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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