Rufousnaped Lark

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week 09 - Melodious Lark and Grey Wagtail hunt

I need to get another bed....the one I have is far too comfortable. Saturday 5 a.m.: The alarm goes off but I am really enjoying my sleep so I roll over and go back to sleep again, at 5:25 a.m. I realise that JP is coming to fetch me at 5:30. I jump out of bed and get to the front door just as he stops outside my gate. Luckily its summer so a pair of shorts, a tee-shirt, a cap to flatten my sticky-up hairstyle and a quick brush of the teeth is all I need before we are off to look for the Grey Wagtail at the W.S. Botanical Gardens mentioned in week 04 (1).

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.




Egyptian Goose
 
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.


Black Cuckooshrike

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)


Red-faced Mousebird



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!!

5 comments:

Jochen said...

HELP!!

Indeed!!! :-))

Wow, Melodious Lark is a heck of an LBJ to see. Having birded for 2 years mostly in Namibia and the Western Cape, I have a penchant for southern Africa's larks, and Melodious is a bitter "gap".

Gareth Hazell said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment Jochen. I always enjoy your comments in 10000 birds. I particularly enjoy the grassveld birds here as well. If you are ever out here, give us a shout and we will go Lark hunting together!

Jochen said...

I check your blog from time to time and enjoy it very much, so dropping a comment or two was just a matter of time.
Sadly I have currently very limited time to blog, and so I have put my own blog on hiatus status and focus on my once-a-month beat writer position on 10000 Birds. This is also the only blog I "use" to stay in touch through commenting, as basically everyone who is bird-blogging is readin it.

I miss southern Africa with a real passion and if/when/should I make it back again, I'll visit the eastern half of SA and will definitely get in touch with you so we can hit the grassvelt!

Liza said...

African Black Ducks! Something I haven't seen yet... not on my SA list. Where's the best place in SA to catch a glimpse of them? Or is the Botanical Gardens the best place?

Gareth Hazell said...

The botanical gardens is a reliable place to see them. Opposite the restaurant is a pathway down to "The Dell" and the ducks are often on this patch of river. Good Luck!