Johannesburg Stopover: Rietvlei Nature Reserve,

Johannesburg stopover : Rietvlei (Pronounced as Reet : fly) Nature Reserve

When: December 2019             Weather:  Cool 20C

Nikon P900.  Leica M10P  35mm summilux

Our route from Sao Paulo back to Singapore took us via a 6.5 hour layover in Johannesburg and having done it the year before on a similar routing, I once again engaged Bustards Birding to pick us up from Oliver Tambo airport and take us birding for a few hours before returning to catch our connecting flight.  This time they suggested going to Rietvlei Nature Reserve, midway between Joburg and Pretoria and most importantly against the morning traffic so we wouldn’t get snagged by traffic.

Our young guide Jordan was inside the terminal waiting for us and he promptly brought us to his car and away from the airport on the highway towards Pretoria and Rietvlei.  A most knowledgeable young man, Jordan gave us lots of info about what we might see and what the area was about….

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Just 30min from ORT airport, we arrived here just around 830am after landing at 730am…

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the terrain was rolling with a big lake in the middle

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A handsome red bishop was the first bird we saw…

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Male red bishop

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Southern masked weaver

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Southern masked weaver

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African wattled lapwing

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African wattled lapwing

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African wattled lapwing

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Female southern masked weaver

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Female southern masked weaver

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Southern Fiscal or Fiscal Shrikes were easily seen

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Fiscal shrike

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there were some waterbodies…weaver nests seen here

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and the rather pretty African quailfinch

 

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Helmeted guinea fowl were everywhere and the morning sun showed off its colours

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Zitting Cisticola

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Levaillant’s Cisticola with it’s orange brown cap

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African Pipit

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and arguably the prettiest bird of the outing was the European bee-eater

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Beautifully coloured European Bee Eater…there were quite a lot of them around

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Cape white eye

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Rufous naped Lark

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Male African stone chat

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African Stone chat

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Egyptian Geese

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Yellow billed ducks

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Female stone chat

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African Snipe

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And one of the more spectacular bird species here…the long tailed widowbird

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Majestic in flight with its tail feathers lowered into a keel

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it perched among the grasses

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it flew over the grasses

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I didn’t know widowbirds could fluff up their facial feathers like this

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Long tailed widowbird

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We then spotted a  pin-tailed whydah

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pin-tailed whydah

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And then one of the birds I had been hoping to see …the northern black Bustard

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Northern black bustard calling

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Here the bustard also admiring the flight of the widowbird

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African grey hornbill

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African grey hornbill

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and then another beauty…

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A black collared barbet

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With a pretty drab body and wings, the head feathers explode in a spectacular contrasting display…the black collared barbet….fascinating how different and yet similar it is to the black girdled barbet I had just shot in the Amazon a few days earlier…see earlier post…

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Beautiful Greater Striped swallows

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Ostrich

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Crowned lapwing

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Crowned lapwing with infant in tow

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The blessed buck also had its young in tow

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One of the hides where we spotted the barbet, whydah and even cape buffalo…

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a single white rhino

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Springbok

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Wildebeest

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quite a few zebra were grazing

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A hartebeest

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sacred ibis

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and just before we left this beauty showed…the orange throated longclaw!

 

So in about 3 hours, we managed to see all the above….lots of deer/antelope…2 of Africa’s big 5 and a wonderful assortment of South African birds.  If you ever have a 6 hour layover in Joburg, this is a great way to spend it! Highly recommended.

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