Pectoral Sandpiper and other hot Limpopo Birds
Yesterday I returned from a very hot long weekend of birding in the Mapungubwe/Venetia-Limpopo area. This is part of the developing Tranfrontier park at the Junction of Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa, and also holds the world heritage site which preserves the remains of a major African Capital at Mapungubwe Hill (AD 1290).
A full trip report is available by request, but is worth noting here that found the Pectoral Sandpiper (and got images) at Kalkfontein near Polokwane in Limpopo Province on SUnday Afternoon. When we got there some local birders had not yet located the bird, but after scanning the dam for some time, I was fortunate enough to spot the Pectoral roosting on the shoreline close to where all the vehicles had stopped. I have some reasonable digiscopes and the images by Bruce Bruce Ward-Smith and Joe Grosel are also posted at Zestforbirds.co.za
We have posted some images are posted at http://www.birding.co.za/news44.htm (see also the nicely plumaged Caspian Plovers seen in the area)
Other highlights from the weekend at Mapungubwe included Pallid and Montagu's Harriers, Dusky Lark, Grey-hooded Kingfisher, Olive-tree Warbler, Southern White-faced Owl, Broad-billed Roller, Carmine Bee-eater, Pygmy Goose and Barred Owlet, Freckled and Square-tailed Nightjar and the usual Limpopo suspects in the form of Meve's Starling, Meyer's Parrot and Tropical Boubou. We also had excellent views of flocks of Burchell's Sandgrouse coming in to drink on the Limpopo. "Big Birds" seen included 8 species of Stork (7 along the Limpopo), Southern Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, a pair of Grey Crowned Crane, many Goliath Herons, two Martial Eagles and several sightings of Verreaux's Eagle. The Den Staat area produced some awesome birding with large flocks of Black-winged Pratincole and about 50 Caspian Plover (also seen from about 15m in farmlands adjacent to Mapungubwe), including many showing breeding plumage, along with a few Yellow Wagtail. In the Polokwane area we had great views of Short-clawed Lark and excellent comparative views of Yellow-billed and Black Kite foraging together with a flock of Abdim's which was also tracked by a nice Lesser Spotted Eagle.
As for logistics, we stayed at Little Muck Lodge, which is part of the newly launched Diamond Birding route, and an excellent place to base birding visits to the area. We were joined by Richard and Sam, two enthusiastic local guides, who are available to take visitors to Little Muck to some of the best spots in the area.
Overall in excess of 250 species were recorded for the weekend.
If you would like a more complete trip report and list of birds recorded, please