I simply wanted to type here, “Good luck!” and leave it at that!
Our second Mystery Bird in the ongoing challenge series is tough. Understatement.
I’ll give you some background to the sighting.
I was driving some friends of mine who were visiting Londolozi – both avid birders – and on their first afternoon I thought it would be a nice idea to go and view the Ntsevu Pride which had been tracked that morning to a spot not far from the Sand River. Descending into a deep drainage line very close to where the lions had last been seen, we spotted the little bird below. I couldn’t make an immediate identification but wanted to know what it was, so snapped a couple of quick photos in order to identify it later:
Feeling like I had lost a bit of face in front of my friends by already being stumped by a bird not even twenty minutes into the drive, I hoped redemption might be at hand in the form of a great lion sighting, when we drove round the corner into what I have come to think of as my own mini-version of birding Armageddon.
There were non-breeding seed-eaters feeding with female weavers while a fiscal flycatcher (that I’d never seen previously in this area) flitted about between migrants that should have departed months before. Little brown jobs (LBJs) pecked around between what were probably pipits, and I’m sure I spotted three nondescript larks in the mix. With probably close to 20 different species all clustered together in a tight-knit bird party – only about 3 of which I could identify out of hand – my head was spinning within a minute, and I rapidly began losing control of the situation.
Running out of excuses as to why my birding was being steadily proven to be totally incompetent, I mumbled something incoherent about tracking lions, got out of the vehicle and simply walked off into the bush. To cry.
Ok it wasn’t that bad, but I had hit the proverbial birding brick wall, and suddenly didn’t feel like hanging around in what I felt was my burning shame. Oh yes and we never managed to find the lions. Anyway that whole story was just a sidebar to give context to the bird in question today; the little tweeter that started the whole thing.
When I showed it around the Ranger and Tracker team I must have got about 10 different options as to what it could be. Opinions were thrown back and forth and many, many outside experts were consulted, a number of them some of South Africa’s top birders. This last bit is completely true.
Eventually we all settled on an answer, which we hope you will be able to get today.
The bird will be revealed in next Friday’s Week in Pictures…
Give us your say in the comment section below. I say again, “Good luck!”.
You’re going to need it!