The most recent sighting of the Black Heron at Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate brings our total number of bird species to 191. Here’s what local bird expert, Peter Lawson had to say about his most recent bird watching adventure:
On the 30th November 2014 we came across an exciting new bird for the Likweti list. It was a Black Heron and it was fishing in the shallows of one of the dams. This small heron is a scarce bird in the Lowveld and generally occurs further north in the Limpopo province, Zimbabwe, northern Mozambique and north east Botswana. The Black Heron has developed a spectacular feeding method which is unusual in the bird kingdom. It is termed ‘umbrella-fishing’ and is quite different to the ‘parasolling’ habit used by other herons to frighten fish.
The technique is to take a few steps in shallow water and then suddenly spread its wings and close them over its head to form a dome. Frightened small fish dart underneath the spread canopy in search of shade, and are further attracted by the heron’s yellow toes which are wriggled deliberately. It then strikes the vulnerable prey with deadly accuracy.
Shallow water is most important for Black Herons as they are unable to feed in deep water.
Text by Peter Lawson. Photo by Jacques de Villiers.