As the gates only open at 08:00 a.m. we stop off at Amsterdam Rd to get a look at the Melodious Larks before the model flying club members arrive. We drive off down the runway towards the west and listen for the larks. Cape Longclaw are calling as well as Zitting and Cloud Cisticola's and in the distance a Northern Black Korhaan calls into the dawn. Eventually we hear a Melodious calling and with some patience manage to locate it doing its aerial maneuvers on the other side of a huge ditch reminiscent of photos I have seen of the Grand Canyon in the USA. But we have it for our year lists and a long distance shot as a reminder.
|Melodious Lark displaying (you've just got to believe me)|
We then head off to look for the Cuckoo Finches that I had seen earlier in the year but with no luck as the micro-lite aircraft are doing circuits and bumps on the grass runways. Orange-river Francolins were calling in the distance but we could not get a view of them and African Quailfinch were seen flying overhead calling as they went. A pair of Egyptian Geese flew past in the morning light.
Having found our target bird we headed off to look for the Wagtail. At the entrance to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens we heard and saw a Black Cuckooshrike before we had even got through the gates. The call is a trilling sound not unlike an insect chirring.
The birds at the Botanical Gardens are fairly habituated and will allow a close approach. One particular bush along the main trail is popular with birds for sunbathing in the early morning sun. Especially the Mousebirds.
|HELP !! (ha ha ha sorry, I couldn't resist the frivolous caption)|
|Common Fiscal Male catching a few rays!|
We searched all the regular hangouts for the Grey Wagtail but were unable to locate it. While searching for it we came across a few of these creepy crawlies, I found out it is a Koppie Foam Grasshopper!
|Koppie Foam Grasshopper|
I also found the resident African Black Ducks in their usual spot along the more secluded patches of the river that flows through the gardens.
|African Black Ducks|
Other wildlife around the gardens were these Twin Dotted Border butterflies which were quite common. I could not get a shot of one with its wings open unfortunately.
|Twin Dotted Border (2)|
After about 3 hours we called it a day and headed off home again without seeing the Wagtail. I was really hoping to get the Grey Wagtail for JP's SA life list but it preferred to remain hidden. Have a great week!!