Local bird expert, Peter Lawson shares his most recent, very exciting bird watching experience with us.
I was at the entrance gate shortly after 06:00 on Wednesday 21st October. My plan was to update the Likweti bird list and of course I had to have a compulsory mug of coffee whilst starting my list. Thus I stopped at the first small dam opposite a neighbouring farmhouse, where there is always a lot of early morning bird activity.
Migrants had arrived and Red-chested and Black Cuckoos were loudly telling me their long journey was over. The soft musical warbling of tiny Willow Warblers could be heard from trees in the farmhouse garden and I wiped a tear as I thought of the hazardous flight they had gone through all the way from Europe. Barn Swallows were also present and just six weeks ago I had seen them in England. Some intra-African migrants were present as well but their journey was not as long. There were Lesser Striped Swallows on a power line and a long-tailed African Paradise-Flycatcher was doing his best to charm a lady. A brilliant Violet-backed Starling was more intent on gleaning insects from an Acacia tree – lovely to watch as I sipped my steaming coffee.
I moved on slowly up the paved road and stopped to view a couple of White-breasted Cormorants at the first of two dams to the right. A Long-crested Eagle was perched nearby, searching the ground below for his rodent breakfast and a flock of Helmeted Guineafowl were amusing to watch as they chased each other through the short grass. The morning stillness was interrupted by the loud and ringing song of a Rufous-naped Lark, telling us that summer was here.
I moved on slowly to the adjoining water body and a bird with a striking white chest caught my eye. It was perched on a dead branch of a tree overhanging the water inlet. Thinking it was another cormorant I reluctantly lifted my binoculars and my heart stopped when I realised what I was looking at. To make certain I lifted my scope from the car and erected it quickly in case the bird decided to take off. I was looking at the full frontal of an Osprey, a rare migrant raptor from Europe and most certainly new for the Likweti bird list. I watched it preening, fluffing its wings and turning around to show me its dark back. Wow! – and sadly, not a sole around to share my fabulous discovery.
Text by Peter Lawson.