Birds associated with watersides and adjacent scrub
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Longclaws are colourful relatives of the sombre pipits. While pipits prefer open habitats, the longclaws frequent thicker, wet grassland, where they construct their grass nests on the ground. Yellow-throated Longclaw L: 21 cm (8") This bulky, pipit-like ground bird has golden-yellow underparts and eyebrows, with a circular, broad black necklace emphasising its bright yellow throat . The upperparts are a subdued streaky pale brown but the outermost corners of the tail are white, a key feature in flight . It is a fairly common resident throughout Kruger, preferring wet grasslands, where it often perches in the open, singing a strongly whistled “chuuu-ew” and variations . Longclaws feed mainly on invertebrates on the ground . When alarmed, they will turn their back to the threat, becoming remarkably well camouflaged, despite the vivid coloration of the underparts . Birds associated with watersides and adjacent scrub: 1 54 In Zambia the African Pied Wagtail is protected from persecution, as traditional beliefs suggest that it is the reincarnation of a small child that has died. African PiedWagtail L: 20 cm (8") Africa’s only all black-and-white wagtail, showing a bold white eyebrow and wing panels, and a broad black throat patch. The brown juvenile may resemble the locally rare Cape Wagtail (not illustrated), but unlike that species has extensive white panels in the wings. Although streams, dams and riverine fringes are the preferred habitat, it wanders far from water and is a common resident throughout Kruger. African Pied Wagtails strut along the margins of wetlands or over rest camp lawns, searching for invertebrates; they can change direction suddenly, using their long ‘wagging’ tails for balance and poise. BIRDS OF RIVERS AND WETLANDS juvenile adult 55 Red-faced Cisticola L: 14 cm (5·5") Cisticolas are all very small warblerlike birds (see page 129 for other, more terrestrial, cisticolas). The Red-faced Cisticola is a relatively large species, appearing plain grey-buff, lacking the streaking shown by most other cisticolas, and has warm rufous cheeks, especially in spring and summer (October–March). It is most often detected and easily identified by its loud ringing whistle, “whe-whe-chee-chee-chee-cheer-cheercheer -cheer”. In Kruger this species is widespread and fairly common in its favoured habitat of tall, thick grass alongside rivers and wetlands, such as at Letaba camp. Tawny-flanked Prinia L: 13 cm (5") An active little warbler-like bird with mouse-brown upperparts and pale underparts, and a long, graduated tail that is frequently cocked, waved and flicked. Close views will reveal an indistinct pale eyebrow, dark line through the eye, rufous-brown flight feathers and rump, black bill and brownish eye. This is a common breeding resident throughout Kruger, preferring grassy thickets and riverine scrub and frequently joins large mixed flocks. Calls a loud, repeated “chweet-chweet-chweeet” and also gives tinny “stip-stip-stip” calls. Birds associated with watersides and adjacent scrub: 2 56 Burchell’s Coucal L: 41 cm (16") Coucals are large, robust, cuckoos with stout, arched bills . This species has creamy-white underparts, chestnut wings and back, and is glossy-black on the head and tail . Often perches up on reeds or bushes, clambers heavily through vegetation, or walks on the ground in a rather ungainly fashion on short legs . It is a common resident throughout Kruger, except in the far north, such as along the Limpopo and Levuvu rivers, where it is mostly replaced by the White-browed Coucal (not illustrated but told by its prominent white eyebrow) . The female displays and makes a deep descending series of “bu-bu-bu bu bu bu bu” calls that fall and then rise, sometimes answered by the male . The male builds the nest, incubates the eggs and plays the major role in rearing the young . Burchell’s Coucal is a rapacious predator of insects, small mammals and reptiles, and will raid other birds’ nests . BIRDS OF RIVERS AND WETLANDS 57 ...


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