22 July 2022

Winter in the Highveld grasslands

26 June 2022 - Suikerbosrand

Hilton Thompson and I planned a winter morning outing to Suikerbosrand to try and pick up a few species that visit the reserve in the winter.

It was a relatively early start to arrive at sunrise, but after stopping for a Mugg and Bean coffee on route. We made a stop just before the reserve, adding Capped Wheatear amongst a number of other species

Capped Wheatear (Oenanthe pileata)

Once inside the reserve, we walked around the car park and Admin Building and finally connected with the Ashy Tit, that I had missed on previous visits.

Ashy Tit (Melaniparus cinerascens)

As well as a winter plumage White-winged Widow

White-winged Widowbird (Euplectes albonotatus)

We then headed into the reserve and had some luck with Mountain Wheatear early on in the drive

Pied Morph Mountain Wheatear (Myrmecocichla monticola)

Dark Morph Mountain Wheatear (Myrmecocichla monticola)

We stopped in the location where Sickle-winged Chat was seen earlier in the week, but only came away with a distant Familiar Chat

Familiar Chat (Oenanthe familiaris)

A little further on, a Plain-back Pipit 

Plain-backed Pipit (Anthus leucophrys)

I saw Rock Thrush some distance away, but it was too skittish for photographs but through the bins we could confirm it was Sentinel - a good winter species for the reserve. Later we did pick up another that was a little more obliging

Male Sentinel Rock Thrush (Monticola explorator)

Whilst watching the Rock Thrush, a Rock Kestrel passed by overhead

Rock Kestrel (Falco rupicolus)

Near the picnic spot, we picked up Ant-eating Thrush

Ant-eating Chat (Myrmecocichla formicivora)

At the picnic spot which is no longer accessible, we spotted a shy Mountain Reedbuck

Mountain Reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula)

Very few birds were seen in the Thornveld part of the reserve which was strange, but we did pick up a pair of duetting Bokmakierie's - I just love their call

Bokmakierie (Telophorus zeylonus)

We then headed back to the Admin Building where we were able to connect with Fairy Flycatcher - but it was too active for any pics. In the same tree was a Chestnut-vented Warbler with its pale eyes - but also not very obliging

Chestnut-vented Warbler (Sylvia subcoerulea)

However the Mocking Cliff Chats were quite happy to pose for pics - stunning birds to end an enjoyable winters morning out

Male Mocking Cliff Chat (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris)

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