Monday, January 12, 2015

Exploring birding at Tontonyane Sewerage Works diggings

The spotting of the Greater Painted-snipe on the 7th January 2015 at Tontonyane near the Sewerage Works prompted me to explore the area further. The place is 7km to the West of Mahikeng bordering Motsoseng Village.
Accompanied by young local birdwatchers we went through the length and breadth of this desolated area. Only some few fishermen were the only people passing by on their way to the nearby Modimola Dam.
By midday we had already spotted fifty six (56) bird species and the numbers were still rising.  This is only a small fraction of Pentad 2550-2520, mind you.
The area is gradually becoming a dumping site; these  un-rehabilitated borrow pits, have transformed the area into a palette of water ponds after the good rains. The nearby sewerage works plant provides most of the water into the area.
The following are photos taken from the area showing the rich diversity of bird species (a comprehensive report list is provided at the end):

Cape Long-claw

Scaly-feathered Finch

Abdim Stock (non breeding intra African migrant)

African Spoonbill

Kalahari Scrub Robin

Little Egret

Northern Black Korhaan

Red-billed Quelea (a menace to neighbouring Motsoseng)

Wood Sandpiper (non breeding Palearctic migrant)

Yellow-billed Stock (regarded as near-threatened)

Glossy Ibis

Great Crested Grebe

Female Greater Painted-snipe

Pied Kingfisher

 The expedition crew (Letlhogonolo, Mpho and Lungela)

The view of the area at a glance

The location in the map

       List of birds: 
1.      Chestnut Vented Titbabbler
2.      Scaly-throated Finch
3.      Black Chested Prinia
4.      Laughing Dove
5.      Red-billed Quelea
6.      Cape Sparrow
7.      Rock Kestrel
8.      Abdim Stock
9.      White-backed Mousebird
10.   Glossy Starlin
11.   Diderick Cuckoo
12.   Northern Black Korhaan
13.   Blacksmith Lapwing
14.   White-breated Sparrow Weaver
15.   Crowned Plover
16.   Little Egret
17.   Black Winged Stilt
18.   Zitting Cisticola
19.   African Pipit
20.   Great Crested Grebe
21.   Rattling Cisticola
22.   Cape Wagtail
23.   Kitzlig Plover
24.   African Sacred Ibis
25.   Egyptian Goose
26.   Curlew Sandpiper
27.   Red-knobbed Coot
28.   Common Sandpiper
29.   Cape Longclaw
30.   Little Grebe
31.   African Spoonbill
32.   Ruffous Napped Lark
33.   African Black Duck
34.   Spiked-heeled Lark
35.   Red-billed Teal
36.   Little Egret
37.   Three-banded Plover
38.   Glossy Ibis
39.   Hadeda Ibis
40.   Grey Heron
41.   Wood Sandpiper
42.   Yellow-billed Stock
43.   South African Cliff Swallow
44.   Reed Cormorant
45.   White-faced Duck
46.   Amethyst Sunbird
47.   Black-throated Canary
48.   Southern-masked Weaver
49.   African Hoepoe
50.   Pied Kingfisher
51.   Familiar Chat
52.   Golden Finch
53.   Yellow-billed Duck
54.   Common Fiscal
55.   Pin-tailed Whydah
56.   Grey Headed Gull
57.  Greater Painted-snipe

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Greater Painted Snipe at Totonnyane Sewerage Works diggings

It was after several attempts to get the picture of this  pair of shy and skulking Greater Painted Snipes; that I thought I had run out of luck. 
A glimpse of these beautiful birds had me coming again and again to the very same spot. The good rains had created several water ponds in the area.
Initially I spotted them through my binoculars and thereafter could not see them out in the open again. 
Today my patience paid out.

 Female Greater Painted Snipe
 Female and Male Greater Painted Snipe (the pair)
Map showing the location of the Sewerage Works diggings

Birdlife South Africa Owl Awards

Mpho Phiri and Mark Anderson (CEO of Birdlife South Africa)
At a glittering occasion held on the 23rd August 2014, at Misty Hills Country Hotel in Gauteng Province, I was humbled by being one of the recipients of the prestigious BLSA Owl Award. This was for the contribution to Birding and Citizen Science as well  supporting Birdlife objectives.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Endeavour to protect the Short-clawed Lark area

"Spotty" the Short-clawed Lark
After regular visits to the spot ( 40km West of Mahikeng in a village called Dibono) where Short-clawed Larks never fail to show up; I ultimately fell in love with a particular individual whom I later nicknamed "Spotty". Now, it was time to make sure that the area was secured and protected.
Having spent the last three years trying to convince the local villagers not to temper with this particular spot; the local headman agreed with me that I put up some warning signs in the area. In addition to that he stressed that I should get the local Chief's blessing.
In desperation I managed to save some few Rands and purchased some signs.
Now that the signs have been delivered; my next step is to go and see the local chief for  his blessings and erection.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Eurasian Curlew at Barberspan Bird Sanctuary

The season for the arrival of migrants is here and one of the first to be spotted at Barberspan Bird Sanctuary was the Eurasian Curlew; a nonbreeding Palearctic migrant. The largest wader in South Africa.  Uncommon and found along the coastal regions but rarely inland.
The bird was firstly spotted on 27th August 2013  by birders and disappeared thereafter. On the 1st September 2013 it was again spotted at  Leeuwpan, a dam adjacent to Barberspan Dam. Later during the week; it was again spotted on the 4th September 2013 by rangers in the park.
After failed attempts to spot the bird on the above stated dates; I was back again at Barberspan on the 7th September 2013 for my final attempt. This time I was lucky.

Curlew walking about in mud along the shore of the dam

Curlew running before take-off

Curlew running with flapping wings before take-off 

Curlew probing deeply in the mud with its very long decurved bill 
Blacksmith Lapwing mobbing the Curlew

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Short Clawed Lark: "Spotty" revisited

My posting on the Short Clawed Lark (Mirafra chuana) on the 15th October 2011 was on a particular individual I dubbed "Spotty". You can follow this link for that report:
I have been monitoring the bird since then and I am happy to report that it is still in the same spot.
Although, there is another pair in the area; its call is still prevalent, displaying in fluttering flight  low over grass, clapping wings and taking refuge at the top of the bushes. In Setswana (Chuana the local people and language) the bird is called Mantsiditsidi.
Lets take cognisant of the fact that the bird is near threatened.
Spotty on 25th May 2013 (calling at the top of the bush)

The unmistakable black spot underneath

 The charming acrobatic display