With that start, I expected to see more African Crakes, but extensive searching then and this morning have produced no further sightings. My guess is that the species is sparsely distributed over a large area, though may be locally common. However, in my experience, crakes are mostly rather demanding in terms of habitat. The composition, height and density of vegetation; the water level; and extent of disturbance and grazing are all significant factors. If birds start calling they will be easier to locate, though African Crakes were not that vocal where I've come across them in the past. Ideally, you need an enthusiastic dog to sniff out crakes and flush then - a technique I used in Kenya using a water-loving spaniel/mongrel cross called Lucky.
I was unable to photograph this bird, and the next good species, the first Black Bishop I've seen here, was very distant so this photograph is simply evidence of the species' occurence here. Note that most of the back is black in this breeding plumage male, unlike Black-winged Red and Northern Red Bishop. It is Euplectes gierowii of the race ansorgei.
Male Black Bishop
To compensate, I did manage to secure some decent shots of Winding Cisticola (see last post), whilst the bird was singing, so I'm now 100% sure of the identification. However, the birds have very little rufous on the crown, which is also lightly streaked and in this respect are quite different from the illustration of this species (or subspecies) in Redman, Stevenson and Fanshawe's "Birds of the Horn of Africa". They are remarkably confiding - perhaps they spend the dry season deep in the Sudd.
I then took some photos of a Red-pate Cisticola in its unstreaked breeding plumage. This bird is much more like the illustrations in the main field guides.
In the marshland the Black Egrets were still present yesterday, though not today. I can't resist posting more pictures of these birds fishing.
An immature Black-headed Heron and a Goliath Heron were hunting close to the road.
Imm. Black-headed Heron
Yesterday, eight Purple Herons flew high northwards: this looked more like local migration than a feeding movement, but I'm just guessing.
Purple Herons on the move
Other noteworthy sightings in the marshland included a first Collared Pratincole for my Juba list, presumably of one of the subspecies that breeds in sub-Saharan Africa, and a long overdue Greater Painted-snipe, regarded by Nikolaus (Birds of South Sudan) as common 'from Juba south....'.
I'm still trying to identify the weavers as they attain breeding plumage. On the basis of leg and eye colour the bird immediately below is possibly Heuglin's Masked Weaver (though it could be a Lesser Masked), but the other bird has me stumped. Will try birdforum [I did, and one suggestion was Little Weaver].
Heuglin's or Lesser Masked Weaver
Altogether, two excellent shorting outings with four new species. After 18 months of birding here, there is clearly much still to discover. Night birds (owls and nightjars especially) are a particular gap, mainly due to the security considerations here.