27 May 2022

Local Pentad Bash

19 May 2022 - Northern Farm

Andre Marx and I conducted an early morning Pentad bash at Northern Farms. Our last visit had been in the Spring, so a late Autumn visit was on the cards, excuse the pun.

We met at the gate at 6:30 just before sunrise, ticking off White-browed Sparrow Weavers.

Our first stop was at the old quarry, where we found Orange-breasted Waxbill's, a really good bird for this Pentad. Natal Francolin was heard calling not too far away, also a good bird for the area. The Wild Dagga was flowering which attracted the two resident Sunbird's - here the Amethyst

Amethyst Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystina)

We saw 3 different Marsh Owl's hunting around the farm as the sun slowly rose. This one landed close by, but against the light

Marsh Owl (Asio capensis)

At one of the lakes, I spent time with a Little Rush Warbler that was calling from the reeds, with patience and some phishing, I was able to coax it out into the open, but very briefly

Little Rush Warbler (Bradypterus baboecala)

Another really good bird for the area was this Greater Kestrel, a bird I haven't seen for quite some time. Unfortunately, also against the light

Greater Kestrel (Falco rupicoloides)

On the way back from the Kestrel, an obliging Levaillant's Cisticola

Levaillant's Cisticola (Cisticola tinniens)

Before having to call it a morning and head back to work. 72 species in 2-hours was pretty respectable for an autumn morning in Gauteng. 

A landscape of the mist slowly rising with Poplar Tree's in the distance

Poplars in the mist

eBird Global Big Day; Autumn

14 May 2022 - Kyalami Estates and Glen Austin Pan

As lamented by others, 14 May is not a great date in South Africa and many other countries. I believe the spring and autumn dates are chosen to satisfy the American birders. Nevertheless, we try and do our bit - despite the lack of migrants.

This was a low key day for me and I concentrated my efforts in the suburb where I live and then a short excursion to Glen Austin Pan. I managed a paltry 66 species, but it was for a good cause.

I didnt take any images from my Estate, but did take my camera to the Pan and photographed a few species whilst trying to maximise the species count. There were a few notable omissions that I have seen on almost every other visit. There were big numbers of Black-headed Heron at the Pan, where the water levels are still really high

Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)

I had a good count of Duck species, including Red-billed Teal

Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)

Yellow-billed Duck and Southern Pochard were amongst those photographed

Yellow-billed Duck (Anas undulata) and Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma)

Red-knobbed Coot numbers seem to be increasing - they have had a bumper breeding season

Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata)

In the adjacent grasslands, I managed to find a pair of Northern Black Korhaan

Male Northern Black Korhaan (Afrotis afraoides)

And flushed a few Spotted Thick-knee whilst searching for them

Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)

On the drive back home, had a good session with an obliging Crowned Lapwing and consider these some of my best images of this species

Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus coronatus)

Now we wait for Spring and the next Global Big Day

24 May 2022

A morning North of Pretoria

07 May 2022 - Zaagkuilsdrift and Kgomo Kgomo

The last trip to this legendary road was late summer and although all migrants have now left, it was still worth a visit in Autumn. The good news is that you don't have to get up as early to be at the start of the road by sunrise which I was.

The other plus is that there are not as many birders looking for the resident birds, so you almost have the road to yourself. The sun was just peeping over the horizon when I came across a flock of Southern Pied Babbler's

Southern Pied Babbler (Turdoides bicolor)

Not much further on, a family of Orange-breasted Bushshrike's with the youngsters more obliging than the adults

Juvenile Orange-breasted Bushshrike (Chlorophoneus sulfureopectus)

A little further on with a little more light at the top of the tree, a regular and melanistic Gabar Goshawk in the same tree

Gabar Goshawk (Micronisus owlet)

Melanistic Gabar Goshawk (Micronisus owlet)

I was surprised to find a late Klaas's Cuckoo that managed to find a caterpillar whilst foraging

Klaas's Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas)

Whilst watching the Cuckoo, a Brown-crowned Tchagra popped into view

Brown-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra australis)

On the roadside fences, I found Burchell's Starling - this one calling

Burchell's Starling (Lamprotornis australis)

and both Southern Yellow-billed

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas)

and Southern Red-billed Hornbill

Southern Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus rufirostris)

Burchell's Coucal were pretty common at a few places I stopped on the way to Kgomo Kgomo

Burchell's Coucal (Centropus burchelli)

As were Lilac-breasted Roller's on the overhead lines

Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus)

At Crake Road, I had a single Black Stork, but it departed as soon as it saw me. There were a couple of Marico Flycatchers near the Zaagkuilsdrift Lodge

Marico Flycatcher (Melaenornis mariquensis)

But on the bridge, I had both Darter and Reed Cormorant together

Reed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus) and African Darter (Anhinga rufa)

I also did get some views of Violet-eared Waxbill, but still no Black-faced Waxbill

Violet-eared Waxbill (Uraeginthus granatina)

The Pienaar's River is still pretty high at Plat River where I had a fleeting view of Little Bittern and where I was entertained by a 'drumming' African Snipe

African Snipe (Gallinago nigripennis)

And a preening Acacia Pied Barbet

Acacia Pied Barbet (Tricholaema leucomelas)

Just before the village, more Marico Flycatchers than I had seen on any previous visit. I like the simplicity of these images

Marico Flycatcher (Melaenornis mariquensis)

Once at Kgomo Kgomo I checked the floodplain and found African Pipit

African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)

And many Scaly-feathered Finches - really cool little birds

Scaly-feathered Finch (Sporopipes squamifrons)

On the bridge, I had a fleeting view of a Lesser Moorhen, whilst the African Spoonbill was a little more obliging

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)

Driving slowly over the 25km from the start to the village took me an enjoyable 3-hours. It is a little quicker on the way back, as you are driving into the sun and birds are not quite as active later in the morning. I did get a Pearl-breasted Swallow, which I didnt expect

Pearl-breasted Swallow (Hirundo dimidiata)

and lastly a Black-winged Kite before the main road.

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

In the end I recorded 91 species for a thoroughly enjoyable, solo morning's autumn birding and photography.

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