A Morning Outing for Novice (and not so novice) Birders was held at the Polokwane Game Reserve on Saturday, 19 October. A group of seven assembled near the main gate at 6:30 am, despite the clouds and morning chill, to be led by Richter van Tonder and Jody de Bruyn.
The group met at the parking area and observed a group of Arrow-marked Babblers, a Hamerkop and Crested Barbet before proceeding to the Warthog picnic area. The group spent considerable time near the water impoundment, quickly spotting a Grey Heron. Cape Weavers, a Black-backed Puffback, and a Blacksmith Lapwing were quickly added to the morning list just as a Black Stork flew overhead.
Jody was able to call in a Klaass Cuckoo and a group of newly-arrived European Bee-eaters passed over the waterhole. The group proceeded back to the picnic area and were able to get a good sighting of a Golden-tailed Woodpecker.
After a quick snack, the group left the picnic area and proceeded to the Lenong hide for more novice birding under Richter and Jodys careful guidance. The day warmed nicely and the wind calmed, improving the birding conditions. We were able to identify Yellow-fronted Canaries, a Magpie Shrike, a Golden-breasted Bunting, a White-browed Scrub-Robin and an Acacia Pied Barbet from the hide.
From there, the group proceeded to the Wahlbergs Eagle nest where the female appeared to be sitting low on the newly erected nest. The male was nowhere to be found. Along the way, a pair of Secretary birds was spotted in the veld. We assumed the pair to be the parents of the yearling (transmitter tagged) bird as we were unable to spy a transmitter on either of those particular birds backs. A black-chested Snake-Eagle was spotted flying above the Wahlbergs nest and a Cape Vulture appeared not to be left off the days list.
It was a good day for raptors as a Fish Eagle was spotted as the group proceeded to the main waterhole. As usual, this waterhole didnt disappoint for easy spots. Blue Waxbill, Red-billed Quelea, a Marico Flycatcher, Marico Sunbird, Black-faced Waxbill, Great and Grey headed Sparrows, and a Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler were quickly identified. Guineafowl and Francolins kept up a chorus in the brush behind the waterhole but never emerged. Two pairs of Burnt-necked Eremomela flew in to add some excitement to the conclusion of the day.
Richter and Jody did a splendid job of teaching and mentoring the small group. The club is very fortunate that they have the initiative, interest and patience to tutor new bird watchers as they themselves become experienced guides in their own rights. Watch out Joe! You have got some competition coming up in the ranks!
All photos supplied by Conrad van Tonder