Kirstenbosch Gardens – a one bird wonder

It is very seldom an entire blog is devoted to photographs of a single species, however, it just felt appropriate to do it this time.

I woke up bright and early this morning and headed off to Kirstenbosch to do some pre-work atlassing.  It is a rather indulgent thing to do but given the fact that the daylight hours are lengthening and the bird activity is on the increase it seemed an entirely natural thing to do.

Most of my early morning Kirstenbosch outings follow a very similar pattern with the same birds being ticked in the same places at more or less the same time but this morning I had a very nice surprise.

I was up in the open lawn section nearby the cycads ticking the customary Forest Canaries in the open beds when I noticed a bit of exaggerated flapping in a bed further up the slope.  I immediately knew it was a raptor given its size but its terrestrial behaviour was quite odd.  It was some distance away from me so it was tricky to ID, further exacerbated by the fact that it was in the middle of a small bush.  Eventually it popped out of the bush and started running around on the ground peering into the bush at varying angles.

It became immediately apparent that it was a stunning adult Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, a bird that I usually only see flying overhead at pace.

This one was giving me a spectacular show.

For a full 5 minutes it ran around the bush occassionally jumping in the air, trying to get a slightly better angle at the bush.  There is no doubt there was some prey item in the middle of the bush but this bird was not having a good day and eventually it ruffled its feathers in a huff and launched from the ground moving onto a slightly easier target.

Added to the early morning light and the captivating performance, the early morning sprinklers were depositing droplets on the upperparts of the bird giving an even more impressive photographic opportunity.

14 Responses to Kirstenbosch Gardens – a one bird wonder

  1. wolfgang says:

    hi Mike, Stunning photos. Thanx for sharing them with us.

  2. Linda Hibbin says:

    Great photos – what a good sighting. I had one sitting about 3 metres from me when I walked the dogs in Tokai Park on Saturday (12th Nov). It was about 6:30pm and the bird was still on a branch for several minutes allowing me to have excellent views of it through my binos. It’s the first one I’ve seen in the Park since most of the pines have been felled.

  3. Pam says:

    Amazing photographs – what a good start to the day!

  4. Per Holmen says:

    Very nice pictures Mike!

  5. ALAN COLLETT says:

    Stunning photos, Mike. Was the bird bathing under the sprinkler?

  6. Ann Koeslag says:

    Hi Mike,
    Wonderful pictures of such a lovely little raptor. I find it interesting how varied these birds are. There is one who nests in Newlands forest who has a completely white belly.
    Cheers,
    Ann

  7. Robyn Kadis says:

    Excellent sequence of pics, what a catch!

  8. Andrew Kenny says:

    classic pic’s! thinking back over the years it’s amaizing what you can experience on the mountain at that time of the morning.

  9. Well done Mike – you really made good use of this opportunity! I am suitably green…!

  10. Peter Nupen says:

    Great photos, showing the the full rufous chest. I have mist-netted and ringed two of these adult raptors, where the rufous in the chest is speckled white.

  11. Sally Harris says:

    Thank you for capturing it so beautifully for us all to see. What a sighting! Shot!!

  12. Rene Van Eck says:

    Stunning photographs, and a wonderful way to start your day.

  13. Marlene Hofmeyr says:

    Such beautiful photos, it must have been so exciting to witness the birds behaviour.

  14. Mary-Ann says:

    Wow what incredible pics! You very fortunate to have experienced that.

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