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A day of birding in 4 Provinces ex Pretoria!

30 September 2006

A dawn to dusk day of birding along one of my favourite birding routes from Vlaklaagte to Kgomo-kgomo yesterday with Johan van Vuuren and Mark Harrington covered four provinces and produced over 180 species, including a host of cracking birds.

Spring action is mixed depending on where you are, but the highveld areas are picking up slowly with a number of low-flying displays by Eastern Clapper and Melodious Larks, and a number of spectacular aerial song-shows by Red-capped Lark and Capped Wheatear - the latter heard mimicking African Wattled Lapwing. Cloud Cisticolas and Desert Cisticola are by far the most active of the short-tailed Cisticolas, the former with several "off-key" junior learner males in evidence. In the bushveld a Sabota Lark also did a medley of mimickry including a very convincing snatch of Yellow-throated Petronia. A calling Plain-backed Pipit allowed our first "in the field" use of Faansie's Pipit Guide which confirmed this book's immense value (the book also has a special two page feature on separating Plain-backed and Buffy Pipits)

Perhaps the highlight of the day was a joint aerial show by a foursome of two Cuckoo-hawks and two African Hawk-Eagles! Cuckoo Hawk seems to have become more common in the Pretoria region over the last few years with reports from a wide variety of localities over the last few months, including the Seringveld, near Rust de Winter, near Verena, Vlaklaagte, Trichardtspoort and the de Tweedespruit Conservancy. Previous reports that I am aware of include the Schurveberge (west of the City), around Hartebeestpoort dam and one at Smuts Koppie. If anyone has other reports of Cuckoo Hawks in the Pretoria region I would love to hear about them.

Other nice birds seen included Tinkling Cisticola, "Screen-filling" scope views of a beautiful male Quail Finch, Southern Pied Babbler, Secretarybird, Brown-backed Honeybird, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Purple Roller, Marsh Owl, Temminck's Courser, Verreaux's Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle (on the nest), Yellow-billed Stork, Banded Martin, Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Cape Crow, Purple Heron, Yellow-billed Egret, Comb Duck, Fulvous Duck, White-backed Duck, Fawn-coloured Lark, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark, and several Marico sunbirds which joined a mobbing party for an unseen (by us) threat in the long grass. Also seen were Burchell's Glossy Starling, Violet-eared Waxbill, Black-cheeked Waxbill, and large flocks of both Wattled Starling and Yellow-crowned Bishop (the latter at Kgomo-kgomo).

Trip List for the day's Birding - S = Seen, H = Heard

4   Crested Francolin   S
14   Swainson's Spurfowl   S
20   Helmeted Guineafowl   S
21   Fulvous Duck   S
22   White-faced Duck   S
23   White-backed Duck   S
25   Egyptian Goose   S
27   Spur-winged Goose   S
28   Comb Duck   S
33   Yellow-billed Duck   S
36   Red-billed Teal   S
39   Hottentot Teal   S
40   Southern Pochard   S
49   Brown-backed Honeybird   S
65   Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird   S
69   Crested Barbet   S
71   Red-billed Hornbill   S
73   Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill   S
76   African Grey Hornbill   S
80   African Hoopoe   S
86   Lilac-breasted Roller   S
88   Purple Roller   S
100   White-fronted Bee-eater   S
111   Red-faced Mousebird   S
131   Burchell's Coucal   S
144   African Palm-Swift   S
151   Little Swift   S
153   White-rumped Swift   S
159   Grey Go-away-bird   S
171   Marsh Owl   S
179   Rock Dove   S
180   Speckled Pigeon   S
185   Laughing Dove   S
187   Cape Turtle-Dove   S
188   Red-eyed Dove   S
192   Namaqua Dove   S
199   Northern Black Korhaan   S
217   Black Crake   S
224   Common Moorhen   S
232   African Snipe   S
240   Marsh Sandpiper   S
241   Common Greenshank   S
245   Wood Sandpiper   S
247   Common Sandpiper   S
263   Ruff   S
268   African Jacana   S
275   Black-winged Stilt   S
282   Kittlitz's Plover   S
283   Three-banded Plover   S
291   Blacksmith Lapwing   S
294   African Wattled Lapwing   S
297   Crowned Lapwing   S
303   Temminck's Courser   S
316   Grey-headed Gull   S
345   African Cuckoo Hawk   S
348   Black-shouldered Kite   S
389   Verreauxs' Eagle   S
390   African Hawk-Eagle   S
393   Wahlberg's Eagle   S
397   Secretarybird   S
400   Rock Kestrel   S
401   Greater Kestrel   S
411   Lanner Falcon   S
414   Little Grebe   S
425   Reed Cormorant   S
432   Little Egret   S
434   Yellow-billed Egret   S
438   Grey Heron   S
439   Black-headed Heron   S
441   Purple Heron   S
442   Cattle Egret   S
446   Green-backed Heron   S
452   Hamerkop   S
455   Glossy Ibis   S
456   Hadeda Ibis   S
458   African Sacred Ibis   S
459   African Spoonbill   S
462   Yellow-billed Stork   S
537   Black-headed Oriole   S
539   Fork-tailed Drongo   S
557   Grey-headed Bush-Shrike   S
570   Cape Crow   S
571   Pied Crow   S
576   Common Fiscal   S
577   Magpie Shrike   S
594   Banded Martin   S
599   White-throated Swallow   S
603   Greater Striped Swallow   S
604   Lesser Striped Swallow   S
605   Red-breasted Swallow   S
608   South African Cliff-Swallow   S
609   Rock Martin   S
614   Dark-capped Bulbul   S
637   Burnt-necked Eremomela   S
660   Southern Pied Babbler   S
665   Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler   S
670   Cape White-eye   S
675   Rattling Cisticola   S
676   Tinkling Cisticola   S
684   Neddicky   S
687   Desert Cisticola   S
688   Cloud Cisticola   S
692   Black-chested Prinia   S
710   Melodious Lark   S
711   Rufous-naped Lark   S
713   Eastern Clapper Lark   S
716   Sabota Lark   S
717   Fawn-coloured Lark   S
727   Eastern Long-billed Lark   S
732   Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark   S
734   Red-capped Lark   S
747   Groundscraper Thrush   S
754   Marico Flycatcher   S
756   Fiscal Flycatcher   S
776   Kalahari Scrub-Robin   S
782   Buff-streaked Chat   S
783   Mountain Wheatear   S
786   Capped Wheatear   S
791   Familiar Chat   S
792   Ant-eating Chat   S
799   Cape Glossy Starling   S
803   Burchell's Starling   S
806   Pied Starling   S
807   Wattled Starling   S
809   Common Myna   S
817   Amethyst Sunbird   S
827   White-bellied Sunbird   S
831   Marico Sunbird   S
836   Scaly-feathered Finch   S
841   Cape Weaver   S
845   Southern Masked-Weaver   S
846   Village Weaver   S
854   Yellow-crowned Bishop   S
856   Southern Red Bishop   S
861   Red-collared Widowbird   S
862   Long-tailed Widowbird   S
863   Thick-billed Weaver   S
865   Orange-breasted Waxbill   S
866   African Quailfinch   S
873   Black-faced Waxbill   S
876   Common Waxbill   S
878   Violet-eared Waxbill   S
879   Blue Waxbill   S
882   Green-winged Pytilia   S
884   Red-billed Firefinch   S
887   Jameson's Firefinch   S
902   Cape Sparrow   S
906   African Pied Wagtail   S
907   Cape Wagtail   S
914   Cape Longclaw   S
919   African Pipit   S
921   Plain-backed Pipit   S
934   Yellow-fronted Canary   S
942   Streaky-headed Seedeater   S
3   Coqui Francolin   H
12   Natal Spurfowl   H
57   Cardinal Woodpecker   H
68   Black-collared Barbet   H
81   Green Wood-Hoopoe   H
96   Brown-hooded Kingfisher   H
189   Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove   H
203   White-bellied Korhaan   H
350   African Fish-Eagle   H
542   Brubru   H
543   Black-backed Puffback   H
545   Black-crowned Tchagra   H
550   Southern Boubou   H
551   Crimson-breasted Shrike   H
565   Chinspot Batis   H
581   Black Cuckooshrike   H
590   Ashy Tit   H
628   Cape Grassbird   H
633   Long-billed Crombec   H
655   Willow Warbler   H
678   Wailing Cisticola   H
686   Zitting Cisticola   H
691   Tawny-flanked Prinia   H
699   Bar-throated Apalis   H
705   Grey-backed Camaroptera   H
724   Spike-heeled Lark   H
767   White-throated Robin-Chat   H
835   Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver   H
837   White-browed Sparrow-Weaver   H
917   Striped Pipit   H
948   Cape Bunting   H

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