BLPN weekend outing to Silverstreams

12 – 14 April 2019

Report by Jane Morris

Mike, Terry Walls and I set off at midday on our driving up to the beautiful Bushman’s Neck region of the southern Drakensberg.  A weekend of birding and relaxing was something I had looked forward to for some time.  On route we were pleased to see a good number of green fields and farm dams that were brimming with water.  Our route took us off the N3 at Howick and through Bulwer. We chose to go on the dirt road, it is not in the best state but did produce some good birds. A Denham’s Bustard was lovely to see, a Verreaux’s Eagle with his prominent white cross and rump was a great sighting as well, Ant-eating Chats whirred around and sat on fences for us to get a good view of them.  

Photo: Anteating Chat.  Rob McClennan-Smith

About 40 Cape Vulture circled above a valley gaining height before soaring off.  Once we arrived at Silver Streams we settled into our riverside caravan and enjoyed the bubbling stream and the solitude of the mountains.  The balance of our group, Rob and Paige McClennan-Smith and Jackie and Roland Suhr were already ensconced in their accommodation and as we had all arrived fairly late in the afternoon, we were in time to watch the sun set before congregated on the riverbank for the evening. Chilly mornings and evenings were balanced by gloriously sunny and warm days.  

Saturday morning, we were up and away to see what we could find.  It was a glorious day and we started off scanning the vlei area in the campsite for birds.  Here the euplectes species were going about their business.  Red-collared Widowbirds and Red Bishop where slowly losing their summer plumage and becoming dull and drab with only faint orange areas to show for once bright colours.  The flock of Cape Weaver which was present when I had been about earlier had sadly completely disappeared. Heading up to the border control point one passes through a mix of indigenous and exotic bush.  Cape Robin-chat, Olive Thrush, Speckled Mousebirds, Paradise Flycatcher and Southern Boubou were present here, on coming back to this area later in the day we got good views of Drakensberg Prinia which was the highlight of our trip and provide a good deal and debate.

Getting onto the grasslands was interesting as there were two streams to wade across. This caused some consternation, there were those who jumped from rock to rock with shoes on needless to say there were some wet shoes!!  Others chose to takeoff their shoes and wade in the icy water!! 

Terry and Paige ford the stream.  Photo Jane Morris.

Once across it the stream we headed out into the grasslands.  The birding here was sparse but Greater Striped Swallow, Banded Martin and Brown-throated Martin were seen and we got good views of Wryneck and Bokmakierie. The small wetland area produced Common Waxbill and Levaillant’s Cisticola but little else.  Scanning the rocky outcrops produced absolutely no sightings of any kind and it was with great disappointment that we eventually retraced out steps and headed back to the resort area.  A pair of Long-crested Eagle were very vocal and gave us a superb flyby. 

Bokmakierie.  Photo: Jane Morris

Seen along the river were Yellow-billed Duck, Giant Kingfisher and White-throated Swallow.  Cape Wagtail along with Cape Sparrow were abundant.  I got a very brief glimpse of a Malachite Sunbird as it shot over the trees behind me and a Bush Blackcap popped out only to be chased away by Cape Robin-Chat, unfortunately no one else in the group saw these two species. A White-breasted Cormorant was seen flying back and forth following the course of the river, first towards the mountains and then back again repeatedly.  It would appear it had a faulty GPS and was unable to decide which way to go! 

Southern Boubou  Photo: Jane Morris

It was distressing to see Common Starling looking quite at home here as I don’t recall seeing them on our previous trips here. We saw about 5 birds and they were constantly being harassed by the Red-winged Starlings.  

It was a short but rewarding weekend with excellent company and as always, a lot of lively discussion and laughter around the braai fire each evening. 

We got a total of 63 species including the birds seen on the trip to and from the venue.  For berg birding this is not poor but we did miss some of the species that one would hope to get, but that is the joy of birding and the reason we go again and again in the hope of seeing just that one extra species we missed last time.

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (Click Here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Umhlanga Lagoon NR Outing

Report by Jane Morris

Sunday 17 March 2019

Dawned bright and clear and 21 members of BirdLife Port Natal gathered in the car park at the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve to see what the day would bring forth in the way of birds and other wildlife.

We headed down across the first walkway and had good views of a family of Tawny-flanked Prinia gleaning on the low branches of some undergrowth, Thick-billed and Spectacled Weaver were busy attending nests in the reed bed and of course the ubiquitous Dark-capped Bulbuls flitted around the area.

Heading into the forest we were assailed by bird calls but very few birds were seen so this was a good exercise in learning to be attuned to the calls.  A Southern Boubou female was seen scurrying through the dark reaches of the forest, Sombre Greenbul, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Olive Sunbird and Terrestrial Brownbul were heard many times but failed to show, despite much searching for them.

When we emerged from the forest onto the walkway across the lagoon, we were treated to sightings of birds which was wonderful after the dearth of forest species seen.  Little Bee-eaters hawked from a prominent perch, Black-bellied Starling were seen chattering away on the tops of the forest trees and there was a plethora of water birds to be seen.

A beautifully plumaged Goliath Heron stood like a sentinel on a rock and then proceeded to preen himself.

Goliath Heron

                                                                                                Photo: EJ Bartlett

Grey-headed Heron and a lonely African Spoonbill were in the company of Egyptian Geese and Hadeda Ibis.  A team of small waders were represented by Common and Wood Sandpiper, Three-banded Plover, Pied and Cape Wagtail with Blacksmith Lapwing shouting abuse at us for disturbing the morning quiet.

Some interesting tracks seen under the walkway, maybe a mongoose and a large wader.

Walkway tracks

Walkway tracks

Photos: Sandy du Preez

Then we climbed up onto the dune ridge. Here, once again, birds were heard but not seen, Southern Tchagra was one of these elusive species which was lovely to hear but a view would have been appreciated.

Then to the steep descent onto the beach, rough steps are in place and with a gentleman on each level all managed to reach the beach with dignity before we proceeded along to the lagoon. Umhlanga Lagoon has long been known as a local nude bathing area and so we must have created quite a stir arriving with our binoculars.

Beached Birders

Photo: EJ Bartlett

It was a glorious sunny day, as we wandered up the beach, we got a great view of Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird sitting on top of a bush, a Brown-hooded Kingfisher sat on a dead tree affording good views to all.

Photo: EJ Bartlett

A single White-fronted Plover was spotted on the crest of a small dune, and then one was seen sitting in the middle of an expanse of open beach, it was soon joined by a mate.

Sitting White-fronted Plover.

Photo: EJ Bartlett

When it stood great excitement ensued as it was seen to have two eggs in the shallow scrape under it.

These plovers had chosen to build their nest right in the open area where dogs and humans constantly walk.  Before long a group of beach goers walked quite close to the birds and they of course quickly moved away. I am sure it won’t be long before this nest is either destroyed or vandalised by either a dog or a human.

White-fronted Plover are aware of a human or dog when they are about 50m away and will move away from the nest at an approach of 30m.  When the eggs are exposed, they then quickly over heat in the sun and then are no longer viable and the nesting attempt will be in vain.

The exposed eggs once the brooding bird moved away.

Photo: EJ Bartlett

We met a young birder who advised us that Garden Warbler was calling from across the lagoon, the intrepid amongst us went over to attempt to see the bird but despite hearing it several times it did not show and eventually the search was abandoned.

Our morning ended with a tramp back up the beach and through the forest, by now it was extremely hot and humid, and we were very happy to sit in the shade for our morning repast and tally up the bird species.

Our total count for the day was 60 birds. Click here to see bird list.

Jane Morris

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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BirdLife Plettenberg Bay Newsletter

Click here to read the January 2019 edition of the BirdLife Plettenberg Newsletter.

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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New Germany NR

Report by Terry Walls

Saturday 2nd March, 2019

An excellent morning for birding, overcast but not a breath of wind. About twenty birders arrived. It was encouraging to meet a number of new birders and also others who have not been active for some time.

The first bird that stood out was a Yellow-billed Kite sitting quietly nearby.

We split into two groups of ten, one to do the clockwise route while the other, counter clockwise.

A hide full of birders – John Bremner

Both groups reported the usual birds one would expect in the riverine forest/bush-clump mosaic habitat.

Waterlilies on the pond – John Bremner

Significant numbers of birds were encountered by each of the groups for the small reserve.

Highlights were: Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, (bird of the day)

Blue-mantled Crested- Flycatcher, Lemon Dove (revealed by the soft call which seemed to come from the undergrowth, while the bird was seen in the forest canopy). Orange-breasted Bush-shrike,

Orange-breasted Bush-shrike – John Bremner

Little and Black Sparrowhawks, Booted Eagle and a stunning view of a Common Buzzard.

Also heard calling were a Red-throated Wryneck and a Knysna Turaco, but could not be confirmed with a sighting.

Some of the other sightings photographed include:

Tortoise on the path – John Bremner

A feature of the reserve is the biodiversity of the grassland with the beautiful flowers and insects.

Leonotis – John Bremner

The Pink Watsonia at this time of year is always a sight to behold.

One can also expect to see Yellow-throated Longclaw

Yellow-throated Longclaw with breakfast – John Bremner

and Little Bee-eater although only one of these was seen.

Contrary to the weather forecast and our expectation, the cloud did not “burn off”, and in fact closed in. The outing was concluded with refreshments under the cover of the interpretive centre due to the light drizzle.

A total of seventy seven birds were recorded. Click here to see the list.

Thanks to the photographers – Sandi du Preez and John Bremner.

Terry Walls

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February Wakkerstroom Newsletter

Click here to read the February Wakkerstroom Newsletter.

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Jubilee Park

Report by Sandi du Preez

20 February 2019

There were 11 birders keen to see the Jubilee Park special – the Magpie Mannikins. In the reeds at the entrance the Thick-billed Weavers were diligently constructing their nests as usual. I wonder what other bird species can claim to build a neater nest!

Dark-capped Bulbul and Thick-billed Weaver

All three Mannikin species (Magpie, Bronze and Red-backed ) were present at the little pond , flitting around the grasses and reeds. I think that the Magpie was a lifer for three of the birders.

As we started our walk along the path through the forest, we could hear a Buff-spotted Flufftail calling in the distance  – pity we couldn’t see it!

Birds were few as it was hot, but we managed to get White-eared and Black-collared Barbets; Fork-tailed and Square-tailed Drongos;  Dusky, African Paradise and Southern Black Flycatchers; Black-bellied, Cape Glossy and Red-winged Starlings; Amethyst, Greater Double- collared and Olive Sunbirds; and lovely Purple-crested Turacos flying through the trees.

The biggest surprise was a Grey Cuckooshrike seen by some – the immaculate grey colour very distinctive. Unusual in summer in Durban?

Other birds of note were Lesser Honeyguide, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Black-headed Oriole, Red-capped Robin-chat and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird. See full list included by clicking here.

The trees are always a talking point in Jubilee Park and we were delighted to see a Cape Chestnut (Calodendrum capense) in full bloom.

Cape Chestnut flowers

Butterfly – Blue Pansy

At tea time we managed to add Common Buzzard and Crested Barbet. Altogether we recorded 47 species.

Common Buzzard

Thanks to John Bremner for the photos.

Sandi du Preez

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New SABAP2 website

From: Sanjo Rose

Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 8:59 AM

Subject: [Sabap2-l] New SABAP2 website

Good morning everyone,

A few days ago a new website was launched for the SABAP2 project. Hopefully most of you have already seen it and fiddled about with it a bit?

We are excited about this new site and hope that you will all find it useful.

As with any evolving project that involves lots of participants we do rely on your feedback and therefore we encourage you to visit the site, check it out and please send us your comments. Michael Brooks (the site manager) has added a ‘Comment on the new site’ tab at the top of the page for you to be able to easily submit your thoughts. Please sign in first, after which the tab will be visible. Website link: http://sabap2.adu.org.za/

The website is different from the previous one, some features are renamed for example. A few key points:

  1. The website is more mobile friendly than the previous one 🙂
  2. To manually add cards navigate to the ‘Add Data’ tab (previously called ‘Add a Fieldsheet’)
  3. Coverage maps are found under ‘Coverage’ and now include some very useful province specific maps. These maps can take a while to load, please be patient it will get there eventually!
  4. When looking for the data on a particular pentad you need to double click on it (the balloon from the previous website has been removed).
  5. The last 10 sightings of a species is not yet active, this will be sorted soon.
  6. ORFs are also still a work in progress
  7. Your observer number is now called your ‘CS’ number on the log in page, but it is still exactly the same.

Please feel free to get in touch if you cannot find a specific function or need any other help and we’ll gladly assist.

Best wishes,

Sanjo Rose

Southern African Bird Atlas Project

FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology

University of Cape Town

P: 021 650 2421

W: http://sabap2.adu.org.za/

F: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sabap2/

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KZN Birds Newsletter

Read the latest newsletter from KZN Birdsby clicking here.

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Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

Report by Jane Morris and Sandi du Preez

24 February 2019

Ten birders in total gathered for this new type activity, a group of 6 were sedentary and stayed close to their chairs and a group of 4 were the more active crowd and headed out on a 4 hour walk around the reserve.

Sedentary Group report:

We settled ourselves on the top level of the main parking area at Stainbank, with the sun behind us and a view of the vegetation slowly revealing itself as the sun caught the tops of the trees.

We had views of Purple Turaco flitting through the trees, barbets were vociferous, and we saw Black-collared, White-eared Barbets and a lovely little Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird entertained us by gleaning from the trees in front and above us.  A pair of Ashy Flycatchers also gave us a good view.

Some in the group managed to garner some energy and did the circuit around the disabled trail. It was a quiet reflective morning with zebra munching alongside us and was much enjoyed by the group that participated.

Our bird list can be seen by clicking here.

Walking group:

This group was kindly led by Sandi du Preez who has submitted the following.

Ros and I were joined for a walk through the reserve by Ben, a very experienced birder who has just relocated to the Highway area from Gauteng, and Zach, a teenager with an excellent knowledge of birds and butterflies and many aspects of nature.

The trees bordering the start of the grassland area gave us some good birding with White-eared Barbets, Southern Black Tits, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Fork-tailed and Square-tailed Drongos amongst others. A Black-bellied Starling swooped down and snatched a dragonfly right in front of us – its breakfast sorted!

In the grassland were Yellow-throated Longclaws, Rattling and Zitting Cisticola, Bronze Mannikins and Fan-tailed Widowbirds. A Narina Trogon called in the distance.

Closer to the dam the delightful Little Bee-eaters were plentiful. There was nothing swimming on the dam but suddenly a Little Bittern flew up from the reeds and landed for us to get fairly good views. Definitely the star of the day and a lifer for Zach.

Scanning the water’s edge, we got a Black Crake, a juvenile Common Moorhen, and a Malachite Kingfisher.  Bronze and Red-backed Mannikins were active in the grasses and reeds as well. Then a solitary Egyptian Goose flew over and landed with a splash in the water. It seemed to also demand some of the attention that we were giving to the Little Bittern and repeatedly got out of the water and splashed back in again!

We took a walk to the Wilderness Leadership School buildings as I wanted to show the others the Wahlberg’s Epauletted Fruit bats that Zach and I had seen flying around the buildings the previous day.  The bats were not flying but we saw a whole bunch of them hanging from the rafters – quite spectacular!

The birding in this area was quite impressive as we encountered some bird parties with Southern Black Tits, Collared Sunbirds, Cape Batis, Bar-throated and Yellow-breasted Apalis, Black-backed Puffback, Cape White-eyes etc. A gorgeous Green-backed Camaroptera entertained us by hopping on the branches out in the open in sunlight, showing off its lovely green back!

Walking back along the main road past the top picnic area we thought we saw a Lemon Dove but disappointingly it turned out to be a Red-eyed Dove behaving very much like a Lemon Dove.

After tea I took a drive to the bottom picnic site to show Zach the area and to see if there was anything interesting. On the road back towards the gate we spotted a little group of Grey Waxbills – a nice ending to a really super outing.

The cumulative count for both groups was 72 birds.  See bird list by clicking here.

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

This weeks starts off with a final location for Lehlwa, a bird we have been following since he was a yearling in 2009. I noticed that he had stopped moving in the Sani Pass area. A couple of searches were immediately conducted by locally based colleagues, that fortunately revealed no dead bird on site. A final search, with the assistance of two receivers, was successful in locating the transmitter in the long grass on a steep slope. The transmitter and harness (with which it is attached to the bird) were intact and in surprisingly good condition still, so we assume the bird managed to wriggle out of the harness. Fortunately we managed to find where Lehlwa is breeding last year, so will be able to confirm how he is doing during the upcoming breeding season. Many thanks to the team that assisted with the search- your quick response is greatly appreciated.

Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, Lehlwa (final location) and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week. Our Cape Vulture is still moving quite extensively.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Mkuze and St. Lucia

Report by Paul and Sally Bartho

7 to 13 February 2019

It was time to get away – you could say the lure of the bush was calling. This time a short trip – 4 nights in Mkuze and a couple in St. Lucia.

Rain and overcast conditions followed us and remained intermittently at both venues.

Mkuze was lush- the vegetation was green and grown up. There were no bare patches to be seen unlike the last time we visited in July 2018. The Fig Forest was flooded from rains upstream and consequently Nsumo Pan was as full as we had ever seen. Despite that only two inland hides had water (KuMasinga and Malibali) and all of the other scattered pans and wallows were dry.

Nsumo Pan was one of the first places we visited. We stopped at the first hide heading towards the Nsumo Pan Picnic site. As we approached we noticed what looked like two ducks in the shadows under the hide. However they were something entirely different and most unexpected.

With the water level so high there were no waders about at Nsumo Pan.

However there were a number of waterbirds about at Nsumo hides and at the Picnic site.

As expected, Kumasinga hide was busy. Many animals as well as birds close-by – making for reasonable photographic opportunities considering the sunless skies. A number of birds appeared with confusing ID issues which made it all the more interesting trying to get to their correct ID. One bird in particular – a Sunbird – was an interesting example of this.

Perplexing Sunbird

What we saw immediately was a Sunbird with a distinct bib and yellow Mylar stripes either side of the bib. A quick look at the Roberts App suggested a Plain-backed Sunbird – and its plain back also seemed to confirm that.

Sunbird with a plain back

It was feeding what we considered to be a fledgling so we considered it to be an adult bird despite its yellow gape.

However a Plain-backed Sunbird would be a rare sighting in Mkuze so it did not feel quite right. We checked the Roberts App for pictures of Sunbirds and nothing had the bib except for the Plain-backed Sunbird. The new Roberts Field Guide eventually gave us the correct ID by showing a picture of a juvenile male Marico Sunbird. It shows that sometimes initial impressions can be so wrong.

The antics of birds and animals were a pleasure to watch. Burchell’s Coucals chasing each other, Little Bee-eaters and Swallows coming in for a drink or a bath, Red-billed Oxpeckers having a communal bath spraying drops of water over each other, Giraffes drinking, a Slender Mongoose casing the joint and many birds just coming to the water’s edge for a drink. One oddity were the Red-billed Oxpeckers. There were at least 20 present all the time. They never left with the animals but hung around for their next feed. We tried to work out if the animals not only came for a drink but also for a clean up. Or was it that the Oxpeckers hung around because they knew they were on to a good thing. Perhaps both options.

But there was one bird which appeared unexpectedly.

Dwarf Bittern

Yes, a Dwarf Bittern up high in a tree. Wonderful sighting.

Of course there were camp birds. We were greeted by a pair of singing Striped Kingfishers. As the sun set, the Little Swifts serenaded us. However because of the weather the camp was quiet.

It was on the Loop road where we saw the most raptors and an unexpected one at that as well as bushveld species.

Our last morning was spent at Malibali hide. And surprisingly the activity was as interesting as that at the Kumasinga hide. Now that there is water all sorts of creatures appear out of the woodwork.

Over a three hour period we saw three different elephants coming in for a drink and a splashing.

Elephant – drink’s time

The last sadly with a vicious snare wound (which the camp conservation team were aware of). The elephant had to be darted to remove the snare and to be given treatment. You can see from the photos how bad it looked. Fortunately it appears that the medicine is doing its work. It can walk normally and put weight on that leg. What was interesting was the elephant, having arrived with the would very visible, left with it fully coated in mud by the elephant to act as protection for the wound.

Snared Elephant swollen foot

Here are some of the other species photographed at the waterhole.

Then there was a full breakfast to be seen.

Western Cattle Egret enjoying a big breakfast

Our bird list for Mkuze can be seen later as it has been combined with our viewings at St. Lucia.

Our next destination was St. Lucia. The main purpose at St. Lucia was to enjoy the waterbirds seen at the mouth of the estuary and to try and find one or two of the special birds seen there earlier this year – Gull-billed Tern, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Lesser Frigatebird or the vagrant Noddy on the off chance.

St. Lucia weather was even more overcast and rainy than Mkuze. We took our chances when the heavens were not crying to walk the beach and explore the estuary. We managed to get out twice. On both visits we came across a small Tern roost in the estuary. Despite  the numbers it was good to see the variety there – Little and Swift in numbers with Common, Lesser-Crested and Sandwich Terns among them. Even a Caspian appeared. However amongst the Terns and Gulls there was no sign of the Gull-billed Tern.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were feeding over the sand dunes. Not a sight we expected to see.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

No sign of the Noddy – not a surprise as we know how fleetingly it was seen in the first place. And the Lesser Frigatebird did not make an appearance either. Fortunately we had seen it there on a previous visit.

Black Oystercatchers were seen on the beach water’s edge in the distance. Whenever we got close they moved on. Grey Plovers and Whimbrels were also present. On one occasion we saw a distant Black Oystercatcher with another smaller wader – we assumed either a Grey Plover or Whimbrel. Because it was so distant we did not pursue it and visited the Tern roost instead. After some time we left the roost and headed back to the beach to see if by chance we would have any luck spotting the Eurasian Oystercatcher.

The beach came into view and there was the Black Oystercatcher we had seen earlier. And with it the other smaller bird. Once we had our binoculars on it we realised it was the Eurasian Oystercatcher. As close as we came so they moved away. I managed to get a photo or two but it was a nightmare photographing into the sun.

Black and European Oystercatchers showing their size difference

Hooray – a lifer for me.

Sanderling

On our last – yes, rainy afternoon – we ventured into Eastern Shores – more for something to do than sitting around the camp in the intermittent rain. As expected both animals and birds were scarce but we persevered. Eventually we got to the Lake Bhangazi turnoff having explored most of the other loops on the way.

European Bee-eater

This drive is a 17 km drive back to the main road. Initially it passes through dune forest and onto a raised road between Lake Bhangazi and a wetland. This part of the road is also well forested and narrow. Coming round a corner I said to Sally “Look ahead”. She was scouring for the bird she thought I had seen. Only it wasn’t a bird but a magnificent creature lying alongside the road.

Leopard

Well worth the drive and a good way to end our trip. Our bird list for both Mkuze and St. lucia can be seen by clicking here. 135 species identified in Mkuze and 77 in St. Lucia.

Hope you have enjoyed the read.

Paul and Sally Bartho

 

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week. Our Cape Vulture has moved quite extensively this past week compared to the Bearded Vultures.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Korongo Valley Weekend

 Report by Jane Morris

8th to 10th February 2019

Korongo nestles in the rolling Ixopo hills and is the ideal spot for a bit of relaxation.  Our group of 9 consisted of Jackie and Roland Suhr, Cheryl and John Bevan, Virginia Cameron, Heather Mills, Este Shearer and Mike and me.

This 39-hectare farm has two small dams, a grassland area and an area of indigenous bush.  To access these areas, one can amble wherever one wishes as there are no formal trails. This makes birding a little difficult if there are members of the group who have difficulty with walking.

The best position for birding was on the wall between the two dams which overlook a lovely area of tangled brush and where we saw most of our species. Some fruiting Grewia in front of the camping stands and the fruit trees in the garden were also productive.

We discovered on arrival that the Blues Swallows have not nested on the farm for several years now and other normally habituated sites in the Ixopo area were also without breeding birds.  The vlei which runs along the valley floor was also quite dry and so this limited wetland species.

Our bird list was a bit disappointing but considering the weather, steaming hot on Saturday and raining on Sunday, we didn’t fare too badly.

On the Saturday morning we headed to Xumeni State Forest just outside Donnybrook.

Just as we started to walk the 1.5 km through this enchanting mist belt forest we heard the call of Cape Parrot as they left to forage for the day.  Unfortunately we did not get a look at them. They would have been lifers for some in our group.

Birds were few and far between but the most common bird was Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler.  Thrushes and Robins were noticeable by their absence as we did not so much as hear a squeak let alone see one.

Total of birds seen over the weekend was 112 with 44 of those species being seen at Xumeni. Click here to view the list.

Jane Morris

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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