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May Mahem in Mapungubwe - a short report from our May 2006 trip.

This is a summary report of a 3 night birding trip to Mapungubwe with 7 birders, lead and organized by Etienne Marais of Indicator Birding from 4-7 May 2006.

In summary the birding was spectacular to say the least. Top birds included Bronze-winged and Three-banded Coursers, Dusky Lark, cracking views of Collared Palm-thrush, African Golden Oriole, Square-tailed Nightjar, Allen's Gallinule, Grey-hooded Kingfisher, Burchell's Sandgrouse, Kori Bustard and Greater Painted Snipe. Many summer migrants were still around including 2 juvenile Lesser Spotted-eagle at a Quelea colony, Barn Swallow, Banded Martin, Red-breasted Swallow, Great Spotted, Klaas's (male and female) and Le Vaillant's Cuckoos. Woodland Kingfishers not vocal, but still present on the Limpopo on 6 May. Grey-hooded Kingfisher also seen several times from the Maloutswa Pan Hide, where a cracking male Painted Snipe showed itself nicely.

On the plains near the Maloutswa pan hide, there were many Kurrichane Button-quail and a few (apparently all male) Harlequin Quails as well.

Other good birds included Saddle-billed Stork, several Black Storks, near Ratho, at Mapungubwe (east) and near their nest site which is visible from the main road between Alldays and Pontdrift. One of the group saw a Southern Hyliota in riverine woodland along the limpopo, but no-one else managed to pick up the bird. We saw Great Sparrow, Cut-throat Finch, many Eastern Paradise-whydah in full breeding plumage, Grey Tit-flycatcher, Retz Helmet-Shrike, and Barred Owl along with common Limpopo birds such as Meve's Starling, Tropical Boubou and Yellow-bellied Greenbul

In the Den Staat Wetland, we saw what may have been a Eurasian Reed Warbler - which was very well seen and appeared to show classic fuscus features including gizz, behaviour, shape, wing extension and coloration. We were able to compare the bird with numerous African Reed Warbler, which are all over the wetland. In this area we also saw numerous waders, herons and ducks.

Another major highlight of the trip was that the area between Limpopo Tented Camp and Maloutswa had a quelea colony in full swing. About 15 ha of dense thornveld was absolutely packed with the little blighters and I must say that experiencing this exhibition of the full power and glory of nature is an absolute must for any birder! Not only does the sound of millions of begging mouths overwhelm one as you get close, but the smell is reminiscent of a chicken farms. The ground under the trees is covered with egg-shells and the quelea air-control tower somehow arranged that the outgoing stream of parents flew just below the returning stream - a remarkable sight to behold! The quelea colony was in it's final days of breeding, with most young already clambering out of their nests and around the upper branches of the trees. The colony had attracted a couple of raptors and we saw Lesser Spotted Eagle, Shikra and Bateleur in the area.

Little Muck is a superb locality, privately owned by De Beers, this old style private lodge is very comfortable, superbly situated on the top of a hill overlooking the Limpopo valley and a great place for a group to stay.

As always we also had some good birds en-route, including cracking views of a pair of African Hawk-eagle, many Pale-chanting Goshawk in the area near Langjan NR and a nice Lanner near Dendron. A quick search along the Dendron road near Polokwane also produced a very nice singing Short-clawed Lark.

Overall 222 species were recorded, which for a May long weekend, is very respectable indeed.

For the full annotated trip list, CLICK HERE
For an easy print PDF version of our 2007 trip CLICK HERE , or go to the HTML web-page on our 2007 trip (February) HERE.

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