28 July 2021

Winter colours

27 June 2021 - Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

The last two visits to Suikerbosrand, we had dismal weather to start, so I decided to try once again, together with my son Jaden to see if we could photograph Pink-billed Lark. We had an early start, stopping for coffee at a petrol stop on route, where my temperature gauge showed -1 degrees. But, on the up side, clear skies.

We didn't go to the actual reserve, but explored the adjacent property where I had previously found the Lark in May. With the windows down and heater on, we started up the road. As expected in the cold weather, birds were few and far between so early but we did get Cape Longclaw in the early morning sun.

Cape Longclaw (Macronyx capensis)

Quail-Finches are notoriously difficult to both see and photograph. I had a few land in front of the car, but this had me photographing into the sun - I will take this for now and try and get a better image on the next visit

African Quail-Finch (Ortygospiza fuscocrissa)

There were a couple of Stonechat's around

African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)

However, this morning, Capped Wheatear were the most abundant

Capped Wheatear (Oenanthe pileata)

We had both African Pipit

African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)

and Plain-backed Pipit

Plain-backed Pipit (Anthus leucophrys)

We saw three Lapwing species, this is Crowned Lapwing 

Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus coronatus)

As it warmed up, a few Spike-heeled Lark's made an appearance

Spike-heeled Lark (Chersomanes albofasciata)

Long-tailed Widow are starting to transition back into summer plumage, already!

Long-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes progne)

But still no Pink-billed and when we spoke with some other birders they reported the same. We were running out of time and drove the road in reverse direction, but at least with the sun in a more favourable position. A Zitting Cisticola was warming up and preening, as the sun rose a little higher.

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)

Finally, I found a single Pink-billed - but it didn't stick around long and flew away into the distance. Despite further careful searching, we admitted that it was mission unaccomplished and headed home for an early lunch.

Until next time........

GECKO; African Grass Owl's

25 June 2021 - GECKO Conservancy

I was really happy to be able to join the team along with EWT for the last outing of this breeding season to ring, measure and weigh 4 remaining youngsters at one of the sites within our conservancy.

Three of the four youngsters were already able to fly, albeit only a short distance, so we had our work cut out to ensure we safely secured all four.

Juvenile African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis)

Safely back in the tunnel nest after being ringed and a fitting end to this successful season.

Juvenile African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis)

The adult birds were present, but not in the same location as the youngsters. The adults are still feeding the young, but soon they will be independent and old enough to hunt for themselves

African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis)

Part of the team then went to check the adults at another location and to ensure the site was still preserved and the adults present. We found and confirmed that the pair were still at this site

African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis)

But a little later a Pied Crow, flew low and one of the adults flushed again and this time was pursued aggressively by the Crow. Luckily, it escaped with some nifty aerial maneuvers before diving into cover. These are but one of the hazards these vulnerable Owls have to endure

African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis)

Pied Crow (Corvus albus) in pursuit; 1st attempt

2nd attempt

Evasive action

Walking back to our cars, we had a bonus fly-by of a Black Sparrowhawk clutching a prey item together with the perch it may have been roosting on - a great bird for the pentad.

Black Sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus)

Until next season and we keep fingers crossed the winter fires will not decimate the few sites we are monitoring.

Pre-jab Birding

11 June 2021 - Glen Austin Pan

I was scheduled for my 1st Pfizer jab in Midrand and made a brief stop at Glen Austin Pan which was close by and to check if I could add any new species for this pentad.

On arrival, the Grey-headed Gull's made their presence known

Grey-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)

There were the expected waterfowl; Yellow-billed Duck

Yellow-billed Duck (Anas undulata)

Cape Shoveler

Cape Shoveler (Spatula smithii)

Along with White-faced Whistling Duck

White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)

and the pair of Blue-billed Teal's

Blue-billed Teal (Spatula hottentota)

Walking back to my car I had a pair of really obliging Neddicky's - a new bird for the pentad, for me.

Neddicky (Cisticola fulvicapilla)

It was then off to Dischem for the 2-hour wait for the first of my two jabs.

Migrants and invisible Ele's

09 January 2024 - Mabula; Day 3 Only the boys opted for this morning's drive and were entertained with these two Dung Beetle's tryin...