By Wim de Klerk
“It was still raining and cold when I arrived at the Nuwejaars Wetland Buttonquail Bash this morning, but nothing that a hot coffee and homemade rusks couldn’t fix. No-one seemed in a hurry as it was cold and wet outside. Slowly birders arrived and by 08h15 we were a healthy 23 ready to start the day. Erica Brink welcomed everyone and introduced Mick D’alton who gave us a quick introduction to the work done by the SMA for conservation. Then Keir Lynch shared his experience with us and explained how to identify our target of the day – Hottentot Buttonquail. By the time we left for Vlooikraal (Thanks to Liohan Giliomee) we have made some new friends and the spirits are high!
Although this is a fun day it also serves as research to plot the habitat of the HBQ in the SMA and therefore we start on a piece of land previously identified as suitable. We formed a line of about 100m and began the walk. We are greeted by about 8 Cape Longclaw displaying perfectly. The going is slow and bird wise it is very quiet. Accept for Karoo Scrub-Robin and a few Spotted Thick-knee in the distance, not much is happening. Trying to control a 100m line proves challenging and after about 1.5km we decide to quit this effort. The habitat after all was not that great for HBQ. As the group waited for transport, a beautiful lizard entertained the group.
Back to the office and some refreshments and soon we were off to the second sight. A Denham’s Bustard appears and lifts the spirits! At Klipfontein Keep a Southern Black Korhaan causes some excitement and then we are off to find the ideal habitat. We form a line and has barely started when we hear: – BUTTONQUAIL! Ours first, but only a few has seen it. No pictures yet! Barely 100m further and to the far left again – Buttonquail. The cameras are prepared and soon the bird is flushed again for some pictures. The groups suddenly comes to life as it sinks in. We’ve done it! But were only half way and we proceed in a Southerly direction when a meter on my right another HBQ flies away displaying clearly. It is flushed again. A 100m further to the far right once again we flush a HBQ, We cannot believe our luck. Is it the same one? Unlikely.
We decide to return and 500m further we find our 5th HBQ! Is this possible! At last we reach the vehicles and tired but happy get in. We barely travelled 100m when the lead vehicle comes to a halt! Buttonquail no 6!
We finish the day at the Nuwejaars Wetland office, exhausted but content. We have made some new friends, enjoyed some of the best natural habitat in the area and above all recorded 6 HBQ in the space of 90 minutes! What a day! We end the day at Black Oystercatcher Restaurant where the prizes sponsored by Strandveld Vineyards and Black Oystercatcher Winery is handed over.
I would like to thank Erica and the Nuwejaars Wetland members for organising a fantastic day. Your conservation efforts are noticed and well appreciated.”