Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Not far from Johannesburg is a nature reserve called Marievale. We visited one overcast and misty morning. The heavy rains of a few days previous had flooded most of the roads in the reserve, fortunately Steve's 4WD managed the water with ease. The pic above shows what awaited us upon our arrival - low clouds and plenty of standing water! Still, there were birds about including Little Egret, Black Heron, Squacco Heron and Hottentot Teal (all in the above pic - in the distance, a small party of Yellow-billed Duck).

Our drive to the reserve was a bit slow through all the mist but made for some very interesting and atmospheric images. The occasional figure appearing along the roadside was visually exciting as they seemed to just appear out of the mist. Birds were scarce but a Glossy Ibis flyover was a bonus.

Later (once we had found a hide that wasn't flooded), we settled down to see what was about. A Black Heron (above) didn't take long to arrive, along with a very exciting African Rail. Earlier we had seen a Black Heron fishing and characteristically shading the water with its wings - my first views of this behavior! There were quite a few common species about but not many waders - probably due to the deep water.

 A Malachite Kingfisher came and stayed for awhile (earlier we had seen a Half-collared Kingfisher) and our arrival had frightened off a Giant Kingfisher that was perched on the roof of the hide. Finally a Pied Kingfisher over the water brought our tally to 4 (later 5 for the day as we also saw 2 Woodland Kingfishers near Steve's farm North of Pretoria). I managed a few drawings of Blacksmith Lapwings in my sketchbook.

On our way out, we had much better views of a Squacco Heron plus plenty of other waterbirds, also displaying Red-bishop Birds and various whydah and widow birds. All in all, a great visit!

Photos above by Steve Pearse and myself.


john said...

Even before I started reading your text I recognized Marievale. It was also flooded when I was there years ago. All the same birds although we did not see as many kingfishers. At the time it, (along with our visit to Suikerbosrand) was the single greatest day of birding I had ever experienced.

John Holmes said...

Blacksmith Plovers - "Plink plink" - hope to see the sketch worked up into something more substantial in due course....

Jeremy Pearse said...

John, have to agree with you there, it is an amazing place and I hope to get back there when the weather is a little more accommodating.

John, it has been said that often the most common species are the first to be painted so I'm sure I will get to them soon. Of course, there is always the more rare and exotic to choose from as well - choices, choices. We were fortunate to see young just off the nest (and also a few older birds) on our evening walks in Eagle Canyon - the adults always giving their 'Plink Plink' alarm calls - occasionally taking flight and dive-bombing us!