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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Week 04 (Part1) - Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
With the word out that there was a rare Grey Wagtail at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens I knew that this was the place to visit. I had been contemplating travelling the 300 plus kilometers to see the pair at Debengeni Falls but the Grey Wagtail decided to come to me, is that lucky or what?? Unfortunately with having to work to pay for my hobby I had to wait until Friday afternoon to get there. On the way I passed through a heavy thuderstorm which I thought was going to spoil my plans for a quick twitch but luckily the gardens were clear and sunny.

I arrived at the gate to find it already closed and had to perform some major begging and pleading before the gate personnel let me in.....I took a stroll down to the bridge where I had been told the bird was present, only to be told the bird had flown two minutes earlier (If only i hadn't stoppped to photograph the Mousebirds and the Bokmakierie), so along with a few other people the search began.

Speckled Mousebird eating leaves

Bokmakierie with tasty morsel

Bokmakierie posing
 Eventually I saw the bird fly past me and perch in a tree with a beautiful sunset right behind it! I managed to get one dodgy shot before the bird took off in the direction of the waterfall, further searches were unsuccessful and I decided to head for home and try again in the morning.

My first attempt at the Grey Wagtail (lifer views)

I found an immature Amethyst Sunbird on the way out which I chased around for a photo.

Juvenile Amethyst Sunbird

Saturday morning was a beautiful day and I was at the gardens at 06h45 (ok, so I slept in a bit....I work hard sometimes), even though the gates only open at 08h00 I slipped in through the staff entrance (I did pay later of course). My first bird was an immature male White-bellied Sunbird feeding on some Aloe flowers which I was able to photograph at quite close range.

Immature Male White-bellied Sunbird

Enjoying some nectar

There were a few bulbuls about and a Steppe Buzzard soared over the waterfall, Canaries chirped and whistled from the tops of the trees and Red-chested Cuckoos called from the taller trees near the stream (is this poetic or what?).

While waiting for the Wagtail to make his appearance I had time to stroll around the gardens which was almost swarming with Cuckoos, I had good views of Red-chested, Black and Didericks Cuckoos.

Red-chested Cuckoo

African Black Cuckoo

 While strolling through the wooded part of the gardens I picked up a Southern Boubou and had a close shave with an active bee hive in the process.

Southern Boubou

African Bees

Eventually the Grey Wagtail put in an appearance at about 09h00 (my kind of bird) but he  stuck to the shadows on the far bank of the stream, just to test our photography skills..... I was able to get a few shots  which I thought were keepers but as you can see......

Grey Wagtail

After a long wait at a section of the river that looked like good wagtail foraging habitat (just around a bend in the river from the wagtails favoured spot), I decided to call it a day and headed for the gate. On the way out again I then spent a few minutes photographing a confiding Tawny-flanked Prinia.

Tawny-flanked Prinia (3)

All in all it was a great mornings birding, with some good conversation and relaxing surroundings. I suppose I will have to come back again if the wagtail is still here next week for another photo attempt. Cheers!

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