On a crisp winter's morning ten en-thusiastic birders met on the Mockford Farm Road, anticipating a great day ahead! Flocks of African Sacred Ibis flew over in their V-formation, a pair of Black-headed Herons took flight while the resident Long-crested Eagle surveyed the land from its treetop. As the orange, rising sun began to bask the bush in light, we slowly made our way to the vulture restaurant ... a tally of 53 species had already been recorded!
We settled ourselves in the hide, immediately enraptured by the scene before us. Many Cape and White-backed Vultures were perched on the poles and a great number of Marabou Storks were awaiting the off-loading of some pig carcasses. A few Lappet-faced Vultures showed off their impressive wingspan as they flew overhead and a lone Hooded Vulture joined in the pickings on an old carcass. Leonie was the first to notice the Palm-nut Vulture in a tree - a special lifer for a couple of folk and a thrill for all of us.
Every now and then these magnificent birds would take flight and fill the sky in an awesome display. Jody captured a great shot of the Palm-nut Vulture in flight before it returned to the top of the same tree giving us ample photo opportunities. It is indeed a feisty little vulture as we watched it ward off the Pied Crows and Lappet-faced Vultures when they got too close to it! An impressive count of five different vulture species made this outing very worthwhile. Interestingly, four Cape Vultures and a Marabou Stork had patagial tags. Most of the vultures were tagged at the Blouberg Nature Reserve, about 120 km to the north - as the vulture flies.
Sone of the smaller birds viewed from the hide included: Crimson-breasted Shrikes, Marico Flycatchers, Great Spar-row, Green-winged Pytilia, Acacia Pied Bar-bet, Southern Fiscal and many Pied Crows. Thereafter we drove to a glistening dam. Scanning the bank and water we saw Black-winged Stilts, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe as well as Cape and Red-billed Teals.
A number of Cape Shovelers gave us a wonderful display of their prominent blue-grey upperwing coverts. The grasslands produced an African Pipit, African Stonechat, Cape Starling and African Wattled and Blacksmith Lapwings - not forgetting flocks of Helmeted Guineafowl.
A cute Pearl-spotted Owlet came to check us out and further along the road a pair of Secretarybirds flew across the fields. Last, but not least, a Rock Kestrel ended a wonderful morning of birding. A tally of 104 species were recorded on the outing. A BIG thank you goes to Richter for organising this outing and for his birding guidance and the Mockford's for allowing us access to their farm. It was, as always, a great experience!!