AFRICAN SPOONBILL

A water bird I enjoy seeing from time to time is the African Spoonbill (Platalea alba). This one was feeding with its characteristic side-to-side motion in the shallow water at the edge of the Domkrag waterhole in the Addo Elephant National Park.

As you can see, it is a predominantly white bird with characteristically red legs, face and bill. Their spoon-shaped bill helps them to find fish, insects, larvae, and molluscs by acting as a hook to catch its food.

DOMKRAG WATERHOLE

It is worth spending time at a waterhole. Patience and careful observation can reap many unexpected rewards. Take the well-known Domkrag Waterhole in the Addo Elephant National Park: this is unusual in that visitors are welcome to get out and can look down on the waterhole, over a short hedge of Spekboom. A familiar sight here is a Karoo Scrub-robin that watches one carefully from within the Spekboom hedge before emerging to see if anything worthwhile to eat has been dropped by visitors.

Signs warn of the risks, making it worthwhile focusing on the whole environment and not only the water below.

A Hadeda Ibis preened itself at the edge of the water, the early morning sunshine highlighting its iridescent feathers.

Not far away, a pair of Egyptian Geese warmed themselves in the sun, sitting close to the ground and out of the way of an icy breeze.

Standing next to the reeds, a Black-headed Heron stood motionless – watching the water with the kind of patience few of us would be able to maintain for long.

While an African Spoonbill waded about more actively to find its food.

There was so much more to see, but those will have to wait for another post.