Interesting Water Mongoose and Sacred Ibis interaction at Strandfontein Sewage Works

I joined Mike, Brian and Thomas Buckham at Strandfontein on Sunday for a quick visit to the works. We were hoping to bump into the Sand Martin that had been reported the week before, but it was a needle in a haystack affair.

Strandfontein Sewage Works a

Soon after we arrived we bumped into Mel Tripp who pointed out a Water Mongoose in pan P2, a species I’ve only seen once before at Strandfontein (26 December 1991). The mongoose was completely relaxed by our presence, but what was most interesting was how the Sacred Ibis and Cattle Egrets in the pan reacted to it.

Water Mongoose a

Water Mongoose surrounded by birds

Mel noted as he pointed it out to us that the ibis and egrets were following and herding the mongoose as it went about its business. Wherever the animal walked a group of birds would quite literally follow and track its movements.

Water Mongoose b

In the image above the mongoose was moving off only to be followed by a group of ibis. The mongoose seemed quite relaxed and at no point appeared threatened or put-off by its followers. We thought perhaps the birds were just keeping an eye on the mongoose as reference books indicate they eat birds eggs.

Hottentot Teal

P2 was probably the most productive pan of the morning. It turned up a small group of Hottentot Teal and the exposed margins held lots of Little Stints, Common Ringed Plovers, a Greenshank and a single White-winged Black Tern.

Cape Longclaw

Cape Longclaw

African Sacred Ibis

African Sacred Ibis

Strandfontein Sewage Works bird list – 27 March 2011: Cattle Egret, Black-headed Heron, Common Starling, Red-winged Starling, Barn Swallow, Brown-throated Martin, Little Rush Warbler, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Canary, Brimstone Canary, African Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Red-eye Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Hottentot Teal, Cape Teal, Cape Shovellor, Egyptian Goose, African Marsh Harrier, Black-shouldered Kite, Zitting Cisticola, Lesser Swamp Warbler, African Black Swift, Purple Heron, Cape White-eye, Pied Crow, Cape Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, White-necked Raven, Cape Robin-chat, White-winged Black Tern, Little Stint, Common Ringed Plover, Cape Wagtail, Common Greenshank, Black Sparrowhawk, Cape Bulbul, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Blacksmith Plover, Swift Tern, Sandwich Tern, Caspian Tern, Hadeda Ibis, Sacred Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Cape Weaver.

David Winter

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