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.
|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....
Mkhombo is great for waders as well and some of the common ones are...
|Ruff - getting his waltz all wrong|
|Wood Sandpiper (with Little Stint in the background)|
|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.
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.
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?
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!!