22 June 2023

Winter light

10 May 2023 - Glen Austin Pan

Early morning winter sun at Glen Austin Pan is magical, as long as the birds cooperate a little. I spent an hour on the eastern side of the pan and managed a few of the resident waterfowl - Cape Shoveler

Cape Shoveler (Spatula smithii)

Male Cape Shoveler (Spatula smithii)

Female Cape Shoveler (Spatula smithii)




and Red-billed Teal were the only species cooperating this morning

Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)




I had a Wattled Lapwing flyby

African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus)


and managed to get the resident Malachite Kingfisher as it was hunting on the fringes

Malachite Kingfisher (Corythornis cristata)


Overhead, there were many Brown-throated Martin, but always difficult to photograph, as their flight is so unpredictable, especially when swinging the heavy 600mm prime

Brown-throated Martin (Riparia paludicola)


And a surprise White-rumped Swift

White-rumped Swift (Apus caffer)






The border of Mpumalanga

06 May 2023 - Mabusa Nature Reserve

Richard Crawshaw, Selwyn Rautenbach and I were up early to depart for a half-days birding to Mabusa Nature Reserve just outside the Gauteng border in Mpumalanga. We arrived just after sunrise on a crisp winters morning and checked a road on the south side of the reserve.

We heard Shelley's Francolin, but no visuals. Whilst having a quick coffee this Streaky-headed Seedeater flew in - great golden light against a winter background of dry highveld grasslands

Streaky-headed Seedeater (Crithagra gularis)


We then headed through the gate of the reserve and picked up a few Larks. A Fawn-coloured Lark was seen, but it was off again before we could capture it in pixels, but there were a few Rufous-naped were around

Rufous-naped Lark (Mirafra africana)


Then surprisingly, a displaying Flappet Lark

Flappet Lark (Mirafra rufocinnamomea)



We stayed on the main road through the reserve, stopping and birding different habitats. We had good sightings of Green-capped Eremomela

Green-capped Eremomela (Eremomela scotops)





and a little further a pair of obliging Lazy Cisticola's

Lazy Cisticola (Cisticola aberrans)






Whilst watching the Cistics and Orange-breasted Bushshrike made a brief appearance, so had to take this 'through' the habitat

Orange-breasted Bushshrike (Chlorophoneus sulfureopectus)


Selwyn mimicked the call of a Pearly and we were all surprised when one actually flew in, obviously causing mayhem with the other bushveld birds. Check out the 'false' eyes on the back of it's head

Pearl-spotted Owlet (Glaucidium perlatum)



Check the 'false' eyes



A Grey Hornbill casually flew by

African Grey Hornbill (Lophoceros nasutus)


We noticed a pair of African Hawk-Eagle's thermalling overhead

African Hawk-Eagle (Aquila spilogaster)


Down at a river crossing, we heard Red-faced Cisticola in the reedbed, a good record for the morning. We then walked along the river, trying to locate the Heron. First up was a pair of Black Duck on the river

African Black Duck (Anas sparsa)


Then the White-backed Night Heron flushed out of a tree on the river bank, but rather than fly toward us, it flew in the opposite direction which was frustrating - but a tough bird to generally connect with. I was happy to at least get a record image and the way my older DSLR tracked the last image through the foliage.

White-backed Night Heron (Gorsachius leuconotus)



Walking back to the car, we had a pair of Bushveld Pipit's that were also quite obliging and allowed me to take a variety of images as I slowly walked closer. Which is your favourite - more or less habitat?

Bushveld Pipit (Anthus caffer)






By now it was time to start heading home. On the freeway near Tukkies we spotted a soaring raptor and managed to get into the emergency lane to grab a few pics out of the window - juvenile African Hawk Eagle to end off a great mornings birding in an area I had not visited before

Juvenile African Hawk-Eagle (Aquila spilogaster)








20 June 2023

GECKO Survey

03 May 2023 - GECKO Conservancy

In the afternoon, I joined a few of our group to survey one of the Grass Owl sites in our conservancy. We did a lot of walking, but sadly came away empty-handed - no Grass or Marsh Owls, so that is concerning.

Of course whilst walking there are other species to be had and at this site a few African Stonechat's

Female African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)






Along with some Common Waxbill's

Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild)


and Black-throated Canary's

Black-throated Canary (Crithagra atrogularis)


I missed a late Diederick Cuckoo, but there were still a few invertebrates around. I believe this is Wandering Donkey Acraea based on the hindwing pattern

Wandering Donkey Acraea (Acraea n. neobule)


Also a single Swamp Bluet

Male Swamp Bluet (Africallagma glaucum)


After which we called it a day or afternoon, in this case


The Holy Grail of SA Moth's

05 December 2023 - AlMega Caravan Park; Dinokeng - Day 3 My wife had gone to the ablution block and on return told me there was a big green ...