Chapter 65 in Birding Gauteng covers the Bronkhorstspruit Dam Nature Reserve.
1. May 2010
On the 17th of May my five year old son, Drew, and I left home at 6am to bird the Wilge River Valley route about 25 kilometers north of Bronkhorstspruit. The area was beautiful but birds somewhat scarce given that it was winter. I have posted a report about that part of the day separately. We needed to spend some time at a dam birding waterfowl, so we headed off to the Bronkhorstspruit Dam about 15 kilometers south of the town of Bronkhorstspruit.
The spot seems primarily geared for angling and not birding, but we did managed to see some good sights even though it was a winter's day and we were in the reserve from about 1:30 until 4 (not exactly ideal birding time of the day). Here are some of our highlights.
The first birds we saw were rather large and did not fly away from us (which was refreshing after the morning spent roadside birding) - they were Common Ostrich.
The waterbirds that we saw on the lake were all birds that we were familiar with, including Red-billed Teal, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-knobbed Coot (hundreds of them), African Jacana (just one), Little Grebe (a few families), Egyptian Goose, Reed Cormorant, African Darter and White-breasted Cormorant.
We were thrilled to get up close to two Grey-headed Gull sitting on the edge of the dam:
We also got up close to a little Klittlitz's Plover which was really special:
We surprised a juvenile Northern Black Korhaan - unfortunately it took off and we searched in vain to find it where it had landed. A few flight shots is all we came away with:
Two larks graced us with lengthy sightings and we enjoyed studying them and seeing their differences from each other - they were Red-capped Lark (I am pretty sure of this id) and Rufous-naped Lark (I think this is what it is - but could it also be Red-capped Lark - without the red shoulder pads? Help!!!):
Some other birds included: Cape Longclaw, Martin_Brown-throated (a lifer for me), Long-tailed Widowbird, Blacksmith Lapwing, Southern Masked Weaver, Cape Wagtail, Three-banded Plover, Common Fiscal, Common Waxbill, Streaky-headed Seedeater and African Stonechat (do I have to mention Hadeda Ibis???). The only Raptor we saw was a Black-shouldered Kite on the road leaving the reserve and we heard an African Fish-Eagle calling one time.
In total we saw 30 bird species during the afternoon visit. Only recording one lifer was not a problem for me, as I am more interested in photographing birds (to perfect the craft and continually improve the shots I have for each bird species) than completing my list.
2. September 2010
On Monday the 7th September 2010 after visiting the Mabusa Nature Reserve and Groenfontein Pan, I popped in for an hour of birding at Bronkhorstspruit Dam - mostly hoping to see whether any of the waders had returned. I was disappointed to not see a single wader, apart from Three-banded Plover and Klittlitz's Plover, but as always the dam had much to offer.
All in all I saw Grey Heron, African Stonechat, White-throated Swallow, Southern Masked Weaver, Black-shouldered Kite, Common Fiscal, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, Cape Longclaw, Red-capped Lark, Blacksmith Lapwing, Grey-headed Gull, African Wattled Lapwing, Cape Wagtail, Speckled Pigeon, Glossy Ibis, African Pipit, Common Ostrich, Common Waxbill, Red-billed Teal, White-breasted Cormorant, Long-tailed Widowbird, Red-billed Quelea and Cape Teal.
The resident buck and Wildebeest always make for great photograph subjects:
On the way back to the R25 I spotted this Marsh Owl hunting in the cool of the late afternoon:
All good birding days have to come to an end - and the setting sun in the distance towards Pretoria made it quite clear that there would be no more pictures taken on the day!