03 February 2013 – in search of the golden one…
We had heard of a Greater Painted Snipe that was showing at Rondevlei Nature Reserve and, since our friends, Keir and Alouise, who were staying with us still needed this species as a lifer, and we still needed it for our challenge list, we decided that a short jaunt to the reserve early this morning was in order. These can be quite tough birds to connect with locally, so any bird that is showing vaguely regularly is worth chasing after.
We arrived soon after the gates opened and made our way across to the first hide where the bird had been reported from. Initially, we did not see the bird, but there were a few other common species around to keep us entertained. It was also quite overcast and there was a fair bit of wind too, so conditions were not fantastic, but we decided to wait it out anyway. Just as well we did as, after a little while, a gorgeous male Greater Painted Snipe presented itself and showed very well. Needless to say, there was excitement all around and Keir was particularly vocal in his appreciation of the bird – fortunately, there was nobody else in the hide at the time to hear the full extent of his appreciation or else they might have taken offence…:)
After having enjoyed the bird for some time, Keir and Alouise, along with their son Cian, had to be on their way back home, so we decided to check out the rest of the reserve. With the rather high water levels and the less than desirable weather conditions, the birds were pretty scarce, so it didn’t take too long to give it up and head over to the newly opened restaurant in the reserve and order ourselves a nice breakfast as we sat out on the deck enjoying the view over the water and watching for anything of interest. Apart from the regular African Marsh Harriers and Yellow-billed Kites quartering the reedbeds close by and the ever popular Malachite Kingfishers, the only other sighting of note was a Little Bittern that darted past us. We were back home fairly early with the target bird in the bag and a full stomach to boot…:)