When Carin Malan offers to take you birding in a section of her local area, you say yes very quickly! My sister, Jan, and friend, Paul, joined her in Botrivier at 7.30am last Saturday. We started seeing & hearing lots of birds on the bridge over the Botrivier on the Karwyderskraal Road, including White-faced Whistling Ducks, Western Cattle Egrets, an African Goshawk (with its characteristic repetitive cheep) and a Black-winged Kite flying above, White-throated Swallows both darting around and resting on the reeds, Lesser Swamp Warbler popping in & out at the foot of the reeds, a Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and Levaillant’s Cisticola on the overhead wires, and some Cape Weavers and non-breeding Southern Red Bishops enjoying the early morning sun at the top of some beautiful grasses. We could hear the bubbling duet of a pair of Black Crakes but only Carin could catch a brief view.
Onto the gravel Swartrivier road and more birds soon appeared: lots of beautiful little male & female African Stonechats on the roadside fences, several Blue Cranes and a couple of Spur-winged Geese in the fields (some coming down to drink at a small roadside dam). Carin was very excited to spot two White Storks (“lifers” for me) first wandering down a distant fence line and then jumping up on a post to try and shut up a noisy White-necked Raven! A bit further on, we saw a Rock Kestrel on a telephone pole and a gorgeous little Zitting’s Cisticola right up close on the roadside fence. Shortly afterwards we had a brief glimpse of a Large-billed Lark and then were delighted by rather straggly-looking juvenile Capped Wheatear running back and forth just off the road (also later spotted a more elegant adult sitting on the fence).
Another productive spot was the bridge over Swartrivier where we saw Grey Heron standing statue-still, a Purple Heron flying off and landing on top of a tree, an African Swamphen running over the bridge, some Common Moorhens drifting on the water pecking at the water plants and another Lesser Swamp Warbler darting around. A bit further off we spotted a pair of Bokmakierie’s calling from a far-off tree and a Common Buzzard chilling on a fencepost before flying off. Altogether a wonderful morning out!