Gillian Barnes, daughter of local birder Eric Barnes came upon the Little Crake at the Clovelly wetlands late on Wednesday afternoon 21 March. She and Eric returned to the spot on Thursday morning and took photos of the bird, unsure whether it was indeed a Little Crake or a young Baillon’s Crake or a Spotted Crake. She sent the photos to Trevor Hardaker who in turn sent them to bird experts John Graham, Peter Ryan, Phil Hockey and Cliff Dorse. The team of experts visited the ponds on Thursday afternoon and were overjoyed to positively identify the bird as indeed being a Little Crake. This may be the first sighting of this bird south of the equator. Soon almost 50 twitchers were on the scene to view the feathered visitor who is still causing a stir.
The Little Crake (Porzana parva) is found over a wide area extending from Central Europe to Kazakhstan and Sinkiang and in patches of Western Europe during the summer season. It overwinters in the Mediterranean basin, West Africa (Senegal and Niger) and East Africa ( Kenya and Uganda). www.birdguides .com lists it as a rare species.
The Little Crake lays 4-7 eggs amongst reeds. The adult male is mainly brown in the upperparts with a blue-grey face and underparts. It has a short straight yellow bill with a red base and green legs with long toes.
The female Little Crake has buff underparts and is grey only in the face.
Little Crakes mainly eat insects and aquatic animals. They are very secretive during the breeding season and unlike Victorian children are heard rather than seen. It makes its presence known with a noisy yelping kua call.
Clovelly info provided by Evanne Rothwell from email from Trevor Hardaker. http://www.hardaker.co.za/
Photo 1: Sion Stanton (Copyright)
Photos 2 & 3 : Peter Ryan (Copyright)
www.birdguides .com, www.wikipedia.org, www.avibirds.com
For Eric Barne’s Birdlist for Clovelly and the Fish hoek valley see
For other interesting encounters with local wildlife see
For information about the Silvermine Wetlands see
Glencairn wetlands issues:
Self-catering Accommodation in the heart of Clovelly near to wetlands:
Clovelly Studio Ph 072 992 3727
The Mountain House Ph 083 455 5664