Monday, 20 November 2017

Trip away report: Wakkerstroom, 20-24 November 2017



Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury, Margaret & Richard, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen
Species count:   121 (see end)                                                  Text: Hazel van Rooyen
Wakkerstroom Village from the BirdLife Centre (photo Stan Culley)


Wakkerstroom lived up to its reputation and we had a most enjoyable week.  This was aided by our bird guide, Lucky Ngwenya who helped us find some specials on our first morning – Yellow-breasted Pipit, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Rudd’s Lark, Cloud Cisticola and Blue Korhaan.  Everyone got a Lifer with Lucky, even Stan!
Dining & kitchen area
 
BirdLife Centre

 
Bob, Stan, Barrie, Asothie, Stanley & Sue

After getting settled in at the BirdLife Centre, we took a walk down to the wetland, which, from this aspect, was covered with reeds.  This didn’t stop us identifying Red-throated Wryneck, Bokmakierie, and both Pied and Common (European) Starlings, amongst others but no waders.
Rudd's Lark (photo Hazel van Rooyen)


Bokmakierie (photo Stan Culley)
Pied Starlings were in abundance (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

African Marsh Harrier - a long shot (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
In the morning we met up with Lucky who started us off on the Paulpietersberg Road, then the Vaalbank Road but I soon lost track, although I can still see the places in my mind – as one does.  Red-capped Lark, Spike-heeled Lark,  Mountain Wheatear, Ant-eating Chat, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Eastern Long-billed Lark and a Common Quail.  We also saw  a lone Meerkat.  Other species seen were Cloud Cisticola, Southern Bald Ibis, Banded Martin, Jackal Buzzard, Blue Crane and Blue Korhaan and Wing-snapping Cisticola.  By this time, our allotted time was running out but he still took those who wanted to go to a farm by Fickland Pan where, by walking spread out, first this way, then that way, we flushed the very special Rudd’s Lark, quite a charismatic little bird.
Southern Bald Ibis (photo Stan Culley)

Eastern Long-billed Lark (photo Stan Culley)

Banded Martin (photo Stan Culley)


Ant-eating Chat (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Cloud Cisticola (photo Stan Culley)
Spike-heeled Lark (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Meerkat (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Cape Clawless Otter  (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
In the late afternoon we visited the hides which overlooked the wetland.  There was a pretty boardwalk leading to the hides lined with buttercups and daisies – tralala  Whiskered Terns were very active.  Also seen were Cape Shoveller, Little Rush Warbler, South African Shelduck, Squacco Heron, Red-billed and Hottentot Teal.  Moving over to the long bridge an African Marsh Harrier was busy hunting and a family of Cape Clawless Otters were splashing around.  We were delighted to watch them for a while, not a sight you often get to see.  Stan spotted an African Snipe, completely still and so well camouflaged, and Stanley saw a Black Crake. 
 
Grey-crowned Crane (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

As we got back to the turn-off to the Centre beautiful Grey-crowned Cranes were foraging in the opposite field with Spurwinged Geese.
Greater Striped Swallow (photo Stan Culley)

South African Cliff Swallow (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Whiskered Tern (photo Stan Culley)

View of a wetland area (photo Hazel van Rooyen)


Whiskered Terns nesting (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Wednesday we took the Utrecht and Groenvlei Roads.  Stopping at a dam Whiskered Terns were nesting along with various waterbirds and a Blacksmith Lapwing which strangely was a first for the trip, they are usually in such abundance.  A second dam seemed quiet until we noticed a Cattle Egret in breeding plumage and an African Spoonbill, both in a dead tree.  Further along Stan spotted Red-winged Francolin and Swainson’s Spurfowl in the grass at the side of the road. 
 
Red-winged Francolin (photo Stan Culley)


Common Quail (photo Stan Culley)

Having followed Zaaihoek Dam for a while, we came upon a bridge over the pretty Slang River and we stopped here for some refreshment and a recon.  No specials were seen down by the river but a striking, very vocal Buff-streaked Chat posed for quite a while on the bridge.  This was ringed but we couldn’t see the whole number.  


Stan also spotted a Drakensburg Prinia.   In the afternoon another drive produced a flock of Red-capped Larks foraging on the sandy road and a Secretary Bird came flying over, landing awkwardly on its long legs which always look stiff.
Red-capped Lark (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Red-capped Lark (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Buff-streaked Chat (photo Stan Culley)

Buff-streaked Chat (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Secretarybird (photo Hazel van Rooyen)


Thursday morning dawned cool and misty but happily dry.  We started off at the bridge where the terns were sitting on the water, almost huddled together.   
African Yellow Warbler (photo Hazel van Rooyen)


Lesser Swamp Warbler (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Here we saw our first Kingfisher, a Pied and the pretty African Yellow (old Dark-capped) Warbler, along with a Purple Heron, African Rail and Lesser Swamp Warbler  The Red-chested Flufftail was very vocal and Bobby saw it do a quick flash, up out of the grasses and back down.  Then we decided to drive up the Utrecht and Paulpietersburg roads again.  This time we visited an old quarry, perfect habitat  for the Mountain Wheatear but didn’t see anything new, except for an African Hoopoe.  Returning via the bridge (very popular place with the locals greeting you politely), we picked up another African Snipe and a pair of South African Shelduck.  As a final salute a duo of Grey-crowned Cranes performed a wonderful fly-over.
Grey-crowned Cranes on a very misty day (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
 


Our evenings were sociable mix of braaiing, cooking and chatting in the spacious dining area which also looks across the wetland and veld to the pretty village of Wakkerstroom.  I must admit we even indulged in a little Chickenfoot  with Barrie's fun dominoes. 

Thanks to all for a super week.

Stan the Man in action (photo Hazel van Rooyen)


Species: 121
Barbet, Black-collared
Bishop, Southern Red
Bishop, Yellow-crowned
Bokmakerie
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Bunting, Cinnamon-breasted
Buzzard, Common (Steppe)
Buzzard, Jackal
Canary Cape
Canary, Black-headed
Chat, Ant-eating
Chat, Buff-streaked
Cisticola, Cloud
Cisticola, Levaillant’s
Cisticola, Wing-snapping
Cisticola, Zitting
Coot, Red-knobbed
Cormorant, Reed
Cormorant, White-breasted
Crake, Black
Crane, Blue
Crane, Grey-crowned
Crow, Cape
Crow, Pied
Cuckoo, Didericks
Cuckoo, Red-chested
Darter, African
Dove, Cape Turtle
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Red-eyed
Duck, Yellow-billed
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Great
Egret, Intermediate (YB)
Falcon, Amur
Fiscal, Common Juv
Flufftail, Red-chested
Francolin, Red-winged
Goose, Egyptian
Goose, Spurwing
Grebe, Little

Guineafowl, Helmeted
Harrier, African Marsh
Heron, Black
Heron, Goliath
Heron, Grey
Heron, Purple
Heron, Squacco
Hoopoe, African
Ibis, Glossy
Ibis, Hadedah
Ibis, Sacred
Ibis, Southern Bald
Kingfisher, Pied
Kite, Black-shouldered
Kite, Yellow-billed
Fiscal, Common
Korhaan, Blue
Lapwing, African Wattled
Lapwing, Blacksmith
Lapwing, Wattled
Lark, Eastern Long-billed
Lark, Red-capped
Lark, Rudd’s
Lark, Rufous-naped
Lark, Spike-heeled
Longclaw, Cape
Martin, Banded
Moorhen, Common
Mousebird, Speckled
Myna, Common
Ostrich, Comon
Pigeon, Speckled
Pipit, African
Pipit, Yellow-breasted
Plover, 3-banded
Prinia, Drakensburg
Quail, Common
Quelea, Red-billed
Rail, African
Robin-Chat, Cape

Secretarybird
Shelduck, South African
Shoveller, Cape
Snipe, African
Sparrow, Cape
Sparrow, House
Spoonbill, African
Spurfowl, Natal
Spurfowl, Swainson’s
Starling, Common (European)
Starling, Cape Glossy
Starling, Pied
Starling, Red-wing
Starling, Wattled
Stonechat, African
Sunbird, Malachite
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Greater-striped
Swallow, South African Cliff
Swallow, White-throated
Swamphen, African Purple
Swift, Horus
Swift, White-rumped
Teal, Hottentot
Teal, Red-billed
Tern, Whiskered
Thrush, Sentinel Rock
Wagtail, Cape
Warbler, African Reed
Warbler, African Yellow
Warbler, Lesser Swamp
Warbler, Little Rush
Weaver, Cape
Weaver, Southern Masked
Weaver, Village
Wheatear, Mountain
Whydah, Pin-tailed
Widowbird, Fantailed
Widowbird, Long-tailed
Wryneck, Red-throated

 



 

All photographs property of photographer