About a week ago I had to visit the dentist. Yes - I would have preferred atlasing - but when eating becomes a struggle, then there is not much of a choice. But even so I decided to go atlasing my home pentad for a hour before the appointment. Near the dentist’s consulting room is a nice vlei area and I managed to log a number of species - mostly weavers, mossies and other common garden birds. However the highlight of the morning was when a Hamerkop flew over my head and settled on the ground not far from me.
A really nice surprise. After settling it started to collect nesting material. This must have been something new to her I thought (I later realised my mistake) for she first picked up a rather thick branch and put it in the back of her beak and then tried to collect some grass material, but because her beak could not close completely, the grasses would time and again fall to the ground.
In an effort to locate the nest I ran after her as she flew away with the single branch in her beak. She flew straight to the nest which was located in a big Willow-tree next to the stream. Another bird also joined her on the nest and they immediately paired (now you know how I know which bird is male and female :-).
The nest was already pretty big - so the construction of the nest must have started a long time ago. I will keep an eye on them and see how the nesting activities progress.
However that is not the only unusual breeding event in our area. I were called a few nights ago by someone who told me that Lesser-masked Weavers are breeding in front of the Totiusdal Post Office. I had a look the next day and found a tall palm tree with the characteristic long entrance nests of the Lesser-masked Weaver’s. A few minutes later male birds in full breeding plumage arrived and I could confirm the identification - whitish eyes, grey legs and the distinctive head pattern. Of the three weaver species (the other two are Village and Southern-masked Weavers) the Lesser-masked Weaver is the least common in our area and even more so within city boundaries. According to the reference works they do nest in “busy” areas and also away from water but the nests that I have seen in the past were always at least in the vicinity of water - in this instance there is no water nearby. So why they have chosen this spot only they will know. But I do not mind for years they have been one of my bogey birds for the yearly 100km Gauteng challenge. So to have them so near to my home is a bonus!