IRENE RASMUSSEN – 30 OCTOBER 2006

Just spent the weekend birding with Malcolm Gemmell around Creighton and Nsekeni. Saw some really good birds including THE EURASIAN BITTERN !!( thanks to Malcolm’s perseverance and skill ). When we saw the extent of this vast Nsekeni vlei we really did not have any real expectations of actually seeing this rare and elusive bird. We spent a couple of hours scanning the vlei on Sat evening and heard the bird booming from a long distance away and next morning at dawn we set out in that direction. This time we were rewarded with really loud, close up, double note booming and could even pick up the muffled warm up sounds. There were at least 2 birds calling from different directions. We did not bash through the vlei but were positioned on slightly higher ground and worked in pairs scanning the reeds with binos and scopes. After about an hour Malcolm picked up the bird in his scope. It was standing in the reeds about 100m from us with its head, neck and chest exposed. We all had time to get good views both through our binos and through our scopes. It appeared to be looking right at us and was quite relaxed until we’d all had a good look then it put its head down as if feeding and moved off out of sight! Wow! Weren’t we the lucky ones!! We hung around for another few hours hoping to see it fly over the vlei but it did not reappear. This is really a special place and well worth a visit even if only to hear the bittern’s weird booming!

A few highlights of the week-end were:

Blue Swallow
Wattled crane with young
Grey Crowned Crane
Cape Parrot
Bush Blackcap
Denham’s Bustard – displaying
Forest Buzzard
Marsh Owl
African Marsh Harrier
Mountain pipit

Irene Rasmussen