Local bird expert, Peter Lawson shares his most recent, very exciting bird watching experience with us.
Shortly after sunrise on a beautiful December morning I was listing birds while parked on a ridge in the south of the estate. The view before me was absolutely stunning with well-wooded granite outcrops fading into the distance. A dazzle of zebra was below me in the distance and through my binoculars I could see some small foals with long gangling legs. December is the time for foals to be born and they had timed it right, shortly after good rains had fallen.
A number of stately giraffe were nearby and a herd of impala moved in behind them. It was a wonderful scene, so close to the Rocky Drift industrial area which could be faintly seen in the far distance. I had to awaken from my reverie to concentrate on listing birds, which were in full song all around me. Loudest of all were Olive Bush-Shrikes which are in fact forest birds but have moved onto Likweti where there is lush vegetation.
A small bird landed on a dry bush in front of me and I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. It was a male Swee Waxbill, also a forest bird and well out of place on Likweti Estate. Such a pretty little bird and it stayed for a while and I waited for the rest of its family to appear as they are generally in small flocks, but no others turned up and my special little bird moved on.
I moved on slowly, stopping to look and listen frequently and my return drive was below the lodge. There was dense and lush vegetation in places and the beautiful but secretive Gorgeous Bush-Shrike was uttering its familiar kong-kong-koweet call, but remained hidden from view. Then another familiar call had me stunned. It was from a different secretive bird that had not until now been on the Likweti bird list. It was so close and yet remained out of sight in the dense woodland thickets. It moved about while loudly repeating bubbling notes, too difficult to mimic but best described as a rich, explosive, liquid jumble of notes. They belonged to an Eastern Nicator.
In the three hours I spent on Likweti Estate that lovely December morning I listed 86 bird species, two of which were new additions. Birding is great on Likweti Estate.
Text by Peter Lawson.