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Hadeda Hide, Marievale Bird Sanctuary
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Hadeda Hide, Marievale Bird Sanctuary
Saturday, 17 February 2007 07:56
Written by Neil Gray

16 February 2007. Why do I keep going back to Marievale? Well, its an ever-changing environment. After my last two very disappointing visits with hardly a bird to be found, yesterday morning I sat for three hours in Hadeda Hide spell-bound by the sheer numbers of both birds and species, and the frenetic activity in the area immediately in front of the hide - and nowhere else along that 2km long stretch of water between the new south gate and the old entrance road.

The activity was confined to an area of only about 1 hectare and I can only assume that there had been a sudden increase in some preferred food, whether fish, crustacean or insect larvae I could not tell, but most of the feeding was being done from under the water surface, with the terns and Squacco Herons in particular have a right royal feast. The locus of this activity shifted to the right as I watched and when I left had disappeared behind a large bank of reeds.

Right in front of the hide and keeping well away from all the commotion were the usual suspects, Common Moorhen and Red-Knobbed Coot, with Lesser Swamp-Warbler and African Snipe moving from one reed patch to another. A flock of Grey-headed Gull floated around in the middle of the melee repelling anything that dared to approach, mainly the braver of the Black-winged Stilt, but could do little to stop the aerial attack from the 50+ Whiskered Tern. There was at least one White-winged Tern in this group, but such was the frantic pace of events that it was difficult to tell just how many more there might be.

Peripheral to this were the groups of heron. Squaccos launched frequent sorties from the edge of the reed-bed competing with the terns for whatever the prize was, seemingly some 2-3cm long, possibly fish or crustacean. There was much squabbling amongst the Squacco as each bird retuned to the edge of the reed-bed and had to fend off all the thieves that attempted to dipossess him of his catch. At one stage I counted 7 Squacco within 15-20m to the right of the hide, with many more dotted around elsewhere.

On the far side of the rumpus were groups of Little Egret - I counted at least 22 birds. This was probably the most Little Egret and Squacco Heron that I have ever seen in one place at one time. A few Glossy Ibis mingled with the Little Egret.

Other groups comprised Grey and Goliath Heron, and Black Heron (I counted 7 individuals - I have never seen more than 3 in the same place) all making canopies with their wings as they tried to attract the next tasty morsel. A single Purple Heron lurked in the fringes of the reeds with some Squacco. A solitary Black-crowned Night-Heron flew over, seemingly intent on just getting from A to B.

Both Reed and White-breasted Cormorant, and Egyptian Geese flew past but seemed not to want to get involved in the feeding frenzy, while in the far distance Yellow-billed and Fulvous Duck, Hottentot and Red-billed Teal, and Cape Shoveller went about their normal business oblivious of the other events.

Neil Gray

Last Updated ( Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:01 )