The Rietvlei Nature Reserve (covered in chapter 30 of Birding Gauteng) is a great nature reserve for a family outing - the birding is incredible and the good diversity of mammals is enough to keep everyone interested in the spot. Here are reports of the trips I have taken to this spot:
Trip 1 - January 2010
Here are a few scenery pics that I took on my first visit:
Here is a selection of birds that I saw on my first visit:
Here is a selection of biodiversity that we saw on this trip:
Trip 2 - April 2010
Here are some pics of birds that I saw on my second trip to Rietvlei:
Here are some notes that I created for these pics on my Facebook page:
Arrow-marked Babbler - there were four birds in this group and they were making an almighty noise - a harsh bubbling chatter. It was the first time that I had heard the sound and at first had no idea what bird it was. The white arrow markings on it's check helped with the id - and the striking yellow eyes!
White-fronted Bee-eater - when you see this bird flying from the back is all green - and then it turns around...
Little Bittern - I waited for about 45 minutes to finally capture a pic of this secretive bird that hides in reeds at dams.
Little Bittern in flight. This little bird took off out of the reed at the speed of light and this is as good as I could do as it raced past me.
Ant-eating Chat (Female) - my bird book said we should look out for these birds that is "ridiculously tame". And it allowed us to get really really close! I wish he would teach all the other birds something about photography! Especially the Little Bittern!!!
Ant-eating Chat - a real tame bird that asked to have a close up taken!
Ant-eating Chat (Male and Female)
A Cattle Egret hitching a ride on a Zebra
Little Egret and Sacred Ibis - they seemed to be pals!
Hamerkop - just strange!
Grey Heron - majestic as ever!!!
Sacred Ibis - beautiful and ugly at the same time!
Black-shouldered Kite - with a small rodent that he had just caught.
Black-shouldered Kite - about to eat his lunch.
African Wattled Lapwing
African Wattled Lapwing - this bird seemed rather tame and allowed us to drive the car within 2 metres of it - hence this clear shot.
African Pipit - I initially identified this as Melodious Lark but I have had second thoughts that it might be the more common African Pipit!
Cape Longclaw - you can see the super long claw on the bird's hind toe - which is where it gets it's name from. Some call it the Orange-throated Longclaw. It is absolutely stunning!
Cape Longclaw - the poser!
Cape Longclaw (Juvenile)
Banded Martin - after trying to 15 minutes to take a pic of this bird that I had never seen before, I gave up. They are like swallows and never slow down enough to allow a shot to be taken. Then we came upon this one resting on a branch and he waited for us to take a few shots. If it wasn't for a no-entry sign on a private road I would have gotten up close. I really wanted to break the birdwatcher's code to get a better shot!!!
African Stonechat (Female)
African Purple Swamphen - having a snack on the root of a fresh reed.
Southern Masked Weaver
Long-tailed Widowbird (Male in Transitional). This bird is normally totally black with some red on the shoulders with a long black tail, but it is not breeding season and is therefore in transition - and looks a lot more like the female. It was not easy to id it as the bird books do not show pics of transitional birds.
Long-tailed Widowbird (Male in Transitional) - the black feathers were also a hint as to it's identity.
Long-tailed Widowbird (Male in Transitional) - notice the hint of red on the shoulders - a clue to it's identity.
Trip 3 - January 2012
In January 2012 I took my family for a picnic to Rietvlei Nature Reserve - with the hope of spotting the Cuckoo Finch that had been seen there over the past week. We made our way along Main Road past the first bird hide and began searching the flowing shrubs on either side of the road. After about 20 minutes we finally spotted a beautiful male Cuckoo Finch and began the challenge of trying to get closer to the bird. I got a few record shots and then got luck as I saw it land on a bush close to the road - we slowly made our way up to it and managed to get some decent shot.
We slowly made our way around the rest of the reserve - stopping at the various bird hides and Marais Dam before heading home. In total we saw 60 bird species. We watched a female Cape Longclaw collecting grass to build a nest while the male watched:
At one of the bird hides the juvenile African Darters were practising their fishing skills:
Here are some of the pics that I took along the way:
On the way home we stopped in Pretoria near the entrance to Smuts House Museum to locate the Rose-ringed Parakeets for the first time in 2012. There were a few birds around and a lot less vocal than at other times in the year.
Trip 4 - July 2012
My day off birding today was spent at Rietvlei Dam with a mate of mine, Quinton, and we managed to see a total of 72 bird species on the day - we arrived at 6:15 and left around 2pm. The highlight was seeing Fairy Flycatcher and Red-throated Wryneck. I also stopped off in Irene near Smuts House to show him the Rose-ringed Parakeet. Here are a few pics from the outing:
Here is a full list of all the sightings we had at Rietvlei today: Duck African Black, Moorhen Common, Dove Ring-necked, Wagtail Cape, Bulbul Dark-capped, Duck Yellow-billed, Grebe Little, Warbler Lesser Swamp, Goose Egyptian, Coot Red-knobbed, Weaver Southern Masked, Crake Black, Stonechat African, Widowbird Long-tailed, Guineafowl Helmeted, Ostrich Common, Kite Black-shouldered, Dove Red-eyed, Barbet Crested, Fiscal Common, Longclaw Cape, Cormorant White-breasted, Cisticola Levaillant's, Sparrow Cape, Crow Pied, Spurfowl Swainson's, Weaver Thick-billed, Wryneck Red-throated, Hoopoe African, Robin-Chat Cape, Cormorant Reed, Dove Laughing, Ibis African Sacred, Darter African, Lapwing Blacksmith, Gull Grey-hooded, Heron Black-headed, Egret Cattle, Eagle African Fish, Ibis Hadeda, Teal Hottentot, Lark Rufous-naped, Lapwing Crowned, Cisticola Desert, Wheatear Capped, Flycatcher Fiscal, Chat Ant-eating, Sparrow Southern Grey-headed, Bishop Southern Red, Thrush Kurrichane, Myna Common, Mousebird Speckled, Thrush Karoo, Pochard Southern, Egret Little, Boubou Southern, Barbet Black-collared, Babbler Arrow-marked, Prinia Tawny-flanked, Bee-eater White-fronted, Starling Pied, Snipe African, Lapwing African Wattled, Kingfisher Malachite, Shrike Crimson-breasted, Starling Cape Glossy, Flycatcher Fairy, Drongo Fork-tailed, Go-away-bird Grey, Warbler African Reed, Swift African Palm and Swamphen African Purple.