I went out for on a high scale birding operation for lifers yesterday afternoon in the Pretoria area. After doing over 5km of "klapping" toes through bush, forest and vleis without ticking any lifers I was starting to ponder whether my mission was on the brink of failure. I decided to head to a part of town where I have not been to for a few years now and it was great to see that my old stakeouts still held their various specials.
I was walking through a stand of pine trees with imminent weather threating to finally wash my hopes away for good when I heard a loudish "whoosh" as I flushed something out of the tall pines.
I turned around just in time to see a remarkably sizable bird of prey gliding through the trees and landing on a branch about 200m away from me. I was astonished by the size of the bird as I had been when I last saw a Black Sparrowhawk earlier this year. At first glance the bird looked to be the same size and even slightly bigger than a Black Sparrowhawk and together with the light coloration it had I just new that I had something very special on my hands here.
I got a good look at it through the bins as it was perching on the branch. There was very little doubt by now after seeing a smallish pigeon-like head, long tail and light coloration that it was indeed a ripsnorter of a sighting in the form of European Honey-Buzzard.
It flew off once more which forced me to play a round of hide and seek with it. It was quite reminiscent of my days as a young boy when my brothers and I had played cowboys and crooks in open velds and in blue gum tree stands.
I crept from blue gum tree to blue gum tree, kneeling behind bushes and eventually managed to get a great look through the bins at it just as a ray of sun broke through the dark clouds. The bright yellow eye, indicated by some guide books as a sign of a female bird was as prominent as a zit of a 12 year old schoolboy's forehead!
Back home I looked through my guide to confirm the size of it and as I thought it to be, slightly bigger than a Black Sparrowhawk.