We are spending a few days with Nick and Maureen before my mom's 90th birthday party this weekend. They live on a smallholding at Vastfontein along the Bultfontein road, some 30 km north of Pretoria. The area can be described as mixed bushveld and grassveld, making for outstanding birding. We have often reported on birding in this general area in the past. (The girls went shopping and the weather won't allow birding, so I decided to quickly put together a provisional report with some images).
Size difference: Red-eyed & Laughing Doves
We decided to just relax and catch up on news and on Wednesday and yesterday we only birded on foot in their well-wooded garden. In a day and a half we nearly managed to rack up 50 species and this just around the house. The important point however is that it enabled us to study birds that we have not seen for more than a year, making for a really great time. The trees gave us lovely species such as Arrow-marked Babbler, Black-collared and Crested barbets, Chin-spot Batis, Grey Go-away-bird, African Green Pigeon, Black-backed Puffback, Green Woodhoopoe and Bearded Woodpecker. The grassy areas and scrubland produced Grey Hornbill, Long-billed Crombec, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Swainson's Spurfowl, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Karoo and Kurrichane thrushes and Blue Waxbill. We were surprised to still find some European Bee-eaters roosting in the old Marula tree. And sunbirds? We found the Amethyst, Marico, Scarlet-chested and White-bellied variations. And the valies call this garden birding! It is astonishing if one considers that the migrants have gone and all of these birds were seen around the house.
Rooiwal: massed ducks
This morning we drove to the Rooiwal sewage works just down the road. There were vast numbers of water birds and we managed to add a further 54 species in a matter of 90 minutes. Most of the ducks were on display and we were particularly pleased to find Black Crake, African Jacana, Purple and Squacco herons and African Wattled Lapwing. The grasses , reeds and trees around the edges of the ponds produced beauties as White-fronted Bee-eater, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Longclaw, Magpie Shrike, African Stonechat and Common Waxbill, together with the usual resident cisticolas, weavers and warblers.. There were still some Barn, Greater Striped and Pearl-breasted swallows around and I managed to 'steal' a photograph to illustrate the difference in size between Barn and Pearl-breasted swallows. Unfortunately the weather was not very good and the light quality poor. No question: Rooiwal needs to be visited when passing through this area.
African Wattled Lapwing
Size difference: Barn & Pearl-breasted Swallows
Tomorrow morning we will explore a few other areas in close proximity to Vastfontein.