Total Pageviews

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Popped in this morning to check the water levels.Awesome news all the pans are now full, I know it is a trade off birders v photographers but as a birder who takes photos i am really chuffed that the levels are back to normal. With the rain we have had over the last week all the wetlands behind hide number one and two are really wet and there are lots of specials on offer.Granted a little walking is needed but it is worth it. I heard Willow Warbler on the path to hide number two but never saw it.I did notice that they are erecting a huge game capturing fence, not sure if they are removing animals or putting more in. Am currently trying to find out and will keep the blog updated with news as soon as i know.

Not much time spent here as i wanted to go to Blesboklaagte road next to the western border of Suikerbosrand.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Today's visit was primarily to check out the water levels and test out a sigma 150-500mm lens.Have had the lens for about six years but never use it.Camera shake is the biggest reason I do not use it and had forgotten that it is not as sharp as my Canon f4 300mm set up.

Good news is that the water is flowing again,Hide number one is full again and hopefully will stay full for the rest of the season.Hide number two is back to normal and I reckon the islands in the big pan will be gone by next week-end. 3 Pied kingfishers made an appearance as well as Ruff,Wood,Marsh and Common Sandpiper.I counted 11 adult Black Crowned Night Heron,Grey,Black Headed and Squacco heron showed.Greater flamingos still around.I thought the Black Swan had left but it is still around. Strong smell of dung hung over the picnic area and i think the grass is starting to come back. The Peacocks are in full breeding mode and showing of a lot.A solitary Afican Spoonbill was hanging out.
The three pics here of 1.Black Swan,2.Ruff and  lastly the Wood Sandpiper where almost salvageable but will not make it into my library.

The testing of the lens was a failure and out of 400 pics taken not one is good enough,found the lens to be extremely slow on the auto focus setting,also overcast so shooting 1250 ISO and had way to much noise I could not even get rid of in Photoshop.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Really warm this morning.Water levels have dropped at least another two feet and is close to the limit of what the pans can comfortably sustain .What fish that are left are being forced into smaller bodies of water making them very vulnerable to being fished out by the large numbers of heron.Really good morning giving me a count of 38 species in the two hours I was there.
                                                   Black Crowned Night Heron

                                                   Black Winged Stilt
                                                           Common Sandpiper
                                                        Marsh Sandpiper
                                            Pied Avocet
                                                               Purple Heron

 Sacred Ibis
                        White Throated Swallow
                                           Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron

Monday, September 9, 2013


Very warm this morning as i set out for the BS before heading for the office, once again the pan in front of hide no 1 is empty, the continual emptying of this pan is causing birds to disappear. The breeding pair of malachite kingfishers have already departed.Water levels however in the other pans is consistent and the area around hide number two produced sightings of black crake and african rail.A Black Swan was floating around in front of hide number 5. Obviously an escaped bird and hopefully it survives and moves on. Black crowned night herons where plentiful as where Squacco herons.In fact also saw Grey,Black Headed and Striated[Green backed]. Caught a glimpse of a couple of Ruffs skim past hide number 3. Not a bad couple of hours all in all. Still amazed at how many folk still do not know where the keys are kept as there is a sign right next to the gate.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Back again this morning,hooked up with an old mate Les.A pleasant couple of hours.A tad chilly at 3 degrees c. The water is running into the pans again and hide number 1 is full again.A trade off , the levels in pans 2 and 3 has risen. The willows are shooting so spring is around the corner. A fleeting sighting of a green backed heron and a nice look at a little bittern .Lots of black crowned night herons basking in the early morning sun.No sightings of the SA Shelducks.

I see the lady guard is back and she can be obnoxious ,treat her with kid gloves as she can be really rude and not sure if she is trustworthy.

                              My first sighting of the African Purple Swamphen this year at the BS.
                  Greater Flamingo
An extraordinary occurrence,this dove actually tried to land on the gull,not sure what his story was and he actually landed in the water ,swam around and then moved on.
                                                  Grey Headed Gull Adult

                                                       Grey Headed Gull Juvenile
                                                               Greater Flamingo

Friday, August 9, 2013


It has been sometime since i visited my local patch,with commitments elsewhere it has been difficult to get here.As always in winter the sanctuary looks shoddy.This has been compounded by the buck moving into the picnic area to eat what little grass is left. I have made the observation earlier that there is not enough food for the amount of plains animals in the sanctuary and in winter they have to fend for themselves.Huge amounts of animal droppings all over the area.

The storm last night broke some rather large deadwood off the trees next to hide number 3.One of these large branches has fallen over the walkway leading to the hide.This walkway is still in a dangerous condition and care should be taken when using it.Last night's rain has dampened the winter dust and left a good african smell in the air.

Good sightings of all the regular fowl including a pair of SA Shelduck. Saw a pair in the autumn could be they overwintered here. The flamingos definitely did and i wonder if the rather warm winter we have had influenced there decision to stay.Water levels have fallen by at least a foot exposing mudbanks which is encouraging as our spring approaches. White throated swallows,brown throated martin and common swift where all hawking for insects over the pans, a good sign that spring is close and the migrants have left there northern hemisphere breeding grounds and are on there way.

Cape shoveller,Hottententot teal.Yellow billed duck,green backed heron,various warbler and weavers also made an appearance.
                                                          Juvenile Grey Headed Gull
                                                                       Grey Heron

                                                                Juvenile Reed Cormorant

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I popped past on Saturday and could not get into the sanctuary as there was a power failure. Te security guard was unable to open as she did not have keys for the gate motor which was a little frustrating.

I went back on Sunday and the water levels are extremely high. There is a large flock of Flamingo's. I counted at least 45 individual birds. I am not sure how long they will be around for but i am expecting them to start there migration to Kenya soon. A few white faced ducks,common moorhen and spur winged geese around but nothing much happening.

Good sightings of some really good birds at Suikerbos though. Fairy flycatcher,black eagle,steppe buzzard,capped wheatear,and another european roller.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Awesome morning,the light was great early today with the late autumn sun giving rich colours. The malachite kingfishers are still around.18 degrees at 07.00am.Rondebult manages to surprise me every now and then showing willow warbler,african goshawk,red throated wrynec,african rail on occasion and today it was a pair of breeding South African Shelduck.A Rondebult lifer for me and really close.

Female South African Shelduck

Male South African Shelduck

The Malachites are still hanging round hide number 1

                                                    African Reed Warbler
                                            Juvenile Common Moorhen

                                                            Hunting Squacco
                                                          Greater Flamingo

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Rondebult was very quite today.The water levels are extremely high with the weeds really making it difficult in front of hide one and two obscuring the view of the bird life.The green seeds are starting to cover the water surface again and in particular at hide umber two. Not many pics today but a couple of nice sightings in particular this Malachite Kingfisher adult in front of hide number one.The squacco heron was seen at hide number three. While there i met a polish chap Peter.Had a nice chat about lens and cameras and his enthusiasm was great.