Umhlanga Lagoon NR

Seen at Umhlanga Lagoon NR on Sunday 27th July:

Paul Bartho

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Cumberland NR – Allen’s Gallinules

Mid-day today Sally and I went to Cumberland NR to see if we could find the Allen’s Gallinules which Norman Freeman had reported seeing yesterday.

On the water we saw Egyptian Geese, two pairs of Little Grebes and a juvenile, several pairs of Red-knobbed Coots, a number of Common Moorhens and a pair of Purple Swamphens but unfortunately no Allen’s Gallinules – nor were we lucky enough to even hear them.

Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen and Little Grebe

Purple Swamphens, Common Moorhen and Little Grebe

There were 13 Bald Ibis resting on the roof of the “hide” (more a launching jetty for canoes). Norman also reported seeing them there yesterday.

A couple of African Fish-Eagles flew overhead at one point along with another raptor which might have been a Black Sparrowhawk. A lovely group of 3 Little Bee-eaters were in the trees nearby along with a number of other species.

Little Bee-eaters

Little Bee-eaters

Sadly, we found a Red-chested Flufftail right beside the start of the jetty – floating in the water. We have brought it home to give to David Allen for the Durban Natural Science Museum.

Red-chested Flufftail

Paul & Sally Bartho

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BirdLife South Africa Media release

Click here to read the BirdLife South Africa Media Release – Global Red List Update and Implications for South Africa. Released 25 July 2014.

SMS  “birdlif to 38878 in South Africa and help Give Conservation Wings.

R10 per SMS. Free SMS and SMS bundles do not apply, All proceeds, less
service provider fees, will be donated to BirdLife South Africa. Error
messages will be billed. More details on BirdLife South Africa website.

BirdLife South Africa head office is supported by many generous donors,
including The Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust (managed by Nedbank Private
Wealth), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, F.H. Chamberlain, Honda,
AVIS, Zeiss, Nedbank and Sappi, as well as a number of Corporate Members and Golden Bird Patrons.

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Allen’s Gallinules at Cumberland NR.

Please can you circulate sighting of two Allen’s Gallinule today at +/- midday at the dam at the entrance to Cumberland Nature Reserve, Table Mountain – miles out of range.

Unfortunately no photo but positive sighting re: distinctive call which I imitated for 5 mins before they emerged – two adults and confirmed bill colours. The two were just beyond the “hide” amongst the scorched reeds and side vegetation. Both swam out enabling clear sighting, then panicked and flew to opposite reed bank 60 meters away, disappearing into the growth.

I noted the call and colours but only realized the species when I got home and confirmed notes. If I had known it was the Allen’s Gallinule and out of range, I would have stayed on for photo’s. Perhaps someone will do this asap.

Kind regards,

Norman Freeman

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Palmnut Vulture

I saw a pair of Palmnut Vultures on Mount Edgecombe Estate One Golf Course yesterday. Great to see them back again.

Palmnut Vulture

Palmnut Vulture


Wayne Sykes

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2015 BLPN Calendars now Available

Place Your Orders Now

Read about the Calendar’s history – click on this link.

BLPN Calendar 2015

BLPN Calendar 2015

Front Cover


Front Cover

Back Cover


Back Cover

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Wakkerstroom Newsletter No. 24

Click here for this issue of the Wakkerstroom newsletter which marks the second anniversary of our newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did compiling it.

 Best Regards

John Barrow

Secretary/Treasurer, Wakkerstroom Bird Club


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For Identification

Unidentified species seen at Hilton College NR which eluded all our attempts to get a great sighting. Full grey head to just below the eye, white throat, greeny-yellow stomach and green back. Anyone got any ideas? If so please have your say below this post. The closest we came to identifying the bird was that it could be a Bar-throated Apalis without the bar or a Karoo Eremomela way out of range.

Unknown Species. The beak points down just to the left of the green leaf. It's eye can be seen just behind the twig running across its face.

Unknown Species. The beak points down just to the left of the green leaf. It’s eye can be seen just behind the twig running across its face.

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Pelagic availability in Durban

Hi Paul

I had booked to go on the pelagic this weekend but unfortunately have to bail out. Please can you put a notice on the website if anyone else wants to go? Niall says there are a few places available. It was scheduled to happen on Saturday 26 July, but rough seas may cause it to be delayed to Sunday. Interested people can contact Niall at or on his phone from Friday 083 657-5511.




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Excitement at Jubilee Park


Green Twinspot - male.

Green Twinspot – male.

Seen on the feeder in garden next door to our old home in Jubilee Park. So exciting and I am sure they are in the reserve on grasses they love.

Marion Spence


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Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Programme Newsletter.

Dear BirdLife South Africa member,

Click here to read the Winter 2014 issue of the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Programme Newsletter.

Please note that you can download previous issues of the newsletter as well as brochures about the IBA Programme here.


Mark D. Anderson

Chief Executive Officer

BirdLife South Africa


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Hilton College NR Sunday 20 July 2014

Two degrees Centigrade at 07h00 at the Hilton College gate did not augur well for a good day’s birding. However the sky was clear and the sun would come out. At the end, the birding was much better than expected.

Four of us descended to the river in one vehicle – Penny de Vries, Cheryl King, Sally and Paul Bartho. Heater full on but with windows open. The four kilometre descent was taken slowly – birding all the way.

Probably one of the better sightings all day was the Red-throated Wryneck at the entrance to the picnic area where numerous birds held our attention before we eventually arrived there.

Red-throated Wryneck

Red-throated Wryneck

At the picnic site a cup of tea/coffee was in order. By this time the sun was warming us up and Sri Lanka were 130 something for 5. The picnic site is right by the river with a number of different species flying up and down as we supped our hot beverages.

The following photos give you an idea of the scenery, the river trail, Finfoot Hide and the picnic site:

Then we set off following the river upstream along a well-maintained trail. African Firefinch were heard then seen followed by Common Waxbills, Golden-breasted Bunting with Trumpeter Hornbills flying overhead. Of course we kept an eye on the river in hope of seeing an African Finfoot and/or African Black Duck.

Trumpeter Hornbill

Trumpeter Hornbill

Just before we reached the Finfoot Hide we were held up for about half an hour by a bird party consisting of Yellow-throated Woodland-Warblers, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis and this unidentified species which eluded all our attempts to get a great sighting. Full grey head to just below the eye, white throat, greeny-yellow stomach and green back. Anyone got any ideas? If so please let us know. The closest we came to identifying the bird was that it could be a Bar-throated Apalis without the bar or an Eremomela way out of range.

The Finfoot hide overlooks a small patch of the river but nothing special was observed there at that time.

On we clambered along the path by the river keeping our eyes out for a Bushveld Pipit which had been seen previously – no luck. More African Firefinches were seen and Lazy Cisticola heard and seen. Then we came across a pair of Swee Waxbills which, caught in the sunshine, radiantly showed off their colours.

Eventually we came to the end of the trail at Geni’s Junction – another large open area well treed. Here a number of Robins got our attention but only the Cossypha natalensis was positively identified.

The return journey was made in quick time – it was late in the morning and there was  not much to grab our attention.

We made a quick detour to visit to the hide as we passed – very fortunate timing as there were two African Black Ducks swiftly swimming up-river. And further along another three were seen flying down-river.

African Black Duck

African Black Duck

While having a bite to eat by the river at the picnic site a Burchell’s Coucal made a brief appearance.

Then on the drive back up the hill a Black-crowned Tchagra sat quietly in a tree close-by giving us excellent views. And an African Fish-Eagle gave us an overpass as we reached the top – the only raptor we had seen all morning.

By the time we reached the top we had a bird list of 60 seen and/or heard. Click here to see the bird list.

This is a great venue and worth visiting in the summer when the migrants return.

Paul Bartho




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BLPN and the proposed eThekwini port developments

Please read this report back on the proposed eThekwini port developments. It has been prepared by Arnia van Vuuren.

Arnia has worked tirelessly trying to bring ecological concerns to the forefront. This continues to be a massive task for someone working on her own.

Arnia is backed up in her work on the port by Coast Watch, where Carolyn Schwegman does the work on the EIAs, and shares her findings with Lesley Frescura, Di Dold and Crispin Hemson, as well as a couple of other people.

If there is anyway you can help then please do. Contact Arnia van Vuuren to find out how you can help.

As conservation issues go in eThekwini, there is none bigger than this. The ecological sanctuary of the harbour is at stake.

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Pigeon Valley – Wed 16 July

We are sparkling here currently in Pigeon Valley NR.  People are coming to see the Buff-spotted Flufftails, which are very obliging while conditions are so dry.  While at the spot most likely to see them, I have also had great views of a confiding Narina Trogon, persistent attention from the Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher female, African Firefinches, very friendly Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, and a bird yesterday that I and another watcher did not see well enough to be sure – she think it could be a Greater Honeyguide juvenile.

We have also had a rare visit from a Grey-headed Bush-Shrike.

But perhaps the most spectacular was when 25 of us on the BirdLife Port Natal outing to Pigeon Valley started the walk and then watched as a Scaly-throated Honeyguide tried to take over a Cardinal Woodpecker nesting hole in a branch over the main path just after the map.  It was unflustered by the onlookers, as it tried persistently, at one point locking bills with the female Cardinal Woodpecker in the nest.

Later in the morning, most of the BirdLife members stood and watched the male and female Buff-spotted, as a way of ending the morning.

One of the Red Duikers has died; I had a look at the body this morning; it is a bit decayed, but potentially it was taken by a Crowned Eagle; maybe I will be able to see the right eye socket a bit later to see if there are the marks of a talon.

I am getting emails that I am often not good at responding to, asking for co-ordinates of Pigeon Valley, and whether it is safe.  There are no guarantees of course, but I am not aware of any recent problem incidents, at all.
Co-ordinates are 29° 51′ 52″ S, 30° 59′ 19″ E

Crispin Hemson
Friends of Pigeon Valley


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Oribi Vulture Restaurant

Despite the new hide being burnt down earlier this month, this venue is still probably one of the best viewing sites to see Cape Vultures.

The new hide is already being rebuilt through the generosity of a local builder and when complete will be about 40 metres from the restaurant with excellent viewing over level ground.

Not only will it be possible to watch the vultures carnivoring the carcasses from the hide but it is also possible to walk to the edge of the cliff and see the nesting sites below and watching the vultures catch the thermals and gliding past within metres.

Currently there are over 30 nesting sites and in total more than 120 Cape Vultures have been counted at this site – including many juveniles thought to have come from elsewhere.

If you visit please look out for shoulder tags on the birds and report these sightings to your guide.

The site is located on the private property of a local farmer and can only be visited by booking through BirdLife Trogons -

A few photos from the area:




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Finfoot Loop

On Sunday 13th July 06h45, twenty-one intrepid birders gathered together by the Umgeni River mouth at the Green Hub – the centre of the Durban Green Corridor initiative.

The Green Corridor initiative has created a guided tour for birders to explore the Umgeni River venturing into areas many people would be hesitant to visit on their own.

This tour is known as the Finfoot Loop – why? Because the African Finfoot is regularly seen – right here in the eThekwini municipality.

The first part of the morning was spent birding the river mouth whilst we waited for our guide.

Birding the river mouth pre-dawn

Birding the river mouth pre-dawn

Numerous birds were seen including Cape Cormorants, Pink-backed Pelicans, Kittlitz’s and White-fronted Plovers, Grey-headed Gulls and Swift Terns as well as many other waterbirds. Even a Black Sparrowhawk sat patiently in one of the palm trees while photos were taken.

Eventually, with all of us loaded into 8 vehicles, we set off. Joe – our guide – was in the lead car.

Joe the guideJoe took us away from the metropolitan area into the Umgeni Valley following the river towards the Inanda Dam. Every so often we stopped at appropriate places to bird.

Our first stop was at the large new Kwadebeka bridge over the river on the M25.

We had views up and down river from up on high;  after which we drove down to a place below the bridge and spent some time birding up close to the river. Here we saw a female Klaas’s Cuckoo, a lifer for some, and both Mountain and Pied Wagtails hopping amongst the rocks. Mocking Cliff-chats abounded in this particular spot as two Giant Kingfishers flew up and down the river. As we were leaving, we saw a Purple-banded Sunbird.

Some of the bridges gave us good opportunities to make sure we knew the difference between Rock Martins and Brown-throated Martins. We were a little surprised to see African Palm Swift too, in the absence of any palm trees.

In all we stopped at 7 different locations along the river to bird; sometimes parking on the road by the river and at other times driving off the road a short distance. The local people we met were all very friendly.

The scenery is also stunning with the river running through gorges, lovely rolling hills, sheer cliffs and many indigenous trees. Of course, it was very dry being winter. Litter was bad in some areas but as we progressed further inland, it became less obvious.

Crossing over a mountainous area from one stopping point to another we were treated to an aerial display of a juvenile Martial Eagle being bombed by a Lanner Falcon.

It was at the last bridge crossing below the Inanda Dam wall that the African Finfoot was eventually spotted by a small number of the group. Unfortunately it was some distance away and moving upstream quite quickly and out of sight. Despite many of us going to the area where it was seen, none of the rest of us spotted it.

The final venue was the picnic site at eNanda Adventures on the Inanda Dam  - about 4 km NE from the dam wall. We arrived about 14h00 for our picnic and braai. Tables and chairs were quickly brought out for us as well as a couple of braais.

Braai time at eNanda Adventures Picnic ground

Braai time at eNanda Adventures Picnic ground

After the braai the remaining group of five vehicles crossed the same bridge where the African Finfoot was spotted earlier. As they crossed, one of the group – Geoff- spotted the Finfoot. Mad panic ensued with all the vehicles stopping on the bridge, doors being flung open, bodies tumbling out and there in all its splendour the African Finfoot calmly swam up to and onto a close-by rock for all to view.

Madness erupts as the African Finfoot is spotted.

Madness erupts as the African Finfoot is spotted.

The day was well organised and well guided. The birding was excellent for the time of year and over 90 different species were seen.

Full Moon ending a perfect day

Full Moon ending a perfect day

Photographs submitted by: Crystelle Wilson, Penny de Vries; Rex Aspeling; Paul Bartho


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Simbithi Estate, Salt Rock, KZN North Coast. Sunday, 22/6/14.


Dudley Wang…Simbithi Estate res.

Mike O’Donoghue.. Simbithi Estate res.

Mike White.  BLPN.

Sandy du Preez  [ Virginia Cameron]

Antony Humphries [with Ros & Mo]

Ros Conrad.

Cheryl & John Bevan.

Rex Aspeling

We met @ 07h00  at the Simbithi main gate and, then drove to the Heron Centre to park. The two Simbithi residents then guided us on a trail which passed along a  well covered section of riverine bush, through some open grassland to a valley with two dams on a perennial seep. The top dam had a Fulvous Duck swimming on it and the lower one had been the favourite haunt of a White-backed Duck the previous week, but which was not evident when we were there.

After the walk of about 3km, we arrived back at the Heron Centre to have a very comfortable breakfast on the veranda of the centre overlooking a large dam.

Mike White

Photos of some of the birds seen, courtesy of Rex Aspeling:

In total we saw about 70 different birds of the estate which lists nearly 200 species.

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Sea birds and Waders

Mount Edgecombe Bird & Environment Club

Talk entitled “Sea birds and Waders”

The curator of the Durban Natural Science Museum, David Allan, has recently completed 15 years of a monthly bay count of the sea birds and waders found in the Durban Bay, and in his talk to us at the Mt Edgecombe Country Club on Tuesday 15th July, he will highlight some of the more interesting sightings and statistics from there, as well as on recent pelagic trips off our coast.

As usual, the talk will commence at 18h00 sharp in the Weavers Nest at the Mount Edgecombe Country Club, and there will be a R20.00 per head charge levied.

Those who wish to dine at the Club after the talk, will be able to order their meals before the talk, and then join everyone in the dining room afterwards.

 Wayne Sykes []

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Wakkerstroom Newsletter

Click on this link to read the latest

John Barrow

Secretary/Treasurer, Wakkerstroom Bird Club


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Planning a Bird Adventure?

Just a reminder that our website has excellent links to planning a birding adventure in Southern Africa.

Scroll down the right-hand side of any page and you will see the many links to Nature Reserves, National Parks, Bird Guides; Tour Operators; Birding Accommodation Establishments as well as links to the BirdLife bird clubs in Southern Africa.

If you want to keep abreast of what is being seen and where then sign up to receive the news from the many Bird Net servers in the region – links also found on our website.

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