18 November 2022

Highveld grassland near Pretoria

22 October 2022 - Rietvlei NR and Glen Austin

Although Rietvlei is relatively close to where I live, I had never previously visited this reserve near Pretoria. I had heard, that there was a chance of finding Serval here and since I had no luck at Pilansberg, I decided to have a go at Rietvlei.

As always, I was at the gate shortly after opening times and elected to drive a circuit around the reserve. African Stonechat's were numerous in the grasslands

Probable juvenile African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)

Male African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)



I was still a little too early in the season, as not all the Widowbird's were in summer plumage yet - I did find one, but it remained some distance away.

Long-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes progne)



I had more luck with Plain-backed Pipit, which is relatively easy to find in this reserve.

Plain-backed Pipit (Anthus leucophrys)



I spent quite a bit of time with this young Black-winged Kite, as it dispatched a small rodent

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)





Almost dropped it..




Down the hatch




Levaillant's Cisticola was pretty widespread across the reserve.

Levaillant's Cisticola (Cisticola tinniens)


Of course, no luck with either the Serval or the Cheetah that is supposedly easy to see..


Heading back to the gate, I passed a small wetland where a two Little Grebe were sitting quietly at the base of the reeds

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)



By mid-morning it had warmed up considerably, so I headed home detouring past Glen Austin Pan where I had a couple of Southern Pochard close by. It was interesting to watch them feed - just skimming and filtering below the water surface

Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma)





However, whilst walking along the boundary fence, I inadvertently flushed a Little Bittern and managed to grab a few frames as it flew off. My first record of this species at the Pan - so that was pretty awesome..

Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)






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