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Ken Borland

Pilanesberg National Park

Posted on January 01, 2013 by Ken

A Pied Kingfisher stands vigil on his hunting perch at Mankwe Dam

The Pilanesberg National Park is often not for the faint-hearted in mid-summer, especially if you set off during the heat of the day.

Thanks to the wonderful hospitality of Sun City and their Final Round golf day, I only managed to get into the park at midday and a boiling hot afternoon saw the temperature hover between 34° and 37 ° celsius.

On days like that, searching for waterbirds is often the best option and I headed from the eastern Manyane Gate to Ratlhogo Waterhole in the northern section of the park.

The waterhole was quiet, apart from a couple of Blacksmith Plovers hanging about … But there, behind the common Plovers was something different and a lot smaller …

It turned out to be a lone juvenile Ringed Plover pottering about in the shallow water … a bird I have not seen for some time.

On my way to Ratlhogo, I came across some Redbilled Oxpeckers on Impala, some lone Elephant, a Kalahari Scrub Robin and a Lesser Masked Weaver was a welcome sighting too. A Southern Boubou revealed himself in the thicker streamside vegetation, while the typical, but charming Pilanesberg birds like Familiar Chat and the sweet-calling Rufousnaped Lark were also spotted.

Glossy Starling

From there I headed for much-needed liquid refreshment at the Pilanesberg Centre and their grossly overpriced shop. It was quite busy with birds, though, including a nice sighting of a Diederick Cuckoo, and from there I headed for Mankwe Dam.

A Greenbacked Heron was found sheltering in one of the quieter tributaries, while Horus Swift and Yellowbilled Egret were two less commonly seen birds. Three species of duck – Yellowbilled, African Black and Whitefaced – were at the dam as was a solitary needle-billed Marsh Sandpiper, along with Yellowbilled Stork.

An inquisitive Grey Lourie at the Kubu picnic site

Heading towards the Bakubung exit, Marabou Stork were having their usual congregation at Lengau Dam and, surprisingly considering the temperature, I finished the afternoon jaunt with a respectable 57 species of bird.


Sightings list

Greater Striped Swallow

Plains Zebra

Helmeted Guineafowl

Familiar Chat

Blue Wildebeest


European Swallow

Laughing Dove


Redbilled Oxpecker


Pied Crow

Rufousnaped Lark

Kalahari Scrub Robin

Glossy Starling

Lesser Masked Weaver

Egyptian Goose


Cape Turtle Dove

Goldenbreasted Bunting

Blackeyed Bulbul

Southern Boubou

Forktailed Drongo

Blacksmith Plover

Ringed Plover

Southern Yellowbilled Hornbill

European Bee-Eater


Sabota Lark


House Sparrow

Southern Masked Weaver

Vervet Monkey

Cape Wagtail

Redwinged Starling

Diederick Cuckoo

Greenbacked Heron

Horus Swift

Nile Crocodile

Common Moorhen

Pied Kingfisher

Yellowbilled Egret

Threebanded Plover

Marsh Terrapin

Reed Cormorant

African Jacana

Black Crake

African Darter

Grey Heron

Yellowbilled Duck


African Black Duck

Great White Egret

Whitefaced Duck

Little Egret

Cattle Egret

Marsh Sandpiper

Yellowbilled Stork


African Fish Eagle

Lesser Striped Swallow

Redeyed Dove

Whitethroated Swallow

Common Waxbill

Nile Monitor

Slender Mongoose

Kurrichane Thrush

Grey Lourie

Marabou Stork

Chacma Baboon

Southern Black Flycatcher


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