10 June 2022

Kyalami Estates - May Round-up

31 May 2022 - Kyalami Estates

With winter almost upon us, May was a relatively quiet month with only 48 species recorded. However, two sightings on the same late afternoon were certainly the highlight of the month.

A local birder alerted me to a Black Spa perched at the top of a dead Bluegum Tree opposite his house. I raced down from my house to find it was still there - a gorgeous pale form Black Sparrowhawk soaking up the late afternoon sun

Black Sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus)

No sooner had I got back to my house, when he called again to say an Ovambo Sparrowhawk was now sitting in the same tree. Back down I went, but it had flown off. The sun had now gone down and I managed to connect with one of the two birds in less than favourable light

Ovambo Sparrowhawk (Accipiter ovampensis)

From my balcony, I recorded a few African Green Pigeons perched in the top of a dead Pine Tree late one afternoon

African Green Pigeon (Treron calvus)

I also recorded African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon (Columba arquatrix)

Red-eyed Doves

Red-eyed Dove (Streptopelia semitorquata)

And Cape White-Eye feeding on the Bottlebrush

Cape White-Eye (Zosterops virens)

In the Parks, Reed Cormorants were occasionally seen

Reed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus)

The small flock of Bronze Mannikin's were enjoying feeding on the seed heads of the Pampas Grass

Bronze Mannikin (Lonchura cucullata)

Whilst Red Bishops are all now in winter/non-breeding plumage

Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix)

And the Thick-billed Weavers are also still present in the reed habitat at the dam

Thick-billed Weaver (Amblyospiza albifrons)

Common Moorhen stroll around on the grass surrounding the dam

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Whilst these Spotted Thick-knee's tried to keep low key in a flowerbed on the grass verge

Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)

Mellow Yellow amongst the Wild Dagga

31 May 2022 - Northern Farms

Andre and I had tried unsuccessfully on our previous visits to find Yellow Warbler. Last week Andre let a Bird Club outing and connected with a number of these Warblers, so we hatched a plan for an early morning visit to try again.

We met early at the gate and picked up a Cape Longclaw sitting high on a plant in the soft early morning light.

Cape Longclaw (Macronyx capensis)

We then headed to the quarry and placed ourselves in amongst the Wild Dagga plants waiting for the sun to rise and get a little warmer. We picked up many of the usual suspects and enjoyed watching the two resident Sunbird's feeding on the flowering Wild Dagga (Leonotis). A few Amethyst were the most obliging

Amethyst Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystina)

Andre then picked up a Yellow Warbler low down in the Leonotis and we watched it working its way up the plant, stopping to sing every now and then - just magic in the crisp early morning light

African Yellow Warbler (Iduna natalensis)

There were around 3 - 4 birds and they moved around in the general area, giving more views of this not often seen species

African Yellow Warbler (Iduna natalensis)

Shortly after enjoying the Warbler's we had a distant Peregrine Falcon fly-by, another great bird for this location

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

As this was a focused outing, we called it a morning but stopped briefly at the large dam where there was a mixed species Heronry and had a Grey Heron flyby

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

08 June 2022

Soaring with the Eagles

28 May 2022 - Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

After Northcliff Ridge, it was a 30-minute drive to Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens where I wanted to spend some time with the resident Black (Verreaux's) Eagles. I still prefer the old name.

It was a gorgeous morning, as I walked through the gardens to the Waterfall

Waterfall at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

Since the birds have nested and laid eggs, there is always a monitor present to ensure there is no unnecessary disturbance to these majestic Eagles. I was told that the first chick had hatched only 3-days ago, so there was a slim chance of seeing the adults bring in some prey.

We assumed it was the female sitting on the nest

Female Verreaux's Eagle (Aquila verreauxii) on the nest

But not too long after I arrived, she flew off to perhaps stretch her wings and to dispose of some nest material

Off the nest with some unwanted nesting material

After she landed back on the nest, the male returned but without any offerings and the two birds spent a short time on the nest, before the male departed

Male Verreaux's Eagle (Aquila verreauxii) departing the nest

He then went on to put on an aerial display which was just awesome and later brought in some new nesting material

The start of his display flight

Gathering some new nesting material

Returning to the nest

Not too long after a couple of Pied Crow's flew by too close and then the action heated up and the crowd below was treated to some impressive aerial action, as they each took turns chasing each other - Top Gun 2.1. I'm sure if the Crow's were a real threat, the Eagle could have easily taken them out.

Male Verreaux's Eagle (Aquila verreauxii) and Pied Crow (Corvus albus) interaction


It was a totally enjoyable morning spent with these two celebrities, so close to Johannesburg. During the time at the Waterfall, I noticed large numbers of green locusts/grasshoppers on the move. They must be toxic, as no birds tried to catch or eat them

Locust sp.

On the way out, I Southern Fiscal was mimicking a variety of calls, trying to encourage some easy prey to take an interest - no such luck!

Southern Fiscal (Lanius collaris)

Migrants and invisible Ele's

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