When I decided to document my year of birding, I immediately signed up to the South African Rare Birds group which sends out weekly and daily reports of all the rare and exciting birds seen in the country. Its great to read about all the sightings but mostly they are in other parts of the country or just too far out of town for me. I’m not one of those birders that will fly across country for a day just to see a bird, that’s a bit much for me haha!
However I did go on my very first twitching session last weekend!
Since the beginning of the year there has been an irruption of Spotted Crakes in South Africa, I mean they are all over the various provinces. So there was great excitement when one pitched up in central Gauteng, in Midrand to be precise, which is between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The bird was found in a little pond just outside an entrance gate to a huge housing estate, not your typical spot to go birding really! But there he/she was and has since become the most viewed Spotted Crake in South Africa due to the easily accessible location. Last I heard the numbers were up to approximately 600 people who have gone to view this bird! Many people who are not even big birders are stopping by to see what the commotion is all about.
I finally decided I had to go see this bird, and it turned out to be even closer to our house than I thought, which was great. We arrived at the spot and joined the group of approximately 20 other birders/photographers who were all enjoying the little crake. I couldn’t help but giggle at the sight, all these people in one place for a bird, and just outside a fancy housing estate. Non-birders must have been very confused!
Luckily for us, the Crake was out in the open wading up and down just next to the reeds searching for food. We got to watch it for about 20 minutes before it ducked off behind some reeds (It must have been thinking “No more photo’s, Please!”).
I can’t say I’ve ever stopped to look at this bird in my bird books so didnt know much about it, but it was very cool to learn about it and why its so special to see it here in SA.
Spotted Crakes are uncommon summer visitors which migrate down from the Palearctic regions. They reach parts of our Northern neighbours (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique) but seldom make it right down into South Africa. It is thought that there has been this irruption due to the drought we are experiencing at the moment.
So that’s another one for my year list and definitely a big Lifer!!!