22 June 2023

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)

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