Treasures in the pans

Sabi Sand | February 2020

Every year I make it my mission to check all the mud wallows and pans for any treasures that come in avian form. All birders know that these pans can at times draw in migratory water birds like bitterns, snipes, crakes, jacanas, sandpipers, ducks and herons that aren’t always around and are challenging to find!

One of these pans is situated directly north of Boulders Lodge. Last year, and the year before, I discovered a dwarf bittern that was a ‘lifer’ for me! It can be a secretive bird, standing dead still whilst holding its neck and beak facing the sky.

This species frequents these pans in the hope of hunting for tadpoles, frogs, dragonflies and other aquatic insects.

This year again I found myself at this pan, in the hope of connecting with the dwarf bittern (see photos on this page) for my yearly Sabi Sand bird list.

Arriving at the pan, a bird flew up and landed in some dense grass in between the water. I drove slowly to where it landed and switched off my Land Rover. At first I thought it was a dwarf bittern but I wasn’t convinced. I quietly got ready with my binoculars and camera at the ready for the bird to show itself.