An Orange-breasted Waxbill was recently spotted as a new bird for the Likweti bird list in August, 2015. Local bird expert, Peter Lawson shares his sighting experience with us.
Small and Precious
Early on an August morning I was listing birds on fabulous Likweti whilst parked next to a small dam in a picturesque setting. There were flocks of Fan-tailed Widowbirds and Red-collared Widowbirds in eclipse plumage coming down to drink. I marvelled at how nature tells them that Spring is approaching and some had started to show signs of their breeding-season garb.
Then something small and bright caught my eye and, lifting my binoculars, I was astounded to see one of our country’s smallest and most colourful birds, an Orange-breasted Waxbill. Certainly one of my favourite birds. As I watched spellbound there were others too, emerging from the reeds and alighting at the waters edge to quench their thirst.
This tiny bird is a wetland specialist and is in serious decline due to the unfortunate health of moist grassland and wetland habitats throughout South Africa. Recently someone representing the Rare Finch Conservation Group completed an epic solo cycle ride, purely to raise awareness of Orange-breasted Waxbills and their plight. This incredible enduro-ride from Cape Town to Victoria Falls covered 3000km and traversed three countries.
That gives an idea of just how special this little bird is, and there it was on Likweti.
Text by Peter Lawson.