Bushwillow Weekend Away 25 to 28 April 2014

Bushwillow Park campsite is spectacular. Grassy, large flat sites, good hot water with great views and surrounded by mistbelt forest. It is located just beyond the Karkloof Conservancy 20 kms from Howick.

Eleven of us braved the conditions – cold but not wet thankfully.

Some arrived early on the Thursday and enjoyed an extra day birding around the campsite. One of the first things noted was the abundance of seed available in the long grass attracting a host of Euplectes species (out of breeding plumage) and numerous Thick-billed Weavers.

Over the long weekend a lot was packed in.

Friday, everyone else arrived and enjoyed a stroll around the campsite followed by an evening braai.

Birds seen and photographed around the campsite include:

There was an exciting experience observing a host of Red-billed Queleas. Walking  down a path with long grass on either side, Red-billed Queleas were seen and heard in numbers. At one point on the left going down they all flew up at once creating a loud “whooshing” sound. Then immediately on the other side behind there was a similar louder “whooshing” sound. It drew immediate attention. Expecting that there was another large flock of Queleas everyone looked round to see only 2 birds creating this noise. A Lanner Falcon hot on the heels of probably a Speckled Pigeon. No luck for the Lanner but we enjoyed the spectacle.

Saturday morning, a trek up one of the trails behind the campsite  – an arduous walk through the mistbelt forest. It was all uphill and very steep in places – sometimes slippery. Going up was one challenge but coming down probably more so especially for those with dicky knees. The birding was quiet but those birds seen were special in particular Olive Woodpecker and Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler.

In the afternoon there was a visit to the Karkloof Conservancy and its two hides followed by another evening braai. Karkloof did not disappoint: Southern Bald Ibis and all three species of Cranes being the star attractions.

Some birds photographed at the Karkloof Conservancy:

Sunday, a stroll round Benvie on a cold and overcast morning – a garden paradise with many specials seen.

The rest of the day was downtime in and around the campsite.

Monday, a time to do last minute birding and to reflect and prepare for departure.

In all 94 bird species were seen and or heard including many of the specials in the area.

Some of the special birds seen and or heard included Bush Blackcap; Olive Bushshrike; Forest Canary; Blue, Grey-crowned and Wattled Cranes; Grey Cuckooshrike; African Black Duck; Lanner Falcon; African Goshawk; Scaly-throated Honeyguide; Southern Bald Ibis; Cape Parrot; Drakensberg Prinia; Chorister Robin-Chat; South African Shelduck; Red-necked Spurfowl; Malachite Sunbird; Orange Ground-Thrush; Knysna Turaco; Mountain Wagtail; Dark-capped Yellow-Warbler; Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler; Swee Waxbill; African Wood-Owl; Olive Woodpecker.


Wednesday 14 May – indoor meeting – Westville Methodist Church – 19.00.

We have had a last-minute cancellation of our Wednesday indoor speaker, due to exceptional circumstances.  However, great news!  Steve and Roy have agreed to do a quiz evening with a difference which they have successfully held for the Mt Edgecombe and Howick bird clubs.  It involves not just ID but some knowledge of habitats, food, behaviour, calls and so on.  Answer sheets will be provided.

So do come along and join in the fun, make the most of the opportunity and learn more about birds in the process

See you then.




Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Ground Hornbill

The number of Southern Ground-Hornbills outside formally protected areas in South Africa is declining due to loss and transformation of habitat, poisoning, persecution and electrocution. The species is listed as globally Vulnerable and will be uplisted to Endangered in 2014 in South Africa. The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, BirdLife Species Guardian, is working to reverse the decline by reintroducing the ‘doomed’ second chicks into areas where the species has become locally extinct, mitigating threats, undertaking an extensive education and awareness campaign in areas where the birds still occur, and providing artificial nests for wild groups.


Martie Krog from BirdLife Wesvaal is organising and administering a lucky draw on behalf of BirdLife South Africa and the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project. Bird clubs will pay BirdLife South Africa R500 per sheet containing ten lucky entries.  The clubs will then request their members to make a donation of R50 per entry to recoup the amount paid to BirdLife South Africa. Entry forms are available from Lesley Frescura galefra@mweb.co.za if you wish to purchase 10 tickets or more, or alternatively you can purchase one or more tickets, let Lesley know how many you want, and she will invoice you with the BLPN club banking details, and enter your name on the club entry form.


The first entry drawn will win a midweek two night stay for two people at Mabula Game Lodge, including a visit to the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project.

The project manager for the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, Lucy Kemp, will be BLPN’s guest speaker on Wednesday 11 June 2014, so it would be great if our club could support this very worthwhile project.


Entries close on Wednesday, 4 June 2014. Individual tickets will be available on Wednesday 14 May at the indoor meeting in Westville, or alternatively email Lesley with your request. The draw will be made at 12h00 on 8 June 2014 at the Sasol Bird Fair.

The first entry drawn will win the prize. The name of the winner will be published on the BirdLife South Africa website (www.birdlife.org.za) and Mabula Ground Hornbill Project website (www.ground-hornbill.org.za). Terms and conditions will be sent to those members who wish to purchase a ticket or two or more.

Looking forward to hearing from you.




On Saturday 17 May 2014 Dave Bishop will be presenting a half-day course on “Woodland and Grassland Birds”. At the end of the morning, you will understand the differences between the two groups, be able to recognize and separate them, have learnt the key characteristics between them.

Please bring your bird guide books as you will be given an opportunity to do your own ID as Dave discusses what to look for.

Brief notes will be handed out, so no real need to bring pen and paper.

Some look alike woodland species plus some specials will be discussed, then you will do a comparison between some similar woodland and grassland species and finally some grassland specials which will obviously include a few of the easier LBJ’s.

It will hopefully be more of a fun rather than a deadly serious learning experience. Dave will do an outing to Shongweni on Sunday 18 March.

Venue : Paradise Valley Nature Reserve Conference Centre,

Directions : From M13 westbound, take the Stapleton Road/NewGermany turn-off. (Exit 16). Keep left into Eden Road. Follow Eden Roadpast the Blood Bank, turn right into Oxford Road. The reserve is at the endof the road.

Time: 08h30 – registration.

09h00 – workshop begins

13h00 – workshop ends

Entrance fee : R70 per BirdLife member; R90 per non-member.

Materials : Binoculars if you want to wander around afterwards or while you have lunch. Notes will be provided but it is recommended that you use a guide book as well.

Tea, coffee and refreshments will be available on arrival and mid-morning. You are welcome to bring your own picnic baskets, and to have lunch at the conclusion of the workshop.

Saturday 17 May.

Bookings : Lesley Frescura.

email: galefra@mweb.co.za or call 083 231 3408.

Farewell Shorebirds – Australia

For those of you who have missed “Farewell Shorebirds” – a video production by BirdLife Australia (www.birdlife.org.au) here are the links to the first three episodes to bring you up to date. Three more to follow.

Episode 1.   http://farewellshorebirds.org.au/web-cast-episode-1/

Episode 2.  http://farewellshorebirds.org.au/web-cast-episode-2/

Episode 3.   http://farewellshorebirds.org.au/web-cast-episode-3/

I hope you enjoy.

Sunbirds for ID

Please help with ID of these two sets of Sunbirds. Both sent to me by a resident of Le Domaine here in Hillcrest, Durban.

Click on the picture and add your comments below the enlarged Photo.

The First set:

The Second set:

The first 2 pictures in this sequence were taken on 4th April and the last one on the 19th April. Looking up at what? Scouring above could yield no clues – maybe you have an idea?

April Birding in Durban

Weather in Durban in April is always beautiful and this Easter week-end didn’t disappoint. The birding at Umbogavango on Saturday was superb with 67 species recorded. All 3 species of Wagtail seen (Cape, Pied and Mountain) as well as abundant Little Bee-eaters and stunning views of Orange-breasted Bushshrike, and a pair of Red-throated Wryneck. Of special interest was a flock of about 15 Common Starling – I have only seen them singly at Umbogavango before . Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds were calling incessantly. A new bird- “African Woodpecker” Ha ha – actually an African Hoopoe, as named by Tina – we will never let her live that one down! !  Oh yes, and the butterflies were out in force – 32 species recorded. Thanks for a fantastic day Tina, Vauneen and Betty.
In contrast,  Ros Conrad and I went to Stainbank N.R. on Sunday morning. The  birds were not calling and they were not showing themselves at all – only 22 species (mostly on call). However, a detour to Jubilee Park in Westville produced 1 Magpie Mannikin ( saw 8 there last Saturday) and this made up for all the birds that we didn’t see at Stainbank!
Sandi du Preez

Outings in May.

May 2014

Bird Ringing with Garth Aiston: Usually held early on a Sunday each month. Please call Garth for details if no notification is put out nearer to the time on the BLPN website and KZN Birds@yahoo. Cell:084 5491752.

Bird Ringing with Andrew Pickles. Usually the first or second Sunday of the month. Venue to be advised. Please contact Andrew for details. Cell 082 338 3302 or barbet@venturenet.co.za

Bird Ringing with James Rawdon. James visits many private estates on the North Coast. Contact James for details: 083 745 6007.

Saturday 3 May. Pigeon Valley Nature Reserve with Elena Russell. Meet at 07h30. Please phone to confirm meeting time and place. Tel: 031 7052902 (after 6pm) or email elenarussell@telkomsa.net. Directions:  South along Manning Road, right up Rhodes Avenue which leads you to the entrance. Alternatively, south along South Ridge Road and after the dip look out for the Pigeon Valley sign to the left. 

Saturday 10 May. BMCG Meeting at 13h30. Venue to be advised.

Wednesday 14 May. Iphithi  N.R. – 08h00 with Sandi du Preez – Tel  031-7014839  or  0733324431. Please confirm start time with Sandi. Directions:  Drive on the M13 from Durban and take the Everton off-ramp between Kloof and Hillcrest. Turn right at the intersection towards Everton Road and then turn left immediately after crossing over the M13 and BEFORE the railway bridge .Drive west along this road parallel to the railway line and then after about 100 metres turn right and cross the railway line into Camp Road. Then turn left into Edward Drive at T-junction. Entrance and parking is on your right. Bring tea/coffee and eats for picnic afterwards.

Wednesday 14 May. Indoor Meeting. To be advised.

Sunday 25 May. Empisini with Elena Russell at 07h30. Please phone to confirm meeting time. Tel: 031 7052902 (after 6pm) or email elenarussell@telkomsa.net.  Over 100 species of birds have been recorded in this area, including the elusive Pied Mannikin!  Habitat consists of prime coastal forest with perennial small streams.  DirectionsTravel the N2 south, take the Umkomaas/Widenham off-ramp. At the stop street turn left, then travel a few hundred metres to the first left turn signposted SAPPI/SAICCOR. Continue down a steep hill for just over 1 km, turn left at the T-junction at the bottom of the hill and then left again through an unmarked gap in the fence. Follow the track for about 400 m to the parking and picnic area.   Meet in the parking area. Bring tea/coffee, chairs and eats for picnic afterwards.

Plea from Mark Anderson – BLSA Chief Executive Officer

Dear BirdLife South Africa members and supporters,

With just over a month to go, BirdLife South Africa needs YOUR support to help us become South Africa’s Favourite Charity and win R50 000.

You could win a R10 000 Woolworths gift card simply for voting.

The polls opened on 7 April and voting closes on Friday 23 May. BirdLife South Africa would like to encourage you to cast your vote for your favourite MyVillage or MyPlanet charity – BIRDLIFE SOUTH AFRICA – so we can stand a chance to win a share of R100 000 in cash donations for our important bird conservation work.

Get a MyVillage or MyPlanet card if you don’t have one yet.  To Sign up, go to https://www.myschool.co.za

Then Vote:

Vote now at http://www.vote4charity.co.za/

You could win a R10 000 Woolworths gift card simply for voting.

Please note: you can only vote once.

or http://www.touchstream.co.za/link.php?M=7703592&N=23093&L=10554&F=H> my school.jpg.

Mark D. Anderson

Chief Executive Officer

A Summer Photographic Odyssey

Please note the changed date of this Indoor Meeting.

Wednesday 9 July. Indoor Meeting. Crystelle Wilson “A Summer Photographic Odyssey”. Westville Methodist Church, Jan Hofmeyr Road, Westville.

“Birders are increasingly using cameras as tools to enhance their birding skills and as an aid in observation and identification. The aim of this evening is to provide our members with a platform to share their experiences and images. But it is not merely a beauty contest for the best photograph: people are invited to submit interesting pictures which informs us a bit more about birds and their behaviour. Ideally the pictures should have been taken in KwaZulu-Natal and be of reasonable, clear quality. Details should include the place and date where it was taken, and why the author thought it was interesting, or what the stories associated with the images were.”

Please send pictures to Crystelle Wilson by 2 July at the latest. Resolution should be about 2-3 MB.

Pigeon Valley

Crispin Hemson leads a short morning walk on the 2nd Saturday every month at Pigeon Valley. He has a Friends of Pigeon Valley Facebook page and a mailing list. You can contact him by email to confirm his outing at email:  hemsonc@gmail.com.

This Saturday it was a beautiful morning and we were treated to a feast of sunbirds though none of them stayed still long enough to be photographed. Sandi du Preez felt compelled to hug one of her favourite trees; Chrysophyllum viridifolium. We also had some nice views of a Red-capped Robin-chat and heard many of them singing away all over the reserve.

Report back by Penny de Vries.


Sunday Outing

Martin has asked that if you want to go on this outing then you must call him (not me) to confirm because it is Easter Sunday. See details:

Sunday 20 April at  06:30 – Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve with Martin Taylor. Please contact Martin to confirm – email: martin.taylor@birdlife.org.za or call: Cell 0722777254. A favourite birding spot with a great mix of birds and the cisticolas will keep us busy with ID.  The wild flowers are always a treat.  Bring a picnic lunch and chairs.Directions: Travel south on N2 from Durban for 60 kms (past Scottburgh) take the R612 (Park Rynie/Umzinto) turnoff, turn right over freeway and travel 12 km (past Umzinto), turn right at the signpost for Vernon Crookes onto good gravel road travel for 6 km to the reserve. Meet at entrance (there is an entrance fee – take your Wild Card and Rhino Card).

Mystery Birds for ID

Please enter your ID for each bird with reasoning by clicking on the image and writing your comments in the box below the enlarged image.

The following 4 birds were seen in the Satara area in March.

The birds below were seen at Lake St Bernard above the St Bernard Peak Hotel, just south of Underberg – a Chat? or….. what?. it was seen in the company of another Chat – second picture  below.

Bluff NR – Sat. 5th April

There were 18 of us and our bird count was 51 but after sitting at the picnic site having our coffee and a good chat (no pun intended) we managed to add olive sunbird and a yellow weaver which brought the total to 53!  We have had much better birding at the Bluff in the past but the morning started off with a nasty cold wind and the pond aka dam was rather sterile – a few Reed and White-breasted Cormorants, a Darter, Moorhen and Little Grebe.   Later on from the hide we had Malachite Kingfisher and superb close ups of a Lesser Swamp Warbler – hopefully John will post some pics.  We had lots of good bird parties but mainly of Mannikins, Weavers, Prinias, Batis, Flycatchers etc the best bird of the day must have been the Lesser Honeyguide – but only seen by a few.  We had a Purple Heron and Lanner Falcons fly over and of course heard the Sombre and Yellow-bellied Greenbuls calling from every thick and leafy tree but never to be seen!!  The Bluff is a good spot for butterflies and other bugs and some lovely ones were seen – again hopefully some pics will be posted.

Purple Heron
Purple Heron
Lesser Swamp Warbler
Lesser Swamp Warbler

Cheers Elena Russell.

Windfarms in Lesotho and the possible impacts on our vultures.

Be sure to watch 50/50 on SABC tonight at 7:30, there will be an insert on wind farms in Lesotho and the possible impacts on our vultures.

The following attachments show Bearded & Cape Vulture movements for 30th March to 6th April:

Click on:

Bearded Vulture

Cape Vulture

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger & Rickert vd Westhuizen



African Pygmy Kingfisher – Westville

Not sure if this is the right place to send this but this Juvenile African Pygmy Kingfisher flew into our lounge window in Central Westville this morning. Was stunned for about 15 minutes sitting on our patio before flying off. Sorry not great quality picture as I did not have my camera with me so had to take it with my Blackberry.


Tony Goosen

Krantzkloof talk on 8th April. Luis Segura “Argentina 1000 Birds and More.”

Hello everyone,

Our Krantzkloof talk this month, on 8th April, will be given by Luis Segura and will be entitled “Argentina 1000 Birds and More.”

Luis is an Argentinian who has recently relocated to South Africa and is a full time guide for Rockjumper Birding Tours so his talk and photographs should be fascinating.  As always the talk will be held at the Krantzkloof Interpretive Centre and tea/coffee and biscuits will be served from 9.30 a.m – 10.00.  The charge will be R20.00.

Argentina is a country which not many of us will have visited;  so this will be a good chance to see their bird life and learn more about life in this part of the world.   Do come and support Luis and let him tempt you to do some more exploring!

See you on Tuesday,


Tessa White, Sarah Burns, Peter & Jenny Spence and Peter Farrington.

083 540 4120     031 767 3195

Ringing on Sunday with Andrew Pickles

Anybody in the area (Umzumbe) we will be ringing in the forest on Sunday. Hopefully we will get some of those special forest birds. All welcome to join us maybe we can get a Trogon again, haven’t had one for a while. Always a good spot for Lemon dove, Brown Scrub-robin, Green Twinspot etc. I will be there from 4.30 to set up others are joining from 5.30.

Please call Andrew for details – 082 338 3302 or barbet@venturenet.co.za.