02 June 2023

Regional rarity

14 April 2023 - Glen Austin Pan

I spent an hour at the Pan in great autumn light and blue sky overhead with most of the usual species present. 

The Sacred Ibis colony seems to be expanding and displacing the Heron's and Egret's that were originally breeding in the reeds. Here is one flying in with new nesting material.

African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

Although Black-headed Heron

Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)

and Cattle Egret's are still present, but seemingly in lower numbers

Juvenile Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

The Grey Heron's are outnumbered by the Black-headed

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Overhead were numbers of Palm Swift, Brown-throated Martin and a few late Hirundines, including White-throated Swallow

White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis)

I found this African Swamphen patrolling the edges of the pan which is still really full, given all the recent rain

African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis)

The number of Grey-headed Gull's have reduced, possibly because of the water levels

Grey-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)

I was surprised to get this lone Whiskered Tern moulting out of summer plumage

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)

However, a flyover of what I initially thought was a Glossy Ibis turned out to be a mega for Gauteng in the form of a juvenile Bald Ibis that was constantly harassed by the Gulls and Blacksmith Lapwings - but it still landed to feed in the grassland with a few Sacred Ibis. How is it that the resident birds know when a strange visitor arrives and make it feel unwelcome - it is not like a single bird is going to be a threat? It stayed for a short while before being chased off, but then came back again at the end of my brief session - but again not for long.

Juvenile Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus)

After this excitement, I headed back to my Hilux, finding a skittish Malachite Kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher (Corythornis cristata)

And a Lesser Swamp Warbler

Lesser Swamp Warbler (Acrocephalus gracilirostris)

Along with some of the resident waterfowl; Cape Shoveler

Cape Shoveler (Spatula smithii)

Red-billed Teal with goslings

Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)

Southern Pochard

Male Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma)

And my favourite, the White-backed Ducks. They love hiding in the surface weeds.

White-backed Duck (Thalassornis leuconotus)

Photo-bombed by a female Southern Pochard

Sadly, the Maccoa Duck seems to have left the Pan, as I have not seen it for sometime - perhaps the water levels have something to do with it?

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