South Africa

9 August 2022

On my way to Angola I had a morning in Johannesburg. I arranged with Birding Africa that they would provide a guide to pick me up from my overnight accommodation and drop me back at the airport to catch my flight to Luanda in Angola.

Selwyn Rautenbuch picked me up at 4:00am from Outlook Lodge OR Tambo. We went first to open fields around Elandsvlei, North East of Johannesburg Airport. We were hoping for African Grass Owl but had no luck with this species before dawn. We did however find a Marsh Owl that seemingly wanted to snatch the light from Selwyn’s hand and a much calmer Fiery-necked Nightjar. From here we drove to Rietsvlei where we picked up Southern Pochard among a host of waterbirds.

Having missed the Grass Owl before dawn Selwyn selected a patch of reddish coloured grassland and declared it a certainty for a roosting owl. Selwyn certainly knows his patch and, as predicted, flushed an African Grass Owl. The bird circled us a couple of times providing excellent viewing before dropping back in the grass where we left it without further disturbance.

Selwyn then took me to a site where he had recently seen an African Rail. On arrival we were distracted by mammalian noises in very thick reeds while simultaneously hearing the rail. After a bit of futzing around the mammal was revealed as a boringly domestic dog, meanwhile the rail had been disturbed and ceased calling. After a wait to give the rail time to relax we played the tape and the rail responded but showed no sign of crossing the road to provide a view. Selwyn plunged into the reeds to form a track at right angles to the road and then lured the rail across this track to provide a clear but brief view of the bird.

Birds seen on this morning (New Birds in Bold) :-

  • Spotted Thick-knee
  • Fiery-necked Nightjar
  • Marsh Owl
  • Black-winged Lapwing
  • Southern Pochard
  • African Pipit
  • African Grass Owl
  • Long-tailed Widowbird

  • White-winged Widowbird
  • Capped Wheatear
  • Black-winged Kite
  • Neddicky
  • White-backed Duck
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Cape Shoveller
  • Yellow-billed Duck
  • Wattled Lapwing
  • Crowned Lapwing
  • Black-headed Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Squacco Heron
  • Red-nobbed Coot
  • Helmeted Guineafowl
  • Speckled Pigeon
  • Red-eyed Dove
  • Laughing Dove
  • Namaqua Dove
  • Banded Martin
  • Pied Crow
  • Cape Robin-chat
  • African Stonechat
  • Zitting Cisticola
  • Red-billed Quelea
  • Yellow-throated Longclaw
  • Pin-tailed Whydah
  • African Rail
  • Maccoa Duck