Rufousnaped Lark

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Rietvlei Nature Reserve - Night Drive

Rietvlei Nature Reserve, which is managed by the City of Tshwane municipality, is a perfect little reserve to get away from the city during the day, without even leaving the city, but a night drive in the reserve is very special. The cars have all gone home so you have it all to yourself, well including all the others on the game drive vehicle, and the night animals come to life and start their hunt for food!

Marsh Owl in this reserve can be considered abundant I think with one encountered around every corner but it is the other specials that can occur that is the attraction. There have been 5 owl species and 4 nightjar species recorded in this reserve which include Marsh Owl, Spotted Eagle Owl and Barn Owl which are fairly common and then the two elusive species, Grass Owl and Southern White-faced Owl representing the owls and then Rufous-cheeked and Fiery-necked Nightjar which are fairly common, Square-tailed Nightjar which is recorded occasionally and European Nightjar has also been recorded in the past.

Marsh Owl #1

Marsh Owl #2
Marsh Owl #3

As I said Marsh Owls are by far the most common but there is a chance of seeing other birds. For example, Spotted Thick-knees are extremely common and love to sit on the roads at night as well as the full range of common lapwings, Crowned, African Wattled and Blacksmith Lapwings.

Spotted Thick-knee

African Wattled Lapwing

Crowned Lapwing

And of course we sometimes find roosting birds who have found a safe, warm dry spot to curl up and spend the night.

Immature Black-headed Heron roosting on one of the dead Eucalyptes trees.

Roosting African Black Duck

Northern Black Korhaan (White-quilled Korhaan)

We even found a young Black-backed Jackal who was enjoying the warmth of the tar road and we almost had to push him out of the way before he finally moved. The jackals are quite a menace on the reserve unfortunately. Without any natural predators, their population has exploded and not many antelope young make it to adulthood because of predation by the jackals.

Black-backed Jackal

Oh and I almost forgot to show the photographs of the nightjars we have seen..

Female Square-tailed (Mozambique) Nightjar - note the buffy outer tail feather 

Male Rufous-cheeked Nightjar

Unfortunately that's all for this outing, the Fiery-necked Nightjar and Spotted Eagle Owl proved too elusive to photograph but hopefully I will get some good photos soon. Although, with winter (brrr) coming, the nightjars and owls will soon move out of the reserve for warmer climates and the Lazy Birder will prefer a warm house to a cold car anyday!

Have a good one!!

For a chance to go on a owl night drive in the reserve, contact Nicky Ras ( of the Pretoria Region of the SA National Parks Honorary Rangers for more information.

1 comment:

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