SEDGE WARBLER & BAILLON'S CRAKE AT VERMONT SALT PAN
Posted on the 18th January 2014
I made the rather nervous decision to skip the pelagic trip today due to a bad cough and faltering voice, and decided to pop out to Vermont Pan to use up the apprehensive hours until the trip returned. Chris Cheetham had recorded a Sedge Warbler at the pan on 1 Jan, and I had optimistic hopes that it might still be around if the habitat was favourable enough.
After 90 minutes or so of searching along the partly flooded path skirting the east and south side of the pan I was delighted to find the Sedge Warbler in the inundated vegetation between the path and the water’s edge, some 120m from where I’d left the car. The bird was interested in Sedge Warbler call and song but remained well hidden, and while I was trying to cobble together a few acceptable record shots I noticed a juv Baillon’s Crake quietly going about its business in inlets in the flooded grass, also persistently under the dry shrubs / sedges. Both birds declined to spend time in the open but I was able to accumulate reasonable views.
For those who might head out that way you take the Onrus / Vermont turnoff from the R43 at the traffic lights adjacent to the Onrus Trading Post and turn right into Rockhopper Close a few hundred metres down the road. Park at the parking area on the water’s edge and walk southward along the concrete pathway for some 120 metres. The birds were both in the flooded grass / shrub / sedge 20m or so after the second bench.
forgot to mention that also of interest was a huge flock of Common Swifts and a single House Martin, all in the vicinity of the Karwyderskraal / Swartrivier Road site that held a Common Cuckoo earlier in the week. I was unable to find the cuckoo, but as it was after midday that’s maybe not too surprising.
Kind regards, and good luck if you are chasing these.