Good day everyone, My wife and I have just returned from our first long distance Mega tick bird chase and found it most enjoyable. We decided to make a weekend outing out of it, and stayed over at the Shayamoya Game Lodge nearby Pongola Nature reserve, that was recommended by Trevor Hardaker last week.

This Golden Pipit has turned out to be an utmost rewarding bird to see. We drove at our leisure on Saturday and only arrived at the spot at about 15:00. We had no difficulty in locating the bird as there was a couple viewing it, as it perched right next to the road at the exact spot where it had been all week. This magnificent bird obliged by doing continuous displays, treating us to spectacular views of it’s bright golden plumage. It flew to and fro across the road and normally landing on a perch that provided some good photographic opportunities. Despite being a very rare bird to twitch, being able to view the ‘explosion’ of the unbelievable golden colouring when this bird takes flight, made the whole outing worthwhile. Faansie Peacock’s book on Pipits was definitely not required for identification of this colourful specie! While we were viewing the bird, Trevor turned up again from Cape Town for the second time in a week – this time to allow his wife Margaret to view this magnificent bird.

The location of the lodge where we stayed, also provided some nice birding opportunities. A Red Chested Cuckoo regularly perched in front of our viewing deck, providing my wife the opportunity to view this bird for the first time. Since she took an interest in birding it has taken her 4 years and 30 seconds to see this bird! The lodge also has a very tame resident Spotted Eagle Owl.

The recommendation by the Lodge staff to rather travel through Swaziland was found to be some good advice, as the road between Piet Retief and Pongola is really in a bad state with all the construction work in the N2. By entering Swaziland near Piet Retief at the Mahamba border post, takes you along a very nice 110 km stretch of road right to the Golela border post, which is only a few hundred meters from the entrance to the Pongola Nature reserve. One spends about 10 -15 minutes crossing these quiet border posts that is much better than the ± 2 hours additional traveling time that we were told one could expect at the numerous Stop/Go stages on the South African side. The total distance from Pretoria traveling this road was ± 500 km, depending on which part of Pretoria you live in. (we are in Centurion)

Leon Kay