Project Description

This was from a fantastic trip to Kimberley in the Northern Cape, around Easter 2008 with the Witwatersrand Bird Club. It was my first visit to Spitskop Dam, which in my opinion, probably holds more potential for attracting vagrant waterbirds than any other inland waterbody in the country. At the dam we got big numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Western Yellow Wagtail, Black-winged Pratincole as well as Pink-backed Pelican, while nearby there were Bradfield’s Swifts, European Hobby, Icterine Warbler, Burchell’s Courser and Rufous-eared Warbler. Marico Flycatcher Melaenornis (Bradornis) mariquensis is common in the Kalahari savanna around Kimberley, and this juvenile posed nicely for some field sketches. The difference between the white-breasted adult and these spotted juveniles is pronounced – if they weren’t in the same family party one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a whole different species. Spotted juvenile plumage is a characteristic shared by the members of the Muscicapidae family, which includes flycatchers, robins, chats and related species. I also chanced upon a juvenile Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura, which is one of the most nondescript LBJs you’re every likely to see. I was able to confirm its identity by the diagnostic twangy call it gave. The small yellow gape flange indicated that it was a juvenile bird. Lastly, there is a series of heads of White-winged Terns Chlidonias leucopterus, showing progression of moult and development of breeding plumage.