Rufousnaped Lark

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Seringveld


Well, miracles never cease...here I am again blogging for the first time in months! I have had complaints from a few friends who have missed the piccies and waffle I used to enjoy posting on this site,,,so here is another one from last weekend.

Last Sunday the 7th of September a friend, Adolf Joubert, and I headed off to the Seringveld to see what birds were around. I have changed my strategy a bit since I last posted as I have decided to bird more and photograph when the opportunity arises which makes the ordeal less frustrating in my opinion. Adolf doesn't agree on this as he feels, no picture, no tick, but he is fairly new to the sport so time will tell.

The day started at 04:00 with a quick shower, packing some nibbles and then the trip to fetch Adolf and the drive to Seringveld. We arrived in the dark with the hope of picking up an owl or the odd nightjar but it was deathly quiet and nothing moved except our car..

As the light strengthened we had reached the end of Rinkhals road where we turned back with the sun now behind us! All we had seen up until then were silhouettes of Groundscraper Thrush and Fork-tailed Drongo. Moving back up the road we were surprised with a Lizard Buzzard sitting on one of the powerline support poles. This is not a bird I have seen regularly in our region so was quite excited that the day had started so well.


Lizard Buzzard x 2


It wasn't long after that, that we heard a Brubru calling and seeing that Adolf had not seen one before we decided to wait it out for the bird to get closer. Shortly after stopping, the bird flew into a nearby tree and started to call. It was completely unperturbed by our presence and allowed us to walk around the well branched tree for an open shot of him. I enjoy these birds as they have a very distinct call, beautiful markings and always appear so neat.




Brubru

With two new birds for the year list, things were going very well. We had seen quite a few common birds by this stage...Yellow-fronted Canaries, Black-crowned Tchagra, Streaky-headed Seedeaters, Pearl-breasted Swallows and Whitebellied Sunbird amongst others.

Further along the road we saw White-fronted Bee-eaters, Amethyst Sunbird, Green Woodhoopoes, Hamerkop, Southern Black Tit, Cardinal Woodpeckers and my favourite for this area, Striped Kingfisher. Previous pics I had taken of this species had always been on the telephone or power-lines but this chap was conveniently perched on a low-level branch watching for insects in the grass below....lucky day indeed!!



Striped Kingfisher

Unfortunately our time was limited as I had an appointment back in town at 13:00 so we had to start moving back home. The house at the T-junction of Rinkhals and the Bynespoort road has beautiful gardens and lawns and we have often found some goodies here. Sunday was no exception as we found Chinspot Batis, Cape Robin-chat, Blue Waxbills, Black-collared Barbet and at last I found the Striped Pipit that is often reported in this area but I have never seen here.

Striped Pipit

Then just as we thought we should call it a day, we found a watering point that was very busy with birds coming in to drink and bathe. We got Crested Barbet, Karoo Thrush, Kurrichane Thrush, Cape White-eyes and a Yellow-fronted Tinker Barbet that kept coming in and out (or was it four individuals)?? We battled to get good images of this guy as he was moving around and preferred the shady areas with extremely busy backgrounds. This was the only fairly decent shot I could get for the record!

Yellow-fronted Tinker-barbet

With 40 species on the list it really was time to move, so reluctantly we drove off down the last stretch of road only to find another three goodies for the list...White-throated Robin-chat, White-browed Scrub-robin and a Long-billed Crombec....

Not a huge list for the day but we had some really good sightings and were able to spend some time with the cameras. The watering point is definitely a place to stop at and we would have spent more time there if time was in our favour..

And that is it for now, I am sure I will be posting soon again! See ya!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Recent Birding outings

Howzit? I haven't had to time to blog lately (honestly :-)) with my recent change in circumstances and starting a new company, its been rush, rush, rush over the last few months. I have however done a few birding trips which I thought I would share,. One of them included a sighting of the elusive White-backed Night-heron which I am sure is on a lot of peoples wish lists. I also went out to Mkhombo Dam again which is an area I really love to visit. Just a pity it is so far from home. Oh and Getaway website used one of my photos for their site recently which you can see at http://blog.getaway.co.za/wildlife/birding/the-cape-floral-kingdom/.

Firstly, the White-backed Night-Heron....I sent my wish list through to a good birding bud who noticed that I hadn't seen this bird and so on the following Sunday I met up with him at a bridge crossing a small stream on one of the back roads through Mpumalanga, parked the cars and after a 200m walk next to the river came up with this chap or chapess on the opposite bank of the river (So if you are reading this, thanks Richard ).



I have done a couple of birding trips to Mkhombo, the first was in November where Phil Penlington and I went looking for the Chestnut-banded Plovers and came up trumps for a change with some good views and great photos of adult breeding and non-breeding birds..


Breeding Chestnut-banded Plover

Non-breeding Chestnut-banded Plover

We also saw an Osprey that had just caught a fish.




Osprey
 Another interesting spectacle was a large flock of mixed Egrets and Spoonbills feeding in the shallows just off shore. They kept in a tight group, wading or flying forward in stages whilst feeding constantly. They kept this up for about 100m with the Black Egrets seeming to try to stay ahead of the group all the time. They would fly forward, spread their wings over their heads to form a canopy as they normally do and then fly off again as soon as the larger birds caught up.

Black Egrets flying off ahead of the flock
Here they land ahead of the feeding flock again

They immediately assume hunting position with backs to the wind

Here they start to move forward again as the flock catches up

We also got this very interesting looking Yellow Wagtail in moult which looks like it could the flavissima race (the British race) of this species but I dare not speculate for fear of being ridiculed by those in the know.. although I have probably already opened myself up for some serious body shots....


Yellow Wagtail
 
Mkhombo is great for waders as well and some of the common ones are...


Little Stint

Ruff - getting his waltz all wrong

Wood Sandpiper (with Little Stint in the background)

Common Greenshank

Common Ringed Plover

In Late December JP was up in Pretoria from the Lowveld to visit in early Jan so he and I also did a trip to Mkhombo to try and find the Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwits and Chestnut-banded Plovers which had been seen there but unfortunately we dipped on all of them. One plus point was that we came across the inland race of the White-fronted Plover which got me/us pretty excited initially.

White-fronted Plover

There were plenty of Yellow Wagtails around in different plumage's, which made identifying the races a bit tricky but I think they were these:-

Motacilla flava flava moulting adult


Motacilla flava flava - male in breeding plumage


Motacilla flava flava - non breeding plumage

Motacilla flava flava - 1st winter bird?

Motacilla flava flavissima moulting male (I think this is the same bird as the first Yellow Wagtail image at the top of the page but taken two weeks later)

As far as bushveld birds were concerned we found a Juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo which had found a huge caterpillar and was beating it to death on a convenient branch. There didn't seem to be much left of it when I took this photo.

Juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo

More excitement came in the form of my first confirmed Icterine Warbler ( I think all the others may have been Willow Warblers). It's a bit embarrassing to admit this by the way...seeing as I have been birding for the last 20 years...

Icterine Warbler - note yellow colour and GREY legs :-)

Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are plentiful and we saw them on both occasions sitting on the numerous petrified tree stumps scattered around the shore just waiting to shred a tyre. The bee-eaters are fairly approachable and allow a photo session as long as you stay in the vehicle.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

On both visits there was a flock of Greater Flamingos made up mainly of juvenile birds and a few adults. It looked almost like a type of creche?


Greater Flamingos

Finally, what would an African bird watching outing to a dam be without the old Fish Eagle, this guy always seems to be at the same place near the dam inflow.

African Fish Eagle

There is not going to be much time for birding or blogging this year by the looks of it but I will try to sneak out now and again for some photos and a story....

Oh and one more photo to make the mouth water and keep the brain ticking over..


Mystery Eagle - taken in a pine forest in Mpumalanga

Hahaha.....with that I say...toodles!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Quick Twitch

Well, what can I say? On Thursday 6th I braved the protest marchers and potential traffic delays to go and view the latest rarity to South Africa. A Collared Flycatcher was seen by a local birder and ringer, Malcolm Wilson, in his Robindale garden in Randburg Gauteng and he quickly put the news out for all the twitchers come and see. Some European birders are probably wondering what all the fuss is all about but this was only the 9th recorded sighting of this species in South Africa. It was first sighted on Tuesday 4th and by Thursday an estimated 400 birders had been through his garden and surrounding suburb to see and photograph the bird.

I left home at 15h30 and I reached the turnoff on the highway at the same time that I reached the back end of the protest march and with a bit of detours arrived at the house at around 16h16. Luckily when I got there, there were only a few birders and I could move around and photograph to my hearts content. The bird kept his distance and left me wishing I had a longer lens again!! Any sponsors out there wanting to get rid of a 400mm f2.8 Canon lens with a converter or two??

Anyway here of the results of my attempts. Not very good I'm afraid as the lighting was poor, I didn't take my tri-pod (silly me) and the distance was too great...








Collared Flycatcher (6)

I am also seriously thinking of changing my blog name from The Lazy Birder to The Busy Birder because I always have to be somewhere else when I have a gap to go birding! Rush, rush, rush....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Amsterdam Rd and Hoogland Health Hydro

I popped out for a quick birding trip the other day to Amsterdam Rd to see if the Cuckoofinches and Melodius Larks were about but I dipped on both of them. All I got was a Capped Wheatear with a juvenile and some distant Clapper Larks and the usual Rufousnaped Larks and Whitewinged Korhaans.

Adult Capped Wheatear

Juvenile Capped Wheatear

There was a Micro-light aircraft practising its landing procedures which probably contributed to the lack of birds as well as some off-road bikers that were tearing around the place making a racket! I decided to go through to Hoogland Health Hydro to see what was about here and was pleasantly surprised with a Yellow-throated Petronia pair that were feeding their chicks at the nest in a tree stump right next to the road. The nest was in a tree next to a slope so I could get up high and photograph level with their position.. This is the first time I have seen this species so close to home!



Yellow-throated Petronia (3)
Not wanting to disturb the Petronias too much I left them after a few minutes and headed down to reception to announce my presence. Down at reception I found a very obliging Kurrichane Thrush who sat still while I got a few photos of him.



Kurrichane Thrush (2)

Another interesting sighting for this area was a Short-toed Rock-thrush which is only supposed to be a winter visitor to this site?

Short-toed Rock-thrush

After asking for permission, I took a drive to the air-field which has a picnic site nearby. This was a great spot for some good birds, I saw Lesser Honeyguide, Bru-bru, Violet-backed Starling, Red-throated Wryneck, Paradise Flycatcher, Black Cuckooshrike, Black-backed Puffback, Klaas' Cuckoo and SA Cliff Swallows. On the drive up there I heard Red-wing Francolins calling higher up and spotted a Black-breasted Snake-eagle circling overhead. I could not get close enough for decent photos of any of these species however.

Finally for the possible reptile fans out there who may find this site, I photographed two interesting fellows who I have tentatively identified as a Transvaal Girdled Lizard and a Spotted Gecko but if you know better then let me know the correct names, thanks!

Transvaal Girdled Lizard?

Spotted Gecko?

That's all I have time for now but I had a great trip to Mkhombo Dam again last weekend which I will be posting shortly so keep an eye out for it.

Cheers!