Sunday Outing to Bisley Valley & Darvill.

Bisley Valley
Ten birders attended the outing. This bushveld reserve is very dry at the moment, which is to be expected at this time of the year, and it was rather cold to begin with.
Mention must be made of 10-year old Decklan, our “chief” photographer, who handled the camera with a very large lens like a pro and his birding skills weren’t bad either! Well done Decklan. We need youngsters like you in the Bird Club!
The birds were slow to show themselves at first but as we got close to the bottom dam, we had good views of Golden-breasted Bunting, Blue and Common Waxbills, African Firefinch, Common Scimitarbill and Black-crowned Tchagra as well as 2 “teenage” Red-knbobbed Coots with their parents.
Then we had a real slog up to the top bird hide. We were anticipating some good birding over the vlei from the hide, but unfortunately the entrance to the hide was overgrown so we decided to go and have our coffee and picnic back at the cars.
The bird count was 55. We need to go back to Bisley in summer to experience the excellent bushveld birding that it is known for!
Paul suggested that we move on to Darvill Sewerage Works and this proved to be a very good decision although it was very, very windy.
We were treated to two dancing Grey-crowned Cranes! Of special interest was a group of Ruff, one of which still had a partial ruff which none of us had ever seen before! We also had lovely views of an African Marsh-Harrier quartering over the reeds.All three species of teal were present (Cape, Red-billed and Hottentot). The bird count was about 37.
Photos by Paul except where noted.
Sandi du Preez
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The importance of not interfering with nature

Click on the link below and watch how re-introduction of wolves into their old habitat actually can change the course of rivers and restore a balance of nature.

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Mystery Raptor over Mount Moreland

Help please to try to identify the following raptor seen over Mount Moreland from the King Shaka airport – Durban. Photos taken from a mur of a long way a way.

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Save our Seabirds Raffle

It’s that time of the year again when we all try and drum together and raise some much needed funds for the conservation of our country’s seabirds. I have attached an advert giving the details of a raffle which will run in conjunction with the Celebrate our Seas Festival and we hope to be able to raise a worthwhile sum of money that we can hand over to the Seabird Division of BirdLife South Africa to continue the wonderful work that they do.

Save our Seabirds Raffle

Save our Seabirds Raffle

The entries are now officially open, so please consider taking part and purchasing a ticket (or, if finances allow, several of them…!). As you will see, there are some wonderful prizes to be won and, quite possibly, there may even still be further prizes being added to this. If we are able to secure further sponsored prizes, we will announce these a little later on. A very special thank you also to those sponsors that have already confirmed their donations in terms of the prizes!

Please spread this far and wide so that we can reach as many people as possible and let’s all work together to make a worthy contribution to seabird conservation…:)

Kind regards

Trevor Hardaker

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Every year Kloof Conservancy hosts a Back-to-Nature series of events that focuses on different aspects of our natural world and every year BirdLife Port Natal supports this initiative.

On 30 August 2014 Kloof Conservancy and BLPN will put birds in the spotlight with a day of “FUN WITH OUR FASCINATING FEATHERED FRIENDS”.

Date:     Saturday 30 August 2014

Time:    08h30 – 15h00

Venue: Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, Interpretive Centre


08h30    Guided bird walk with Dave Bishop

11h00    Talk on birds by Dave Bishop

13h30    “Urban ecology of the vervet monkey” – talk by Lindsay Patterson

10h00 – 15h00   Activities for children of all ages

Please come and enjoy this fun day with us. There will be something of interest for every member of the family. There are picnic facilities and safe parking and Krantzkloof Nature Reserve is one of eThekwini’s finest reserves.

Kids playing with their minder

Kids having fun with their minder.


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River Valley NR Weekend Outing

Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd August 2014.


The River Valley Nature Reserve is situated just inland from Margate, KZN.

This privately owned reserve has a variety of different habitats and one boundary abuts the Ivungu River. The bird life is varied and plentiful.

The reserve and the walking trails which cut through the forest are well maintained. Apart from the forest, there is open grassland,  several dams, two lookout points over the river, the river itself and the cliffs opposite.

There were eleven of us on the outing. Six made use of the two upmarket cottages and the rest were camping close-by – all on the banks of the river with steep cliffs on its opposite side.

Three of us arrived a day early to make it an extended weekend. On the way along the  N2 near Ifafa a Yellow-billed Kite was seen.

Altogether 117 bird species were recorded. Click here if you wish to see the list.

Most of the birding was done inside the reserve following the trails and around the camp. About half the group also went to Mpenjati for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon – which was where the Cape Vulture was seen.

There were a number of interesting happenings and sightings throughout the weekend.

To start with on arrival at the gate there was a Southern Bald Ibis. Just one, and we were told he had been present in the area for a couple of months.

Southern Bald Ibis

Southern Bald Ibis

African Crowned Eagles and Long-crested eagles flew up and down the river. The pair of African crowned Eagles nesting in the tall gum trees just up river from the camp.

The Black-headed Orioles, Olive Sunbirds and Brown Scrub-Robins sang to us throughout the weekend especially early in the mornings.

Many forest specials were seen on the forest walks including Lemon and Tambourine Doves; Spotted Ground-Thrush; Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatchers; Olive, Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrikes; Yellow-throated Woodland-Warblers.; Brown-backed and Scaly-throated Honeyguides.

River specials observed on walks along the river in front of the camp included Half-collared Kingfishers, African Black Ducks, and Mountain Wagtails. The Mountian Wagtails were up and down the river all day long.

The open grassland areas were equally as prolific. There were observations of Grey Waxbills; Purple-crested and Knysna Turacos – several times seen together; Red-throated Wryneck; Little Sparrowhawks – two together in a distant tree seemingly collecting nesting material – they were constantly in and out of the same tree.

At one of the dams in the open grassland area we were entertained for about an hour with many different species regularly popping in and out of the reeds and nearby trees and grassland. There were Bronze and Red-backed Mannikins; Broad-tailed and Little Rush-Warblers; Cape and Chinspot Batis; Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrikes; Weavers – Yellow, Cape, Village and Spectacled; Black-headed Orioles; Plain-backed Pipit; Neddicky; and the odd unidentified Cisticola.

In the camp area, the highlight was a Narina Trogon in one of the broad-leafed trees right beside one of the cottages.

Narina Trogon

Narina Trogon

But also present were African Firefinches, Kurrichane and Olive Thrushes, Olive Sunbirds to name a few. About 5 or 6 Red-backed Mannikins were seen building a nest together in a tree above one of the campsites – flying back and forth to the reeds to collect nesting material.

And of course at night out came the African wood-Owls and the magnificent Fiery-necked Nightjar – both hooting and singing to remind you of glorious African evenings in the bush.

At Mpenjati, the group there watched a Giant Kingfisher hovering like his cousin the African Pied Kingfisher when it goes a fishing.

Apart from the birds there were many animals seen in the reserve and the odd butterfly. Impala and Nyala roamed the open areas, Duiker in the forest, Leguaans around the water’s edges and the odd large terrapin in the dams.

A mystery Cisticola photographed and shown here for those of you interested in having a go at identifying it.

This is a special reserve and one to which we all want to return – especially to get another look at the Narina Trogon.

Narina Trogon

Narina Trogon

Paul Bartho

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Durban Botanical Gardens Saturday Outing

An excellent outing to the Durban Botanical Gardens – lovely weather and a good turnout – also a number of non-members joined us due to Virginia advertising our outings in the various newspapers.

 Liz Ellis, who used to be very involved with the Gardens when she lived across the road, was a wonderful source of info on the various trees etc. – she was concerned that the Egyptian Geese might have taken over the Black Sparrow-hawks nest but the Black Spars were very much in residence, with fresh greenery around the top of the nest and we saw one of the adults bringing in a kill.  There was also a dead Rock Dove under one of the trees with the breast and heart torn out!!

There were a number of Red-capped Robin-chats, Kurrichane Thrush and various weavers all going through the leaf litter under the trees – plus a White-browed Scrub Robin which I don’t think I have seen in the Gardens before.  Of course the White-eared Barbets are starting to make their presence felt but still a number of Black-Collared Barbets were seen, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Olive, Amethyst, White-bellied and Collared Sunbirds in abundance.

 At the pond we had Green-backed, Purple, Grey and a Black-headed Heron plus the Pink-backed Pelicans, Spoonbills and Sacred Ibis nesting in the Casuarians.   Our total bird count was about 50 plus.

After walking through the Orchid house we retired to the tea kiosk for some much needed refreshment.

 The excellent pics were taken by John Bremner and Dave Rimmer – thanks guys.



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Pipit for ID

I don’t know if it’s just me being not too good at pipits but I recently discovered that I had misidentified this bird. What do you think it is?

Penny de Vries

Mystery Pipit

Mystery Pipit

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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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