Spotting the Lesser Jacana

Neil Ebedes 09 November 2016
Part of the South Africa Safari Collection
Back to the Our Blog

In April 2016, Discover Africa's birding expert Neil Ebedes was fortunate enough to tick enough bird off his ever increasing list - this time spotting the Lesser Jacana at a the Skukuza golf course situated within the wildlife-rich Kruger National Park. Here's his story. 

A Lesser Jacana steps on a water lily in the Skukuza Golf Course, South Africa. Image by Neil Ebedes.

Lesser Jacana:  So what’s the fuss?

Generally speaking, the ‘Lesser’ of a species is smaller in size and usually difficult to locate. It’s distribution coverage is often quite limited.  Colours are similar, but care must be taken when comparing to the juvenile / immature of the ‘Greater’ of the species.

Thus when it occurs outside of its customary distribution (SABAP2) it provides a mouth-watering prospect. The Lesser Jacana is usually found in the Okavango and north, as well as the forest / coastal areas of the KwaZulu-Natal east coast, where it is an uncommon resident. A very ‘special’  vagrant.

A Lesser Jacana makes its way across a dam in the Skukuza Golf Course, South Africa. Image by Neil Ebedes.

Species such as; Lesser Flamingo, Lesser Moorhen, Lesser Gallinule, Little Ringed Plover, Lesser Blackwing Lapwing (now called Senegal Lapwing), Lesser Cuckoo, Lesser Honeyguide and Lesser Jacana, all fit the bill

The Jacana was announced in Trevor Hardaker’s ‘Rare bird alert’ in April 2016.  An outbreak had occurred in various parts of the country, causing quite a stir.  One sighting was on the pond / lake bordering the golf course at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park.

A friend and I did the trip.  The first day was ‘bitter / sweet’ in that while a comparison could be drawn between a Juvenile African Jacana and a possible Lesser Jacana, we had no luck in locating the latter. It was associating with an adult African Jacana, certainly its parent. It seems we were heading for a ‘dip out’.

A close up view of the Lesser Jacana spotted at the Skukuza Golf Course, South Africa. Image by Neil Ebedes.

In our case,  the chances were significantly reduced with only two pairs of eyes searching for a new bird.  It’s just not that simple covering a large area searching for one specific species.  One that is so well camouflaged to boot.  Over the weekend a crowd is in attendance improving the chances.  Additional spice was added as the lake is crocodile infested.

On the second day, we hit the jackpot, with the bird working and walking on the water lilies near the banks of the ladies tee.  These lilies provide such an enchanting view and the photographic opportunities, with the Jacana walking so effortlessly across them, are amazing.  The Afrikaans name Dwerglangtoon so aptly describes the bird.  Hundreds of shots were taken in the hope that a few would produce that special one, showing off defining features or habits.

Under the thatch of the ‘clubhouse’, overlooking the ladies 1st tee, watching the dam infested with crocodiles and having ticked a new bird, was quite relaxing. The beer could not have tasted more satisfying!


Some related info

Eight reasons to fall in love with iSimangaliso Wetland Park

While most international safari-goers look to Kruger National Park for their safari in South Africa, there’s a corner of South Africa that is sometimes overlooked. Right next to the border of Mozambique in the north of Kwazulu-Natal and about two and a half hours drive from Durban, this great ecosystem is one of the most pristine of its kind in South Africa. Take a look at some of the…

Three Famous South African Shipwrecks

Once people believed that the world was flat and it took a few brave and intrepid souls on ships with billowing sails to educate those back home about the vastness of our earth. As technology and the resulting pressures of an emerging economy began to impact our ancestors’ lives, so too did the need to expand empires and seek greener pastures. Over time, the great explorers of the time…

Who are the Eastern Bank male lions?

Kruger National Park is the largest park in South Africa. At 20 000 square kilometres, the park is dedicated to giving South Africa’s wildlife a save refuge from the pressures of urbanisation. The park is famous the world over, seeing 950 000 visitors a year; most of which are South Africans who consider the Kruger National Park to be their safari destination of choice. If you’re going…

Lodge Review | Kosi Forest Lodge, iSimangaliso

Set in a sand forest in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kosi Forest Lodge is located on the banks of the serene Kosi Bay Nature Reserve’s extensive lakes. The only lodge within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Kosi Forest Lodge perfectly blends with its natural surroundings, creating a truly one-of-a-kind holiday experience. Being the perfect base for exploring the wetlands…

20 reasons why you should visit the Madikwe Game Reserve

The Madikwe Game Reserve is South Africa’s fifth largest game reserve. It is a park that is not that well-known, however, it is home to all the Big Five species as well as the highly endangered African Wild dog. If you’re planning a South African holiday, here are 20 reasons why you should visit the Madikwe Game Reserve.     Elephant bull reflection. #elephant #reflection…

You can now use an app to identify any tree in Southern Africa

Technology continues to embed itself in all aspects of our lives in ways we never thought possible. It comes as no surprise then that a passionate team headed by Val Thomas have compiled an impressive mobile app that makes it easy for users to identify both indigenous and alien plant species at the touch of a screen.    TheTreeApp was launched in South Africa in September…