13 April 2021

Staying Local

05 February 2021 - Northern Farm

It was really cool to meet some local birders (Andrew Hester, Mike K, Sue and Owen Oertli) on an outing to Northern Farm and also great to catch-up with Andre Marx, who arranged the outing, and who I hadn't seen for many years.

We met at the gate at 6am and then jumped into two cars to explore this awesome site which has delivered some really good birds over the years. Sadly, it was another overcast drizzly day, but the clouds did lighten a little later. We had a great morning, finishing with just under 100 species which is impressive for a Gauteng site.

Some interesting fungi on a log in the parking lot

Fungi sp.

A stop at the first dam produced a pair of Goliath Heron

Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)

Along with a few African Stonechat

Female African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)

A stop at another dam produced African Fish Eagle, Long-crested Eagle and Black Sparrowhawk, but no images of these birds unfortunately, I did get this African Darter as it dashed across the dam.

African Darter (Anhinga rufa)

A little further on, Greater Striped Swallow were seen whilst we were walking

Greater Striped Swallow (Cecropis cucullata)

We checked a pen where Yellow Wagtail had been seen in previous years, without luck. But did get African Pipit

African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)

and a surprise Red-capped Lark which is a good bird for this area

Red-capped Lark (Calandrella cinerea)

A couple of Barn Swallow's were roosting on the fence

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Following up on a calling Willow Warbler, I found this Cape Robin-Chat - this a habitat image

Cape Robin-Chat (Cossypha caffra)

Another small dam produced a few duck species including these Hottentot Teal

Hottentot Teal (Spatula hottentota)

and one of many Yellow-billed Duck

Yellow-billed Duck (Anas undulata)

There were also good numbers of Lesser Swamp Warbler in the reeds and the vegetation in the dam

Lesser Swamp Warbler (Acrocephalus gracilirostris)

In another area, we found good numbers of Spotted Thick-knee

Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)

All too soon, the time was up as some needed to get to work. I did a quick drive on my own and found a pair of obliging Burchell's Coucal that were drying out their feathers whilst perched on a fence. These were the best images of the morning

Burchell's Coucal (Centropus burchelli)

A most enjoyable morning and will need to get back to this great site and on a day when the weather is more favourable.

Good birds out West

3rd February 2021 - Krugersdorp Testing Station

My son had an appointment for his driving test out in Krugersdorp, so I took the opportunity to explore the surrounding area and was quite pleasantly surprised. It was an overcast and gloomy day, so not conducive for great images, especially of flying birds.

The habitat was hilly, rocky and had some good grassland, it was here I had a number of calling Rufous-naped Lark's

Rufous-naped Lark (Mirafra africana)

I heard a familiar call and a bird I haven't seen in ages popped up out of a bush - Black-chested Prinia, which I saw a few more times in the hour and a half I spent in the area

Black-chested Prinia (Prinia flavicans)

Another great bird for me was an obliging and singing Wailing Cisticola, also a bird I hadn't seen in a number of years

Wailing Cisticola (Cisticola lais)

A Red-collared Widowbird put in a brief appearance, as it flew by

Red-collared Widowbird (Euplectes ardens)

Along the road, a female White-bellied Sunbird enjoying some nectar

White-bellied Sunbird (Cinnyris talatala)

Near the airfield, I had 6 Abdim's Storks flying over and down into the valley

Abdim's Stork (Ciconia abdimii)

I then went to explore the valley and discovered there was a sewage works and many grassy fields where there were 300+ Storks along with hundred's of Sacred Ibis. Along the road was a male Amethyst Sunbird

Amethyst Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystina)

I discovered a small breeding colony of Horus Swift around the plant itself.

Horus Swift (Apus horus)

As it was time to pick up my son, I headed back up to the testing station, but stopped when I heard alarming Lapwing's. This could only mean a raptor overhead and sure enough, this stunning Lanner Falcon came cruising pasta and completely uninterested in the irritating Lapwings

Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)

Just before the testing grounds, another surprise when I saw a Black-chested Snake Eagle circling over the ridge

Black-chested Snake Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis)

My wheels in it's natural habitat and to give an idea of the biome I was birding in


All in all an enjoyable hour or so in an area I have not explored before.

08 April 2021

Kyalami Estates - January Round-up

31 January 2021 - Kyalami Estates, Midrand

I recorded 61 species in January and this included a couple of expected migrants.

I saw and photographed a number of birds from my balcony in early morning or late afternoons. Greater Striped Swallow appear to have a nest in my neighbour's house.

Greater Striped Swallow (Cecropis cucullata)

African Palm Swift are seen almost every day

African Palm Swift (Cypsiurus parvus)

as are White-rumped Swift

White-rumped Swift (Apus caffer)

One morning, the Cape Sparrow's were really agitated and as I came out on the balcony to check, I saw them in hot pursuit of an African Grey Hornbill which had raided their nest and taken one of the chicks. The Hornbill was oblivious to the protesting parents as it sat in a tree in my garden and eventually swallowed the chick whole.

African Grey Hornbill (Lophoceros nasutus)

Reed Cormorant's are occasionally seen passing by, but seem to have little interest in the dams in our park

Reed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus)

In my garden, I have Dark-capped Bulbul's that have nested this summer

Dark-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus tricolor)

and African Hoopoe's that forage on the lawn, when the dogs arent about

African Hoopoe (Upupa africana)

I often take a walk around the two parks in our estate, where the Southern Red Bishops

Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix)

and Thick-billed Weavers are still building nests in resplendent in breeding plumage

Thick-billed Weaver (Amblyospiza albifrons)

African Wattled Lapwings are seen occasionally

African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus)

This month, there were juvenile Bronze Mannikin's with the adult birds, so successful breeding somewhere in the Estate

Bronze Mannikin (Lonchura cucullata)

I often hear Willow Warbler, but in January managed to finally see one. They are tough in SA compared to Kuwait.

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Cape Wagtails favour the open lawn in the parks

Cape Wagtail (Motacilla capensis)

I have only recorded Cape Weaver in the Park that has Willow Trees. It seems to favour these trees for its nest

Cape Weaver (Ploceus capensis)

In the same park, I had African Reed Warbler calling from the reed's and with patience I was able to see the two birds.

African Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus baeticatus)

From an invertebrate perspective, I photographed Clover Blue

Clover Blue (Zizina o. antanossa)

Common Zebra Blue

Common Zebra Blue (Leptotes p. pirithous)

and Marsh Acraea which I hadn't seen in the Estate before

Marsh Acraea (Telchinia r. rahira)

Also Epaulet Skimmer

Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma)

and this impressive Barbet Percher

Barbet Percher (Diplacodes luminans)

along with an unidentified Moth found in my house

Moth sp.

Other birds not seen often in January included; African Green Pigeon, Pied Crow, Black-headed Heron, Barn Owl, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and an African Harrier Hawk

Migrants and invisible Ele's

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