OBSERVATIONS IN THE MOUNTAIN ZEBRA NATIONAL PARK – 2

The two most common birds in the rest camp were Pied Starlings and the loquacious White-browed Sparrow Weavers (Plocepasser mahali).

Pied Starling

Pied Starling

 

White-browed Sparrow Weaver

White-browed Sparrow Weaver

The latter live in flocks and build several very scruffy-looking nests on the leeward side of the acacia trees all over the park.

back view of nest

back view of nest

 

Front view of nest

Front view of nest

Their loud musical chirping lends a cheerful air to the camping area and is easily recognisable while one is driving through the veld. Many of those seen around the rest camp have been ringed. They swoop down to pick up seeds or any fallen crumbs around the tents and caravans, although I also observed them feeding on seed pods and catching insects.

Other interesting birds seen in the park include Grey-winged Francolin (Scleroptila africanus that were feasting on termites scurrying around a mound that had been broken open in the montane grassland.

greywinged francolin

Dusky Flycatchers were typically perched atop thorn bushes.

Dusky Flycatcher

There were numerous Ant-eating Chats that were also feasting on termites, which had perhaps surfaced after the rain.

Anteating chat

These nutritious insects were busily occupied carrying blades of grass back to their colonies. This must have been a hazardous business, given how many other creatures were out to enjoy them as a snack, including Pale Chanting Goshawks.

termites

It was interesting to watch a pair of Verreauxs’ Eagles (Aquila verrauxii) coursing just below the top of the cliffs as we wound up the steep Kranskop Loop. One seemed to ‘disappear’ into the face of the cliff and it was only when we rose higher that we realised they must be nesting on one of the rocky ledges. This was confirmed a while later when one alighted on the ground just ahead of us to collect sticks in its beak for the nest.

While we passed several birds – especially larks – that I was unable to identify, my bird list is as follows:

African Redeyed Bulbul
African Stone Chat
Ant-eating Chat
Barthroated Apalis
Blackeyed Bulbul
Blacksmith Plover
Blue Crane
Bokmakierie
Boubou Shrike
Cape Robin
Cape Sparrow
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Vulture
Cape Wagtail
Cardinal Woodpecker
Common Waxbill
Crowned Guineafowl
Crowned Plover (Lapwing)
Dusky Flycatcher
Egyptian Goose
Fiery-necked Nightjar
Fiscal Shrike
Forktailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Greywinged Francolin
Hadeda Ibis
Jackal Buzzard
Laughing Dove
Ostrich
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Pied Crow
Pied Starling
Redeyed Dove
Redwinged Starling
Rock Kestrel
Rock Pigeon (Speckled)
Rufous-naped Lark
Sabota Lark
Scaly-feathered Finch
Secretary Bird
South African Shelduck
Southern Double-collared Sunbird
Southern Masked Weaver
Speckled Mousebird
Verrauxs’ Eagle
White-breasted Cormorant
White-browed Sparrow Weaver

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