Mannikin Meander

Report by Jane and Mike Roseblade

Sunday 21st May dawned calm and clear, typical balmy May weather, as 9 of us gathered at the Westville Civic Centre in the hopes of nailing all three Mannikins – Bronze, Red-backed and Magpie in one day.

We set off across Woodside Park and with the morning sun on the fruiting trees the birds were active and we had superb viewing of Olive and Grey Sunbirds. Then a juvenile Olive Bushshrike crept through the tangled vegetation and a Brimstone Canary sat atop the exotic pine watching us pass by.

An African Goshawk darted out of the canopy and across the road affording most of the party a view of his rump as he disappeared. We spent some time in the park but only one Bronze Mannikin was spotted.

We crossed Link Road and headed into the forest area and on to the grassland where the mannikins are normally found. Here we were entertained by a number of Bronze, one Red-backed seen only by myself and no Magpie!!

This is not to say that there were no birds to be seen as we had good views of Streaky-headed Seedeater, Purple-crested Turaco and a late Violet-backed Starling amongst the usual species.

We had our morning tea before heading down to the scout bowl, also known as the “Dog Park” and here David (for whom this was a lifer) ticked the Magpie Mannikin, only one and no one else saw the bird!

An interesting bird here is the Common Moorhen, the park is frequented by numerous dogs and they are often encouraged by their owners to hunt in the area around the ponds. We were amazed that a relatively shy species like a Common Moorhen would take up residence here but they have been present now for well over a month.

Jenny joined us here so now our party was a round ten and we now headed for Jubilee Park in an attempt to find a more obliging Magpie and Red-backed Mannikin that would stay around to be viewed.

Jubilee did not disappoint on the Magpie Mannikin and good views were afforded the whole party.

Magpie Mannikin

The Red-backed Mannikin remained elusive and for this we had to go back to our home where the Red-backed obligingly came in to the feeder as we sat enjoying a lunch time braai.

With mission achieved and a total bird count of 67 species (not bad for the middle of Westville in Autumn), everyone could relax and enjoy the afternoon.

Jane and Mike Roseblade

There was no photographer on our outing so the photo of Magpie Mannikin was taken from my kitchen window!!

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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, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week.

Bennie has extended his movements even further this week and is now exploring the southern Free State. The Cape Vulture breeding season has started, therefore one would expect Bennie to be closer to home.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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Timm and I were at Mkuze at the end of last month for a few days and were very happy to see some lovely birds.

The Striped Kingfisher was very obliging, sitting on a tree very close to the road  – as was the Tawny Eagle.

The juvenile African Fish-Eagle flew over us before resting on the dead tree in the pan.  Unfortunately the Pelicans were very far away so no pics.

African Fish-Eagle

I’ve included a couple that aren’t birds but may be interesting for some.


Kind regards

Pam Zarnack

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Sherwood Farm

From a visit this last weekend to Sherwood Farm in the Karkloof area, a Crowned Eagle.

Crowned Eagle

Crispin Hemson

082 926 5333

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BirdLife South Africa AGM

Dear colleagues

You can view the proceedings of the recent AGM which was held on the MSC Sinfonia at: (note that there are several videos)

We are very grateful to John Bowey for videoing the AGM, editing the videos, and uploading the videos onto BirdLife South Africa’s YouTube channel.

Please share the link with bird club members.



Mark D. Anderson

Chief Executive Officer

Isdell House, 17 Hume Road (cnr Hume Road/Jan Smuts Drive), Dunkeld West 2196, Gauteng

Private Bag X5000, Parklands 2121, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)11 789 1122

Fax: +27 (0)11 789 5188

Cell: +27 (0) 82 788 0961


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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, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week. Despite the cold, rain and snow the birds still seems to be active this past weekend. Bennie extended his movements into southern Lesotho this week and Camo is exploring KwaZulu-Natal.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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Interview with Mark Anderson

Dear colleagues

I was interviewed today on Cliff Central about birds, birding, BirdLife South Africa and Flock at Sea. The podcast is at



Mark D. Anderson

Chief Executive Officer

BirdLife South Africa

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Shongweni Outing Sat 6th May

Short report on Saturday’s outing to Shongweni.

Elena Russell

We had lovely weather, a bit cool to start but soon warmed up nicely.

A good turnout, there were some faces that we have not seen on a Saturday outing for a very long time!

Our bird count at tea was 78 and then Sandi phoned to say that they had picked up African Fish Eagle – 79 – not too shabby for a winter’s morning birding at Shongweni.

On the walk past the office and on past the soccer field and round by the road, we had Rufous-naped Lark, Neddicky, Little Bee-eater, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Chinspot Batis, Common Fiscal, Yellow-fronted and Brimstone Canaries, Rattling Cisticola, Grey Cuckooshrike (so it must be winter) Red-eyed, Emerald Spotted and Tambourine Doves, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler.  Masses of African Black Swifts, Black Sparowhawk, Lanner Falcon, White-necked Raven plus lots more.

What did fly past us here was a Cape Crow which I am sure I have not seen at Shongweni before?

We carried on down the road and up a dirt track and picked up the Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Crested and Black-collared Barbets, Black-headed Oriole, Black-backed Puffback, Red-capped Robin-Chat, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Black-bellied, Glossy and Red-winged Starlings, Village, Thick-billed and Spectacled Weavers.

Our sunbird count was very poor, only Amethyst and Collared.

Then down to the view site over-looking the dam. We were all amazed at how low the dam was but nothing much on the mud banks. A few Egyptian Geese, Yellow-billed Ducks, a pair of African Black Ducks flew by.  On the dam wall were Reed and White-breasted Cormorants, Speckled Pigeon and not much more except apart from the Mocking Cliff-Chat.

Mocking Cliff-Chat

Cape Rock Thrush (Female)

So down to the bottom and we walked up to the dam wall and here we found a sluice gate open and water gushing out. The Saturday Chat Show went into overdrive. “what could be happening”. Stewart who belongs to the Canoe Club was most concerned – very soon there would be no water to paddle on!!

Dave Rimmer came to our rescue and phoned the Chief Engineer (?) at Umgeni Water. There had been a spill of some contaminant, we were not told whether it was up or down stream but that it had to be flushed out. The little stream where we usually get Mountain Wagtails was a raging torrent so not much doing there.

We walked on down to the Giant Steps. Trumpeter Hornbills, Terrestrial Brownbul, Sombre Greenbuls, Giant Kingfisher, later on Brown-hooded and Pied Kingfishers.  Yellow-rumped Tinker-birds called, Purple Crested Turaco, etc, etc.

Kite Spider

From there we headed to the picnic site for tea.  There were Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpeckers, Fork-tailed Drongos and Black Flycatchers in the trees which kept us amused.

Finally home to walk the dog!

Thanks to Dave Rimmer for the great photos.



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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week. Click here.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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Illovo bird walk

Report by John Bremner

Saturday 29th April 2017

Adam Cruickshank is organizing a Bird Day for July to raise awareness of Birding as a pastime as well as its valuable contribution towards conservation. We were asked, as a committee, to help with this initiative. Arnia, Sean and I went on an exploratory walk with Adam and a small group of local birders to access the venue. The weather was fantastic, no wind to speak of and a clear blue sky.

This is a new venue in the early stages of development next to the Illovo Business Park just outside Amanzimtoti about 30 minutes drive from Durban. There is secure parking inside the Business Park with a security guard on duty. The Business Park is right next to the Illovu River and has a restaurant and brewery on site. Just what birders are looking for after an early start?

Right next to the restaurant is the entrance to the nature reserve. The reserve consists of a grassland area as you enter on your right with sugar cane on the left, there are some trees along the river and there is a small remnant of coastal forest about 1.5 Kms from the entrance. There are trails cut and well maintained covering about 5 Kms of mainly flat pathways along the river and through the forest area.

Right from the start we could see loads of bird activity along the river and in the grasses at the side of the path, Bronze Manikins, Yellow Fronted Canaries, doves, sunbirds and many others were seen as we headed towards the river. In the cane fields were flocks of birds a little far off for clear views but we picked out Pin-tailed Whydah and some weavers amoung them.

Yellow-fronted Canary

Speckled Mousebird

At the river we found Giant, Brown-hooded and Malachite Kingfishers and a Pygmy Kingfisher in the forested area.

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

We had flybys by Spurwinged Geese, Egyptian Geese and a beautiful African Fish-Eagle.

African Fish-Eagle

We also spotted a mystery rapture fly past, we were not sure but Arnia thought it maybe a Palm-Nut Vulture, we got some very long distance photos which when blown up on the computer showed some of the features, Arnia sent them to David Allan who confirmed it was indeed a juvenile Palm-Nut Vulture. What a nice addition to the bird list.

In the river are some sandbanks and there are some cane fences that have been built which are intended to be used as bird hides, from here you can scan the river and sandbanks. On the sand bank were some Three-banded Plovers and further up the river we could see some Water Thick-knees.

Cape Wagtail

We moved on to the forest.

In the forest we could hear the Green-backed Camaroptera and we saw a Black-throated Wattle-eye as well as our very own Natal Robin (RCRC) and a Sombre Greenbul, there were a few others but as always they did not hang around or perch to be identified.

All in all it was a lovely morning birding in a new and interesting venue. We had a bird list of about 60 species. Click here to view the list. I am sure this will become a popular spot because there is loads of potential and having an easily accessible river frontage just adds another highlight to your birding experience. Let us hope the Bird Day is a big success. Thanks Adam for your enthusiasm and good luck.

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Dear All: there is some interesting info on corvids via the link below.

It is hardly anecdotal!

Please forward the link to anyone interested.

John Fincham

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Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week. Click here.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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Darvill Water Purification Plant Petermaritzburg

 Sunday 23rd April 2017

By John Bremner

Ten keen birders arrived at the waterworks at 7 am to be greeted with a heavy mist settled over the ponds, it was 11 deg C on my car’s temperature gauge, welcome to Petermaritzburg.

It didn’t take long for the mist to start lifting and we started our walk at the top pond near the Duzigrass fields. These were covered with Blacksmith Lapwings and Egyptian Geese. The top pond had only two Little Grebes ducking and diving as Grebes do, but other than that it was quiet.

As we turned down the first path we saw some movement amoung the reeds with a few LBJs flitting about very quietly. We noticed a group of at least 10 men coming over the lawns towards us with at least 20 hunting dogs in tow, these were of every shape and size and we thought that would put a halt to our birding, they passed us by and disappeared off down the path never to be seen again. Needless to say we would not be on the lookout for any small game animals.

As we got to the second pond things started to pick up when the Warblers started to call and we spent some time trying to distinguish which was which.

The pond was full of water birds of all different varieties and on the edges of the pond we saw African Jacana, Three-banded Plovers and a Black Crake.

African Stonechat

Sandi spotted some Kittlitz’s Plovers and then we spotted the Lesser Jacana on the far side of the pond. We did not get great views but we were sure that that is what we could see. We headed round to the other side seeing a variety of Weavers and Bishops in their drab non breeding plumage.

We spent some time trying to sort out what was what. Elena spotted an African Rail darting in and out of the reeds, it took some time but I think everyone got a glimpse, be it only a tail feather or two for some, sadly it did not show itself long enough for a photo but we could hear it calling.

We moved down the other side and saw a lovely Malachite Kingfisher and then spotted the Lesser Jacana again. I hung back taking photos of the Black-winged Stilts and some Red-billed Teal and as luck would have it the Lesser Jacana appeared right next to me and I was able to get some good photos of it.

Lesser Jacana

Lesser Jacana

We also got a fly past by a pair of South African Shelduck, which was most enjoyable.

South African Shelduck

The group was now ready for coffee so we headed back to the cars for some refreshment. While at tea break we still had work to do with a variety of Swifts and Swallows flying past as well as a variety of grassland birds in the nearby bushes and long grass. Three Crowned Cranes flew over, what a great sight.

Grey-crowned Cranes fly-past

After a half hour break Elena called time and we started a trek down to the river to see what else may show up.

We saw a few Cisticolas and a variety of other grassland birds. We hear the cry of a Fish Eagle and spotted a juvenile African Fish Eagle flying overhead.

African Fish-Eagle – juvenile

Not much was seen at the river however.

On our return to the cars we went past the bottom pond and were lucky enough to see the three Crowned Cranes at the waters edge, two adults and a juvenile, a really great sighting.

Grey-crowned Cranes – adult and juvenile

It was getting close to lunchtime by now so we went back to the cars for our lunch, chatted over what we had seen and made a bird list. All in all we recorded just over 60 different species, which we felt was not bad seeing all the migrants had already left us.

Thanks to everyone who came and a special thank you to Elena for leading us.

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Vulture Tracks

Dear All

Apologies once again but due to some technical challenges, you are receiving the vulture movements for the past three weeks in this email. To see the tracks over the past weeks click on each of the following links.

Vultures_3-10 April 2017

Vultures_10-18 April 2017

Vultures_17 to 24 April 2017

Hopefully we will be back to normal again with emails every Monday going forward for our Bearded Vultures: Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture, Bennie.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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There is a new paper about Honeyguides via the link below. Please send the link to anyone who may be interested.

John Fincham

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Latest Wakkerstroom Newsletter

If you would like to read the latest Wakkerstroom Newsletter then click here.

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Report by Paul and Sally Bartho

1st to 5th April 2017

Following the report of a White-throated Bee-eater in Hluhluwe, Sally and I made an impulsive decision to see if we could find it.

We decided to camp in Bonamanzi as a base and were allocated a site in their new campsite. Each campsite with its own ablution. Unfortunately I incorrectly heard the price quoted to Sally, so when we arrived it was not the R220 for the site as I expected but for each of us per night. Had I known this I would have gone elsewhere – like Hakuma Matata.

Following our trip to the Cape for five weeks where the most we paid for a campsite was R240 for both of us, the prices for camping in Zululand have gone crazy. R440 per night camping in Bonamanzi which is nothing special is ridiculous. Perhaps that is why there was only one other camper there and we did not see anyone using the chalets either.

Moving on. On the way there we drove through Hluhluwe and spent an hour and a half in the area where the Bee-eater was reportedly seen. No luck. The next day was also spent in Hluhluwe searching the area for over three hours – again no luck.

Birding appeared quiet in general however we were surprised to find out that we did identify 91 different species over the day and a half. Here are some of the species photographed.

The following day we went to Isimangaliso, entering Western Shores through the north gate. The hide had water in it but was not busy, so we headed for the aerial boardwalk. At the top we could see that the water level had dramatically increased since the last time we were there.

Western Osprey flying over wetlands at Western Shores – view from the top of the aerial boardwalk

Some of the other species seen:

Red Dragonfly or Damselfly

Once through Western Shores we headed for Eastern Shores and had to wait more than half an hour to check in – such a slow process.

Eastern Shores was interesting. There was water around, so we checked out the pans but nothing much was about. Then we headed round the Vlei loop picking up birds here and there. At one section we came round the corner and the road ahead was blocked. A rather large Rock Python lay in the road.

Rock Python

The Mafazana hide was closed. It was unclear why but we suspect they are making a new entrance road to the hide.

Time for tea so we went to Catalina Bay. Fortunately the wind had died down. From on high we had good views overlooking the lake. Because the water was so high there were no waders about and very little else too. However an African Fish-Eagle made a pass looking for its next meal. From the photo it looks as though he has his eye on something rather large.

African Fish-Eagle

African Fish-Eagle with an eye on something rather large.

Then there was the Scarlet -chested Sunbird watching a White Rhino having a mud bath.

Lunch was fish and chips at the boat club overlooking the estuary. Across on the other side major reconstruction works were ongoing. The sand hillside is being removed. There were at least 5 diggers each with 3 dumper trucks – going back and forth to the beach dumping their loads.

In the estuary there were many Terns, a crowd of African Spoonbills, Saddle-billed Storks, Grey Herons, White-faced Ducks, Pink-backed Pelicans, other waterbirds and numerous waders. Unfortunately it was impossible to get close – too muddy.

African Spoonbills

We did however manage to get to the sea shore to find a couple of Common Whimbrels.

Common Whimbrel

On the way back we drove through Western Shores taking the uMphathe loop road. A Saddle-billed Stork was seen close to the road. It appeared to be looking for something. After a while it flew off with a clump of bush in its beak. We wondered where it was headed. Then we saw it land on its nest at the top of a tree on the horizon. It’s mate was there to greet him.

Saddle-billed Stork looking for nesting material

At the Kweyezalukazi Lookout point there were about 11 Lemon-breasted Canaries – exactly where we had seen them before.

Lemon-breasted Canaries

Then around the corner in an open plain we noticed a rapter at the top of a dead tree. Out came the scope but it was too difficult to identify. You decide – we thought it was either an Amur Falco or an Eurasian Hobby. Most likely the former.

And finally as we were about to leave the park – a Brown Snake-Eagle looking remarkable like a Bat Hawk because of its posture.

Brown Snake-Eagle trying to impersonate a Bat Hawk.

And then we went to camp in Mkuze. Prices way over the mark for camping. R300 per night for the site – up to 3 people. This is just another cheap trick to generate extra income as most people either come as a couple or single. They refuse to make any concessions for groups of one or two people. The ablutions are basic and there is no power from 09h00 till 17h00 and from 22h00 to 05h00. And there is now a R10 community charge on entry plus R7 per person per night in the reserve. Camping in Zululand is becoming too expensive for most potential visitors. No wonder there are so few people in the camps.

We only stayed one night.

Impala, Nyala and Baboons were plentiful with the odd Zebra and Wilderbeest but no other animals were seen during our stay.

Nsumo Pan was very full and the hides in good condition with some having new concrete walkways.

As usual the best place to spend midday was at kuMasinga hide. We did have one mystery bird there though. What do you think it may be?

Elsewhere round the park.

Having dinner at Mkuze we noticed a person’s face on one of our hanging tea towels. Could it have been Donald?

Who do you think it looks like?

And then some bird droppings on the side of the car looking like an owl in flight.

Owl in flight

Overall we identified 144 different bird species. To see what we identified and where click here.

Paul and Sally Bartho


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Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

For some reason it appears that my system has not emailed the Vultures on the Move files to all recipients for the past few weeks. I apologise for this and have attached the movement files for the past month for our Bearded Vultures: Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture, Bennie.

Vultures_5 to 12 March 2017

Vultures_12 to 19 March 2017

Vultures_19 to 26 March 2017

Vultures_26 March to 2 April 2017

Please also find attached for your interest a paper published online this past week on post fledging dispersal. This paper is based on the movements of our tagged chicks Ikloba (tagged in 2008), Linong (2008) and Wandervogel (2010).

Post fledging dispersal of Bearded Vultures in southern Africa

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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Durban Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens – Saturday 1 April 2017

Elena Russell

I arrived about a minute too late to see a Black Sparrowhawk take a Red-eyed Dove over the parking area – only John and Ismail were the ‘early birds’ who got to see the action.

We had a good turnout of members and visitors and set out on a slow walk around the gardens.

We were greeted by lots of Egyptian Geese – I was told that the shop sells food for the geese, I meant to find out exactly what this consists of but got side tracked and never did find out.

Egyptian Geese and friend

At the Lilly/fish pond were a pair of Malachite Kingfishers having an early morning meal and the photographers in the group rushed off to get some good shots.

Malachite Kingfisher

Then there was this unidentified Warbler. Looks like a juvenile.

Plenty of Black Flycatchers around, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds called, a Lesser Honeyguide caused a little consternation before a positive ID was made!

Black Flycatcher

Some of the birds seen – Black-collared Barbets, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Bronze Mannikins, Fork-tailed Drongos, a pair of Black-headed Orioles.

Bronze Mannikin

We found the Black Sparrowhawk perched in a tree but never found the nest.

Black Sparrowhawk

Masses of Palm Swifts but no swallows. Speckled Mousebirds, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Kurrichane Thrush (one had a deformed bill). Amethyst, Olive and White-bellied Sunbirds, Golden-tailed Woodpeckers, one of the Cape Wagtails seemed to have a problem with its feet.

Around the pond we had Common Moorhen, Spoonbills and juveniles a few Grey Herons and a couple of Spurwing Geese but not much more.

African Spoonbills with young

We paid a visit to the butterfly dome and there were lots of butterflies around.

On leaving the dome we came across a small frog. The poor frog got rather agitated with us, Sandi was desperately trying to photograph the eye – it depends on the shape whether it is a tree or reed frog.  Anyway the frog took one look at Jenny Rix, ‘his princess’ and jumped up her jeans, shirt and took refuge behind her ear lobe, missed the lips, Jenny then gently got rid of him in a flower bed.  Well done Jenny (poor prince).

Reed or Tree Frog

After all this excitement we went on to the tea kiosk for sustenance. We never did a bird count as it was rather a large circle around the tables but must have been in the region of 40.

I have had better birding at Durban Botanic Gardens, whether this can be put down to the number of concerts which now take place or the heat of the morning who knows.

Thanks John for the great photos.



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North Park Report

Outing to North Park 17 March 2017

Report by Sandi du Preez

There were 12 birders on the outing, which was a good turnout for a week day.

At the start of the walk we were treated to an almost perfect skein of about 15 Spur-winged Geese. I shouted at John to take a photo and he was just able to photograph part of the skein. Sorry, John – I didn’t mean to be so demanding!

Skein of Spur-winged Geese

It was definitely the sighting of the morning. It was hot and windless and the birds were rather scarce and very quiet.

It was pleasing to see that alien invasive vegetation is being removed. We saw an exotic creeper which most of us had never seen before. Mark was able to I.D. it as a Lollipop vine (look at the photo and see why it is so named). Beautiful, but a real baddie!

Lollipop Vine – a baddie.

There was a lot of water flowing strongly over the weir and a Water Monitor watched us as we contemplated the risk of wading across. Needless to say we all chickened out and back-tracked towards the bridge – nothing much to see from there as the reeds and grass have encroached on the rocks and sandy areas.

Water Monitor

Then a walk through the forest alongside the river and back to the picnic area for some refreshments.

Whilst having our picnic we heard a Crowned Eagle but we didn’t get to see it. The species count actually seen was somewhat disappointing, but seen and heard included Bar-throated Apalis,  White-eared Barbet, Southern Boubou, Terrestrial Brownbul, Tambourine Dove, Fork-tailed and Square-tailed Drongo, African Paradise and Dusky Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied and Sombre Greenbuls, Hamerkop, Goliath Heron, Black-headed Oriole, Black-backed Puffback, Red-capped Robin-chat, Natal Spurfowl, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Purple-crested Turaco, Dark-backed Weaver, Yellow Weaver, Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpeckers. (41 species in all).

Thanks to John Bremner and Mark Liptrot for taking the photos.

Sandi du Preez

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