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Pretoria area, South Africa

6 - 9 January 2002

by Mike Prince


This was my first trip to Africa and arose at short notice through a work visit. I only had four days available for birding and, not really knowing what to expect or where to go, I enquired for advice on the South Africa birdnet. I had a useful response from John McAllister (who provides guiding around the Wakkerstroom area) and eventually arranged my time with Etienne Marais, chairman of the Pretoria Bird Club. Instead of my initial thought of going to Kruger National Park, Etienne arranged my itinerary to take in various sites within two hours drive of Pretoria, aiming for a good variety of species including some of the key endemics of the region. With such a short amount of time this made the most of the time in the field. Although no doubt impressive, especially for mammals, Kruger does have the obvious disadvantage of not generally being able to get out of your car.

The trip proved an enormous success. Over 310 species in just four (admittedly long!) days, included an incredible 227 new birds for me! This was a wonderful introduction to African birding and has given me the enthusiasm to plan my next trip already, preferably for a considerably longer time!


Sunday 6 January: Arrive early morning at Johannesburg International Airport. Head for Bapsfontein and Elandsvlei, then to Zonderwater, Cullinan and Seringveld and finally to Roodeplat Dam before heading in to Pretoria. Habitats include highveld pans, wetlands, gorges and broadleaved woodland.

Monday 7 January: The highveld area of Suikerbosrand for most of the day, afternoon at Marievale Bird Sanctuary wetland.

Tuesday 8 January: Borakolalo Nature Reserve for most of the day, returning via fields towards Vaalkop Dam. Riverine, lakeside and diverse woodland habitats as well as arable cultivation.

Wednesday 9 January: Kgomo-Kgomo floodplain, followed by birding in Zaagkuildrift, Roets Farm and Wolfhuiskraal. Then various sites around Rust de Winter, Hammanskraal and to Centurion. Evening night-birding at Buffelsdrift. Subtropical floodplain and diverse thornveld.

Daily Diary

6 January

Arrived at 07:30 having flown overnight on British Airways. Met at airport by Etienne and we headed off for the Bapsfontein area and Elandsvlei (Dicken's Pan) in particular. Little Swift and Cape Turtle Dove at the airport were the first birds and then an early stop near a reedbed produced the first of many hundreds of Red and Golden Bishops. One advantage of visiting at this time of the year was that birds such as bishops, weavers and widows were in full breeding plumage and displays were frequently seen. Another short stop at a small wetland produced several Blacksmith Plovers as well as a couple of Three-banded Plovers and two South African Cliff Swallows, a southern African endemic. Several times we saw Black-shouldered Kites and Amur Falcons perched on roadside wires.

Elandsvlei is a moderate-sized wetland and proved to be full of birds. Wildfowl and herons were very well represented, including Hottentot and Red-billed Teals, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard and Maccoa Duck. Here we also saw the first of many Didric Cuckoos, although this wasn't a new bird for me following the superb male found in Eilat, Israel by fellow BUBO birder Mark Lawlor in 1994 (the second for the Western Palearctic). Excellent close views of a Grass Owl flushed out of its daytime roost in the marshy grassland was definitely one of the highlights of the whole trip. A spectacular thermal of Black-winged Pratincoles dropped down from the sky to land on the mud, also giving close views. Also seen here was an adult female Marsh Harrier, unfortunately for me it was European rather than African despite the fact that European is considerably rarer! By now I had been in the country barely four hours and had already seen nearly fifty new birds!

From Elandsvlei we headed off for a nearby Greater Kestrel nest site. We must have been too late in the season though, because there was no sign of the birds. We did manage to add other good birds here though, including Greater Striped Swallow and Banded Martin, Wailing Cisticola and African Quailfinch.

The next site was the area of Zonderwater. This is a prison, although obviously not high security because no-one showed any interest in what we were up to and happily waved us in and out later! The main target species here was African Yellow Warbler and we were treated to superb views of one singing in the open. An African Sedge Warbler was singing here but could not be seen - I was to hear this species each day but never manage to see it at all! Two Groundscraper Thrushes on a lawn were another good sighting.

We then spent several hours in the afternoon birding Seringveld. This proved to be an excellent area of forest. There were not large numbers of birds but we frequently found small flocks and each one seemed to produce new species. Pallid Flycatcher, superb Green (or Red-billed) Woodhoopoes, Green-capped Eremomelas, Plum-coloured Starling, Black-crowned Tchagra, both Desert and Tinkling Cisticolas and White-throated Robin Chat were some of the better ones. The most interesting sight though was of a juvenile Klaas's Cuckoo being fed by a male, with a female Klaas's and three Didric Cuckoos in adjacent trees!

The final stop of the day was at Roodeplat Dam at twilight. The hoped-for Little Bittern showed itself almost immediately and a Burchell's Coucal was also seen here.

7 January

We left Pretoria early to head south for Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. A few miles from the reserve is a large expanse of reedbed and a small pool. Along the wires here and hunting in nearby fields were an impressive hundred or more Amur Falcons. A surprise was three Black Herons at the pool. We arrived at the entrance to Suikerbosrand at about 07:00 where we were forced to wait until the official midweek opening time of 07:30 by a particularly unhelpful reserve official. After we had entered a short walk near the information centre produced several birds that I didn't see on any other occasion, including Bokmakierie, Red-necked Wryneck and Kurrichane Thrush.

We drove the game drive for much of the day, stopping frequently to watch from near the car. Widows were common, including many Long-tailed and several Yellow-rumped, and both Cape Bunting and Cape Canary were seen on a few occasions. A ringtail harrier proved impossible to identify, even when it came back for a second view mobbed by an immature Verreaux's Eagle (another bird I was luckily enough to have seen before in Israel). The general area was good for pipits and larks, the latter including Eastern Long-billed, Spike-heeled and Clapper and a probable Flappet whilst the former included Grassveld and Long-billed, plus one unidentified plain pipit. Most likely either Buffy or Plain-backed, it may also have been Long-tailed Pipit, a poorly known species only recently seen in South Africa. Although I took some notes and we checked various field guides it had to remain unidentified. Southern Anteater Chats and Mountain Wheatears were common, and one picnic site stop produced three attractive Mocking Chats and a party of White-browed Sparrow Weavers. Five species of cisticolas were seen here, including Ayre's and Cloud, although I had to rely heavily on Etienne for identification! Overall there was a good selection of birds although never large numbers, and we missed out on some species that we expected, such as any francolins.

For the latter part of the afternoon we headed to Marievale Bird Sanctuary. A popular birding spot in the area, it had recently played host to a Baird's Sandpiper. There was no sign of this today, and unfortunately we were also unable to find one of the two or three Slaty Egrets in the area. Nevertheless, the birding here was very good: waterbirds included Goliath Heron, Little Bittern and Cape Teal and we had very good views of a male Painted Snipe with young. Red-chested Flufftail was heard calling here but predictably not seen. Horus Swift and very close views of an African Quailfinch were also good.

8 January

An early start to get to Borakolalo Nature Reserve, and to allow for plenty of unscheduled stops en route! As we entered areas of thornveld, or acacia woodland, there were plenty of birds to be seen. These stops produced Lesser Grey Shrike, Blue Waxbill, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Shaft-tailed Whydah, a pair of Greater Kestrels and an excellent Northern Black Korhaan. Borakolalo itself provided excellent birding throughout the day, probably the most enjoyable of the trip. Mixed species flocks were encountered at several places throughout the day. Good birds included Dwarf Bittern, a soaring Marabou Stork, African Fish Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, Red-footed Falcon, Meyer's Parrot, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, three species of hornbills, Bushveld and Striped Pipits, Lesser Honeyguide, European and Black-headed Orioles, stunning Crimson-breasted Shrikes, Fan-tailed Flycatcher, Grey Penduline Tit, Red-headed Weavers, Streel-blue and Purple Widowfinches. One of the specialities here is White-backed Night Heron; we walked the bushes either side of the river from the dam, finding plenty of Black-crowned Night Herons and eventually a single White-backed flew out just as we were about to give up!

We left and headed along dirt roads towards Vaalkop Dam. The excellent birding earlier meant that we were always likely to be late getting to Vaalkop and several birds in the fields along the way meant that we never made it. A small flock of Black Kites and a Lanner Falcon sat in a field were seen and, in another ploughed field a single Double-banded Sandgrouse was feeding close to a flock of Chestnut-backed Finch-larks. Finally, some Abdim's Storks were following a tractor in another field.

9 January

My final day's birding began with the usual early start, this time for Kgomo-Kgomo floodplain. This was another impressive area, with both Marsh (European again!) and Montagu's Harrier seen over the reedbeds, and two displaying Marsh Owls. A few Yellow-billed Storks were present, and a very good sighting was an Allen's Gallinule which considerately sat exposed in the reeds for several minutes. Several Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were in the area.

Following Kgomo-Kgomo we spent most of the morning in Zaagkuildrift, with a short visit to Roet's Farm, with frequent stops to see such birds as Natal and Crested Francolins, Jacobin Cuckoo, Scimitarbill, Bennett's Woodpecker, Three-streaked Tchagra, Orange-breasted Bush Shrike and White-browed and Kalahari Scrub Robins. From there it was off towards Rust de Winter where another Montagu's Harrier was seen as well as about one hundred each of White and Abdim's Storks in, and thermalling above, a recently cut field. A Purple Roller and a Dusky Lark were the highlights as we headed towards Hammanskraal. We then headed back to Centurion for the late afternoon and an area near Wierda Park. Cuckoo Finch was the target here, and we weren't to be disappointed. Several Melodious Larks were singing. As we were driving back through Centurion Etienne mentioned to look out for Red-headed Finch on grass verges. We had tried a couple of times for this species over the previous three days without luck. Anyway, shortly after he mentioned them we were stopped at a set of traffic lights and, amazingly, there was a pair of Red-headed Finch feeding with sparrows on the grass verge! Nearly a perfectly end to the trip, but we weren't quite finished yet.

Etienne had arranged with some friends an evening session for owls and nightjars. We headed for a friend's home in Buffelsdrift and, with a little daylight remaining, we nearly managed to find Lesser Masked Weaver. I say nearly because we actually did find them, but the views I had whilst trying to balance on a barbed wire fence surrounding a crocodile farm and use binoculars with one hand were unsatisfactory! At about 19:30 we headed off in a car with tapes and torches. Eventually we came across a nightjar on the track in front of us although (despite views down to a couple of metres!) we couldn't agree between the four of us whether it was Rufous-cheeked or Fiery-necked. Later we found another one and this time it let us get even closer, in fact we actually managed to pick it up! In the hand we could clearly examine the wing formula and identified it as a female Rufous-cheeked Nightjar. Although we got no response from the tapes the evening wasn't quite over, and finished with wonderful views of a beautiful White-faced Scops Owl on telephone wires beside the road.

Etienne and I then headed back into Centurion, eventually finding somewhere open for some well-earned food, beer and a chance to update the list for the day. Just four days birding produced a total of 314 species between the two of us, including those that were heard only.

Systematic List

*Ostrich Struthio camelus
Birds on reserves (rather than ostrich farms!) were three at Seringveld and one at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
100 at Elandsvlei and seen also at Marievale and Borakolalo.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
20 at Elandsvlei and seen also at Marievale and Borakolalo.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Seen daily.

*Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus [Reed Cormorant]
Seen daily including 100 at Elandsvlei.

*African Darter Anhinga rufa
Singles daily and 20 at Roets Farm.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
30 at Elandsvlei.

*Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
Seen daily with eight at Marievale the maximum recorded.

*Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
Two at Marievale.

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Singles seen at four sites.

Great White Egret Casmerodius albus
Small numbers at three sites.

*Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca
Seen at four sites including 25 at Kgomo-Kgomo.

Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia
Elandsvlei and Kgomo-Kgomo.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Small numbers daily.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Seen at three sites.

Striated Heron Butorides striatus [Green Heron]
Up to five at three sites.

Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Seen daily including 40 at Elandsvlei

*White-backed Night Heron Nycticorax leuconotus
One immature seen in flight after a long search along the river near Borakloalo Dam.

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Singles at Roodeplat Dam and Marievale.

*Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii
One seen well perched on top of a tree at Borakolalo.

*Hammerkop Scopus umbretta
Seen at three sites including four at Kgomo-Kgomo.

*Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii
Seven in fields near Vaalkop and 100 together in the Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal area.

White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Twenty in a thermal near Vaalkop, one at Borakolalo and at least 100 together in the Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal area.

*Marabou Leptoptilos crumeniferus
One soaring at Borakolalo.

*Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis
20 at Kgomo-Kgomo.

*Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
Seen at four sites.

*Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
Fairly common, seen daily.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Two at Elandsvlei and 200 at Marievale.

*African Spoonbill Platalea alba
15 at Elandsvlei and 1 at Marievale.

*Fulvous Whistling Duck Dendrocygna bicolor
20 at Marievale.

*White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata
Seen at various sites.

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus
Seen daily including 150 at Elandsvlei.

*Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis
Small numbers daily.

Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos [Knob-billed Duck]
Two at Borakolalo.

*African Black Duck Anas sparsa
Seen on three occasions including three at Borakolalo.

*Cape Teal Anas capensis
2 at Marievale.

*Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata
Common, including 200 at Elandsvlei.

*Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha
Ten at Elandsvlei; seen also at Marievale and Kgomo-Kgomo.

*Hottentot Teal Anas punctata
Four at Elandsvlei, 20 at Marievale.

*Cape Shoveler Anas smithii
50 at Elandsvlei, two at Marievale.

*Southern Pochard Netta erythrophthalma
50 at Elandsvlei; seen also at Suikerbosrand and Marievale.

*Maccoa Duck Oxyura maccoa
20 at Elandsvlei.

*White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotos
15 at Elandsvlei and three at Suikerbosrand.

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
Several seen daily.

Black Kite Milvus migrans
12 in fields near Vaalkop.

Yellow-billed Kite Milvus migrans parasiticus
1 at Kgomo-Kgomo.

*African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
Three at Borakolalo and one at Roets Farm.

Vulture sp Gyps sp
Two seen in distant flight in the Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal area.

*Black-chested Snake Eagle Circaetus pectoralis
One at Seringveld, four at Borakolalo and one just north of Pretoria.

*Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus
One at Borakolalo.

*Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar
One at Borakolalo and one at Zaagkuildrift.

Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Adult males at Kgomo-Kgomo and Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal (possibly the same bird).

Montagu's/Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus/pygargus
Ringtails seen at Suikerbosrand (mobbing the Verraux's Eagle) and Borakolalo.

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Adult female at Elandsvlei and adult male at Kgomo-Kgomo.

Shikra Accipiter badius
One in the Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal area.

Steppe Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus
Small numbers seen daily.

Verreaux's Eagle Aquila verreauxii
One immature at Suikerbosrand.

*Greater Kestrel Falco rupicoloides
Two near Borakolalo and one at Zaagkuildrift.

Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus
Two (male and female) flew through at Borakolalo.

*Amur Falcon Falco amurensis
Seen daily including an impressive 120 at Suikerbosrand, with most feeding in fields together or perched on nearby wires.

Lanner Falco biarmicus
One perched in a field near Vaalkop.

Coqui Francolin Francolinus coqui
Heard only at Seringveld and Borakolalo.

Red-winged Francolin Francolinus levaillantii
Heard only at Suikerbosrand.

*Swainson's Francolin Francolinus swainsonii
Seen at Suikerbosrand, Borakolalo and general sites on 9/1.

*Natal Francolin Francolinus natalensis
Six seen well at Borakolalo with five at Zaagkuildrift.

*Crested Francolin Francolinus sephaena
12 at Zaagkuildrift.

*Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
Seen daily.

African Rail Crecopsis egregia
Heard (and very briefly glimpsed) at Marievale.

Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra
Heard only on two occasions.

Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa
Heard only at Marievale.

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Elandsvlei and Marievale.

*Allen's Gallinule Gallinula alleni [Lesser Gallinule]
Excellent views of an adult perched up in vegetation at Kgomo-Kgomo.

Purple Gallinule Porphyrio porphyrio
Ten at Elandsvlei and 15 at Marievale.

*Crested Coot Fulica cristata [Red-knobbed Coot]
Seen on three days with hundreds at Elandsvlei.

Red-crested Korhaan Euphodotis ruficrista
Heard only at Borakolalo.

*Northern Black Korhaan Eupodotis afraoides
One near Borakolalo.

*African Jacana Actophilornis africana
Up to four at Elandsvlei, Roodeplat Dam, Kgomo-Kgomo and Roets Farm.

Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis
An adult and a juvenile at Marievale.

*Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis [Spotted Dikkop]
Two in Pretoria and two at Buffelsdrift.

Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni
An impressive flock of 450 landed at Elandsvlei; one at Marievale and a flock of forty nearby.

*Crowned Plover Vanellus coronatus
Fairly common and seen daily.

*Wattled Plover Vanellus senegallus [Senegal Plover]
Two at Borakolalo and four at Kgomo-Kgomo.

*Blacksmith Plover Anitibyx armatus

*Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius
One at Elandsvlei and eight at Kgomo-Kgomo.

*Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
20 at Elandsvlei, three near Vaalkop and one at Kgomo-Kgomo.

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
15 at Elandsvlei and ten at Marievale.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia
One at Marievale.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Seen daily with 30 at Elandsvlei.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Seen on four occasions with three at Borakolalo.

*African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis
30 at Marievale and two at Kgomo-Kgomo.

Little Stint Calidris minuta
At least 150 at Elandsvlei and five at Marievale.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax
40 at Elandsvlei, three at Marievale and 20 at Roets Farm.

*Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus
50 at Elandsvlei and one at Marievale.

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
15 at Elandsvlei, two at Marievale and eight at Roets Farm.

White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucoptera
Two at Elandsvlei, two at Marievale and two at Roets Farm.

*Double-banded Sandgrouse Pterocles bicinctus
One seen well in fields near Vaalkop.

Feral Pigeon Columba livia [Rock Dove]
Recorded twice.

*Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea
Seen daily including 120 at Marievale.

*Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
Recorded on three dates but often overlooked amongst Cape Turtle Doves.

*Cape Turtle Dove Streptopelia capicola [Ring-necked Dove]
Common, seen daily.

Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
Fairly common.

Namaqua Dove Oena capensis
Four at Borakolalo, 12 near Vaalkop and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Meyer's Parrot Poicephalus meyeri
Two at Borakolalo.

Jacobin Cuckoo Oxylophus jacobinus [Pied Cuckoo]
One at Zaagkuildrift and one at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius
One at Suikerbosrand was attracted by tape and gave very good views.

African/European Cuckoo Cuculus gularis/canorus
One seen at Zaagkuildrift.

*Klaas's Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
Three at Seringveld included one adult seen feeding a juvenile (with three Didrics nearby!).

Didric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius
Seen daily including ten at Seringveld.

*Burchell's Coucal Centropus superciliosus
One at Roodeplat Dam and one at Zaagkuildrift.

*African Grass Owl Tyto capensis
One seen well having been flushed from it's daytime roost in the grass at Elandsvlei.

*White-faced Scops Owl Otus leucotis
One perched on roadside wire seen in spotlight at Buffelsdrift.

*Marsh Owl Asio capensis
One at dusk between Marievale and Pretoria and two at Kgomo-Kgomo.

Fiery-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis
Heard only at Buffelsdrift.

*Rufous-cheeked Nightjar Caprimulgus rufigena
Two seen at Buffelsdrift.

*African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus
Small numbers seen daily.

*African Black Swift Apus barbatus
One seen near Elandsvlei.

Little Swift Apus affinis

*Horus Swift Apus horus
Two at Marievale.

*White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
Common, with 150 at Elandsvlei.

*Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus
Four at Suikerbosrand and four at Zaagkuildrift.

*White-backed Mousebird Colius colius
Four at Borakolalo.

*Red-faced Mousebird Colius indicus
Two at Suikerbosrand and 12 at Zaagkuildrift.

*Grey Lourie Corythaixoides concolor [Grey Go-away Bird]
15 at Borakolalo and 15 at Zaagkuildrift.

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Small numbers seen daily.

*Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata
Singles near Vaalkop, at Roets Farm and in the Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal area.

*Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
Five at Borakolalo and seen on four other occasions.

*Brown-hooded Kingfisher Halcyon albiventris
One at Seringveld, three at Borakolalo and one other sighting.

*Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti
Singles at Seringveld, Borakolalo and Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides
Four at Zonderwater, ten at Seringveld and four at Borakolalo.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops superciliosus
Six at Kgomo-Kgomo and ten at Zaagkuildrift.

Bee-eater Merops apiaster
A few sightings, including approximately 200 at Borakolalo.

*Southern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicoides
Singles at Borakolalo, near Vaalkop and at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

European Roller Coracias garrulus
One at Borakolalo and one at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudata
Fairly common, sightings including about 30 between Borakolalo and Vaalkop.

*Purple Roller Eurystomus azureus
Four between Borakolalo and Vaalkop and one at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*African Hoopoe Upupa africana
Three at Suikerbosrand and one at Borakolalo.

*Green Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus [Red-billed Woodhoopoe]
Six at Seringveld and four at Borakolalo.

*Common Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas
One at Suikerbosrand and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*African Grey Hornbill Tockus nasutus
Five seen at Borakolalo.

*Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus
Fifteen at Borakolalo, two at Zaagkuildrift and two at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus leucomelas
One at Borakolalo, two near Vaalkop and one at Zaagkuildrift.

*Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Single at Borakolalo.

*Black-collared Barbet Lybius torquatus
One at Suikerbosrand, four at Borakolalo and two at Zaagkuildrift.

Pied Barbet Tricholaema leucomelas
Heard only at Zaagkuildrift.

*Crested Barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii
One or two seen daily.

*Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor
Single seen at Borakolalo.

*Red-throated Wryneck Jynx ruficollis
One seen at Suikerbosrand.

*Bennett's Woodpecker Campethera bennettii
Two seen at Zaagkuildrift.

*Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni
One at Borakolalo.

*Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens
One at Seringveld and two at Borakolalo.

*Bearded Woodpecker Dendropicos namaquus
One at Seringveld and three at Borakolalo.

*Melodious Lark Mirafra cheniana
Eight singing birds seen at Centurion.

*Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana
Up to three at Suikerbosrand, Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal and Zaagkuildrift.

*Clapper Lark Mirafra apiata
One seen at Suikerbosrand.

*Fawn-coloured Lark Mirafra africanoides
Three seen at Seringveld.

*Sabota Lark Mirafra sabota
Seen at four sites, including four at Borakolalo.

*Eastern Long-billed Lark Certhilauda curvirostris semitorquata
Single at Suikerbosrand.

*Dusky Lark Pinarocorys nigricans
One in the shade of a roadside bush at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*Spike-heeled Lark Chersomanes albofasciata
Three seen at Suikerbosrand.

*Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea
Four in fields near Vaalkop.

*Chestnut-backed Finch Lark Eremopterix leucotis
Six in fields near Vaalkop and 20 at Kgomo-Kgomo.

Brown-throated Sand Martin Riparia paludicola [Plain Martin]
Seen at three sites with 50 at Marievale.

Sand Martin Riparia riparia [Bank Swallow]
One at Suikerbosrand.

*Banded Martin Riparia cincta
Two at Seringveld and five others the same day.

*Rock Martin Hirundo fuligula
One in a village near Marievale.

Swallow Hirundo rustica [Barn Swallow]
Very common.

*White-throated Swallow Hirundo albigularis
Four sightings including five at Marievale.

*Pearl-breasted Swallow Hirundo dimidiata
Four sightings including ten at Seringveld and ten at Borakolalo.

*Greater Striped Swallow Hirundo cucullata
Four seen on 6/1 and two at Suikerbosrand on 7/1.

*Lesser Striped Swallow Hirundo abyssinica
Fairly common, seen daily.

*Rufous-breasted Swallow Hirundo semirufa
Six at Seringveld and four at Borakolalo.

*South African Cliff Swallow Hirundo spilodera
Seen daily, including 30 at Suikerbosrand.

House Martin Delichon urbica
Ten at Borakolalo.

*Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis
Up to four seen on several occasions.

*Cape Longclaw Macronyx capensis [Orange-throated Longclaw]
Singles at Elandsvlei and Suikerbosrand, eight at Borakolalo.

*African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus [Grassveld Pipit]
Seen daily.

Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis
Four at Suikerbosrand.

*Striped Pipit Anthus lineiventris
One in a quarry at Borakolalo.

*Bushveld Pipit Anthus caffer
Five seen at Borakolalo.

Pipit sp Anthus sp
One at Suikerbosrand was either a Buffy Pipit or a Plain-backed Pipit, or possibly a Long-tailed Pipit.

*Black Cuckoo-shrike Campephega flava
Four at Borakolalo.

*Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus nigricans
30 at Suikerbosrand.

*Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus [Black-eyed Bulbul]
Fairly common.

*Brubru Nilaus afer [Brubru Shrike]
One at Seringveld, two at Borakolalo and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Black-backed Puffback Dryoscopus cubla
Single at Borakolalo.

*Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegala
One at Seringveld.

*Three-streaked Tchagra Tchagra australis [Brown-crowned Tchagra]
Two seen at Zaagkuildrift.

Southern Boubou Laniarius ferrugineus
Heard daily but never seen!

*Crimson-breasted Shrike Laniarius atrococcineus [Crimson-breasted Gonolek]
A stunning bird, three seen at Borakolalo and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Sulphur-breasted Bush Shrike Telophorus sulfureopectus [Orange-breasted Bush Shrike]
Two seen at Zaagkuildrift.

Grey-headed Bush Shrike Malaconotus blanchoti
Heard only at Borakolalo.

*Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus [Bokmakierie Bush Shrike]
One seen at Suikerbosrand.

*African Long-tailed Shrike Corvinella melanoleuca [Magpie Shrike]
12 at Borakolalo, four in the Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal area and four at Zaagkuildrift.

Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
Seen on four occasions with ten at Zaagkuildrift.

Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor
Twenty seen on 8/1 and four at Zaagkuildrift the following day.

*Common Fiscal Lanius collaris [Fiscal Shrike]
Fairly common; seen daily with about 60 on 6/1.

*White-browed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas leucophrys [White-browed Robin]
Two at Borakolalo and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Kalahari Scrub Robin Cercotrichas paena [Kalahari Robin]
Four seen at Zaagkuildrift.

*Cape Robin Chat Cossypha caffra [Cape Robin]
One at Suikerbosrand.

*White-throated Robin Chat Cossypha humeralis [White-throated Robin]
One at Seringveld and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Familiar Chat Cercomela familiaris
Ten at Marievale and 12 at Borakolalo.

Stonechat Saxicola torquata
Small numbers seen on five occasions.

*Southern Anteater Chat Myrmecocichla formicivora
30 at Suikerbosrand.

*Mocking Cliffchat Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris [Mocking Chat]
Three at Suikerbosrand.

*Mountain Wheatear Oenanthe monticola [Mountain Chat]
50 at Suikerbosrand and one at Marievale.

*Olive Thrush Turdus olivaceus
Two seen on 7/1 and two in Centurion on 9/1.

*Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus
Two seen briefly at Suikerbosrand.

*Groundscraper Thrush Turdus litsipsirupa
Three sightings including two seen at Zonderwater, four at Seringveld.

*Arrow-marked Babbler Turdoides jardineii
Four seen at Borakolalo, four at Zaagkuildrift and four at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*Southern Pied Babbler Turdoides bicolor
Two seen at Borakolalo and four at Zaagkuildrift.

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceous
Heard only at Marievale.

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Four at Kgomo-Kgomo.

*African Reed Warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus [African Marsh Warbler]
One at Elandsvlei, two at Zonderwater and a few at Marievale.

Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris
Heard only at Roet's Farm.

*Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris [Cape Reed Warbler]
A few at Marievale.

African Sedge Warbler Bradypterus baboecala
Heard daily but never seen!

*African Yellow Warbler Chloroptera natalensis
One seen very well at Zonderwater.

Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
One at Seringveld.

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Fairly common.

*Cloud Cisticola Cisticola textrix
Two at Suikerbosrand and two at Centurion.

*Ayre's Cisticola Cisticola ayresii [Wing-snapping Cisticola]
Five at Suikerbosrand.

Fan-tailed Cisticola Cisticola juncidis [Zitting Cisticola, Fan-tailed Warbler]
Fairly common and seen daily.

*Desert Cisticola Cisticola aridula
One at Seringveld.

*Wailing Cisticola Cisticola Iais
Two on 6/1 and two at Suikerbosrand on 7/1.

*Tinkling Cisticola Cisticola rufilata [Grey Cisticola]
Two seen carrying food at Seringveld.

*Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chiniana
Ten at Borakolalo and six at Zaagkuildrift.

*Neddicky Cisticola fulvicapilla
Seen on three occasions with ten at Seringveld.

*Levaillant's Cisticola Cisticola tinniens
Relatively common with 30 seen at Elandsvlei and also recorded from Marievale, Suikerbosrand and Borakolalo.

*Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava
Two at Seringveld plus one other sighting of a single bird.

*Black-chested Prinia Prinia flavicans
Seen daily, including a maximum of five at Borakolalo.

Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica
Heard only at Suikerbosrand.

*Cape Grassbird Sphenoeacus afer
One seen on 6/1.

*Grey-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brevicaudata [Grey-backed Bleating Warbler]
Two at Borakolalo and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Barred Wren-Warbler Camaroptera fasciolata
Two at Borakolalo.

*Yellow-bellied Eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis
One at Seringveld.

*Green-capped Eremomela Eremomela scotops
Good views of ten at Seringveld.

*Burnt-necked Eremomela Eremomela usticollis
Singles at Borakolalo and Zaagkuildrift.

*Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta rufescens
One at Borakolalo and two Zaagkuildrift.

*Chestnut-vented Tit Warbler Parisoma subcaeruleum [Chestnut-vented Tit Babbler]
One at Borakolalo and four at Zaagkuildrift.

*Mariqua Flycatcher Melaenornis mariquensis [Marico Flycatcher]
One at Borakolalo and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Pale Flycatcher Melaenornis pallidus [Pallid Flycatcher]
Three seen at Seringveld and two at Borakolalo.

*South African Black Flycatcher Melaenornis pammelaina [Southern Black Flycatcher]
Two at Borakolalo and two at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*Fiscal Flycatcher Melaenornis silens
Two seen at Suikerbosrand.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Fairly common, 30 at Borakolalo being the maximum count.

*Fan-tailed Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus [Grey Tit Flycatcher]
One at Borakolalo.

*Chin-spot Batis Batis molitor
One at Seringveld and two at Borakolalo.

*African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
A family party of four seen at Buffelsdrift.

*African Penduline Tit Anthoscopus caroli [Grey Penduline Tit]
Two seen at Borakolalo.

*Ashy Tit Parus cinerascens
One at Suikerbosrand and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Southern Black Tit Parus niger
Four at Seringveld and 20 at Borakolalo.

*Amethyst Sunbird Nectarinia amethystina [Black Sunbird]
Three seen at Seringveld.

*White-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia talatala
Four at Borakolalo.

*Mariqua Sunbird Nectarinia mariquensis [Marico Sunbird]
Singles at Borakolalo and Kgomo-Kgomo.

*Yellow-tufted Malachite Sunbird Nectarinia famosa [Malachite Sunbird]
Eight seen at Suikerbosrand.

*Cape White-eye Zosterops pallida
Eight seen at Seringveld, ten at Borakolalo and four at Zaagkuildrift.

*Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi [Rock Bunting]
Seen daily with 20 at Seringveld the highest count.

*Cape Bunting Emberiza capensis
15 at Suikerbosrand.

*Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza flaviventris
Four seen at Borakolalo.

*Cape Canary Serinus canicollis
20 at Suikerbosrand.

*Black-throated Canary Serinus atrogularis
Seen on three occasions including 12 at Seringveld.

*Yellow-eyed Canary Serinus mozambicus
Eight at Seringveld and eight at Borakolalo.

*Yellow Canary Serinus flaviventris
Five at Suikerbosrand.

*Streaky-headed Seedeater Serinus gularis
20 at Seringveld and 10 at Suikerbosrand.

*Red-headed Finch Amadina erythrocephala
A pair on grass near a road junction in Centurion.

*Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala
Four at Borakolalo.

*Jameson's Firefinch Lagonosticta rhodopareia
Two at Borakolalo and two at Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*Blue Waxbill Uraeginthus angolensis [Cordon-bleu]
Six at Borakolalo and five at Zaagkuildrift.

*Violet-eared Waxbill Uraeginthus granatina [Grenadier]
Two at Borakolalo and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
15 at Suikerbosrand was the maximum recorded from the three sightings.

Black-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda erythronotus
Heard only at Buffelsdrift.

*African Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis
One or two seen daily, including at Marievale and Borakolalo.

*Bronze Mannikin Lonchura cucullata
12 seen at Seringveld.

*Steel-blue Widowfinch Vidua chalybeata
One at Borakolalo and one at Zaagkuildrift.

*Purple Widowfinch Vidua purpurascens
Two at Borakolalo.

*Shaft-tailed Whydah Vidua regia
Six seen at Borakolalo and two at Zaagkuildrift.

*Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura
Fairly common and seen daily.

*Eastern Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisaea
One or two seen daily, at Elandsvlei, Suikerbosrand, Borakolalo and Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal.

*Red-billed Buffalo Weaver Bubalornis niger
Two at Borakolalo and 20 at Zaagkuildrift.

*White-browed Sparrow Weaver Plocepasser mahali
15 at Suikerbosrand on 7/1 and ten the following day.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Fairly common.

*Great Sparrow Passer motitensis [Rufous Sparrow]
One seen at Zaagkuildrift.

*Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus
Seen on three occasions, including at Suikerbosrand.

*Southern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer (griseus) diffusus
Seen daily, with a maximum of ten at Borakolalo.

*Yellow-throated Petronia Petronia superciliaris
Four seen at Borakolalo.

*Scaly-feathered Finch Sporopipes squamifrons
Ten at Borakolalo and five at Zaagkuildrift.

*Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons [Grosbeak Weaver]
Two seen at Roodeplat Dam and four later the same day.

*Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis
One at Roodeplat Dam, one at Seringveld and one other sighting of a single bird.

*Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus
Very common.

*Spotted-backed Weaver Ploceus cucullatus [Village Weaver]
Four at a weaver colony in the Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal area.

*Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes melanotis
Ten at Borakolalo.

*Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea

*Golden Bishop Euplectes afer

*Red Bishop Euplectes orix
Very common.

*Yellow-rumped Widow Euplectes capensis
Eight at Suikerbosrand.

*Red-shouldered Widow Euplectes axillaris
Six at Marievale.

*White-winged Widow Euplectes albonotatus
Fairly common and seen daily.

*Red-collared Widow Euplectes ardens
Seen on three occasions including 50 at Suikerbosrand.

*Long-tailed Widow Euplectes progne
Fairly common.

*Cuckoo Finch Anomalospiza imberbis [Parasitic Weaver]
One at Centurion.

*Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio
One seen on 8/1 and two the following day.

*Cape Glossy Starling Lamprotornis nitens
Seen on four occasions including 30 at Zaagkuildrift.

*Burchell's Starling Lamprotornis australis
Six at Borakolalo and 20 at Zaagkuildrift.

*Plum-coloured Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
Four at Seringveld and one at Zaagkuildrift.

*African Pied Starling Spreo bicolor
Four at Zonderwater and four at Suikerbosrand.

*Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea
Ten seen at Zaagkuildrift and eight at Kgomo-Kgomo.

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Fairly common, seen daily.

Red-billed Oxpecker Buphagus erythrorhynchus
Heard only at Borakolalo.

Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
Three seen at Borakolalo.

*African Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus
Two at Borakolalo.

*Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
A few sightings including a maximum of ten in the Rust de Winter/Hammanskraal area.

*Pied Crow Corvus albus
Three sightings including eight at Kgomo-Kgomo.

312 species, '*' indicates a tick for MGP.

Other Wildlife

Due to the fact that I saw so many birds in such a short space of time we spent little effort on other wildlife. However, mammal sightings included:

  • Southern Lesser Bushbaby - 1 seen at Buffelsdrift in spotlight
  • Plains Zebra - 2 at Seringveld and several at Suikerbosrand
  • Giraffe - 6 at Borakolalo Eland - 2 at Seringveld
  • Black Wildebeest - several at Suikerbosrand
  • Blue Wildebeest - 1 at Seringveld
  • Blesbok - several at Suikerbosrand
  • Impala
  • Springbok