Archive for March, 2008

January 30 saw me set out on my first twitch – to Strandfontein in search of a recently reported rarity, a Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava). Last year I missed the Wilson’s Phalarope–it left before I could find the time to see it–soI was eager to try my luck at Strandfontein.

I left late in the afternoon after work & the bird’s location was easily found–just look for the cluster of birders staring out over the pan. Unfortunately, the group had last seen the bird 10 minutes before I arrived & despite searching until the sun began to set I was not able to find it. Nevertheless, it was a good trip. Strandfontein is always productive & I was even able to add 3 new birds to my life list: African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus) and Hottentot Teal (Anas hottentota). On the way in I had wonderful views of a pair of Spotted Dikkop [Thick-knee] (Burhinus capensis) with a young chick right by the edge of the road:

Other sightings included one of my favourite birds, Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus):

This brief visit produced 37 species. I also met Trevor & Margaret Hardaker. Trevor is a bit of a birding guru & I had been enjoying the pictures and trip-reports on his website for a while.

3 days later I headed back for a second go. It was a Saturday, so I left earlier than my last try. I spoke to a number of birds driving around the site and no one had spotted the Wagtail that day. After about 40 mins of searching I was driving & spotted a flash of yellow. Could it be? Yes!! The Wagtail!! I yelled out to a birder 100m or so away whom I’d just spoken with & he managed to get a glimpse of it before it flew away (not however, before I managed to snap a picture–possibly the worst picture of a Yellow Wagtail ever!–look for the dark blotch perched on a rock right in the centre of the photo):

Luckily we were able to relocate the bird without much difficulty & were able to get good views (and an OK, but not great photo):

There were plenty of other birds around–38 species in total including lots of obliging Barn Swallows (Hirundo Rustica):

On the way out I came across a mass of swallows & swifts feeding on insects:

I can see how this twitching business could become addictive! For better pictures of the Yellow wagtail, see Trevor Hardaker’s photo here.


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