. Here is one flying in with new nesting material.

African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

Although Black-headed Heron

Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)

and Cattle Egret's are still present, but seemingly in lower numbers

Juvenile Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

The Grey Heron's are outnumbered by the Black-headed

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Overhead were numbers of Palm Swift, Brown-throated Martin and a few late Hirundines, including White-throated Swallow

White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis)

I found this African Swamphen patrolling the edges of the pan which is still really full, given all the recent rain

African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis)

The number of Grey-headed Gull's have reduced, possibly because of the water levels

Grey-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)

I was surprised to get this lone Whiskered Tern moulting out of summer plumage

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)

However, a flyover of what I initially thought was a Glossy Ibis turned out to be a mega for Gauteng in the form of a juvenile Bald Ibis that was constantly harassed by the Gulls and Blacksmith Lapwings - but it still landed to feed in the grassland with a few Sacred Ibis. How is it that the resident birds know when a strange visitor arrives and make it feel unwelcome - it is not like a single bird is going to be a threat? It stayed for a short while before being chased off, but then came back again at the end of my brief session - but again not for long.

Juvenile Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus)

After this excitement, I headed back to my Hilux, finding a skittish Malachite Kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher (Corythornis cristata)

And a Lesser Swamp Warbler

Lesser Swamp Warbler (Acrocephalus gracilirostris)

Along with some of the resident waterfowl; Cape Shoveler

Cape Shoveler (Spatula smithii)

Red-billed Teal with goslings

Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)

Southern Pochard

Male Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma)

And my favourite, the White-backed Ducks. They love hiding in the surface weeds.

White-backed Duck (Thalassornis leuconotus)

Photo-bombed by a female Southern Pochard

Sadly, the Maccoa Duck seems to have left the Pan, as I have not seen it for sometime - perhaps the water levels have something to do with it?

Kyalami Estates - April Round up

30 April 2023 - Kyalami Estates, Midrand Summer is slowly fading away as we enjoy the cooler weather and changing colours of autumn. 55 spec...