Submitted by Penny de Vries
November 2013 – Part 2
Saturday dawned with hardly a cloud in the sky in contrast to the previous two days which had been a little cloudy. It was our group’s turn to be taken on a birding drive in the Ndumo vehicle.
Bongani, our driver, is incredibly knowledgeable about trees as well as birds.
We headed to the Nyamithi pan, birding along the way and seeing this Emerald-spotted Wood Dove as well as the other usual suspects.
As we crossed a little stream we saw a Juvenile Green-backed Heron which I mistook to be a Black-crowned Night Heron. I learn something new every time I go birding. This stream was to offer up even greater excitement later in the day.
There was much excitement when a potential Goshawk in a tree turned out to be a Little Sparrowhawk; another lifer for me that I almost dipped on. Phew – caught it as it flew off. Ismail then spotted a raptor far away and we spent some time trying to figure it out. We weren’t able to make a positive ID but there were suspicions of a Cuckoo Hawk.
I was dying to see a Woodland Kingfisher; we had been hearing them call for days but had still not seen one. Ismail teased me relentlessly about this but eventually I was put out of my misery. Excuse the poor quality photo but it was a little far away.
The wetlands of Ndumo are RAMSAR sites (that is Wetlands of International Importance) because of the large amount of migratory water fowl that occur here. We were treated to Pied Avocets, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Ruffs and Yellow-billed Stork amongst others. Crocodiles lay around baking in the sun. Hot as it was, no-one was tempted to have a dip in the pan.
Back at the camp, after brunch, Geoff mentioned that there were white-eyes in the bird bath outside and that one should examine them closely as they could be Yellow White-eyes instead of Cape.
While everyone was sensibly napping in the heat of the day, I was sucked in by the activity at the bird bath.
It was fantastic; I must have seen 6 or 7 species splashing around in there, cooling down and flying in and out. I was rewarded by seeing the Yellow White-eye too which can be distinguished by its very yellow forehead and breast.
Violet-backed Starlings, male and female, were there as were the ubiquitous Dark-capped Bulbuls and Yellow-throated Petronia. Even a Yellow-fronted Canary wanted to get in on the action.
That afternoon we all head back to Nyamithi Pan for a guarded guided walk and sundowners.
On the way we crossed the stream again and this time were treated to a Dwarf Bittern; my very first Bittern ever. What a beauty.
Back at the pan was a surfeit of waders; such a tranquil scene.
Lesser Flamingo and Spoonbills fed at the water’s edge while the middle beach was full of Little Stints, Kittlitz Plovers, Curlew Sandpiper and many others.
Joseph was scouring each and every bird as a Green Sandpiper had been spotted in recent days. And we were in luck! There it was. After much debate and taking of confirmatory photos to determine whether or not it was a Wood or a Green; the verdict was a Green Sandpiper.
A great day ended with sundowners and a glorious sunset.
Sunday was our last day. We went on a shortish walk in the western part of Ndumo as we had to be back before 10 to check out of our rooms. This habitat offered up completely different birds such as Senegal Lapwing, African Cuckoo, Sabota Lark, Yellow-billed Hornbill and most excitingly, Black-bellied Bustard. After another of George’s great brunches we all said fond farewells to our new found friends and wended our way home. Until next year.