- Darters, Herons & Hamerkop
- Dikkops, Korhaans & Koru Bustards
- Ducks & Geese
- Hawkes & Eagles
- Helmet Shrikes
- Jacana's & Black Cranes
- Owls & Nightjars
- Plovers & Waders
- True Weavers
PLOVERS AND WADERS
A fairly large group of birds and often difficult to identify, they are mostly plumaged in drab patterns of white, brown and black, though a few are very attractive with bold, eye-catching markings. Most of the species are associated with water, generally strolling around the shallow parts or on the banks adjacent to marshes, dams or rivers. They have rather long legs and the plovers generally move with conspicuous short, jerky runs. Their diet consists of insects, worms, tadpoles and other small animals. Many of the plovers commonly breed in shallow depressions ringed with sticks and stones, but virtually all the waders breed in the northern hemisphere during our winter. With spring many thousands of these birds return to enjoy the abundant food and water.
Blacksmith Plovers (Vanellus armatus) are the most handsome of the various species. Strikingly patterned with patches of white, black and grey, these birds are widespread and fairly common around permanent sources of water. They are usually seen in pairs or small groups, restlessly moving through open grassy areas especially around dams or pans.
Crowned Plovers (V. coronatus) are also fairly common and wide spread, but prefer dry overgrazed bushveld areas, often far from water. The top of the head is black with a prominent white ring while the chest and back are a uniform sandy-brown. Red legs also characterize this species. Usually seen in pairs or small groups, they run around the veld with heads depressed and bodies held low to the ground, suddenly stopping and stretching up to peer intently at their surroundings. The bulk of their diet consists of insects.
Several other species of plover are found in the Park, but they tend to be rare and limited in their distribution.
Of the various species of wader only three are widespread and fairly common, except during winter when they migrate elsewhere in Africa and to Europe. The so-called Ruff is the male of Philomachus pugnax, the female being known as a reeve. The species is known collectively as ruff, and flocks are usually seen near dams and pans. fluffs have white undersides with boldly mottled, brownish backs.
The Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos) is usually found singly or in pairs near rivers, streams or dams. White below but dark brown above, they have a definite patch of white which extends up each shoulder as irregular epaulettes. The under-surface of the neck is light brown, streaked with darker lines. They have a delightful habit of bobbing the rear of their bodies up and down while ambling through shallow water in search of small animals.
Wood Sandpipers (T. glareola) are usually seen singly, feeding at the edges of streams, dams and temporary grass-filled pools. A brown back is conspicuously speckled with white and a band of white runs from the bill over the eyes.