Little Crake at Silvermine wetlands in Clovelly. Photo by Basie van Zyl“What will happen to this little bird? Will it find its way back north at some point?” The question was posed by one of our readers following our article about thearrival of the Little Crake in Clovelly, the first-ever sighting  below the equator of this small  bird from the Northern Hemisphere.

I called on some bird experts, one of whom was photographer Basie van Zyl whom I had met photographing the Little Crake at the Silvermine wetlands in Clovelly last Friday. He kindly sent on the following answer from Patrick Cardwell

Information about the Little Crake:

In the first instance the bird is ‘navigationally disorientated’ known in birding circles as ‘reversed migration’. Little Crakes winter in Africa north of the Equator and return to Europe for the summer around late March and April.
This bird went the wrong way by 180 degrees and will probably work out where it wants to be for summer soon enough.
It was in good shape and will probably head north once it’s ready. Where it is now seems a fairly safe recovery haven with very few predators around.
So it is probably safe for the time being. It is a new species for the South African bird list and this is what makes it so special.

Basie added the following information and also sent on these beautiful photographs of the Little Crake. Click on the  links below for more fabulous images by Basie.

Little Crake at Silvermine wetlands in Clovelly. Photo by Basie van ZylThe Little Crake (Porzana parva) is a very small waterbird of the family Rallidae, which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. They breed in reed beds in mainly Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
The species is migratory, wintering in Africa………….migrates between Africa and Eastern Europe.
The Little Crake has a short straight yellow bill with a red base.   Adult males:  Brown upper parts and blue-grey underparts and face. They have green legs with long toes for walking on reeds and plant material in the water.
The short tail is barred black and white underneath. Females have buff underparts with grey only on the face. Immature Little Crakes (like this one) have a whitish face and breast. The downy chicks are black, as with rails.

See also

Basie van Zyl © Rights reserved of all images

Feeding close to the Little Crake in the Silvermine wetlands at Clovelly you will see four resident African Snipes. Because Basie’s photograph of one of them is so appealing, it follows:

African Snipe feeding at the Clovelly Silvermine River wetlands. Photo by Basie van Zyl


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Sightings needed of Fynbos birds in the Scenic South having rings on their legs. Research roject of Dr Phoebe Barnard re effects of climate change on birds, landuse and climate change.