More on Zaagkuilsdrift -birding destination

A prime birding location 

I wrote about Zaagkuilsdrift and KgomoKgomo in my last post but only posted one bird photograph! So more on the actual birding here.  Just 50km north of Pretoria, this area is one of South Africa’s most prolific birding spots with grassland, woodland and water birds abounding. 

With thanks to Jason Boyce

Illustrious company

Faansie Peacock’s birding book for kids

We knew we were in a top birding spot when, as we drove in on the Friday evening, we met two men on the bepuddled roadside with cameras, binocs and impressive recording equipment.  They turned out to be Faansie Peacock and Callan Cohen who were trying to record the call of the dwarf bittern. Faansie, a serious birding expert, has written numerous books including ones on waders; LBJs; Pipits ; as well as a birding book for kids. 

Callan Cohen’s Southern African Birdfinder

And Callan, a renowned bird photographer and one of the founders of  Birding Africa, conducts customized birding tours and has co-authored two birding books, including the Southern African Birdfinder, which is a guide to finding over 1400 species in southern Africa and Madagascar. And he was once the youngest person to have seen a landmark 800 species in southern Africa – a few years ago now!. 

Etienne Marais’s Birding Gauteng

A group of birders joined the boma dinner on our first night and their tour leader was Etienne Marais,  well known bird guide, expert on warblers and co-author with Faansie, of Birding Gauteng.  So we were certainly in illustrious birding company.  


Unfortunately they had all left the lodge  by the time we saw this nightjar and so could not get a P.I. at the time. 

Some rare and unusual bird sightings 

Although there were reports of the Striped Crake, and we searched the area where it had been seem, he remained elusive. But, we were rewarded with an African Crake. 

African Crake

And at the Kgomo Kgomo bridge we were very excited to see an Allen’s Gallinule, a Lesser Moorhen and an African Swamphen. That same day we were treated to Black-Winged Pratincoles and a dwarf Bittern (who posed for us for nearly half an hour). 

Black Winged Pratincoles
Dwarf Bittern
And then he caught something

After dark 

Driving after sunset on our way back to the lodge brought some wonderful surprises. 

Bronze winged courser
Marsh Owl
Greater painted snipe

Birding – an escape into another “zone”

In one day my son saw three “lifers” (if we were better warbler IDers, I’m sure he would have seen more).  I forget what birds I have seen previously (and often what they look like) so tend to see a huge number of “lifers” on each trip … many of which become “lifers” again on my next birding outing! 

In all we saw over over 140 species and soaked up the landscape, the peace and quiet, the grasses and butterflies, and the ever present challenge of imitation calls, diagnostic details and juvenile plumage! 

Juvenile Greenbacked Heron
Just being out of Joburg was a post Lockdown treat
Until next time!


Recent Posts Categories