30 March 2022

Magical Zaagkuilsdrift

20 February 2022 - Zaagkuilsdrift Road

Earlier in the week there had been reports of a few Crake species and a Black Coucal near the Plat River on the Zaagkuilsdrift Road. The Coucal is an awesome bird for just north of Pretoria, but I was more keen on trying to connect with the Crakes. However, I didnt anticipate how many birders were keen to see the Coucal, so even though I thought I arrived early, there were at least 15 birders already at the site and with many more to follow.

The area for both the Crakes and Coucal was a flooded grassland. The Coucal was calling, but someway off and I did get some flight views as it came out, flew a short distance and dropped back in the grass. I had the same view of a Crake doing the same, but way  to far to pin the ID.

The chance of finding the Crake diminished as the numbers of birders grew, so we enjoyed what was in the same area - drumming African Snipe

African Snipe (Gallinago nigripennis)

A Fulvous Whistling Duck flying by

Fulvous Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor)

An fairly obliging Levaillant's Cuckoo which was one of many seen

Levaillant's Cuckoo (Clamator levaillantii)

And a few cracking Red-backed Shrikes which will departing imminently and possibly back through Kuwait. 

Here a portrait and landscape study - which is preferable?

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

I cut my losses and slowly drove to the Kgomo Kgomo village adding Magpie Shrike with both dark and light backgrounds, by shifting my position

Magpie Shrike (Urolestes melanoleucus)

Diederick Cuckoo on the overhead lines

Female Diederick Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius)

a pair of Red-breasted Swallows that appeared to be bringing mud to build/repair their nest in a culvert under the road

Red-breasted Swallow (Cecropis semirufa)

On the bridge over the floodplain, the list continued to grow and here I also photographed Whiskered

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)

and White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)

Good sized flocks of Black-winged Pratincole

Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanni)

and small numbers of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters foraging from the overhead lines which will also soon depart for the summer breeding grounds

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

Squacco Heron's were flying up and down the channels

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

Whilst a Black Heron passed by over the bridge

Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca)

There were a number of duck's present, but only Red-billed Teal obliged for a photograph

Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)

By now the sun was pretty high in the sky, so I headed back east on the road, stopping for a Zitting Cisticola

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)

and a stunning Lucia Widow (a dragonfly I have not yet seen) on a small pan next to the road

Lucia Widow (Palpopleura lucia)

At the t-junction with the tar road, I came across a family of Southern Carmine Bee-eaters, another good species for this close to Pretoria

Juvenile Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides)

Adult Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides)

This is always a good birding road, but unfortunately not for Crakes today

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