31 December 2020 - Kyalami Estates, Midrand, South Africa
After an adventurous 14-years of living and working in Kuwait and exploring many parts of the world with my family, I am now back home. Finally re-united with my family, after having not seen them for almost a year thanks to the Covid crisis and slowly getting re-acquainted with living back in my home country. Many have said why return - but its that old story of Africa retaining a piece of your heart, wherever you may be.
When we left for Kuwait in 2006, we agreed not to sell our house which we bought in 2000, but rather go the corporate rental route and overall, this was a sound strategy. So, we literally did return home and to our home, after our stint in 'The land of Sand'. We then undertook some extensive renovations and maintenance, so that our house felt like ours again.
We live in Kyalami Estates which is in Midrand, Gauteng and conveniently situated midway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. It was developed in the late 80's by Anglo American and is now a mature urban suburb covering 1.68 square km. It boasts many parks and a number of dams which is ideal for those of us who enjoy some nature close to home and on our doorstep.
In our time away, I only came back to SA around once a year and I now have to re-adapt and get reacquainted with our local and resident birds again and outside of a desert environment which I also thoroughly enjoyed in the time I spent in Kuwait.
Plus I need to start working in earnest on my SA list which really took a back seat the last 14-years and my quest to reach 800 species.
One of the things I missed in Kuwait, was the dawn chorus. At home this is just fantastic and starts from as early as 4:30 in the morning. I was not as rusty as I thought and have been able to identify all the calls, whilst lying in bed, including that of the migratory Willow Warbler which is more familiar to me from Kuwait.
The Estate is perfect for cycling or walking and birds are pretty plentiful. It is now mid-summer and breeding is in full swing, the weather is hot with occasional afternoon showers and the air is clean and clear against deep blue African skies.
I managed to record 60 species during December with some notable highlights like; Little Sparrowhawk, Green-backed (Striated) Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Willow and African Reed Warbler, Little Swift along with Diederik and Red-chested Cuckoo.
I have also been out with my camera and below are some of the more common birds seen daily on our estate. Many of the BIF images were taken from the balcony of our house.
Red-eyed Dove is the most common Dove on the estate and their calls in early morning and late afternoon are almost soothing. Here is one coming in to land
|Red-eyed Dove (Streptopelia semitorquata)
African Olive Pigeon numbers have increased over the years and have almost displaced the previously common Speckled Pigeon's even though the habitat needs are different for both species.
|African Olive Pigeon (Columba arquatrix)
Hadeda Ibis, or "Goliath Sunbirds" are both loved and hated - for our dogs it is the latter. They provide a good service digging out grubs and crickets from the lawn - but they are noisy as hell!
|Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash)
Common Moorhen are common and breed at most of the dams on the Estate
|Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Whilst Reed Cormorant fly by occasionally, at times they will drop into one of the dams
|Reed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus)
Overhead, African Palm Swifts are seen mornings and afternoons. Not easy to catch in flight with big glass
|African Palm Swift (Cypsiurus parvus)
Whilst White-rumped Swifts are not quite as numerous
|White-rumped Swift (Apus caffer)
We get two species of Starling, Cape Glossy which are common
|Cape Glossy Starling (Lamprotornis nitens)
and less frequently, the stunning Red-winged Starling
|Red-winged Starling (Onychognathus morio)
The comical Grey Go-away-bird's are pretty abundant in the estate
|Grey Go-away-bird (Corythaixoides concolor)
At the dams, we have breeding Southern Red Bishop which are just glorious in their breeding plumage, well the males really!
|Male Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix)
Alongside the Bishops there are Thick-billed Weavers who in my opinion make the most detailed and intricate nests of the Weaver species
|Male Thick-billed Weaver (Amblyospiza albifrons)
The White-throated Swallow's are most often seen at the dams and foraging low over the lawn in the bigger parks.
|White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis)
There are also a number of the smaller seed-eaters; Bronze Mannikin's
|Bronze Mannikin (Lonchura cucullata)
|Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild)
and Black-throated Canaries that are often seen feeding on the grass seeds along the run-off areas between some of the dams
|Black-throated Canary (Crithagra atrogularis)
And then of course after a storm, we have some glorious sunsets and magificent clouds from our balcony on many days - bliss!
|Captivating clouds and fiery sunsets