Saturday 7th April 2018: Durban Botanic Gardens

A perfect morning for birding, about fifteen birders gathered in the car park. We were a little early as the gates only opened at 7:30.

In the car park we came across a number of birds: Common, Red-winged and Cape Glossy Starling, Speckled Mousebird, and both Red-eyed and Laughing Doves. Close up views of Cape White-eye and Bronze Mannikin frolicking in the pond at the entrance, and of course, Hadeda Ibis, and the much aligned Myna.

Once inside we were loudly greeted by numerous Egyptian Geese and the call of Spectacled Weaver, which was the most prevalent of the Weavers in the garden and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird. Other Weavers seen were Thick-billed and Village. Palm swifts were flying in and out of the large palm trees.

At the lake a vocal Hamerkop landed in spectacular fashion, while Spoonbill, Cattle Egret, Grey and Black-headed Herons were roosting in the tree above the lake. Interaction between Spurwing and Egyptian geese with chicks was quite entertaining.

The pathway up the hill was relatively quiet, a few Southern Black Flycatchers, Dark-capped Bulbuls and Paradise Flycatcher were seen. At the top of the path we found Dusky Flycatcher, Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Black-headed Oriole, Fork-tailed Drongo and Amethyst Sunbird; also seen was White-eared Barbet and Tawny-flanked Prinia.

Continuing to the Indigenous section we found Red-capped Robin-chat, Kurrichane Thrush, Olive Sunbird, Brown-hooded Kingfisher and Green-backed Camaroptera. Calls of Black-collared and Crested Barbets and Golden-tailed Woodpecker were heard.

We concluded the outing with refreshments at the kiosk where House Sparrow, White-bellied and Collared Sunbird were close enough to see without binoculars. Black Sparrowhawk and Pink-backed Pelican flying over were added to the list. On our way out we came across Yellow-fronted Canary which up to then had eluded us.

Other birds seen were African Pied Cape Wagtail and Woollynecked Stork.

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BirdLife Trogons Newsletter – February 2018

BirdLife Trogons NEWSLETTER – FEBRUARY 2018

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Wakkerstroom Bird Club Newsletter 55

Wakkerstroom Bird Club Newsletter 55

Rocky at Wakkerstroom

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6 birders attended the outing on a lovely sunny day. Msinsi was looking green and lush after the rain and the paths had recently been mown which made for pleasant walking. As we began the walk we noticed many Swifts flying over the sports ground – Little, White-rumped, African Palm, and to our surprise a single Horus Swift! Barn Swallows were also still around, and Lesser striped Swallows and a Familiar Chat were perched on the “grandstand”. An Orange-breasted Bush-shrike called nearby. We had lovely views of Square-tailed Drongos and of course we saw Fork-tailed as well. The grassland area did not produce much this time but in the forested areas we saw or heard Terrestrial Brownbul, Bar-throated Apalis, Black-collared and White-eared Barbets, Green-backed Camaroptera, Tambourine Dove, African Paradise Flycatcher, Sombre Greenbul, Black-headed Oriole, Black-backed Puffback, Red-capped Robin-chat, Natal Spurfowl, Olive Sunbird, Southern Black Tit, Purple-crested Turaco, Common Waxbill, Golden-tailed Woodpecker and others (see attached bird list). We only saw two raptor species – African Goshawk and Black Sparrowhawk. A new species for me in Msinsi was Red-billed Firefinch – not really surprising as they are often seen at Pigeon Valley which is very close by. The Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds were calling non-stop throughout the morning! Undoubtedly, the highlight of the outing was a beautiful male Collared Sunbird which was feeding on the flowers of  Deinbollia, flitting from one tree to the next, feasting on the delicious nectar!

Bronze Mannikin – Dave Rimmer

Collared Sunbird (male) – Dave Rimmer

Interesting fungus – Sandi

Moth caterpillars – Looped Prominent (Rhenea mitchii) – Dave Rimmer

Square-tailed Drongo – Dave Rimmer

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird – Dave Rimmer

Thanks to Dave Rimmer for the photos. John Bremner also sent me photos but something went wrong on my computer and I couldn’t access them. He is in Kruger Park at the moment so I am unable to ask him to resend them to me (Sorry, John!)

The bird count for the outing was 57. MSINSI N.R. Bird list

Sandi du Preez

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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, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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LatestCape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

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

Also find attached (Click here) for your interest a photo showing the stomach contents of a Bearded Vulture (bottom half of the photograph= opened stomach and the top half= contents). This individual was a juvenile bird found dead in the Eastern Cape last year. The size of the items and the quantity of items found in one bird is quite amazing!

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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15 February to 7 March 2018

Report by Paul and Sally Bartho

Jamaica – MoBay airport

For years I have been wanting to return to Jamaica where I was brought up. Last year we committed to go, choosing this time of the year for best birding. Also the coolest time to go. The last time I visited was 32 years ago and that was only for 4 days – no where near enough.

Click Map of Jamaica to see places we visited – marked using red pins – hover your mouse over the red pins to see details. It is possible to zoom in and out. Map care of Google Maps.

Jamaica is a small island about 140 kms south of Cuba. It is about 225 kms east to west and 80 kms north the south at its widest point. It is extremely hilly away from the coast and has the Blue Mountain as its highest point towards the east of the island near Kingston – its capital city. Population 2.5 million with 40% in Kingston and Montego Bay.

The purpose of our trip was not only nostalgia but also included a week’s intense birding. Jamaica does have 26 endemic species so we hoped to see as many as we could among all their other birds. Click here to see a list of the Jamaican endemics.

We arrived in Montego Bay and spent a day there recovering from the long journey prior to the start of the week’s serious birding. The hotel grounds got us into the birding mode with many new species for us to identify. Among those was the Red-billed Streamertail. He was very obliging and we could approach within a metre before he got nervous and flew. He had his perches so we were able to study him closely.

Mystery Warbler?

What am I? An Arrowhead Warbler maybe?

The next day we were collected mid-day joining with two other couples who had just arrived. Our driver took us to Green Castle Estate in Robin’s Bay some two and a half hours away. Here we were based for the next seven nights.

We drove most of the way along the coast. Nostalgia set in. I was expecting to see change but was really disappointed to find that the entire beach side of the road to the sea was now houses, hotels or holiday resorts. Access to all the lovely beaches now belonged to someone and it was clear that local Jamaicans no longer had the easy access they used to have to enjoy their own beaches. Sad but that is what tourism does to lovely places.

About half way we had a pit stop next to a very popular “Pattie” shop. I encouraged all in our party to try a pattie or two. In the store they have a much larger choice than I remembered – the lovely flaky pastry could now be filled with a choice of fillings other than the mildly spiced mince of yore. All agreed they were delicious.

As we got closer the weather changed and the rain started. The north east side of the island – being closest to the Blue Mountains (7200 ft) – is the wettest part of the island and as a consequence the most lush. This rain continue on and off for the week we were there.

And the storm hit us

Eventually we reached Green Castle Estate. Here we met the two other couples in our group – 10 of us in all.

The accommodation was basic for some (us) and a bit more luxurious for others. From our room we had to go out onto our sloping balcony to enter our sloping bathroom – quite unique.  However the views were spectacular and from our vantage point we could see the sea and the mountains beyond.

Green Castle Estate has 1600 acres of mainly forest with numerous walking trails – good for birding (if a bit muddy). Many of the endemic species have been seen on the property. Much of our time was spent on the estate with a guide to take us around.

However two days were set aside to explore the Blue Mountains and the John Crow Mountains near Ecclesdown. These trips were scheduled to find any of the missing endemic species we had not seen on the property. Both these trips required an early start – 04h30 – as the drive up the mountains – though short in distance – took a good couple of hours.

Here are some of the birds seen on the property.


And here are photos of birds seen in the mountains.

At the hotel we experienced some of the local Jamaican dishes which at times were quite spicy but tasty.

One evening Richard – the GC owner- took us around the property to find the Jamaican Owl. We heard it close to the accommodation and followed it from one area to the next but never actually saw it despite being close.

During our stay Jonathan Rossouw and his friend Malcolm arrived – staying for a few days to find endemics to get Jonathan over the 9000 mark – which he did with ease as he only needed about three more to do so.

On the day set aside to go to Ecclesdown with the guide I was not feeling well so Sally and I did not go. The rest of the group had great sightings of many of the endemic species we had not seen so far.

Friday – our last day – was a relax and sightseeing day. But Sally and I re-arranged our car hire to come on Thursday instead of on our last day – Saturday – so that we could explore the Ecclesdown Road area by ourselves on Friday.

The evening before heading for Ecclesdown we bumped into Jonathan Rossouw and his friend Malcolm and they very generously gave us precise details of where to go and what to expect to see in the various sections of the road. And very precise they were. Many thanks to them both for being so generous with their time and advice.

We also saw the Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo (a massive bird in flight and perched); a fleeting view of the Crested Quail-Dove; Yellow-billed Parrots in flight as well as a number of other species already seen.

 Lunch at the jerk pork restaurant in Boston town on the way back.

On the way back we stopped at a river crossing and saw a few new species of waterbirds.

There was one species which we enjoyed seeing – unlike back in South Africa where they are all so similar – and that was the Warblers – mainly winter migrants from America. They were colourful and for the most part quite distinct.

After a hectic week it was time to relax, birding nowhere near as intense. We headed for the area around Ocho Rios to see Fern Gully and the famous Dunns River Falls.

Fern Gully was very impressive – a seven km drive climbing up a twisting narrow road through a forest of ferns on either side.

Then to Dunns River Falls.

Entrance to Dunn’s River Falls

One look at the hoards of tourists and we turned around and left. We had been told there was another Falls at YS on the south coast which compared favourably so we planned to go there instead.

Lunch and dinner were had at Mammee Bay beach – we were able to enter as we stayed at a house in that complex. A bay I used to visit with fond memories and it did not disappoint. There were a variety of seabirds to challenge us and some obligingly sat on a distant fish pot to test our skills.

This overnight stay was on a Saturday and we were entertained with a number of weddings taking place on Mammee Bay and adjacent beaches.

Negril was our next destination after one night in Mammee Bay.

Along the way we came upon my family’s favourite swimming beach at Discovery Bay. Now all cordoned off and inaccessible sadly.

We drove past some swamps along the way, stopped to view the birds:

On the way we popped in to Rocklands Bird Sanctuary near Montego Bay. We were told that the Red-billed Streamertails dined from your fingers. We had to go. The views were spectacular and the birdlife abundant. Even a Jamaican Woodpecker put its head out of its nest hole for us.

At Nigril we had 4 nights in an apartment in a complex between two nudist hotels – catering for the over 50s it appeared!! The Point (our complex) is situated at the north end of the seven mile beach of Negril – at the extreme west of Jamaica. Virtually all seven miles is now surrounded by establishments of one sort or another. Shame. It has lost a lot of its charm.

Here we lazed by the sea and met up with an old school friend of mine (from Jamaica days) and his wife – Bruce and Patti. They had lived and worked in Nigril years yonder and so knew their way around despite the enormous changes they experienced after 14 years of not re-visiting the island.

Some birds seen in the grounds.

We spent time together, lazing on the beach, testing the local restaurants and exploring the south coast off the beaten track. On one of our excursions we visited the Blue Hole, Homer’s Cove and Little Bay. (See map)

Blue Hole is situated SE of Nigril inland from the coast. The Blue Hole is a fresh water spring about 6 metres wide and 6 metres below ground level. There are trees surrounding it. The local guides scamper up the trees and then throw themselves down into the Blue Hole doing somersaults in the process. For us it was a challenge climbing down the vertical ladder to the water.

Homers Cove and Little Bay are quaint bays mostly unspoilt by tourism fortunately.

Despite being told that the Royal Palm Reserve had been closed for years, Sally and I decide to see for ourselves and do some birding along the way.

Our first challenge was to get there. The road in is through the swamps and in one place it had flooded over. Not knowing how deep it was, I tentatively started driving through. Sally went silent and suggested not to proceed each time the car took a dip. Being a typical man I ignored her and much to my surprise we just got through with the water level up to the door at times.

A little further along we came to the entrance gate – closed of course. However we could see the old reception some 200 metres or more straight ahead and there was someome on a bicycle coming our way. We were let in and managed to get permission to look around despite the boardwalk having the odd hole and wobbly railings – not nearly as bad as we were led to believe.

The groundsman took us round and his bird knowledge was exceptional. He knew all the sounds and his eyesight was sharp. It was a wonderful setting in the wetlands, interesting boarded walkways and even a tower above the lush canopy. Here we got good sightings of two of the endemics we had dipped on while at Green Castle Estate – the Jamaican Elaenia and the Jamaican Euphonia. We had good views of the Spotted Sandpiper, West Indian Whistling Duck and Northern Jacanas.

After our stay at Nigril we headed for Treasure Beach further round the south coast. We drove through Savanna La-Mar, past Bluefields and Black River. Most of the places we passed have been built up – as expected I suppose, despite the south coast not being renowned for tourism.

Our base for the next three nights was at The Two Seasons Guest House – inland from the coast. Our hostess, Christine, could not have been more obliging. Excellent local breakfasts to boot.

On arrival a Vervain Hummingbird greeted us – hovering in the flowers at the entrance.

Vervain Hummingbird

The plan here was to visit several local attractions: YS Falls, Bamboo Avenue (a road through over 4 kms of bamboo either side), Black River and a bird tour upstream as well as  Alligator Pond.

The first day was a long day – a bit longer than we had planned. We headed for YS Falls. driving through Bamboo Avenue to get there. They only opened at 09h30. We arrived early and spent time enjoying the scenery, birds and race horses.

YS Falls name sign

Some birds also stole our attention while we waited:

Red-billed Streamertail – female

We were taken to the Falls by tractor and were very impressed when we got there. Very verdant and magnificent falls down the gorge. Sally even went for a swim even though the water was very nippy. On arrival we were greeted by interesting signage.

Ganja sign at YS Falls

Sally got up to a bit of magic lifting water into the air with her open down-facing hand and then letting go. Watch this:

And then just as we were leaving a Louisiana Waterthrush appeared.

Louisiana Waterthrush

On the spur of the moment we decided to drive up to the Cockpit Country. A very scenic uphill drive to Accompong. In some ways we regretted that we did not spend a night or two up there as we could probably have organised a bird guide to take us into the Cockpit Country to find more of the endemics we had missed earlier.

Next we headed for Black River to take a touristic boat tour up river. On the way we passed through Middle Quarters where they sell spicy prawns by the packet – now in the many touristic style farm stalls. However we never stopped to try them. I remember them well and the lips burning after guzzling too many.

At Black River I managed to talk one of the boat drivers to give us a private bird tour up river. Here we saw a huge heronary occupied by various species of Egrets – Cattle and Snowy mainly with a few Great Egrets.

Also a crocodile.

And on the mid stream lillies American Purple Gallinules, Common Moorhens, American Jacanas, Great and Little Blue Herons.

A number of Gulls and Terns kept us nosing in our books to try and ID them.

Laughing Gull

In Treasure Beach there are two popular places to go – to eat and swim – Jack Spratts and Jakes. We treated ourselves to meals at both as well as a local restaurant we had been told about. One thing notable was that eating out was expensive wherever you went and the quality of the food was often below standard – except of course if you found a local establishment.

Sally with G & T at Jake’s enjoying the sunset

Treasure Beach

Early one morning on our way to Alligator Pond we went to investigate the Pedro Ponds. This required a tortuous drive down a farm track which ought to have been accessed in a 4×4. We managed very slowly in places eventually driving into a field by the ponds where we saw someone fishing.

Here, we had good if not distant sightings of a number of water birds. Least and Pied-billed Grebes, American and Caribbean Coots, West Indian Whistling Ducks and a number of Herons including an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron.

On the way to Alligator Pond we saw a sign to Lover’s Leap. Being in no hurry we went to investigate and find out its story. It turns out that it involved two slaves – a male and female. They were madly in love.

One day their “owner” decided he wanted to bed the female. Neither were enamored by the idea so they escaped only to be hunted down to this location. Rather than being taken by the “owner” they jumped off the steep cliff face into everlasting paradise.

Smooth-billed Ani

On to Alligator Pond. And to a highly rated restaurant – Little Ochie. Arriving early we had a drink on the beach and watched all the fishermen returning in their motorised fishing canoes. As each boat arrived many people descended on it and the haggling began. Not only was it interesting to watch but it brought a numerous sea birds with it – Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, Terns and Gulls.

The restaurant was yet to open for lunch so we decided to take a drive further along the coast to return later for lunch. The car park was empty when we left but two hours later there were over 50 vehicles and there was no room in the restaurant. Apparently people drive the two hours from Kingston to have lunch here. We had taken a drive to see the Alligator Hole where both Alligators and Manatees are sometimes seen.

The next morning we left after a full breakfast and headed inland to Mandeville where I was brought up. This was nostalgia for me. Arriving early, I tried to find my way round the town which I once knew like the back of my hand.

Once I got through all the new suburbs and we got into the centre, memories returned. The old market and Court House were still there but much had changed and it was hugely busy.

Both Cinemas had gone as well as the Manchester Clubhouse. The Mandeville Hotel was now something else – a Teacher’s Trainiing College. However my old school DeCarteret College – was still there though massively changed, as was my sisters’ old school – Bishops Girls.

I managed to find 4 of the 6 homes we lived in. The haunted Headly House was for sale so we went in and had a look around and came back later to eat our patties on the verandah. Our first house in Villa Road was still there but refurbished, our New Green Road house was lost in a development and may have been demolished, our home in Ingleside still remained as majestic as ever, our Little Dolls house we found by chance despite being told it had been demolished and our Millais home on the way to Spur Tree was nowhere to be seen among all the new homes.

Having done my trip into the past we checked into our guest house – a rather grand home that had been refurbished in modern fashion. Airbnb had given us the wrong street number and it was only by chance that I recognised it from their photos. Of course this is where we were meant to meet up with Bruce and Patti but they never found it for the same reason.

The Victoria, Mandeville- our guest house

Later we went back into Mandeville to see the “new” Manchester Golf Club. The golf course looked good, the tennis courts and pool unused. To cap it all the clubhouse was atrocious. The place was empty despite it being a weekend.  We were told however that our friends had been waiting there for us and that we had just missed them. Fortunately we met up at MoBay airport as they were leaving at the same time as us.

My friend Tony Goffe was difficult to find – much toing and froing down the same road and finally after a call which was answered we were able to make contact and spend some time with him.

Early the next day we headed for Marshall’s Pen – a homestead recommended by Fatbirder as a place for unusual birds. After a rocky driveway to the homestead we found no one there (no wonder there was no reply to my calls). The whole place seemed unmanaged. However we did see a few birds in the time we were there – a Jamaican Euphonia being the most impressive.

Our final journey was again cross country back to the north coast driving alongside the Cockpit Country. Probably 60 kms but taking us over 2 hours because of its hilly nature and climb. We did stop here and there to enjoy the birds, the shacks and scenery.

Least Grebe

Glossy Ibis

Eventually we reached our final guest house – managed by a very young attentive chap who works in the tourism business.

On our final night we found another beach front restaurant to have dinner, enjoy the sunset and the birds. Whenever we were close to the sea 2 birds always seemed to be present – the Magnificient Frigatebird and the Brown Pelican. The former aloof and the latter up to its fishing antics – much like a Gannet but on a 45% glide angle coming to a sudden stop as its beak went below water.

Fare thee well

From a birding perspective we had a great time identifying 94 species – of which 3 were only heard. Click here for our list.Of the 28 endemics we saw 25 and heard 1 – Click here to see the list.

Despite all the changes, Jamaica was all as I remembered – the friendly people

the excellent Red Stripe beer, the scenic and lush countryside, the sumptious patties and oatie eatie apples,

Oatie Eetie Apples

and breakfasts of salt fish and ackee with boiled green bananas, yams and breadfruit chips.

Adieu Jamaica.

Farewell Jamaica

Paul and Sally



PS Some Plants and flowers.





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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, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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Cumberland Outing

Sunday 11th March 2018

Report by Jane Morris

At 6.30am on Sunday 11th March 2018 a group of 20 birders gathered at the farm dam just before the entrance to Cumberland Nature Reserve. The dam yielded a few species but as the water level was high there were no waders and herons visible. An African Black Duck mooched around on the far side and looked rather odd to many of the group.

African Black Duck – Paul Bartho

A Grey Crowned Crane did us the honour of alerting us with a call before doing a magnificent fly past down to the fields in the distance.

Long-crested Eagle perched on a post and a diminutive Malachite Kingfisher darted among the reeds.

There were a number of Willow Warbler in the trees around the dam and we wondered if they were gathering for migration as they were so plentiful. Cape White-eyes also darted amongst the reeds.

Willow Warbler – David Swanepoel

Willow Warbler – Paul Bartho

Cape White-eye – Paul Bartho

We then proceeded into Cumberland proper which never fails to delight and always produces the goods.

Before we set off, a cuppa was needed and some birding was done in the picnic area.

 A creepy spider on one of the loo doors put off several using the loo.

Jane’s Spider – Paul Bartho

We planned to do the walk from the picnic site down to Horse Shoe cottage. Mike took his group via the environmental centre and down into the valley while I took the route along the cliff top and down to Horse Shoe bend. Here are some of the birds seen in Mike’s group.

Red-collared Widowbird displaying Xanthochromism – David Swanepoel

The cliff tops were very rewarding with Swee Waxbill gracing the waterfall.

Swee Waxbill- Paul Bartho

We had good views of several raptors, Crowned Eagle, Black Sparrowhawk, and a dainty Little Sparrowhawk.

White-necked Raven was vocal and visible. Other good sightings included Mocking Cliff Chat and Cape Rock-Thrush.

Mocking Cliff Chat – David Swanepoel

The day was extremely hot, a large percentage of my group sensibly decided to take the high road back to the picnic site. Prior to their desertion we spotted an odd looking creature swaying on a stem over the path. A close look with inverted binoculars identified it as a spider. The legs can just be made out in the picture if you look closely.

Spider – Paul Bartho

Then we spotted a bird which to date remains unidentified despite the photo – a Chat/Flycatcher?

Chat — Flycatcher – Paul Bartho

Three intrepid birders carried on down the low road into the valley, this is a lovely meandering path where we searched in vain for the Red-billed Oxpeckers on the browsing giraffe.

Giraffe – Paul Bartho

Amongst the others Red-backed Shrike was seen and Black-crowned Tchagra was heard calling.

We were lucky as John Benn, the custodian of Cumberland, arrived at the Horse Shoe cottage as we were leaving and so we got a lift out of the valley. Mike and his group were not as fortunate and limped home in the heat, tired and weary.

The morning ended in the shade under the Vachellia Siberiana doing our bird list for the morning. This yielded a total of 111 species (click here to see the list) by the time we left the D408 on our way home.

(Note that the bird list was commenced from the D408 turn off and includes the dam).

Thank you to David Swanepoel and Paul Bartho for the photo contributions.



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Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks for last 2 weeks

Dear All

Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past two weeks days. Click here and here for the movements.

Some interesting movements from our Cape N207 during this period.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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Kenneth Stainbank Outing

3 March 2018

Report by Elena Russell

A pleasant morning’s birding, maybe not the greatest our bird count was only 63 – see the bird list by clicking here. I guess it is the end of summer.

At the dam there are plenty of weavers’ nests but no weavers only a lone African Jacana.   The YBK’s are still around but not for very much longer!  A juvenile/sub-adult African Fish-Eagle had us confused but we managed to sort it out and it was Tamsin who put us straight.

A pair of Grey Waxbills have taken over an old Spectacles Weaver’s nest. Some excellent photos of the birds collecting nesting material – we rated this bird of the day.

An Olive Sunbird most definitely had a white tip to its tail. The bird was seen in shade and sun and the tail had a rather large white tip, quite obvious in the photos. Hopefully somebody will be able to give us an explanation.

But there could be this very, very rare Woodpecker, look carefully at David’s photo, we think it could be the Long-billed Woodpecker. Very rarely seen if ever!  This is what is known as the Pinocchio Syndrome, highly contagious.

Long-billed Woodpecker – David Swanepoel

We paid our respects at Roy’s bench and then wandered slowly back for our picnic tea.

Thanks to Sandi for the bird list (attached) and to David Swanepoel, Mike Stead and John Bremner for the great photos.

Please note the next outing is to Durban Botanical Gardens. I thought it was the Bluff but that is not till August.



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Bisley Valley Nature Reserve Outing

Bisley Valley Nature Reserve, Pietermaritzburg

21 January 2018

Report by Dave Rimmer

The BPLN Sunday outing for January was held on the 21st where nine  birders joined me at Bisley Valley Nature Reserve in Pietermaritzburg. The group started assembling at the entrance gate from 6.15am and wasted no time in starting to tick off the birds whilst we waited for the late-comers. First birds of the day included Diederik and Klaas’s Cuckoo, Amethyst Sunbird, Barn Swallow, Rufous-naped Lark, Cape Glossy Starling and African Palm Swifts.

We then proceeded down to the resource centre, parked the cars and headed up the eastern side of the reserve in the direction of the reservoir.

Bisley Valley being a prime spot for bushveld birding close to Durban, our target birds for the day were Acacia Pied Barbet, Common Scimitarbill and Brubru. And they did not disappoint as we had good views of all of them within the first couple of hours.

Common Scimitarbill (EJ Bartlett)