04 November 2022

eBird Global Big Day - Spring

07-09 October 2022 - Hayward's Camp, Dinokeng

My son won a photographic competition with the prize being a free weekend at Dinokeng, which is just over an hour away from where we live. My wife and I left on Friday late afternoon to meet up with my son and our friends who were already there. It was a not too hectic trip through Friday afternoon traffic and once we arrived, we were setup in no time and ready for sundowners around the fire. A Marico Flycatcher was obliging as the sun set

Marico Flycatcher (Melaenornis mariquensis)

This camping weekend coincided with eBird Big Day, although timing is not the best for us in South Africa, as it is generally still too early for the migratory species. Nevertheless I was woken early on Saturday morning by the cacophony of a dawn chorus with both Babbler species leading the charge. I didnt anticipate a great count for the camp and surrounding area, but made the most of it.

I did track down one of the culprits for the dawn chorus - a party of Arrow-marked Babblers

Arrow-marked Babbler (Turdoides jardineii)

Chestnut-vented Warblers were active early on

Chestnut-vented Warbler (Curruca subcoerulea)

As was a single Burnt-necked Eremomela which was unusual, as they are normally also in small parties

Burnt-necked Eremomela (Eremomela usticollis)

I heard and then tracked down a Crimson-breasted Shrike that didnt stick around long

Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus)

In the pool area a Red-billed Hornbill was seen foraging in the leaf litter

Southern Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus rufirostris)

Walking back to camp a couple of Magpie Shrike's flew by

Magpie Shrike (Urolestes melanoleucus)

Whilst a pair of Violet-eared Waxbill's foraged quietly on the ground just outside the fence

Female Violet-eared Waxbill (Granatina granatina)

Male Violet-eared Waxbill (Granatina granatina)

At our camp, a Warthog watched us from the other side of the fence.

Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

I had seen a pair of Great Sparrow, but they were pretty skittish and kept their distance before flying off - hopefully they return again. From the camp I saw a distant medium sized raptor perched in a copse of Bluegum Trees - from its distinctive crest it could only be a Wahlberg's

Wahlberg's Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi)

As the morning warmed up, it took off and luckily circled close to me whilst gaining height. Later in the day, I discovered there was a pair and they had a nest in the Bluegum. Probably a returning pair to the same site

Wahlberg's Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi)

White-browed Sparrow-Weavers were active around our camp and adding to their nests

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser mahali)

In the late afternoon, we had a single Ground Agama making an appearance

Ground Agama (Agama aculeata)

And the Chestnut-vented Warbler coming to look for scraps around the campsite. It was great to have it out in the open for a change

Chestnut-vented Warbler (Curruca subcoerulea)

And the camp bird - Marico Flycatcher

Marico Flycatcher (Melaenornis mariquensis)

Of course, as the sun went down - the drinks came out and the fire created its own ambiance as a Fiery-necked Nightjar called in the distance. In the end I recorded 73 species for eBird Big Day

Dinokeng Sunset

Sunday I had a later and more leisurely walk around the small camp - again we were woken by the Babblers, but this time I managed to find the Southern Pied Babbler

Southern Pied Babbler (Turdoides bicolor)

And a much more obliging Crimson-breasted Shrike that was casually foraging through the campsite. It doesn't matter how often you see this bird, when it turns to face you it still takes your breathe away, especially in the dry habitat - that red just jumps out at you

Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus)

It passed by the Pied Babbler to create a contrast in colour between the two

Southern Pied Babbler and Crimson-breasted Shrike

I had another encounter with a Burnt-necked Eremomela

Burnt-necked Eremomela (Eremomela usticollis)

and a calling Black-chested Prinia near the pool area

Black-chested Prinia (Prinia flavicans)

It was then back to camp for breakfast and this time I had some luck with a male Great Sparrow that was still some distance off, but great to see

Male Great Sparrow (Passer motitensis)

Not much later a Kalahari Scrub Robin calling from the top of a tree near to where the Sparrow had been

Kalahari Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas paena)

Followed by a Scaly-feathered Finch

Scaly-feathered Finch (Sporopipes squamifrons)

Just outside the fence a really well marked Sabota Lark that had me considering other species

Sabota Lark (Calendulauda sabota)

The Violet-eared Waxbill's were still present, along with a pair of Cut-throat Finch

Cut-throat Finch (Amadina fasciata)

A pair of Chinspot Batis were foraging and feeding in a tree on the other side of the fence - which is where most birds were seen, but as this reserve has Lion, no walking outside the fence is allowed

Chinspot Batis (Batis molitor)

We had a drive to Arlington finding a pair of Secretary Birds on a nest and then to another part of the reserve where we waited for one of the biggest Tortoises I have seen in any park to cross the road - not sure what species it is

Tortoise sp.

And a few Hippo in one of the dams

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious)

It was then back to Hayward's for brunch and then to pack up the site and head home after what was an enjoyable and relaxing weekend - made even more so, by the short drive to get to and from Dinokeng.

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