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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Double Banded Courser Family in the farmlands outside Malmesbury

We first discovered this beautiful bird - the Double Banded Courser (Rhinoptilus Africanus) - on a recent trip to Roberston (Vrolikheid Nature Reserve).

Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa.

This bird was on our priority list to find, but unfortunately, we did not get to find any, so when the report came out on our local Cape Rare Bird Alert Group - managed by Trevor Hardaker, we quickly made plans to obtain all the relevant information to find them and prepared for an early morning start to find them.    (The statement Rare refers to it being rare to this area - as per the location in the map below)
Early on Sunday the 1st of March 2020, having reviewed the weather for the day - which was perfect - we decided to twitch for this special bird.

Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa.

When we arrived we scanned the location where the bird was last spotted, but we could not find them on their regular spot, on the left-hand side, facing the farm gate.  However, we were lucky when we located a single bird foraging in the wheat field to the right of the gate.

Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa.

The early morning start paid off as we had beautiful soft light which helped to photograph this magnificent bird.

Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa

Heading out towards Malmesbury before sunrise always promises to deliver some magic moments.

Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa

Upon finding the location, it did not take us too long to find this breeding pair of double-banded coursers.   A quick strategy session to work out the best angle and approach for the best light, we set up our gear and begun our quiet approach to obtain a decent photo. 

We were very excited to witness this breeding pair of Double Banded Coursers with a juvenile.

Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa


Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa

One other local resident - a Thick Billed Lark - became very vocal and made for a good movie star.

Facing the gate, this breeding pair can be located to the left or right-hand side, depending on the day.  On this Sunday morning, the right-hand side field, looking over the gate, is where we located our target bird.


Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa

The plumage of this bird is so incredibly beautiful and they blend in so perfectly with the environment.  It was a pleasure to witness nature once again at its best.

The typical scenery of Malmesbury in the Western Cape consists of thick shrubbery bush (also known as Karoo Scrub) and wheat fields as far as the eye can see.

Double Banded Courser, Rhinoptilus Africanus, Malmesbury, Western Cape, Rare Bird Findings, Alex Aitkenhead, Photography, Trevor Hardaker, Lifer, Birds, Bird Photography, Breeding birds, Cape Town, South Africa

The Google Map location for the Double Banded Coursers as per 1 March 2020 on the Lukasfontein Farm just to the north outside Malmesbury.

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