A great time for birding in the Lowveld

Nine enthusiastic birders met at Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate on the 3rd of September for a bird watching walk lead by international bird guide, Marc Cronje. Marc shared some special highlights of the walk with us.

Lesser-stripped Swallow

We were welcomed by a beautiful spring sunrise as we started the walk. With the summer migrants starting to arrive and the birds getting ready to breed, this is always a great time for bird watchers to be out in the field.

A Lesser-striped Swallow was one of our first birds for the morning. It’s amazing to think that this bird has flown all the way from Central Africa. You can read our article on bird migration in the Lowveld for more interesting information.

Our first birds for the morning were Brubru, Purple-crested Turaco, White-bellied Sunbird, a very obliging Red-throated Wryneck pair, Pied Kingfisher, African Green Pigeon, and an Orange-breasted Bushshrike.

Brubru (Photo by René Rossouw)

Cape Grassbird

We were spoiled with beautiful singing and great sights of a stunning Cape Grassbird. This was a first-time sighting for most of the group.

With the birds being so active at the entrance of the estate, we decided to walk around the area first. Some of the birds we enjoyed included a Cape Starling, Black-collared Barbet, Green Wood Hoopoes, Spotted Thick-knee (a good bird for the area), Yellow-breasted Apalis, and Cape Weaver. As we approached our vehicles to head further into the estate, we enjoyed a close-up sighting of a flock of striking Blue Waxbills.

We didn’t have to cover a big area and the sightings just kept on getting better. Walking along the second phase of the estate (Likweti Plains) we saw a stunning male Mocking Cliff Chat, calling Croaking Cisticola, Acacia Pied Barbet, Yellow-throated Longclaws displaying above us, Southern Boubou, Groundscraper Thrush, African Pipit, Long-billed Crombec, Sombre Greenbul and Black-backed Puffback.

African Pipit

The highlight of the walk was definitely spotting the Brown-backed Honeybird! This is not a common species and can be very difficult to see, making this an excellent sighting for the morning. The Brown-backed Honeybird is a brood parasite and lays its eggs in the nests of Cisticolas, Camaropteras and Prinias. In doing so the host looks after the eggs and nurtures the Honeybird’s chicks. Contrary to the bird’s name, the species does not eat honey and is an insect eater, feeding mainly on scale insects.

Brown-backed Honeybird (Photo by René Rossouw)

As we continued with the walk the birds just kept on rolling in and some of the highlights included: close views of African Stonechat, Grey-rumped Swallow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Village Weaver, Neddicky, White-fronted Bee-eater, and a wonderful sighting of a Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird that called and gave us some fantastic views. It’s the second time I have seen this on Likweti now, very interesting.

The final stop for the morning was at one of the dams on the estate and here we enjoyed sightings of Hamerkop, Little Bee-eater, Reed Cormorant, Pied Kingfisher, and Malachite Kingfisher.

Pied Kingfisher

It was an exciting morning of birding at the estate and a total of 65 species was seen collectively on the walk. It is a beautiful time of the year to enjoy birding in the Lowveld as the birds are much more vocal and the migrants are arriving.

Marc will be leading another walk at Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate on the 8th of October. Please get in touch with him if you would like to book your spot.

Be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page for all the details regarding upcoming events at the Estate.

Written by Marc Cronje
083 705 6463.

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