26 May 2023

River Warbler - Take 2

26 March 2023 - Zaagkuilsdrift Road

After last week's failure Richard Crawshaw, Selwyn Rautenbach, Ruda Gous and I had one last attempt to try and connect with the elusive River Warbler. It had to be another early start to get back to the same location we tried last week, as it had been seen here during the week by other birders. In hindsight, we should have tried elsewhere to give ourselves a better chance.

As the sun was rising, we set ourselves up on chairs, but this time way deeper in the bush and waited quietly and patiently for another 2-hours. This time we didnt even hear it call, so that should have been an alarm bell - but we persevered until we had to admit defeat again. Now the window was over, so can only again in a years time. However, the Pepper Tick bites will provide a reminder of our effort for the coming weeks.

We cut our losses and headed the Kgomo Kgomo bridge to try for some of the remaining migrants. It was still misty, but photographing into the rising sun was a challenge. We were treated to a distant African Marsh Harrier

African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus)

There were quite a few other birders on the bridge and one sharp-eyed lady picked up a Painted Snipe in a small clearing in the reeds. It was really camouflaged and very easy to lose sight of.

Male Greater Painted Snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)

Black-chested Prinia's were active along the roadside

Black-chested Prinia (Prinia flavicans)

Whilst a Black-chested Snake Eagle gave a fly-by

Black-chested Snake Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis)

A Great-spotted Cuckoo was a real treat

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)

As were a few distant Lesser Kestrel's that were actively hunting over the flood plain

Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)

Leaving the bridge, I picked up a cracking male Great Sparrow

Great Sparrow (Passer motitensis)

And in the village we encountered a small flock of Cape Penduline Tit's

Cape Penduline Tit (Anthoscopus minutus)

A Lesser Grey Shrike posed for good views on the floodplain as we slowly headed back

Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor)

We made a stop at Scratch Road, but I was not prepared to get my Hilux damaged, so we opted to walk the road through the bush to the floodplain - we had a Wahlberg's Eagle overhead as we got out

Wahlberg's Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi)

The walk turned out to be a good call, as we found a family on Temminck's Courser

Temminck's Courser (Cursorius temminckii)

On the walk back, we enjoyed the abundance of invertebrates; a Dragonfly still to be identified

Dragonfly sp.

Many Golden Orb Spiders

Golden Orb Spider (Nephila senegalensis)

A Spotted Joker really stood out in the winter colours

Spotted Joker (Byblia ilithyia)

and a few White Pies

White Pie (Tuxentius calice)

Blue Pansy

Dark Blue Pansy (Junonia o. oenone)

Brown Russet

Brown Russet (Aloeides t. trimeni)

and an unidentified Blue

Blue sp.

We then headed back home, but braked to a sudden stop with a Lark-like Bunting on the side of the road, that was quite cooperative. Subsequent to this sighting there was an eruption of this species with many sightings recorded in the Wider Gauteng region

Lark-like Bunting (Emberiza impetuani)

So, it was a disappointed team that headed back to Jozi knowing we had failed in our quest to even glimpse this elusive skulker. But that is the allure of birding and we all know that we have to work hard for many species - until next year!

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