17 November 2010

Sparrowhawks At The Puddle

A while ago I wrote about placing my Cuddeback Capture trail camera at a beautiful puddle I discovered forming in a stream at Tygerberg. The camera only captured one photograph of a Black Sparrowhawk and Helmeted Guineafowl each. I decided to try a Bushnell Trophy Cam at the same location because of its wider detection zone.

The good news was that I got a lot more photos. The bad news is that no other species made an appearance.

A juvenile Black Sparrowhawk (Swartsperwer - Accipiter melanoleucus) getting his feet wet

Thanks to the wider detection zone of the Bushnell, it was able to capture visits to the puddle even when the bird remained off-center.

There are two colour forms for the adult birds - this is the light form

This is the dark form (no white on the breast)

 Black Sparrowhawks mainly prey on other birds and won't find any food to their liking in the puddle.

Taking a dip

After seeing these images of the birds close to or in the water I wanted to find out exactly what they were doing here. So, I decided to switch the camera to video mode.

Video: Youngster eating something in front of the camera

Video: Washing up afterwards

As it turns out they use the puddle to bath and drink from.

 Video: Having a drink

The only other visitors were a couple of Helmeted Guineafowl that came by for a drink.

Video: Officer drinking on the job - he seems to be a bit tipsy already...


  1. It great to be able to see whats going on at that inconspicuous puddle. The video's give so much more information than the pics.
    Everytime I drive past your reserve I can picture the creatures you've shown in this blogg. Great stuff

  2. Great use of photos and vids together, Henry. Really tells the behavioral story of the bird and the pool well.

    That's the kind of spot where you almost want to set a camera for a full year, because you know that at some point some gems will show...

  3. I suggest you use the word "pool" rather than "puddle." Small streams in hilly or mountainous landscapes typically have what is called "riffle and pool" morphology. Riffles are the tiny waterfalls and pools are, well, the puddles. ;-)

  4. @Steve: Every time I drive past the reserve I also think of what I haven/haven't photographed there yet.

    @RandomTruth: Yes, it would be a good place to leave a camera for a year. Having said that, I'll move this one soon :) I don't have enough cameras to cover all the spots I would like. If I only visited the reserve every 2 months or so, then I would have stuck with this spot longer, but since I'm there often I'll move it around and try my luck at different places. I would still like to get 2-3 more mammal species, but its getting tricky...

    @Buford: Ah, yes, "pool". That was the word I was looking for, thanks. I thought of pond, but that didn't seem to work. I didn't know of the word "riffle", thanks.