09 June 2021

Chasing skulkers

04 March 2021 - Zaagkuildrift and Kgomo Kgomo

In the past few weeks both Streaky-breasted Flufftail and Striped Crake, both notorious skulkers, had been seen in and around the Kgomo Kgomo floodplains in North West Province. 

My son, Jaden and I decided to have a father-son birding morning to see if we could connect with either or both of them. It was an early start in the dark to arrive at the site before sunrise. Of course, we were not the only ones, and when we arrived, there were already 6 cars parked at the small flooded area next to the road. Already our chances were diminished for seeing the Crake.

Whilst waiting and searching and listening, we were entertained by a Black-chested Prinia as the son rose

Black-chested Prinia (Prinia flavicans)

Followed by a stunning male Violet-eared Waxbill

Violet-eared Waxbill (Uraeginthus granatina)

By this time, it was after 7:30am and only 1 birder had managed to get a brief glimpse of the Crake, which also had some chicks. These are opportunistic breeders in favourable conditions, but move on pretty quickly. Of course, we didn't hear the Flufftail either, so that had already moved on - blow out on both accounts.

So, we cut our losses and enjoyed some good birding in what is considered to be one of the better, if not the best, birding roads (all 25km of it) in the country. We headed to the bridge over the floodplain where I had brief views of the Lesser Moorhen. A flock of Yellow-billed Storks flushed with one still carrying a fish it was trying to swallow

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis)

I saw both European and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters on the overhead lines

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

Along with a distant Lilac-breasted Roller 

Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus)

I had a brief view of a Wire-tailed Swallow, but the White-throated Swallows were far more obliging on the bridge

White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis)

There was a large colony of Little Swift breeding under the bridge that offered some good BIF opportunities

Little Swift (Apus affinis)

Birds were passing overhead quite often, including this Black Heron

Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca)

and a really big flock of Black-winged Pratincole

Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanni)

Zitting Cisticola's were displaying, these were my best efforts of this small fast flying bird

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)

A couple of Lesser Grey Shrikes were cool to see, considering I last saw these in Kuwait in September last year

Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor)

We explored a little beyond the bridge, finding Red-breasted Swallow

Red-breasted Swallow (Cecropis semirufa)

And the Long-tailed Paradise Whydah

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah (Vidua paradisaea)

In the village, there were a few Marico Flycatchers

Marico Flycatcher (Melaenornis mariquensis)

It was now time to head back home, but not before a quick walk on the grassland around the floodplain. Here we had the cool little Scaly-feathered Finch

Scaly-feathered Finch (Sporopipes squamifrons)

A couple of African Pipit's

African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)

and a cool Velvet-spotted Babul Blue

Velvet-spotted Babul Blue (Azanus ubalbus)

Jaden 'papped' me on the plains


On the way back to the main road, a Crested Francolin running across the road

Crested Francolin (Dendroperdix sephaena)

and a male Village Indigobird on the fence

Village Indigobird (Vidua chalybeata)

It was great to be out on the Plains (yes, I know this sound like the Neal Young song), after such a long absence, but disappointing that we didn't connect with the skulkers.

Of course, the next day, the Crake was seen by many walking across the road with it's chicks - that's how the banana bends!

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