23 May 2023

Chasing migrants with Andre Marx

03 March 2023 - Northern Farm

Andre Marx and I had planned this early morning atlas bash at the Farm whilst a few of the remaining migrants were still around. Little did I know, that this would be the last time I would ever see my good friend Andre again, as he was senselessly and unexpectedly killed on the 1st May and even now we are all still trying to come to terms with his tragic loss.  

We started the morning down at the quarry just after sunrise, calling out names of birds that we could pick up on the dawn chorus and then a few that made an appearance whilst we were atlassing - like this African Pipit in the pre-dawn

African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)


Whilst watching a Willow Warbler, a Little Rush Warbler popped up in the undergrowth and afforded a few photo opportunities

Little Rush Warbler (Bradypterus baboecala)



Walking to the small dam, we flushed a few Spotted Thick-knee's

Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)



Closer to the small dam, we then picked up a few African (now Common) Reed Warblers - but no sign of the Yellow Warbler this time

Common Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus baeticatus)





We then drove a little further to check another dam and had some luck with a Sedge Warbler that gave a brief appearance before disappearing into the undergrowth. By the end of the morning, we had recorded 7 Warbler species.

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)




Walking back to the car, I noticed a few Amur Falcon's on the overhead line and managed to get a few images - I'm really happy with the in-flight image as it shows all the salient features of the male

Female Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis)

Male Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis)




Along with the Falcon's there was a family of Lesser Striped Swallow's enjoying the suns rays on the overhead lines

Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica)


Along another road, there were many Falcons perched on the overhead lines and we scoured through them all, first finding a Greater Kestrel which is always a good record for this Pentad

Greater Kestrel (Falco rupicoloides) with Amur and Red-footed Falcon






And then Andre picked up another male Amur and in his under-rated excitement said we need to check this one more carefully. Just as well we did, as it was a lone male Red-footed Falcon amongst the many Amur's. A fantastic bird for this Pentad and one we also found around the same time last year, except that was a female bird. We did well on raptor species, recording 7 in total.

 Male Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus)




Just as we were getting back in the car, we heard the call of White-fronted Bee-eaters as a small flock flew by and also landed on the overhead lines

White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides)


Another species that has eluded us on every visit was the Western Yellow Wagtail, but again we searched the cow pens where they had previously been recorded - this time it was my turn to shout out in excitement, as I found a cracking male Sykes's Wagtail in the middle of the pens. Andre mirrored my excitement and we spent quite some time with this bird which never really came too close

Male Sykes's Wagtail (Motacilla f. beema)



Moving along, we stopped at another dam and added a few more species to our pentad bash whilst an African Darter flew by overhead

African Darter (Anhinga rufa)


Whilst there were many Banded Groundling's flying around our feet

Banded Groundling (Brachythemis leucosticta)


By now it was time to head home, so Andre dropped me off at my car. As I was about to leave, he excitedly called me to see a Kurrichane Thrush on the lawn in the shop area - another great record for our Pentad and very sadly, the last bird we would see together.

Kurrichane Thrush (Turdus libonyanus)




For me, the Kurrichane Thrush will be Andre's spiritual bird, so whenever and wherever I see it again, his memory will live with me. 

Fly free and high Andre!










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