On a birding tour on 16th January, Paul Matson and I came across a recently ploughed field, some 36 kms west of Volksrust on the R23, with some 50 plus Black-winged Pratincoles in constant circulation.

Black-winged Pratincoles

Black-winged Pratincoles, ‘near threatened’ Palearctic migrant

It’s been years since I last saw such numbers of this now ‘near threatened’ Palearctic migrant. Having soaked up the mid-afternoon scene a further 500 at a conservative guess were found wheeling about the plough end of a tractor close to the road, some 3kms further on towards Volksrust, affording a great photographic opportunity reminiscent of pelagic seabirds careening frenetically about the stern of a deep sea trawler at net retrieval time. Great to see such numbers at the time but conspicuous by their relative absence on the return run some two days later…

Black-winged Pratincole

Black-winged Pratincole, one of hundreds seen near Volksrust


Black-winged Pratincoles

Black-winged Pratincoles around tractor


Black-winged Pratincoles

Black-winged Pratincoles

For more info on our birding tours in South Africa, contact Patrick or Marie-Louise on or browse through our website Avian Leisure

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