South Africa (ZA)   From Winter to Summer  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:38:20 am

Week 11 - 13 March 2010, Pivot Fields and SAANR

Finally a day dawned with clear with blue skies and it stayed that way for the morning. In fact it feels like we have jumped from winter into summer with temperatures in the desert reaching 40 degrees by noon. Images by Mike Pope

For the past 3-weeks there has been a Painted Lady eruption passing through Kuwait; luckily for them ahead of the bulk of the spring migration for birds. It was reported by buttefly conservation in UK last year that an unprecedented Painted Lady migration from North Africa (Morocco) and the Mediteranean took place. We certainly did not witness the numbers of Painted Lady's last year, as we are seeing this year, so 2010 could surpass last years numbers.

Painted Lady

First stop was Pivot Fields where I found a 1st year Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Followed by an adult Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

The most prevalent Wheatears were Pied, this one still transitioning to full breeding plumage

Pied Wheatear

and one in full breeding regalia

Pied Wheatear

I found the first Cuckoo of this spring


Driving along the boundary fence I had my first Redstart of the year of race samamisicus


Sub adult Spotted Eagles are still present

Spotted Eagle

Large numbers of Water Pipits are still fattening up before leaving, this one having just had a wash

Water Pipit

On the way out, I found a male Northern Wheatear after it had just devoured a large caterpillar

Northern Wheatear

I hadnt been to SAANR in some time and had problems getting access that were eventually resolved. The Hume's Wheatear is no longer present. On route to the new lake/pan that has been created in one of the wadi's I found 3 sub adult Steppe Eagles

Steppe Eagle

At the old Police Station, many Wheatears (Pied and Isabelline) were present, together with a medium sized flock of Short toed Larks

Short toed Lark

Short toed Lark

The large pan had many birds, but not the Common Cranes which had been seen 2-days before. Consolation however was a distant flock of Caspian Plovers, also in full breeding dress.

Caspian Plover

Amongst the many waders some Marsh Sandpipers were seen

Marsh Sandpiper

an adult Steppe Eagle that was drinking at the pan flew over my car pursued by a Yellow Wagtail - bit like the dog chasing the car, what to do if you catch it?

Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

Tuhla was surprisngly quiet and the only species of note was a female Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

By now it was midday and the temp was up at 40 degrees, one of the few Woodchat Shrikes were seen on the way out

Woodchat Shrike

Followed by Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

and more Northern Wheatears

Northern Wheatear

After the good winter rains, parts of the desert are still showing healthy vegetation. This is an area in SAANR in a slight depression that shows the results of the seed germination. In complete contrast to the same time in 2009 when it was all just sandy desert

Grass in SAANR


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