Mascarene Martin

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For our honeymoon, Ronel and I visited Madagascar - the so-called eighth continent. Mascarene Martins are a dime-a-dozen there, and can easily be seen sitting on windowsills or floating between high-rises in the capital city Antananarivo. This bird perched on a grass stalk in a forest clearing near Andasibe-Perinet at dawn on morning.

Miscellaneous Field Notes

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This page (as well as the juvenile African Cuckoo) is from a sunny summer spent at Vaalkop Dam in December and January 2009. I'm sure that older birders will agree that there has been a massive decrease in the numbers of Yellow-billed Kites in the Transvaal (I used to see several individuals every day over [...]

Pectoral Sandpiper

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The handsome little Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos was first recorded in Southern Africa in 1949. Interestingly, there has been a massive increase in the number of records since then. I have not fully traced all of these, but a quick scan of the literature shows that there were only 4 records before 1969, and at [...]

Little Sparrowhawk

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Sadly, this bird was found dead on a lawn by Etienne Marais, who has had a pair of Little Sparrowhawks Accipiter minullus breeding in his garden for many years. It is not clear whether this adult female was a member of the existing established pair or a new arrival. This dashing little raptor's demise did [...]

Miscellaneous Juveniles

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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 [...]

White-winged Widowbird

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This poor White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus, was killed by a vehicle on a stretch of road near Beestekraal on the way to Vaalkop Dam on 16 November 2009. I happened to pass by soon after it was killed, so the specimen was still in excellent condition, with minimal damage, and I took the opportunity to [...]

Egret and Heron heads

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A study of the facial features, head shapes and bill dimensions of Intermediate (Yellow-billed) Egret Egretta intermedia (top head, and small standing bird); Great Egret Ardea alba (second head); Little Egret Egretta garzetta (third head) and juvenile Grey Heron Ardea cinerea. To be honest, I can't remember where exactly this was from. Birders might be [...]

Allen’s Gallinule chicks

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In March 2008 the unusually wet season resulted in a number of transient "rains migrants" arriving in northern South Africa. At Maloutswa Pan in Mapungubwe National Park, we encountered this furtive family of Allen's Gallinules Porphyrio alleni. One adult bird (presumably the female) was tending to 4 fluffy little chicks that were tagging along behind, [...]