19 April 2023

On a mission

15 February 2023 - Rietvlei Nature Reserve

I combined an early morning visit to a dentist in Centurion with a quick and targeted visit to Rietvlei. African Crake has eluded me on Crake Road near Kgomo Kgomo on so many occasions. In the previous week, reports surfaced of African Crake at Rietvlei, so that is where I found myself early in the morning when the gates opened.

I had an idea of where they had been seen and drove slowly on the wet roads (it had rained the night before) searching in all the right areas, but to no avail. I bumped into another photographer and we had a chat. He told me he had seen a Crake at the hide just after the main gate (this is where I spent some time looking and listening), so I headed back to the hide and parked diagonally in the parking, so I could look down the path toward the hide, switched the car off and waited.

I could not believe my luck when after 10-minutes, the African Crake slowly walked out of cover and started feeding next to the walking path. Finally!!! 

Unfortunately, the sun was directly behind the bird, so it was really difficult to get decent images, but I did finally get one that I was happy with.

African Crake (Crecopsis egregia)

After the Crake moved off, I walked to the hide where I found an obliging White-throated Swallow

White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis)

There was plenty of activity in the reeds surrounding the hide, almost all the birds were African Reed Warbler (now Common Reed Warbler, after being lumped with Eurasian), so I spent quite a bit of time photographing these birds and discovered they were of all ages

Common Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus baeticatus)

Whilst photographing the Warblers, a Malachite Kingfisher flew in and perched at the minimum focusing distance of my lens

Malachite Kingfisher (Corythornis cristata)

Job done on the Crake, but then I had to head to the dentist and an extraction which I was not really looking forward to. But, at least I could replay the excitement of finding the Crake in my mind while he went about with his job

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