I needed some practice before my trip to Chobe in early May, so Helen and I decided to go to Marievale early last Sunday morning. The weather service indicated that it would be cool but sunny. We travelled south of Johannesburg to Nigel. At around 7h00 the mist was so thick that we had to slow to around 40 kms per hour. We arrived at Marievale and it was covered in thick mist. We could hear all the ducks and coots so realised that there was plenty going on despite the weather. The mist eventually cleared. The light around 8h00 was beautiful and the air clear after the heavy rains on Friday and Saturday – perfect for photography. The reeds had been burnt in some sections which gave better visuals of some of the waterways.
Marievale is a bird sanctuary but you can also see animals if you are lucky. We often have fleeting glimpses of Water Mongoose and Yellow Mongoose. The bird variety is superb and you are likely to see a new bird each time you go there.
The Cape Shovellers were busy eating the green and pink algae on the water surface.
There were two little Hottentot Teal feeding furiously on the pink and green algae on the water surface. These are such beautiful ducks.
Yellow-billed Ducks were busy feeding and showing off some of the best colours.
A Black Headed Heron did some posing for us. It is interesting the way they sway their necks when they are hunting. I am not sure what purpose it serves?
A Black Headed Heron was very obliging and did some practice circuits for us just to get some landing shots.
You will find big ones at Marievale and small ones too!
This little male Stonechat was very accommodating. Most of the widow birds have lost their breeding colours but the little Stonechats are ubiquitious and always colourful.
This Little Grebe (previously called Dabchick) was very busy diving in the water in front of us for food.
While you can see a superb selection of birds at Marievale, you may also be fortunate enough to see some mammals too.
In an open patch of grass behind one of the bird hides this little Yellow Mongoose was very busy hunting for insects and watching out for birds of prey.
I was fortunate enough to get a good sighting of a Water Mongoose. It is much bigger than the normal mongoose and is a very good swimmer, as would be expected. It is probably as big as a decent sized cane rate. This Mongoose is furtive, so you have to be quick to get a shot.
In all, Helen and I spent a happy six hours at Marievale. It was cool but very productive until the clouds started to roll in and the wind picked up, so as the light deteriorated and the softies packed up and went home.
It was disturbing to see one of the hides had been badly damaged. Some individuals had broken the hide’s precast concrete walling and effectively destroyed two of the four walls of the one hide. Human beings …….!!??
I hope you liked the shots. I have added a Mongoose category and added to the Ducks, Lapwings and Heron categories.
You will always be rewarded by something you never expected to see when you go into the bush.