21 July 2022

Winter Solstice Birding

21 June 2022 - Northern Farm

I thought it would be interesting to have a mornings birding on the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. Northern Farm has a decent habitat diversity, so that was the choice. Unfortunately, Andre couldn't join, so it was to be a solo effort.

I arrived at 7am, just as the sun was rising and headed to the quarry where there is a large stand of Wild Dagga, although the peak flowering has since passed. I was keen to see if the Yellow Warblers were still around, but whilst waiting I did find White-bellied

Female White-bellied Sunbird (Cinnyris talatala)

and Amethyst Sunbird

Male Amethyst Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystina)

I then heard the distinctive call of the Warbler and managed to track down two birds, which were a little more elusive than on our last visit. It is a great bird for this site and Gauteng

African Yellow Warbler (Iduna natalensis)

A couple of Sacred Ibis passed by overhead - these are common at this farm

African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

A trio of Blacksmith Lapwing were vocal on the top of sand bank

Blacksmith Lapwing (Vanellus armatus)

A little further down the road, a female African Stonechat was soaking up the early morning sun

Female African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)

I then drove to the cow pens and added African Pipit

African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)

along with Common Starling, also a difficult species in Gauteng

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

A Cape Turtle Dove was seen perched on the fence

Cape Turtle Dove (Streptopelia capicola)

Down near the Jukskei River, a Long-crested Eagle was perched out in the open, but then departed

Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)

A couple of Egyptian Geese flew by to head to one of the ploughed fields where many were seen later on my drive

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

There were many Black-winged Kites about - a mix of both adult and younger birds

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

During the morning I explored most of the farm adding species as I went along. A pair of Hamerkop were busy adding to their massive nest near one of the smaller dams

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)

Overhead I picked up a distant Black-chested Snake Eagle

Black-chested Snake Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis)

And later an even more distant African Fish Eagle

Immature African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)

In the grasslands, more African Stonechat

Male African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)

And Black-throated Canaries

Black-throated Canary (Crithagra atrogularis)

I headed back to the quarry to check on the small dam and this time was rewarded with Goliath Heron

Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)

And the Blue-billed Teal that I had seen previously in the same location, along with White-faced Whistling Ducks

Blue-billed Teal (Spatula hottentota)

White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) and Blue-billed Teal

My last stop was at the main dam and found a single Cape Teal which is an excellent species for Gauteng

Cape Teal (Anas capensis)

Along with a number of Southern Pochard

Male Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma)

The Pied Crows were harassing the Heron colony, possibly trying to get to young chicks and this kept putting all the Herons up in the air

Pied Crow (Corvus albus)

Here, one of the Black-headed Heron's before heading back to the heronry.

Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)

I had a quick stop in the parking area before heading home and ticked Green Wood-hoopoe that appeared to be feeding young

Green Wood-hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus)

and then checked on the White-browed Sparrow-Weaver colony in one of the Acacia Trees

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser mahali)

Despite the clear but blustery conditions, it was a successful morning and I recorded 78 species, with some good birds for the Pentad.

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