On the second week of this month January, I had plans to visit one of the communities in Lothair and I knew that I have to at least make a detour and pass at one of the Grey Crowned Cranes I used to monitor. As it is still time for breeding and bearing in mind late rains from last year, I had a feeling of seeing at least a pair around if not breeding.
When I approach the site like usual I drove slowly not to scare birds away as this small reed wetland not only accommodates cranes but also some water birds like Spoonbills, Egyptian geese, herons and Ibises among others. The site is also very close to the road and which makes it even interesting for the cranes not to be bothered by the passing vehicles and people. Up on arrival I saw them walking on the edge of the wetland not showing any signs of moving away and with my experience I knew that I am up for a surprise even though I did not see chicks at that moment. Just for the record, this pair also hatched two chicks last year which shows how suitable the site to them.
Remember I was actually on my way to meet community of Lothair and check how their vegetable garden was doing. I decided to leave, as I could not see chicks as they were hiding on the vegetation. As I was with the community my mind was elsewhere as I knew there is something to go back for. When arriving at the site I had my camera ready and there they were walking and this time with three chicks I thought. I was left speechless when I saw the fourth one as I thought they were only three. I told myself that my day was complete as this was something amazing I have ever seen since I monitored this pair in 2014. As I left the site, I just had one wish for the four chicks to reach fledging stage without anything happening and I am hopeful that with the planned aerial survey we will get more success in this year breeding season.
Article by Steven Segang, Highveld Community Field Officer, South Africa