BirdLife Port Natal Citations

Good Day fellow BLPN members.

It is that time for you to consider to whom we should make Awards at our AGM on Saturday 20th February 2016.

It is important that you complete the following document – click here and return it to Lesley ( before December 15th. 2015.

The form is designed to make it easy for you to complete. So please give this a lot of thought and do respond if you consider someone is deserving of an Award. Unfortunately the committee is not fully aware of all the efforts our members make in their various ways.

Please do submit the form if you think of someone deserving an Award or mention at the AGM.

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Alverstone Bird List

The Alverstone bird list has been added to the previous post in case you want to review what was identified. Click here to get to the post.

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Saturday 5 December. Springside with Elena Russell.

Saturday 5 December. Springside with Elena Russell. Please confirm attendance, meeting time and place.: Tel: 031 705 2902; email More details to follow.

Here are some further details for the December ‘Christmas’ outing to Springside on SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER AT 06:00. Plus there will be a ‘silver’ collection.

Please make a note all are welcome etc and after the walk at the picnic area we will be toasting Cheese & Tomato Sarmies over a braai.   Some of our club members have kindly offered to donate the food and charcoal  – big thanks to Marian Spence and John Hinck ( and me) – John will do the braaing (even a bigger thanks)!!



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Report by Elena Russell

Saturday 7 November 2015

We had a reasonably early start! 06:00 but there was still a good turnout of 18 members and our bird count was 73.  Click here to see the list.

I had done a recce a few months back to make sure that it would suit our members as I had heard that the terrain was rather rough in places – the top area, walking along a path to the top dam (which is now almost dry) was no problem and the path down to the bottom dam again no problem but the slog up the hill from the bottom dam at 10:00 was hot, hot, hot!!

We had some really good birds to start with a pair of Yellow-throated Longclaws and  then to everyone’s delight a Cape Longclaw. Next a pair of Plain-backed Pipits in the short grass of the mown pathway and we were all agreed that there had to be a nest somewhere just off the path in slightly longer grass and weeds. African Firefinch, Fan-tailed Windowbirds and lots of sunbirds; Greater Double-collared, Amethyst, Olive, Collared (down in the forest) and those who stayed up on the top path a Malachite Sunbird and Lanner Falcon.

We stopped for quite a while near the one farm house as there was a bird feeder, plenty of Village Weavers, Streaky-headed Seedeaters, Yellow-fronted Canaries etc and in the surrounding trees we had a pair of Cape Rock Thrush and Crested Barbets. We found the barbets nest quite high up in a dead branch of a gum tree.  African Hoopoe, Red-winged and Black-bellied Starlings, African Firefinches, Dark-capped Bulbuls and Southern Black Flycatchers.

Cape Rock Thrush (Monticola rupestris) Female_D714979

Cape Rock-Thrush

The Yellow-billed Kites gave us a very close and personal inspection.  A Common Buzzard flew by and in the sky there were Barn, Lesser striped and Greater Striped Swallows. Swifts; Palm, White-rumped and Black and down by the dam we had Black Saw-wings.

Walking down to the bottom dam we had Paradise and Dusky Flycatchers.  We identified many birds by call most of which were eventually seen – Red-chested and Diderick Cuckoos; Burchell’s Coucal; Tambourine, Red-eyed and Cape Turtle Doves; Purple-crested Turaco; Sombre Greenbul; Terrestrial Brownbul; Orange-breasted Bushshrike,; Green-backed Camaropteras;  Bar-throated Apalis and lots lots more.

The bottom dam yielded three Golden Weaver’s nests with the birds very much in attendance (bit of excitement and a lifer for Wendy!). Here we had Hamerkop, Cape Wagtails; Thick-billed and Spectacled Weavers; African Fish-Eagle; Long-crested Eagle; Neddickys and  Tawny-flanked Prinias on the hillside.

Other good sightings were Common Quail; Southern Tchagra; Olive Thrush; White-necked Raven and Black Sparrowhawk.

Southern Tchagra

Southern Tchagra

At which stage we adjourned for tea and to everyone’s amusement I had to be assisted in counting up the entrance fees!! (don’t ask it was too embarrassing).




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A new look to the BLPN Website

I have made a number of changes to the website look. The main header is still under reconstruction and has had to be changed so that it no longer shows the BLSA Logo – per our new BLSA Affiliation agreement.

I have also cut down on the number of menu item choices. The old menu items have not been lost but rather included under other appropriate menus – mainly under the “Birding” menu.

Please if anyone spots anything out of place, links not working or has any suggestions then contact me 072 157 3678;  031 716 8416 or email Paul.

Paul Bartho

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Raptor Rescue Newsletter

Click on this link to read the latest Raptor Rescue Newsletter.

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Rose-ringed Parakeet Project Needs Help from Durbanites

Message for help from Durbanites by: Elize Fourie.



The Rose-ringed Parakeet Project 2015

The Rose-ringed Parakeet – Psittacula krameri – is an invasive parrot species, which inhabits urban areas of South Africa. It is currently listed as a Category 2 invasive species in the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act. However, the impacts of the species on local biodiversity and the environment are not known.

Researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand are launching the Rose-ringed Parakeet Project to locate parakeet roosting/breeding sites and also investigate the size, distribution range and ecology of the Rose-ringed parakeet population in South Africa. This will be complemented by parallel studies (in association with European researchers and ParrotNet) focused on the behaviour of these birds in Gauteng and associated effects on native bird species. This will improve our understanding of the ecology and behaviour of the species in South African urban environments and ensure that informed decisions are made by policy makers regarding the status and management of this parrot.

Have you seen a Rose-ringed Parakeet?

All birders, citizen scientists, outdoor enthusiasts, and members of the public are invited to assist with and collaborate on the project by submitting sightings of these parakeets to the project database. We particularly need information on the exact location of permanent roosting and breeding sites as well as the number of parakeets seen.

Data submission guidelines:

Data can be submitted to the project in the following ways:

  1. Using Google Forms. Please follow this link to the data form, fill it in, and submit. You may submit more than one form for the project. Please fill in all required fields as completely as possible.
  2. Using BirdLasser, a mobile app. This app allows you to contribute bird sighting data in real-time and with accurate GPS       location data from your mobile device. The project is registered as a cause on the app, whereby more detailed data can be submitted. This app is available for iOS and Android devices. For more information see

If you have any photos of parakeets, please send them to us at

Please join our Facebook group (The Rose-ringed Parakeet Project- South Africa) for more information and updates.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact us using the email address above or alternatively contact  Elize Fourie (

Thank you!

Elize Fourie

The Rose-ringed Parakeet Project,

School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences,

University of the Witwatersrand,


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Four Days in Kamberg

Paul and Sally Bartho

1 to 5 November 2015

On the spur of the moment Sally and I went to stay in a cottage at Glengarry in the Kamberg area – taking advantage of “stay three nights and get the fourth free” which was available at the time.

The weather certainly was very changeable. We had a taste of all four seasons in our time there.  On arrival the temperature was over 30 degrees Centigrade with a warm breeze. The next two days were windy and cold (between 10 C and 16 C) and snow appeared on the higher mountains and frost on the ground in front of the cottages. Then the next two days were a pleasant 20 C.

The location is quite central for the birding we wanted to do. Up the road to Highmoor, close-by to Kamberg in the Maloti Drakensberg Park and a short drive to the Crane Sanctuary on the way to Giant’s Castle. We did get another treat – but more about that later.

Glengarry cottages overlook several wetland areas, the river with the mountains as a backdrop – hard to beat as a view to wake up with every morning. There are also several areas for camping.

In the gloom of late afternoon we had our first treat – an Alpine Swift flying over the wetland in front of the cottage.

The first full day there we headed up to Highmoor – a slow drive to see what we could find. The snow could be clearly seen on the higher mountains in the distance.

On a couple of occasions we actually ventured out of the car despite the cold and biting wind. On one of these occasions we thought we heard the call of the Drakensberg Rockjumper.

At another stop we got out bravely to see Malachite Sunbirds among non-blooming Leonotis. And further up the valley we found Buff-streaked Chats and a Ground Woodpecker and Cape Rock-Thrush.

And in Highmoor on our last day we walked to the first dam and saw and heard Blue Cranes flying in the distance. There were several Jackal Buzzards overhead otherwise the birding was quite quiet. There was a mystery raptor but the photos below are pretty poor.

Our second full day we headed for Kamberg Nature Reserve. Again the weather was bitterly cold but the sky clear and snow on the mountains.

A pair of Grey-crowned Cranes made an appearance on the way to the Kamberg Nature Reserve.

Grey-crowned Crane

Grey-crowned Crane

In the Park there were a number of Bokmakierie which did their best to avoid my camera – their success not mine! Long-tailed and Red-collared Widowbirds were seen in the grassland as well as Yellow Bishops and Cape Longclaws. On one of the slopes on a nearby rock a Buff-streaked Chat made an appearance. Overhead we had a sighting of a Cape Vulture.

However the excitement for us was seen right in front of the camp amongst the daisies and also next to the closed trout hatchery – in each case a pair of Red-winged Francolins.

We did encounter a mystery bird which at first was thought to be a Cape Canary but the pictures in different lights baffled us. Click on them to enlarge.

After a morning in Kamberg we toddled along to pay a visit to the Crane Sanctuary – passing the Glengarry turnoff and heading towards Giant’s Castle. Along the way a view of the Giant.

Head and body of the sleeping Giant.

Head and body of the sleeping Giant.

On the side road to the Sanctuary there were horses and many foals ambling beside the road unattended and not fenced in. The visit to the sanctuary was brief walking round and observing each of the three Crane species and a poor flightless Lanner Falcon.

On the way out we had sightings of obliging Long-tailed Widowbirds, again Yellow Bishops and a Black-shouldered Kite on the power line easily overlooked by the numerous  bird deterrents hanging on the line.

Then as we approached the main road there was an African Marsh-Harrier quartering the fields and a pair of Southern Bald Ibis.

Beside the nearby dam there were a pair of South African Shelduck among the accompanying Hadedas and Geese.

The grounds of Glengarry provided us with the best birding. On each walk we were befriended by two Labs and an Australian Sheep dog. And despite their presence the birds were not shy in showing themselves.

In the wetlands we heard the call of an African Rail, an African Reed-Warbler and what Sally thinks was a Red-chested Flufftail – although I thought it sounded more like the Striped. Sally is more likely to be correct. Would have been great to have seen either – lifers for me.

Around the wetland area beside the river there were several sightings of Dark-capped Yellow Warblers, the calls of Lesser Swamp Warblers and a Cape Grassbird, the sighting of a calling Little Rush-Warbler, Forest Canaries. And in the river an African Black Duck. Also present was a Red-throated Wryneck – heard but not seen. And an Olive Woodpecker pecking avidly into the side of a dead branch.

Bokmakieries called all round our cottage but were impossible to find. And around the gardens there was much bird life.

There were a pair of Cape Sparrows nesting in the top of our chimney – so there were no evening fires for us.

Cape Sparrows nesting in our chimney

Cape Sparrows nesting in our chimney

And from our balcony we regularly watched a pair of African Hoopoes taking turns flying from their nest behind, all the way down to the wetlands and back again – we assume with food for their young.

African Hoopoe

African Hoopoe

Another perplexing sighting was that of a Cardinal Woodpecker on the roof of the cottage next door. Its head from a back view showed black with a  red crown – the front had a brown frons which is not visible in the photo. It was not until we reviewed our field guides that we realised that this is the natural head colouration of a juvenile Cardinal.

Probably the most unexpected sighting was the appearance of an Osprey flying over the wetlands.

And finally another mystery raptor which we think is an Black Sparrowhawk due to its long tail rather than a Jackal Buzzard because of the rufous appearance in the tail.

And now for the treat I mentioned at the beginning of this article. We were talking to Gareth (one of the sons of the owner who manage Glengarry) about birds in the area and he mentioned that he would contact a local pig farmer to see if he could take us to visit and see what they were doing. So at 08h30 on the Wednesday we headed to the farm. We left the car in one of the fields and walked several hundred metres uphill to a fenced off area to keep out the Jackals.

Note that this farm is private and can only be visited with special permission – best done through Gareth.

In the fenced off area there were a number of dead pigs (dead from natural causes). And nearby there were three groups of many Cape Vultures. Gareth told us that up to 350 Cape Vultures have been seen there at one time and that there were also six pairs of Lammergeiers in the area. We dipped on the Lammergeiers.

Quite a sight seeing all the vultures waiting while Yellow-billed Kites and White-backed Ravens took turns on the carcasses.

Numerous Cape Vultures were flying overhead and then from a valley below we saw a massive flock of black birds take to the sky – all White-necked Ravens. Quite a sight.

The treat did have its downside. The fields were being sprayed with the waste from the pigs – very very smelly. You got used to it while watching the birds but it was ever present. The worst was yet to come. On returning to Glengarry we noticed that the smell prevailed. We realised it was not only on the soles of our shoes but in everything we were wearing! And in the car! Fortunately the stench goes away with time, a lot of scrubbing and several clothes washes. Still it was worth the experience of seeing so many Cape Vultures together.

In the short time we were there with all the weather thrown at us we did manage to identify 106 different species in the area. Click here to see the list of birds we identified in the whole area.

A place well worth the visit.

Paul & Sally Bartho

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Zululand Trip Report

Paul and Sally Bartho

19 to 25 October

On impulse Sally and I decided to head up to St. Lucia for 4 nights and the same at Kube Yini (between Mkuze and Phinda). Then onwards, wherever, for a further week.

As it happened we ended up staying only 3 nights at Kube Yini then coming home. Everywhere was exceptionally dry. But the deciding factor to return home was yet another side wall puncture.

At St. Lucia we camped in the Sugarloaf campsite. Water was restricted due to the drought but the campsite did not appear to be affected – other than they only opened two of their four ablution blocks.

During our time at St. Lucia we went birding in Eastern and Western Shores of Isimangaliso Wetland Park as well as around the estuary mouth and the campsite. As you can see from our bird list (click here to see it), our time in St. Lucia around the estuary and campsite was the most rewarding.

On the first morning we headed for Eastern Shores. However as we left the camp gate we checked the sand bank in front of the Boat Club and restaurant. There were quite a number of Pied Avocets among numerous waders and terns. Most striking, however, were eight Black Herons together.

In the Eastern Shores we had two interesting experiences – firstly on three occasions we came across Southern Banded Snake-Eagles. One with a full crop after devouring a green snake.

Southern Banded Snake-Eagle

Southern Banded Snake-Eagle

The second experience was at Lake Bengazi. (An aside – the causeway is still not passable due to the road collapse some years ago). Looking out across the Lake to the western side there were hundreds and hundreds of Pelicans on the shore line – mainly Great White but also Pink-backed.

Altogether in the 6 hours we were there we identified 72 different species.

The second full day at St. Lucia we headed for Western Shores – windy and overcast. Virtually all the dams were empty of water. From the boardwalk overlooking Lake St. Lucia we could see how much the drought had affected the water levels in the Lake.

One of the highlights was stopping next to a male and female African Cuckoo-Hawk on the ground not 20 metres from us.

And then at the main picnic site, we noticed a small dam with some water – probably being pumped in. At the dam there were a number of Collared Pratincoles and a Wood Sandpiper – soon to be scattered when three noisy Spur-winged Geese arrived.

The picnic site is a lovely location however it could do with some tables and benches under the trees. Here we had a good sighting of a Scarlet-chested Sunbird. Altogether only 48 different species were identified in the 5 hours we were there.

Most afternoons we spent time birding around the campsite and on the beach. Because of the wind the beach was fruitless and the banks of the estuary had few birds.

The exception to this was the sand bank in front of the boat club restaurant. Among the numerous waders and shore birds we did manage to find an unusual Plover.

The guide with a group of American tourists said it was a Lesser Sand Plover. However as the photos below show – it was in fact a Greater Sand Plover (unless of course  both were present). The greenish legs lead me to question what I photographed.

If we had read the text in the Roberts App more closely we would have known to watch its behaviour. When foraging the Lesser takes about 3 paces then pauses for about 2.5 to 3 seconds. The Greater takes about 9 to 10 paces then pauses for 5 to 8.5 seconds!

Also present on the sand bank was a Grey Plover in semi-breeding plumage.


The campsite itself as usual had an abundance of different birds – some of the more notable for us were the Livingston’s Turacos, Purple-banded Sunbirds and an obliging Bearded Scrub-Robin.

But perhaps the most unexpected appearance was that of an African Wood-Owl. We were having dinner when it flew to our table knocking over a handbag on the ground beside the table. It then sat in a nearby tree and kept foraging at the base of a tree not three metres away from us.

Altogether in the camp and nearby estuary a count of 94 different species – not too shabby.

And then it was time to move on to Kube Yini where we stayed in a rather large cottage belonging to a friend of ours.  The cottages are all on the top of a number of steep hills. Everywhere was very dry and waterholes empty – except for the two where water was pumped in – both rather small.

It was a decided challenge to back the camper into the driveway!

Here we settled in to the luxury of large space. Checking the map of the area we thought that we should head for the river in the canyon below. So the first afternoon after settling in we headed down to do a short loop. In parts it was steep any very rocky – progress was slow and the birds likewise.

The next day we headed for a longer drive alongside the river. Again steep and rocky everywhere so the drive lasted probably 2 hours longer than we thought. Birds there were, close to the river but nothing that stood out.

Our best birding was around the cottage – Burnt-necked Eremomela, Bearded Scrub-Robin and African Yellow White-eye. In the evening the call of the Fiery-necked Nightjar. And on the plains below next to the clubhouse a Flappet Lark called for our attention. 61 different bird species were identified while we were there.

That evening we went to the clubhouse to watch the RSA semi-final along a number of other residents. In one conversation we mentioned that the roads are very rocky especially on the way up and down to the river. They were aghast and surprised that we had  ventured there as none of them did.

After the rugby on the way back to the cottage we heard the very unpleasant sound of a tyre giving off puffs of air on each revolution and the piping alarm of the tyre pressure monitor sounding.  Somehow we managed to get back to the cottage before it went completely flat.

The tyre took ages to change simply because we have a Fortuner and they have this ridiculous system to lower the tyre beneath the car. The problem being to insert a long bar unsighted into a slot designed for perfect alignment. Much cursing and swearing until by chance it unexpectedly went in.

The next day we only ventured to the clubhouse to watch the final on our own. The next day – home.

Enough adventure for this trip. But altogether 152 different birds identified.

Paul & Sally Bartho

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Durban Green Corridor

Click here to read the latest newsletter from the Durban Green Corridor. In it there is an interesting article on the Tokoloshe.

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Clairwood Racecourse Conservation Concerns

BLPN has been involved in the public participation process for the proposed development of Clairwood Racecourse into a logistics park. As an Interested & Affected Party (I&AP) we commented on the Environmental Impact Assessment Report.

The developer (Capital Property Fund) started with demolition at the beginning of April 2015 although Environmental Authorisation (EA) was only granted on 29 May 2015. The developer argues that authorisation is only needed for construction and no construction has taken place yet.

The surrounding communities have appealed the EA and BLPN provided information and comments to aid the communities in their appeal. The appeal process has not been finalized yet.

The environmental consultants have submitted an amended Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) to all I&APs. Click here to read BLPNs comments on the proposed EMPr.

We also raised concern over having to comment on the EMPr while the development is still under appeal.

Arnia Van Vuuren.

Vice-Chair for BirdLife Port Natal

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Trip report – KwaXimba Conservancy

Trip report – KwaXimba Conservancy, Umgeni Valley

(Sunday 11 October 2015)

The October Sunday outing was a new venue for BLPN birders, and one I was looking forward to sharing with many of the clubs birders. Unfortunately it was not until road signs went up in mid-September advertising the route of the Amashova cycle race that it dawned on me the cycle race and the bird outing shared the same date 18 October.

In order to get down into the Umgeni Valley one needs to cross the R103 near Inchanga. With the road being closed on race day, and not wanting to cancel the outing it was decided to bring it forward one week to 11 October. Despite notices going out on the net via KZN Birds and a few Facebook groups of the date change the turnout was low with only seven of us assembling at the iSiThumba Cultural Village.

The first birds of the day were mostly of the airborne brigade including African Palm Swifts, Lesser Striped Swallows, Yellow-billed Kite, Black Saw-wing and a pair of Lanner Falcons, accompanied with background sounds of a Crested Barbet vocalizing and a cacophony of chattering from the Village Weaver colony nesting in the trees behind the main building of the cultural centre.

Our accompanying hosts for the day were Jeffery and Shaks who assist with various tours organized through Durban Green Corridor and with support from Kloof Conservancy. Following a brief insight to some cultural facts about the area, we proceeded down to the river with Shaks as our escort for the morning.

The short walk down yielded Blue Waxbill, Rattling Cisticola and White-bellied Sunbird, and not far off came the sounds of a Southern Boubou. Hang on, could it not be an African Hoopoe? After much debate and comparing calls from the Roberts app we agreed to settle on Southern Boubou.

There is some great scenery along the Umgeni River, wild places through Eastern Bushveld Thicket where you are at one with nature, great views from various spots, interaction with the local community and just amazing natural beauty.

We meandered along the river edge picking up on various water birds including Black Crake, African Sacred Ibis, African Jacana, Yellow-billed, African Black and White-faced Ducks, a single Three-banded Plover, and a Purple Heron foraging along the far bank.

On the far bank we were treated by a pair of Malachite Kingfishers popping in and out of a hole in the river bank.

The river is fringed with Bushveld thicket which gave us good views of Chinspot Batis, Cape Glossy Starlings, African Paradise Flycatchers in abundant numbers, Little Bee-eaters, and Orange-breasted Bush-shrike.

And on the way back Sally heard and found an Olive Bushshrike. Then we saw a jaw-dropping Golden-breasted Bunting foraging on the ground.

As with all birding trips there are the inevitable birds heard but not seen, including the ever elusive Gorgeous Bush-shrike, as well as Diederik and Klaas’s Cuckoos, Emerald-spotted Wood-dove, Black-headed Oriole, and White-browed Scrub-Robin.

Views of the imposing isiThumba Mountain – an iconic spot in the area had us wondering if we’d see any special raptors as Verreaux’s Eagles have been recorded in the area before. Our luck was out but we continued to enjoy the sounds and sights of the valley.

The final tally for the day was 73 species either seen or heard, with all records submitted to SABAP2 on one Full Protocol card and one Ad hoc card.

Our bird of the day was a pair of Long-billed Crombecs entertaining us in the thorn trees whilst enjoying our post walk beverages and nibbles from the picnic hampers.

A worthy mention must be made for the Three-banded Plover due to its sighting being the first SABAP record for pentad 2940_3040!

A full species list for the day can be viewed by clicking here. Many thanks to Sandi, Elena, Ismail, Paul and Sally for venturing out to new territory, and of course to my special birding buddy (Penny) for accompanying me and sharing my passion for birds and the outdoors.

Yours in birding,
Dave Rimmer


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Dolphin Coast Newsletter

Click here to read the latest Dolphin Coast newsletter.

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Raptor Rescue Newsletter

Click here to read the latest Raptor Rescue Newsletter.

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Mhlopeni Weekend

Report by Paul Bartho

23 to 27 September 2015

Mhlopeni Nature Reserve is located between Greytown and Muden in KZN. Mhlopeni (Place of white stones) is located in a rain shadow area of the Tugela river basin. Part of the dry valley bush veld, considered to be the most degraded veld type in KZN.  It is a Natural Heritage site.

Ancient and modern history provides a glimpse into archaeological sites, from early stone to iron age, findings, dating back to 250 000 years ago.  Holding artifacts of these eras is a truly unique experience.

The weekend outing was organised by Cheryl and John Bevan. Five people took the cottage and six of us the campsite (an additional 2 joined the campsite group later).

Once you leave the tar road the route takes you through some challenging tracks – driving over rocky outcrops, and rough ground where high clearance is preferred. Having said that there were several regular cars which made it.

The cottage is well located overlooking bush veld to the dry river bed. It is well equipped despite the lack of electricity. It can sleep 8 though the curtained partitions may be off-putting for some. One loo and shower.

The campsite was being completed as we arrived. There is a boma and one loo with shower. Here also there is no power but there was plenty of sun to keep the solar panels busy. Although there was just enough space for all of us it meant those at the far end would have had a challenge on departure – trying to get past the other campers. Fortunately we all left together.

As a Bird Sanctuary, Mhlopeni is abundant with many birds of prey, and being on the confluence of the north, south, coastal and inland species distribution limits over 230 species are recorded on their bird list.

Some of the birds photographed:

Of course other critters were seen including a gang of what I thought to be hyenas being chased by the camp dog. Butterflies need id.

Rustic walking paths provided us with vistas and sounds of the diversity of healthy dry valley bush veld.

Most mornings we followed the road and paths along the dry river bed.  with its intriguing geology.

One afternoon we visited the Mooi River which was flowing and forms part of the northern boundary of the property. This is a dead end track which several people mistakenly took on the way to the camp. It has dreadful dongas and is very narrow with steep sides to the river. Once on this track it is only possibly to turn around at the end – fortunately for those towing a trailer!

The weather was extremely hot after about 9 or 10 in the morning. By then birding was over till later in the afternoon. Most sat around a shady spot enjoying what cool breeze there was.

Much of the birding was done round the cottage and campsite. In the river bed next to the campsite there was a Schotia brachypetala in full bloom.

We took chairs and sat in the shade and watched the comings and goings of a wide variety of birds – mostly Sunbirds Amethyst (male and females) Greater Double-collared (male and females) White-bellied (male and female) but there were also Olive Bushshrike, Cape White-eyes, Green Woodhoopoes, Barbets, Weavers, Woodpeckers nearby. Birds were constantly coming and going.

One Sunbird in particular came regularly and called every time it arrived staying at the top of the tree, taking its nectar and flying off. We guess that it was possibly feeding young. The problem with this bird – if it is what we believe – it is out of range. An out of range form with photos has been submitted following our atlas card being sent in. The call of the bird was recognised as that of a Grey Sunbird and you can make your own judgement from the photos below. This was not the only place we had seen and heard the Grey Sunbird while we were there.

Altogether we compiled a bird list of 110 different species. Click here to see our list.


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Tanglewood Farm Nature Reserve

Report by: Elena Russell

Saturday 3 October 2015

Last year it took us 3 attempts to bird Tanglewood Farm Nature Rerserve before we had decent weather. This year we had a perfect sunny day, the hillside had been burnt with wild flowers everywhere. We had an excellent turnout – must have been over 30 people: members, visitors and a few latecomers. Our bird count wasn’t too shabby either in the region of 88 – things are hotting up for summer.

We split up into 2 groups and on entering the forest the one group had wonderful views of a pair of Narina Trogon unfortunately the second group dipped but we got to see the photos!!

Natal Robins (Red-capped Robin Chats) called from hidden depths within the forest and very occasionally seen. Olive Thrush fossicked around in the fallen leaves, African Paradise-Flycatchers in abundance, not too many Black and a few Dusky Flycatchers.

A pair of Dark-backed Weavers had made their nest overhanging the forest path, much time was spent watching the pair bringing in nesting material and listening to the lovely call (the Afrikaans name is so evocative ‘bosmusikant’).

On the forest walk Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Boubou, Klaas’s & African Emerald Cuckoos, Tambourine Doves, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Cameropteras, Sombre Greenbuls, Purple-crested and Knysna Turacos, Black-collared Barbets, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds – sunbirds: Amethyst, Olive, Collared and Greater Double-collared – plus lots of bird calls.

Walking up to the Cabin (aka the Boathouse) for morning tea, a pair of Crowned Eagles put on a magnificent display.

Afrcan Crowned Eagle

Afrcan Crowned Eagle

Earlier on we had African Goshawk, Yellow-billed Kites all day long, plus White-necked Raven, a Black Sparrowhawk and a Long-crested Eagle also put in an appearance.

Around the dams we had Grey and Black-headed Herons, Hamerkops and Hadeda Ibis everywhere. In the skies there were White-rumped, African Palm, African Black and Little Swifts, as well as Lesser-striped Swallows and Black Saw-wings.



After tea we walked the grassland area and down to another dam where the Yellow Weavers are nesting.

Yellow Weaver nest building

Yellow Weaver nest building

We also had Cape, Village, Spectacled and Thick-billed Weavers. The grassland yielded some good birding, Yellow-throated Longclaws, Streaky headed Seedeaters, Croaking Cisticolas, Grassbirds, Red-backed and Bronze Mannikins, Pin-tailed Whydah, Fantailed Widowbirds, Rufous-naped Larks and again lots lots more!!

Lots of butterflies and other critters:

and some really wonderful wild flowers. Just before entering the forest we came across a ground orchid Disa Woodii (looks like a glowing candle – Elsa Pooley) – birding can be such fun!!.

We returned to the cabin for a braai-brunch and the bird list – much hilarity and mirth- especially when we got all excited over a Black Stork that actually was a Woolly-necked Stork (can you believe it was going to be ‘Bird of the Day’).

Thanks to the guys who got the braai going, thanks to Sandi, John and Paul for the pics and a mega thank you to Caryl for allowing us to visit Tanglewood Farm.

Jenny lost a lens cap (if anybody picked it up) and I have a very nice bright blue camping chair in my boot – any takers? The striped pink hat has been claimed!!



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Saturday 26 September 2015

Paul Bartho

Four of us decided to visit Weenen Game Reserve on Saturday 26 September. It was very dry but there was water at their hides. Although we drove around most of the reserve we spent the most of our time enjoying the central hide.

A pair of Cape Wagtails have a nest right above the entrance to the left part of the hide. They kept us entertained coming back and forth to feed their young – skittish at first.

Click here to see our bird list.

Here are some photos taken while there.

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IBA Directory and Status Report

BirdLife South Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity (IBA) Programme is proud to announce the launch of the revised IBA Directory and IBA Status Report.  This is the culmination of five years of work that has seen the entire network throughout South Africa assessed and updated. The directory can be downloaded at Hard copies can also be purchased from BirdLife South Africa Click here to see how you can obtain a copy.



One-third of the 112 most important sites for nature in South Africa are facing imminent danger of irreversible damage, according to a new South African IBA Status Report published today by BirdLife South Africa.

These sites – known as Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) – are threatened by invasive species, changes in habitats through incorrect burning practices, and agricultural expansion or mismanagement. Unprotected IBAs in particular are deteriorating at a concerning rate, most especially in grasslands, wetlands and fynbos, but habitats in protected IBAs are also showing signs of deterioration. Over 85% of all IBAs face high to very high levels of threats, and there is little distinction between protected and unprotected IBAs in this regard. The IBAs with the highest and most imminent threats will be included in BirdLife International´s list of IBAs in Danger, the global list of priority sites identified for urgent action.

This South African IBA Status Report is accompanied by a revised National IBA Directory, building on and up-dating the first such inventory published in 1998. It provides updated information of the most important aspect of each of these 112 IBAs, including the geography and climate of the area, the list of the bird species found at the IBA, the biggest threats to the site, and what conservation action is taking place to secure the IBA. This publication can be used by conservation practitioners and planners to prioritise their work, by developers who need to understand the sensitivity of an area, and can even be used by bird enthusiasts to plan a birding trip.

The 112 IBAs in South Africa are the last stand for bird conservation on a landscape level. Protecting these sites has benefits not only for South Africa’s birds, but also for other animals, plants and the vital ecological services these sites provide to people. These services include providing us with fresh water, managing floods, controlling disease, and providing grazing lands for livestock farming. Conserving IBAs is also important for attaining our government’s environmental commitments like the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11 that calls for the expansion of terrestrial Protected Areas by at least 17%, and the Convention on Migratory Species. Therefore, their deteriorating status is a very high concern which requires immediate attention from government agencies and other stakeholders.

The main recommendations from the IBA Status Report to remedy this situation include that government needs to allocate more resources towards managing protected areas and expanding the protected areas network through biodiversity stewardship. That IBAs should be used as a first cut when identifying priority areas for conservation, including for protected area expansion. By following the published management guidelines, the agricultural sector is able to manage their lands for the parallel purposes of producing livestock, improving veld condition and conserving biodiversity. IBAs should be considered as red flags and often exclusion areas when other development options are being considered, such as mining.

While both these publications are milestones for bird conservation, they need to be seen as the spearhead which will now be used to lobby, plan and implement effective conservation for birds, their habitats and other biodiversity.

Both the revised IBA Directory and IBA Status Report can be bought in hard copy from BirdLife South Africa’s IBA Programme (011 789 1122,, or the electronic versions can be downloaded for free from


For further information please contact:

Daniel Marnewick at (011 789 1122).

Notes to Editors:

Additional information

South Africa has as an extraordinary diversity of life. With 846 bird species, 8% of the world’s bird species, and a diversity of other life and habitat types, it is not always easy to prioritise the most important sites for conservation. As a developing economy, South Africa has to accommodate competing land uses and therefore we need to focus conservation efforts on habitats and sites of irreplaceable worth. Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, or IBAs, are just that, the most important sites for conserving our birds and the rich diversity of life associated with birds. The IBA network is comprised of sites of global significance for bird conservation, and may be considered the minimum set of sites essential to ensuring the survival of the world’s birds. The consequences of losing any one of these sites would be disproportionately large.

About Birdlife South Africa

  • BirdLife South Africa’s IBA Programme is supported by a number of funders: Mitsui & Co., Trencor, WWF Table Mountain Fund, WWF Nedbank Green Trust, Rupert Natuurstigting, Rand Merchant Bank, Sappi, Honda SA, CEPF and Mr Price.
  • BirdLife South Africa is the local country partner of BirdLife International. BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation Partnership with more than 120 BirdLife Partners worldwide and almost 11 million supporters.
  • BirdLife South Africa is the largest non-profit bird conservation organization in the country. It relies on donor funding and financial support from the public to carry out its critical conservation work.
  • Birds are important environmental indicators, the proverbial “canaries in the coal mine”. By focusing on birds, and the sites and the habitats on which they depend, BirdLife South Africa’s IBA Programme aims to improve the quality of life for birds, for other wildlife, and ultimately for people.
  • To make a contribution towards the IBA Fund, go to and click on “IBA Fund” to make a donation. Alternatively, please contact Daniel Marnewick at +27 (11) 789 1122.
  • The IBAs in Danger initiative of BirdLife International identifies IBAs facing very high levels of threats based on their scope, timing and scale. The current list includes 358 IBAs from 102 countries. For more information, visit
  • For more information, visit

Kindest regards

Nicholas Theron

Regional Conservation Manager KwaZulu-Natal

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