The sound of the alarm pierced the silence of the morning... it was 3.45am and time to rise. I hadn't been back to Marievale since the incident and I had decided that today was the day. With an hours drive ahead of me I left in time to make the sunrise. I always enter from the "rear" end of the reserve past the crusher plant and to my surprise their was a new boom across the entrance..... but wait, the road just about went around the boom so I merely had to drive around the sentry house to gain entry. Fat lot of use and so much for the heightened security that I had been informed had been implemented as a result of the incident!
|The sun rising over the pans as you enter the reserve|
I headed for Hadeda hide with a little apprehension and hoping that there was another photographer there already. Much to my relief there was a car parked behind the hide so all was good. The pan was awash with the early morning golden light which was almost over saturating the scene that lay in front me but oh boy, how sweet is that light. The pan was quite busy with the normal waterfowl but this wasn't why I was here. I had what a friend in Cape Town called Malechititis - withdrawal symptoms from not seeing a Malachite Kingfisher in a while!
It was not long before a juvenile appeared, albeit it for not longer than 10 seconds. I managed one shot in the subdued light as it flew off.
The little Reed Warblers were ever so busy dashing in and out the reeds, never sitting long for longer than a second or two. A real challenge in the low light so very high ISO's were once again the order of the day.
Whilst the activity was high, I have thousands of images of the normal waterfowl so I declined from shooting these. The water level is low at the moment and the left hand side of the hide has been cleared of reeds so we had many birds doing their morning stuff. This little Sandpiper was happily running around, pausing every now and again to dig for his grub and just asking to be photographed :)
I was also quite happy to see the Lapwings with their babies running up and down. I hadn't seen the youngsters in quite a while and of course they were begging for a a shot.
I by chance glanced around and low and behold, the Malachite had returned and not only returned, he had already caught his breakfast!
|There he sat, breakfast in his mouth|
|He has to tenderize the meal so that it goes down easier, so he smashes it on the right of the branch....|
|Swinging it with all his might..|
|and then smashing it on the left hand side..|
|Suitably tenderized and ready to go down..|
|One satisfied diner... and off he went..|
A lone Whiskered Tern had arrived and was getting comfortable
|The Hottentots Teal's were playing follow the leader|
|and the Cape Shovellor was stretching it's wings|
|A fly past by the Flamingo|
A lone Swallow had been gathering nesting material and dived in and out the hide to build it's nest.
A Cormorant suddenly appeared out of the water... I don't know who was more surprised, me or him.
By this time the clouds had come over and the activity subdued. I decided to leave Hadeda and go over to Duiker hide. The wind was now blowing at quite a speed and was almost unpleasant. Much to my surprise, between the ripples in the water, a Crested Grebe suddenly appeared.
I sat for a while longer and a Darter suddenly appeared and jumped onto the perch in front of the hide. He started preening himself and was almost too close for the 500mm.
I left the hide and headed further down the road that borders the Blesbokspruit. I came across some Flamingos siphoning the water for their breakfast and a pair of Avocets crossing the stream but I could not sit for long. It's a narrow dirt road and I had a car behind me waiting for me to move. No overtaking is possible so I only managed a shot or two.
I hadn't traveled another 100m down the road when the Glossy Ibis appeared out from between the reeds..
I decided it was time to leave and started making my way to the exit. I stopped to watch some Coots chasing each other and while sitting quietly, the Red Bishop popped onto some twigs right in front of me.